Religious Humanism a branch of sociology?

Aguste Compte (1798-1857) an engineer and former Catholic founded the scientific discipline of sociology as an attempt to heal France after the revolution. He claimed man had descended down the religious, the metaphysical and the scientific pathways. France and the enlightened world was now in the scientific phase.

Sociology was science on mankind and not far from this Compte ended up introducing a new religion as well thus making a breach with his development scheme for mankind. Svante Nordin writes in his book Filosofins Historia, 2003: "This would happen since science would be the new society carrying religion and the new priests would be scientific experts and reformers".

Today we have new developments in social psychology and sociology that makes it possible to stress the likelihood of such a religion forming. In Compte's day the religion actually started up but was in France depending on his persona. It, however, took a firm hold in Brazil where it can be found still today.

My version, with a materialistic God concept, is not in such a rush as Compte's was. It took 300 years for Christendom to be accepted in the Roman Empire. Francis Bacon, the prophet, spoke around 1600. Science would revolutionize the world and liberate mankind. Compte, another prophet, spoke only less than 200 years ago.

Recently science made possible the reading of thoughts. This event will probably be a milestone on the way to Religious Humanism--depending on how the finding is presented to mankind. There is a risk of science backfiring creating an urge to a returning to the land, a fright of civilization, following bad management. I guess this is why the debate on integrity is so important.



Der Spiegel are pessimistic on the environment deal that EU put together today. I have a question.

The other day an expert on wind power said on SVT that wind power is to expensive with today's electricity prices. Today an other expert said that the can probably not invest in nuclear power with today's electricity prices. Also, in Russia, global warming is not man made, according to Rapport today.

Do I get the feeling right that Russian natural gas is making investments in fossile-free energy impossible in Europe, economically speaking?

Quality journalism and bloging?

Germany Looks at Ways to Protect Online Journalism - NYTimes.com: "Publishers say they understand that the Internet is different, but that they are tired of watching others make money from their content online. “This is simply one part of the media’s effort to survive in a new kind of economy,” said Stefan Söder, a lawyer for Hubert Burda Media, a magazine publisher based in Munich."

I found this article via SvD.se where someone had made a referate. I found the referate via bloggportalen.se. Well, the Germans think it might be a good idea to charge for linkages to new sites. So far no one discussed the issue at stake here. If I was bloging commercially I would have to subscribe to all magazines and newspapers that I linked to in all fairness. Maybe it would be preferable to charge per article. It might be cheaper since I site some papers very rarely.

Today I only subscribe on The Economist but I am thinking of trying to subscribe on DN.se. It did not work via the net so I guess I have to call them. I tried to subscribe on IHT.com but did not succeed. I paid 1000SEK for four months but never got a paper in the mail. However, my situation might be unusual. At least I hope so. It may be that some other people, keeping me as a virtual prisoner, makes money out of my posts. I have no legal or other connection with these people however.

Nicolaus Copernicus

Copernicus was born 1473, before Columbus found America, and died 1543, the same year as he published On The Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, the document that for the first time laid down the Heliocentric Theory. He was born February 19 in Torun (Thorn) of the Kingdom of Poland in Royal Prussia. He never married or had children. His Polish name Mikolaj Kopernik means one who is working with copper, his father's trade. His native tongue was German and nationality did not play much of a role at the time of Copernicus.

He began studying astronomy at the Krakow Academy, later Jagiellonian University, and collected a body of books on the subject that later become war booty to the Swedes during the Deluge and that now are stored at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. Copernicus worked for the Church and did astronomy as a hobby. He dedicated the De Revolutionibus to Pope Paul III.

In 1633 Galileo Galilei was convicted on grave suspicion of heresy for "following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of the Holy Scripture", and was placed in house arrest for the remainder of his life. People had read and agreed on the idea before this event but since the Catholic Church was the heavyweight in "science" it took some time for the matter to percolate. The Catholic Church's 1758 Index of Prohibited Books omitted the general prohibition of works defending heliocentrism, but retained the specific prohibitions of the uncensored versions of Copernicus' De Revolutionibus and Galilei's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Those prohibitions were finally dropped from the 1835 Index.


Nonpersonal God vs Personal God

Forskare: Gudstro är det enda vetenskapliga « Dagen.se: "Det betyder, menar Allan Emrén, att Gud verkligen bryr sig om människor. Och att människan gör väl i att söka Gud och lyssna till Hans ord."

