Tag: <span>World War I</span>

Velimir Khlebnikov Rapprochement of Cultures.

Velimir Khlebnikov: The Futurian and World Citizen.

Featured Image: V. Khlebnikov by N.Kulbin (1913, Akhmatova’s museum).jpg By seefilename, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

(November 9, 1885 – June 28, 1922).

By René Wadlow.

Let Planet Earth be sovereign at last. Planet Earth alone will be our sovereign song.

– Velimir Khlebnikov.

 

Velimir Khlebnikov was a shooting star of Russian culture in the years just prior to the start of the First World War. He was part of a small creative circle of poets, painters and writers;  who wanted to leave the old behind and to set the stage for the future;  such as the abstract painter Kazimir Malevich. They called themselves “The Futurians”. They were interested in being avenues for the Spirit which they saw at work in peasent life and in shamans’ visions;  however, the Spirit was very lacking in the works of the ruling nobility and commercial elite.

Kazimir Malevich

Self-Portrait (1908 or 1910-1911) (Kazimir Malevich). By Kazimir Malevich, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Charlotte Douglas notes in her study of Khlebnikov:

“To tune mankind into harmony with the universe – that was Khlebnikov’s vocation. He wanted to make the Planet Earth fit for the future, to free it from the deadly gravitational pull of everyday lying and pretense, from the tyranny of petty human instincts and the slow death of comfort and complacency.” (1)

Khlebnikov wrote:

“Old ones! You are holding back the fast advance of humanity. You are preventing the boiling locomotive of youth from crossing the mountain that lies in its path. We have broken the locks and see what your freight cars contain: tombstones for the young.”

Velimir Khlebnikov

 
Vélimir Khlebnikov (before 1922). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Futurian movement as such lasted from 1911 until 1915;  when its members were dispersed by the start of the World War, the 1917 revolutions and the civil war. Khlebnikov died in 1922 just as Stalin was consolidating his power. Stalin would put an end to artistic creativity.

The Futurians were concerned that Russia should play a creative role in the world;  but they were also world citizens who wanted to create a world-wide network of creative scientists, artists and thinkers who would have a strong impact on world events. As Khlebnikov wrote in his manifesto To the Artists of the World:

We have long been searching for a program that would act something like a lens capable of focusing the combined rays of the work of the artist and the work of the thinker toward a single point where they might join in a common task and be able to ignite even the cold essence of ice and turn it to a blazing bonfire. Such a program, the lens capable of directing together your fiery courage and the cold intellect of the thinkers has now been discovered.”

The appeal for such a creative, politically relevant network was written in early 1919 when much of the world was starting to recover from World War I. However, Russia was sinking into a destructive civil war. The Futurians were dispersed to many different areas and were never able to create such a network. The vision of a new network is now a challenge that we must meet.

Note.

1) Charlotte Douglas (Ed.) The King of Time: Velimir Khlebnikov (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985).

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Edward Carpenter Portraits of World Citizens.

Edward Carpenter and the Healing of Nations.

 Featured Image: Edward Carpenter (1844–1929), by Fred Holland Day (1864–1933). By F. Holland Day, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) whose birth anniversary we note on 29 August, was an English writer, educator and pacifist, socialist reformer. Carpenter came from a middle class intellectual family and studied at Cambridge University. As with some of his fellow students who were interested in philosophy and ideas, he was ordained in the Church of England hoping that its outlook and theology could be widened from the inside.  However, once inside, he realized that the broadening goal would take a long time.  Thus by 1874 he left the church for a new field − university extension courses − a program of night school education for the “working classes”.

Days with Walt Whitman.

Just as he was about to become a Church of England cleric in 1869, he discovered the poems of Walt Whitman which became the inspiration for his own poems as well as for an opening to a cosmic consciousness that Whitman manifested. As Carpenter wrote in Angels’ Wings “Whitman’s verse in its most successful passages, so magnificent in its effects, so democratic in feeling, so democratic in form, is more absolute in expression, more real in its content, burns brighter in the nearness of sunrise, and yet lies so near along to Nature and the innocent naivety of speech of a child, that some people are inclined to deny to it the quality of Art at all!” Whitman was his life-long model, and Carpenter spent time in the USA to be with Whitman, an experience which he recorded in a book Days with Walt Whitman.

