Dependent Co-evolution: Kropotkin’s Theory of Mutual Aid and its Appropriation by Chinese Buddhists

Abstract:

The encounter between Buddhism and science has long been recognized as one of the key events in the formulation of Buddhist modernisms. Yet only recently has this begun to be explored in its historic specificity. This paper examines Republican-era Chinese Buddhists’ engagement with the theory of evolution at the peak of its cultural influence in the 1920s and 30s. It argues that while Buddhists largely accepted biological evolution, Darwinist theories of survival of the fittest were rejected. Instead, they embraced the alternative theory of Peter Kropotkin, who saw mutual aid as the driving force of evolution. This theory was not only less offensive to Buddhist sensibilities,but also amenable to a rhetorical strategy of subsumption in which Kropotkin was presented as anticipated and fulfilled by Buddhist doctrine. This tactic allowed Buddhists to portray the religion as modern, scientific, and progressive while avoiding what were seen as the pernicious corollaries of Darwinism. Effectively, Buddhists who employed this tactic attempted to annex Kroptokin’s discursive space, taking advantage of the internal variegation of modernity in order to constitute it as part of a modern discourse and superscribe that discourse with their own concerns

By Justin Ritzinger

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A Political Economy of Attention, Mindfulness and Consumerism: Reclaiming the Mindful Commons by Peter Doran

The power of capital is the power to target our attention, mould market-ready identities, and reduce the public realm to an endless series of choices. This has far-reaching implications for our psychological, physical and spiritual well-being, and ultimately for our global ecology. In this consumer age, the underlying teachings of Buddhist mindfulness offer more than individual well-being and resilience. They also offer new sources of critical inquiry into our collective condition, and may point, in time, to regulatory initiatives in the field of well-being.

This book draws together lively debates from the new economics of transition, commons and well-being, consumerism, and the emerging role of mindfulness in popular culture. Engaged Buddhist practices and teachings correspond closely to insights in contemporary political philosophical investigations into the nature of power, notably by Michel Foucault. The ‘attention economy’ can be understood as a new arena of struggle in our age of neoliberal governmentality; as the forces of enclosure – having colonized forests, land and the bodies of workers – are now extended to the realm of our minds and subjectivity. This poses questions about the recovery of the ‘mindful commons’: the practices we must cultivate to reclaim our attention, time and lives from the forces of capitalization.

This is a valuable resource for students and scholars of environmental philosophy, environmental psychology, environmental sociology, well-being and new economics, political economy, environmental politics, the commons and law, as well as Buddhist theory and philosophy.

Peter Doran

Can buy book here: https://www.routledge.com/A-Political-Economy-of-Attention-Mindfulness-and-Consumerism-Reclaiming/Doran/p/book/9781138015975

His blog: https://mindfulcommons.org/

Book Review by Ben Schmid: Economy of Attention Review

 

Daoism and Anarchism: Critiques of State Autonomy in Ancient and Modern China

This volume in the Contemporary Anarchist Studies series focuses on anti-statist critiques in ancient and modern China and demonstrates that China does not have an unchallenged authoritarian political culture.

Treating anarchism as a critique of centralized state power, the work first examines radical Daoist thought from the 4th century BCE to the 9th century CE and compares Daoist philosophers and poets to Western anarchist and utopian thinkers. This is followed by a survey of anarchist themes in dissident thought in the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to the present. A concluding chapter discusses how Daoist anarchism can be applied to any anarchist-inspired radical critique today.

This work not only challenges the usual ideas of the scope and nature of dissent in China, it also provides a unique comparison of ancient Chinese Daoist anarchism to Western anarchist. Featuring previously untranslated texts, such as the 9th century Buddhist anarchist tract, the Wunengzi, and essays from the PRC press, it will be an essential resource to anyone studying anarchism, Chinese political thought, political dissent, and political history.

John A. Rapp

Full Text: https://astudygroup.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/daoism-and-anarchism-contempor-john-a-rapp.pdf

Thanks to the Austin Anarchist Study Group for putting up the PDF!

https://astudygroup.wordpress.com/

The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitatrian Anarchism by John Clark

The Impossible Community confronts a critical moment when social and ecological catastrophe loom, the Left seems unable to articulate a response, and the Right is monopolizing public debates. This book offers a reformulation of anarchist social and political theory to develop a communitarian anarchist solution.

It argues that a free and just social order requires a radical transformation of the modes of domination exercised through social ideology and institutional structures. Communitarian anarchism unites a universalist concern for social and ecological justice while recognizing the integrity and individuality of the person. In fact, anarchist principles of mutual aid and voluntary cooperation can already be seen in various contexts, from the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina to social movements in India.

This work offers both a theoretical framework and concrete case studies to show how contemporary anarchist practice continues a long tradition of successfully synthetizing personal and communal liberation. This significant contribution will appeal not only to students in anarchism and political theory, but also to activists and anyone interested in making the world a better place.

By John Clark

Full Text: https://www.scribd.com/document/236473634/Impossible-Community

No Strings Attached: The Buddha’s Culture of Generosity

In this essay, Thanissaro Bhikkhu speaks on the history of the Buddhist concept “Dana” and how it has been distorted in West.  Instead of Dana being a sign of generosity for the dhamma teacher from students, it is now being used by teachers to place the burden of financial stability of the organization on students.

Full Text: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/nostringsattached.html

Han Yongun’s Buddhist Socialism in the 1920s-1930s by Pak Noja

The paper deals with Han Yongun’s (1879-1944) attitude towards the radical movements of socialist (Communist or anarchist) persuasion in 1920-30s’ Korea. Socialism had strong appeal for a large sector of the educated youth at that period: some of the younger monks or lay Buddhists are known to have become radical activists, while larger number had sympathies towards the “new currents of thought”, as radical views were euphemistically called. But both dogmatically stiff negative attitudes of the orthodox Communists towards all religions, Buddhism included, and low level of the understanding of Marxists theory among the monks and lay Buddhists hindered deeper contacts between Buddhists and socialism. Han Yongun attempted to overcome these hindrances, putting forward his theory of “Buddhist socialism.”

By Vladimir Tikhonova (Pak Noja)

Full Text: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.694.8875&rep=rep1&type=pdf