I have never been an atheist so I don't know how that feels. However, when you believe in a nonpersonal God, it will not be possible to form that personal relationship which is so important for many religious persons. Setting up Religious Humanism to compete with Judeo-Christianism and Islam in order to reform Churches eventually requires the practitioner to compensate in some fashion for this lack of compassion which probably is best performed by substituting with human contacts when needed. I have seen figures that, if I remember correctly, showed that about 20% of people that believe in a God don't believe in a personal God. For these people and myself this is not a problem.

I am convinced that eventually the benefits from science and the belief in Nature providing the answers of tomorrow would mean that more people would accept Religious Humanism as an alternative to traditional monotheism. In a relatively equal country like Sweden people are distinctly secular. The need for comfort would be less than in a country with larger gaps between ruling classes and people in general. Social Projects and Health Care substitute for the traditional job of the priest and religion if not science and Nature. Given the choice many people would want to enrich their lives with a life philosophy such as Religious Humanism.

Emrén discusses the role of the creation in his life and I'm also fascinated by the similarity of the tale in Genesis and what we know today. However, the person that wrote it was not constrained by earlier dogma that would prevent him to figure out what was most likely to have occurred. Soil came from rock, Plants came from soil. Animals came from plants and we from animals and plants. This common sense order of events was probably there even 2500 and 2000 years ago. However, if God is Nature, God wrote the Bible. I don't think following it literally is a good idea though.

2% of Americans think Obama should put priority on energy

USA Today have an article featuring a poll that compares Obama's position now and one year ago. There is, not so surprisingly, slightly less hope among the Americans today compared to a year ago.

When it comes to priorities for Obama only 2% of people think energy. The Economy 41%, Iraq and Afghanistan 18%, Health Care 17%, Federal Budget Deficit 14% all have higher priorities.

My conclusion is that Obama might have changed his opinion on the environment but the American public certainly has not. If you remember the figures I pulled out from the Eurobarometer the other day where Sweden and Denmark topped the list of having a population caring for the environment, it is clear that the Americans are fairly typical among the European nations like Germany.

DN.se have another article today concerning the idea of a Nordic Union. Rightly so they warn that it is a rather introvert idea. Yesterday there was a web question that informed that 80% liked the idea and today's article also claimed that is was popular.

"Sol, vind och vatten", the mountains, the lakes and the meadows of Scandinavia as a laid back vacation paradise for an otherwise busy Europe? The Scandinavians are very interested in environmental issues and this might derive from an urge to protect the natural resources. Or are the Scandinavians more prone to world wide concerns than all other peoples?

I detect a gap between the will of the people and the environmentalists. Generating environmental shame is a new way of gaining power? The various churches are also very busy in this respect?

I detect in this talk of a Nordic Union, the dream of a European suburb, an attempt to harmonize environmentalism with the Swedish peace movement. There is of course nothing wrong in striving for peace but on the other hand it is necessary to confront the problems areas in the world that are manageable. EU can do this whereas a Nordic Union, only 2.5 times larger than Sweden, is powerless.


Natural Religion?

David Hume (1711-1776) published posthumously Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 1779. Svante Nordin writes in his book, Filosofins Historia 2003, that this natural religion would be proven with natural reason. Today I would argue that we can reason that faith is natural in the sense that we as humans are engineered to recognize faith. At least about 75% of us.

It is also possible to say that Nature, not something supernatural, is related to God. Nordin also claims that Hume said that one possibility for creation was that "materia could self-organize". That is impressive since we today believe evolution did just that. Proteins fold etc. However, I don't think we have explained completely how for example the embryonic tissue is successively forming.

I'm wondering if Hume had a faith similar to mine? He spoke about "the true religion" and since he did not mean the conventional one he might have been. Self-organization would mean creation in a materialistic world. According to Nordin he was not a conventional atheist.

He tried but did not get a position at a university but managed anyhow. The reason for this would have been that he "denied God's existence" and "was an enemy to all morals". The latter accusation stemmed from his discovery that reason was not the source of human morals. Not completely true today but important at the time since not so bright people also could be moral.

If Labour is out, does David Miliband want the job as High Representative in the EU?

Charlemagne's notebook The Economist: "A lot of people in Luxembourg took his speech to be a Miliband manifesto for the job of High Rep. It was striking to me that some of the same diplomats who are most hostile to the idea of a President Tony Blair were quite positive about the idea of a High Rep Miliband."

UK is quite problematic when it comes to the EU. One third of Tories want to leave the EU, and that's how the wind is blowing according to Miliband in his speech, and they will in all probability win the election in the spring since they lead with a 17% margin in the polls. Charlemagne uses his post to guess on what the speech of David Miliband at the IISS might mean. He also brings forward information that could be interpreted as if Miliband did not believe necessarily in British National sovereignty. A true federalist.