Walt Whitman

The Laughing Philosopher: American poet Walt Whitman (1819–92). By George C. Cox (1851–1902)[1], Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rabindranath Tagore.

Like Whitman, Carpenter was attracted to Indian philosophy and travelled to India. He became a friend of Rabindranath Tagore. His Indian travels and attraction to Indian thought he recorded in Adam’s Peak to Elephanta: Sketches in Ceylon and IndiaCarpenter kept up his interest in Indian thought through friendships in the then recently-created Theosophical Society.

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore before 1941. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

George Russell.

As others influenced by the Theosophical Society such as the Irish poet and agricultural reformer George Russell (best known by his pen name AE), Carpenter saw the need to improve rural life and to bring intellectual and cultural enlightenment to the rural areas. Thus he gave up formal university extension work and bought a farm which became a meeting place for discussions among many in the area − an early “back to the land movement”. He stressed using hand-made clothes, the non-killing and non-eating of animals, and the use of herbs for health.

George Russell

George William Russell. By by Cornelius Weygandt http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/19028 ==Used on== *w:en:George William Russell ==Licence== {{PD-Gutenberg}}.

The Intermediate Sex and Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folk.

He lived in a homosexual relationship with a farmer at a time when homosexuality was considered a criminal offense.  Carpenter wrote two books on homosexuality. For a long time these were the only books on the subject published by a major publisher: The Intermediate Sex and Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folk.

A New Spiritual Consciousness.

The Healing of Nations is his most important political book − a collection of essays for the most part published in newspapers and small journals written in late 1914 and early 1915 as World War I started. Carpenter had long held that a new age of fellowship was dawning in which social relations would be transformed by a new spiritual consciousness. His thinking on the outbreak of the war was close to that of Romain Roland and P. Kropotkin, both of whom he quotes at length.

Carpenter was close − though never a member − to the Independent Labour Party who’s 1914 Manifesto he quotes as its proposals were similar to his own:

” We hail our working-class comrades of every land. Across the roar of guns we send greetings to the German Socialists. They have laboured unceasingly to promote good relations with Britain, as we with Germany.  They are no enemies of ours, but faithful friends. In forcing this appalling crime upon the nations, it is the rulers, the diplomats, the militarists who have sealed their doom. In tears and blood and bitterness the greater Democracy will be born. With steadfast faith we greet the future; our cause is holy and imperishable, and the labour of our hands has not been in vain.”

Carpenter went on with his own call to action:

“Thus we have to push on with discernment. Always we have to remember that the wide, free sense of equality and kinship which lies at the root of Internationalism is the real goal. Always we have to press on towards that great and final liberation − the realization of our common humanity, the recognition of the same great soul of man slumbering under all forms in the heart of all races − the one guarantee and assurance of the advent of world peace.”

At a time when in England and France there are commemorations of the anniversaries of the 1914-1918 War, it is useful to recall that there were voices in opposition and persons like Carpenter who saw that an awareness of the spiritual dimension of each person was the basis for the healing of the nations.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Migrants and Refugees. Appeals

World Policy for Migrants and Refugees.

Featured Image: A line of Syrian refugees crossing the border of Hungary and Austria on their way to Germany. Hungary, Central Europe, 6 September 2015. By Mstyslav Chernov, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

« There is no doubt that Mankind is once more on the move. The very foundations have been shakened and loosened, and things are again fluid. The tents have been struck, and the great caravan of Humanity is once more on the march. »

Jan Christian Smuts at the end of the 1914-1918 World War.

