One of the most intellectually vacuous projects to have emerged in the world of biblical studies has been Christian feminist exegesis. Women desperately trying to balance a belief in Christianity with an allegiance to feminism have churned out voluminous studies on biblical texts, as well as reconstructions of early Christianity and ‘re-readings’ of female figures in Christian history. They have generally taken the line that Christianity’s approach to men and women is not based on an accurate reading of what Jesus of Nazareth and his ‘movement’ were about, and have sought to replace this with their understandings of Jesus as someone promoting radically new ideas about relations between the sexes – essentially as a feminist. One of the most important … Read the rest
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A ban on conspicuous religious symbols in state schools and state institutions has caused heated debate regarding secularism vs. religious freedoms, giving us the opportunity to reiterate our defence of secularism and women’s and children’s rights. While Islamists and their supporters have proclaimed that banning religious symbols in schools and state institutions is a ‘restriction of’ ‘religious freedoms’ or ‘freedom of belief’, ‘religious intolerance’, ‘a violation of women’s and girls’ rights’, ‘racist’, ‘discriminatory’, and so on, we believe the truth is simple and quite contrary to what they claim. In brief:
The ban is pro-secularism not a restriction of religious freedoms and beliefs: A ban on conspicuous religious symbols in state schools and institutions is but one step toward secularism … Read the rest
The situation of the present state of psychoanalysis and of the current reputation of Sigmund Freud is well documented and cogently (and patiently!) presented in Professor Crews’s “Reply to Holland.”(1) In my view, and in the opinion of several other Freud scholars, the continuing ability of Freudian rhetoric to deceive is even more dangerous and difficult to resolve than Crews allows.
And, alas, the kind of staged public jousting whereby Fred Crews will accept the publication for the Spring/Summer issue of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine (vol. 9, no. 1) of “a commentary on both submissions [that of Holland and the reply of Crews] by the psychiatrist Peter Barglow” seems to be `loaded’ from the start.
Barglow is a … Read the rest
16 year old Ateqeh Rajabi was publicly hanged in the city centre in Neka in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran on 15 August for ‘acts incompatible with chastity’ after having been arrested a few months earlier for having sexual relations. She had no attorney at any stage of the farce.
During the ‘trial’, she expressed her outrage at the misogyny and injustice in society and ‘judicial’ system and even removed some of her clothing. The lower court ‘judge’ was so incensed by her protestations that he personally put the noose around her neck after his decision had been upheld by the ‘Supreme Court’.
In some reports on her execution, Ateqah has been labelled ‘mentally incompetent’.
I suppose it could … Read the rest
Any field dealing with “origins” – archaeology, historical linguistics, general history – has seen its share of nonsense, usually painting a glorious past for whatever ethnicity or social group is involved. Thus a hypothesis popular with (certain) feminists and neo-pagans has an egalitarian, matriarchal, peaceful paradise all throughout the neolithic – until patriarchal, warlike, horse-riding nomads destroyed it all (with the exception of what survives underground in today’s Wiccan movement, of course). Another example may be “Afrocentric” pseudohistory, which ascribes incredible technological advancement to ancient Egyptian society, which happened also to be the cradle of ancient Greek philosophy and culture. In these two examples, pseudohistory serves a clear political goal, which could be regarded as progressive – the emancipation … Read the rest
The opposition to transgenic crops by environmental organizations is beyond rational explanation, since the introduction of transgenic crops has led to significant reductions in pesticide use in the U.S., as well as in other countries such as China in which transgenic crops are grown. Herbicide tolerant crops have allowed for the expansion of conservation tillage, which conserves soil, water, and biodiversity, and saves fuel along with reducing pesticide use (Fernandez-Cornejo and McBride, 2004, 27). In addition to the absolute reduction, the “substitution caused by the use of herbicide-tolerant soybeans results in glyphosate replacing other synthetic herbicides that are at least three times as toxic and that persist in the environment nearly twice as long” (Fernandez- Cornejo and McBride, 2004, 28, … Read the rest
As someone who felt sufficiently opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq to join the protest marches and to attend Stop the War Coalition meetings, it is a source of great sadness to me what a shrivelled, irrelevant self-parody the British anti-war movement has become. It seems hard to believe it now, but for a couple of months in early 2003, the Stop the War Coalition seemed to be the vehicle for something huge. Schoolchildren were walking out of their classes in protest; between 750,000 and 2 million people (depending on whose estimates you believe) swarmed through the streets of London on February 15th; ordinary, middle-of the-road people – the kind you don’t normally see on a protest march – … Read the rest
International TV Interview with Fariborz Pooya and Bahram Soroush
Maryam Namazie: We received an email from an irate ‘concerned happy Muslim Iranian’ critical of your [Bahram Soroush] statements on the incompatibility of Islam and human rights. He said, ‘it is obvious that you hate your own culture and religion and have a vendetta against anything Iranian and anything Islamic’. He made a suggestion: ‘if you hate our culture and our religion, then I suggest that you go and change your faith and tell people that you have no country and leave us alone’! Now this is something you hear a lot from cultural relativists; that it’s ‘our culture’ and ‘our religion’. Can you expand on that?