I read Miliband's speech (link in Charlemagne's post) and he claims that UK would be marginilized even by the US if not in the EU. I wonder? Otherwise Miliband's view of the EU as bound to more expansion worries me. I have called it the fallacy of Alexander the Great before. Well, I believe in a strong Europe but the Eurobarometer polls clearly state in post after post that the English are not with the project population wise. It seems Charlemagne might be right and that Miliband is looking for something interesting to do after the change of government in the UK next spring.

Is the EU finished?

International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten: "Brittle, uncommunicative, inhibited: EU officals don't have much good to say about Germany's new man in Brussels, Günther Oettinger"

Germany descided in its Constitutional court that no more super state character was to be endowed on their constitution. They now appoint a difficult-to-understand Commissioner.

Furthermore, Angela Merkel has suggested that an Austrian ex-chancellor, Wolfgang Schüssel, for EU president. Is this too Continental, too Austrio-Hungarian Empire?

An EU-sceptic conservative party likely to rule Britannica next spring.

And now a Nordic Union?

It all surfaces now when the Lisbon Treaty becomes a deal.

Yet another Idea

Britain’s on the wane, and the EU is our only hope of influence - Telegraph: "Britain’s on the wane, and the EU is our only hope of influence
President Blair will be a price worth paying if he can transform Europe’s role, suggests Mary Riddell."

Perhaps something to ponder for these "Stormaktssvenskar" that want people to speak Scandinavic.

Union with United Kingdom?

”De fem nordiska länderna bör gå ihop i en ny union” - DN.se: "Det är inte realistiskt att gå direkt till en enhetsstat, och kanske vore det inte heller önskvärt – varje lands särart har ett värde i sig, som Norden borde lägga sig vinn om att bevara. Den naturliga början är att bilda ett statsförbund med de fem länderna som medlemmar"

I have another idea. Why not form a union with the United Kingdom. In Sweden we actually speak English and our culture is more English than it is Finnish, Norwegian or Danish. I mean, if we don't want to go for the EU, which the United Kingdom does not seem to eager for either, they seem a much more interesting partner. Remember that Norway bought the American war plane.


A Secular World Order-- Is It Possible?

Christer Sturmark: "Sverigedemokraternas och islamisternas motsats är istället den sekulära humanismen. I humanisternas sekulära samhälle är både kristna och muslimer välkomna. I ett sådant samhälle har de mänskliga rättigheterna och den mänskliga friheten alltid företräde framför religiösa dogmer eller kulturella traditioner. Ingen människa ska behöva underkasta sig andra människors uppfattning om Guds vilja, om valet inte är självständigt och fritt."

I noted with pleasure that Sturmark have now a vision of a society which is secular and in which religious people can coexist. When Richard Dawkins talks about his vision it seems, I might be mistaken though, like he wishes that religion should eventually disappear. For an excerpt of his views I can recommend a recent interview on BigThink.com.

Approximately 25% of people believe in something like a God, 25% don't, the rest are in between. Therefore religion will not disappear in the foreseeable future. However, I envision that science will become the new method of searching for God, a new type of worship and that God is Nature. This will definitely happen before man evolves away from the need of having faith. That makes me a religious humanist.

Such a God concept is materialistic, however, we know from the advancement of science since Heliocentric Theory from 1543 that anything seems possible which makes miracles acceptable even. Take the example of the resurrection of Christ. Not possible today but why not tomorrow. Using a materialistic God concept means to put in escrow the explanations of tomorrow.

The reason for why I believe that the advent of monotheism by the Jews was a keystone of the development of our Western Civilization is that it ultimately leads to a materialistic God concept rather than purely personalized dittos. The rest of the attributes of Judeo-Christianism then led to the development of a middle class in Europe and a Reformation and subsequent development of Science.

Exactly how it will be possible to transfer faith from a supernatural Being to a materialistic Nature I don't know yet. But it is possible that people eventually will become sufficiently impressed with science as also China and India comes into play. I am convinced, however, that Sturmark and Dawkins are on the right track but I write this post in order to propose that the idea of a religion based on a materialistic God concept would work whereas a solely secular society, no matter how humanistic, would not work.

One consequence of this world view is that religion will fuse with politics again as the field of political science develops.

New Development in the East?

BBC NEWS Europe Rich Germans demand higher taxes: "A group of rich Germans has launched a petition calling for the government to make wealthy people pay higher taxes. The group say they have more money than they need, and the extra revenue could fund economic and social programmes to aid Germany's economic recovery."