On 19 September 2016, the UN General Assembly held a one-day Summit on « Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants «  – a complex of issues which have become important and emotional issues in many countries. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) published a report on international migration  indicating that there are some 244 milion migrants, some 76 million live in Europe, 75 million in Asia, 54 million in North America and others in the Middle East, Latin America and the Pacific, especially Australia and New Zealand. In addition, there are some 24 million refugees – people who have crossed State frontiers fleeing armed conflict and repression as well as some 40 million internally-displaced persons within their own country. Acute poverty, armed conflicts, population growth and high unemployment levels provide the incentives for people to move, while easier communications and transport are the means.

However, as we have seen with the many who have died in the Mediterranean Sea, people will take great risks to migrate. Thus, there is an urgent need to take away the monopoly of the life and death of refugees from the hands of mafias and traffickers and to create an effective world policy for migrants and refugees.

General Assembly by Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

You might be interested in reading U.N. General Assembly: Can It Provide the Needed Global Leadership?

This is the third time that the major governments of the world have tried to deal in an organized way with migration and refugees.

The first was within the League of Nations in the 1920s. The 1914-1918 World War and the 1917 Russian Revolution had created a large number of refugees and « stateless » persons – citizens of the former Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian Empires. These people had no passports or valid identity documents. The League of Nations created a League identity document – the Nansen Passport – which gave some relief to the « stateless » and brought international attention to their conditions. The Nansen Passport, however, became overshaddowed in the mid-1930 when people – in particular Jews – fled from Germany-Austria and were refused resettlement.

The second international effort was as a result of the experiences of the 1939-1945 Second World War and the large number of refugees and displaced. Under the leadership of the United Nations, there was created the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees. In addition, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, originally created as a temporary body, was made a permanent UN agency in recognition of the continuing nature of refugee issues.

The current third international effort is largely a result of the flow of refugees and migrants toward Europe during 2015-2016. The disorganized and very uneven response of European governments and the European Union to this flow has indicated that governments are unprepared to deal with such massive movements of people. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have not been able to deal adequately with this large number of persons despite many good-will efforts. Moreover, certain European political movements and political parties have used the refugee issue to promote narrow nationalist and sometimes racist policies. Even a much smaller flow of refugees to the USA has provoked very mixed reactions – few of them welcoming.

Nansen Passport Memorial By Sparrow (麻雀), CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

World Policy for Migrants and Refugees.

The 19 September 2016 Summit is a first step toward creating a functioning world policy for migrants and refugees. The Summit is not an end in itself but follows a pattern of UN awareness-building conferences on the environment, population, food, urbanization and other world issues. The impact of UN conferences has been greatest when there is pre-existing popular movements led by NGOs which have in part sensitized people to the issue.

The two UN conferences which have had the most lasting consequences were the 1972 Stockholm conference on the environment and the 1975 International Year of Women and its Mexico conference. The environment conference was held at a time of growing popular concern with the harm to the environment symbolized by the widely-read book of Rachel Carson Silent Spring. The 1975 women’s conference came at a time when in Western Europe and the USA there was a strong « women’s lib » movement and active discussion on questions of equality and gender.

Migration and refugee issues do not have a well-organized NGO structure highlighting these issues. However human rights NGOs have stressed the fate of refugees and migrants as well as human rights violations in the countries from which they fled. There is also some cooperation among relief NGOs which provide direct help to refugees and migrants such as those from Syria and Iraq living in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and those going to Greece and Italy.

Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. Official photo as FWS employee. c. 1940. By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Spirit of the Summit.

The Summit’s Declaration is very general, and some observers have been disappointed with the lack of specific measures. However, we can welcome the spirit of the Summit Declaration with its emphasis on cooperative action, a humane sense of sharing the responsibilities for refugees and migrants and on seeking root causes of migration and refugee flows. What is needed now are strong NGO efforts to remind constantly government authorities of the seriousness of the issues and the need for collective action.

Refugees and migrants are not a temporary « emergency » but part of a continuing aspect of the emerging world society. Thus there is a need to develop a world policy and strong institutions for migrants and refugees.

Professor Rene Wadlow, President, Associacion of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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