Bahram Soroush: They are … Read the rest
Is psychoanalysis a science? The Spring/Summer 2005 issue of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine (vol. 9, no. 1) will contain a debate on the scientific merits of psychoanalysis. The exchange will include a 2000-word summary by the literary critic Norman N. Holland of his essay “Psychoanalysis as Science”; a 1000-word critique by Frederick Crews; a reply from Holland to that critique; and a commentary on both submissions by the psychiatrist Peter Barglow. Holland’s full essay can already be found on the Web here. In anticipation of the SRAM publication, concerned readers may be interested in an early view both of Holland’s summary version and of Crews’s response to the longer piece. The editor of SRAM has granted permission … Read the rest
Current objections to psychoanalysis as untestable and unscientific ignore two facts. First, a large body of experimental evidence has tested psychoanlaytic ideas, confirming some and not others. Second, psychoanalysis itself, while it does not usually use experimentation, does use holistic method. This is a procedure in wide use in the social sciences and even in the “hard” sciences.
Psychoanalysis as Science
My essay, “Psychoanalysis as Science”  makes two points. One, although ignored in the “Freud wars,” experimenters have in fact generated much empirical evidence for the validity of at least some of psychoanalysis’ theory of mind. The oft-repeated mantra, “There is not a shred of scientific evidence for psychoanalysis,” is simply false. Two, part of the devaluing of … Read the rest
Islamic Sharia law should be opposed by everyone who believes in universal human rights, women’s civil rights and individual freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and belief and freedom from religion. Islamic law developed in the first few centuries of Islam and incorporated Middle Eastern pre – Islamic misogynist and tribal customs and traditions. Shari’a developed not only from the Koran and the Sunna but also through juristic reasoning and interpretation and hence different sects. We may ask how a law whose elements were first laid down over a 1000 years ago can be relevant in the 21st century. The Sharia only reflects the social and economic conditions of the time of Abbasid and has grown out of touch … Read the rest
In my speech, I will argue against the Islamic tribunals and will discuss how the Islamic Sharia law brutally violates human and women’s rights. I will try to demonstrate how Islamism and multi – culturalism are a united camp against universal human rights in Canada. At the end, I will emphasise the urgency of stopping the Islamic tribunals in Canada.
As we all know, Islamists in Canada have recently set up an Islamic Institute of Civil Justice to oversee tribunals that would arbitrate family disputes and other civil matters between people from Muslim origin on the basis of the Islamic Sharia law. This is the first time in any western country that the medieval precepts of the Sharia have been … Read the rest
Recent events in both France and England have again focused attention on the wearing of the veil, headscarf or hijab by women from Muslim communities. Is this, as Islamists claim, an issue of religious freedom? Or is it rather, as many women of Muslim origin would argue, about oppression?
The French government, who recently banned the wearing of headscarves in schools and public institutions are in no doubt. Nor was the judge in Luton, England, who decided that requiring a Muslim girl to wear a standard school uniform – and no veil – was not an infringement of her religious rights.
Suddenly the veil has become a major issue. Veiling the heads and bodies of little girls and adolescents has … Read the rest
Peter J. Swales, author of numerous pioneering essays exploring the early history of psychoanalysis, is unimpressed by Mark Solms’s article in the April 2004 issue of Scientific American, “Freud Returns”. Here we reproduce an unpublished letter to Scientific American which questions Mark Solms’s competence in the field of Freud scholarship, together with an addendum and postscript.
Letters to the Editors
May 10, 2004
In reproducing a diagram from an 1895 manuscript, Mark Solms endeavours to portray Sigmund Freud as both percipient and prescient by drawing special attention to the “contact barriers” between neurons whose action he there supposedly “predicted”. Solms elaborates: “Two years later English physiologist Charles Sherrington discovered such gaps and named them synapses”. In truth, … Read the rest
Update: New material on the campaign against Shari’a Court in Canada
Report of Meeting with Marion Boyd Regarding Shari’a Court in Canada
On Thursday July 15, 2004, Homa Arjomand, Co-ordinator of the International Campaign Against Shari’a Court in Canada was called to a meeting with Marion Boyd regarding concerns about Shari’a court in Canada. Marian Boyd has been appointed by Premier Dalton McGuinty to review the 1991 Arbitration Act
This meeting lasted over three hours and many issues and case studies were presented:
Homa Arjomand emphasized the fact that The Ontario Arbitration Act 1991 has made it possible for the Islamic movement to make another attempt to attack both secularism and the women’s movement for equality. She stated that … Read the rest
Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, a conservative religious organization, delivers what could be the signature line for our backwards times in America:
There’s an arrogance in the scientific community that they know better than the average American.
In fact, of course, scientists do know quite a bit better than the “average American” about the matters for which their scientific expertise equips them. Those with knowledge, surprisingly, know more than those who are ignorant. Is that arrogance?
As Chris Mooney remarked, “science is not a democracy,” and in a democratic culture, that inevitably becomes a cause of resentment, as Ms. Lafferty’s comment attests. This resentment of competence was first made vivid to me when I appeared … Read the rest
Although Elaine Showalter’s Teaching Literature is clearly intended to be read primarily by graduate students or instructors just beginning their teaching careers, one can also read the book, against the grain of the author’s own rhetorical goals, perhaps, as a guide for the academic outlander to the curious practices of that disciplinary subculture responsible for what still passes as literary study. Those who retain an image of the English professor as a high-minded if pedantic guardian of the treasures of Literature will find provided here what amounts to the finishing touches on the recast image the profession has been working on for at least twenty years. Just as high-minded but in a more earnest, socially-conscious way, even more firmly attached … Read the rest
Our brains are huge, particularly if you take into consideration the relative size of our bodies. Generally, the proportion of brain to body is pretty tight among mammals. But the human brain is seven times bigger than what you’d predict from the size of our body. Six million years ago, hominid brains were about a third the size they are today, comparable to a chimp’s. So what accounts for the big boom? It would be flattering ourselves to say that the cause was something we are proud of–our ability to talk, or our gifts with tools. Certainly, our brains show signs of being adapted for these sorts of things (consider the language gene FOXP2). But those adaptations probably were … Read the rest
The European and local elections of June 2004 saw the emergence of a new political party in the United Kingdom; called Respect, it presented itself as a new force in British politics, driving a progressive agenda. However, there are contradictions within this agenda, and in its practices, which threaten to turn it into a reactionary party rather than a progressive one.
Respect, or to give it its full title, Respect – The Unity Coalition, was formed on the 1st February 2004. It was set up both to replace the Socialist Alliance (although it was stated that Respect’s position was not explicitly socialist), and also to transform the Stop the War Coalition into a political party – thus taking protest against … Read the rest
John Milton, who in his Paradise Lost selflessly gave the world the image of hell as a lake of fire, was also the 17th century’s greatest proponent of freedom of speech: as long as you were a Puritan (like Milton) or an Anglican (like the king) you should be able to say anything you like–as long as you did not attack Puritanism or the Anglican Church. Catholics, on the other hand, were but the puppets of a Satanic pope, disloyal British subjects who therefore should be allowed no such rights. John Locke, another Puritan and one who greatly influenced the founders of the American republic, held similar views.
This is all mildly interesting from an historical point of view, but … Read the rest