This trust of government sounds quite different from the tunes from the US. So far have 44 persons signed the petition that would raise €100bn over two years with a 5% wealth tax.

Politically this sounds like buying into power in Germany, rather than the EU, since many countries would not be able to copy this procedure. The petitioners want to fund ecological programmes, education and social projects.

As long as it is not permanent it is an interesting idea that potentially could reverse the bad reputation of the super rich also in the wake of the financial crisis. The top 1% in the US owns more than the bottom 90%. Something for Sweden as well?

Paul Krugman showed a graph on his blog where the wealth of the richest 1% increased dramatically just prior to 1929 and 2008. Is it pay back time?

From Marginal Revolution.


The Fear of God?

I listened at the SR P1 program at 11 o'clock today that usually presents something spiritual. Today Anders Piltz, professor emeritus in Latin at Lund's University and also priest in the Catholic Church, deliberated on the fear of God.

One conclusion that Piltz came to was that people like Saddam Hussein could have performed more beneficial to the world should they have been fearful of God. Surprisingly Piltz did not discuss the two facets of fear. Fear due to awe of somebody and fear due to the possibility of damage to yourself. Hussein, which was rather secular, probably dealt in the latter type and since I of course believe that Piltz know of this distinction, it made me wonder what type of fear the Catholic Church normally subscribe to?

I stand in awe of Nature. I see mostly opportunity, not fear. People in general today probably more and more see opportunity in science but not so much in Church rituals. Scientists deliver in a different way than priests, the latter who have become more of practising psychologists. My question is if not 1543, the year of Copernicus' death and the release of the Heliocentric Theory, Copernicus did not dare to publish it while living for fear of the Catholic Church, God ?, will become a new year 0CE in due time.


Back on Track

It worked. I stayed away from my computer for a week. When I checked in last night nothing much had happened during the week so the loss was slight. I also feel much refreshed.

Svante Nordin, the professor of history of philosophy in Lund, has written a narrative called Filosofins Historia. I gather from this volume that what made people start to use their brains forward in the 17th century was the discoveries in Nature made by early scientists or natural philosophers. One conclusion might be that we need Nature to make progress in our minds. Observing Nature is the same thing as posing questions worth their while answering.

The heliocentric theory from 1543 and the discovery of blood circulation from 1628 that led Descartes to think of our body as a machine really shook things up and could do so in the less dogmatic religious environment. Leibniz (influenced by Anne Conway) made this notion a little more subtle by proposing energized monads as the minutest particles making up the body. A forerunner like Francis Bacon who died 1626 had realized like a prophet that science was going to make us conquer Earth and free mankind from bondage. Almost like a prophet of my religion.

Nordin claims that Sweden did not contribute with a single philosopher to international philosophy. Scandinavia only had a single one, Sören Kierkegaard of Denmark. It is then satisfying to note that what propelled philosophy forward was discoveries in natural science from which Sweden during the 18th century had international actors like Linné and Scheele which ultimately led to a country excelling in engineering. Perhaps an explanation from Montesquieu's climate theory would work. The harsh Nordic climate forced us to cooperation and practical work. Scandinavians might be more survivalist in character than people from the Continent and the United Kingdom.

Nordin also claims that there is a discussion as to where the largest contribution from science, philosophy and religion is and how this changed during the 16th and 17th centuries. I think I belong to the people claiming that philosophy has become a branch on the stem of science. Why not theoretical science? Religion still affects science as is seen in the stem cell debate. However, George W. Bush's veto of stem cell research in the US only affected federally funded research and can therefore be considered a protecting of the results rather than an inhibition of research as such.

As remarkable as the revolution in experimental and observing natural science was the discovery by Hugo Grotius 1625 of natural law. Which was supposed to be the same even if God did not exist! John Locke further developed natural rights, a biological origin, and published his Two Treatises of Governments 1690. Psychological discoveries are currently transforming the way people are governed. Perhaps one can call it societal engineering. Political science has become a natural science. It is interesting that the revolution of 1688 made Locke a famous man despite the fact that he was way ahead of his time with his reasoning. He had to spend many years in exile in Holland because of the turbulent times. Words where weighed on a gold balance these days. As today I have realized.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote "Study Nature" in the middle of the 19th century. The US became the leader of Natural Science research. Currently is of great importance to study the behavior of people while assaulted by TTDE. The future of Man depend on the outcome. The Political Science front?


My 991st post

First I thought I'd celebrate my 1000nd post, but since it is Friday and I like to sum up my speculations on the systems, I make a note of my 991st post instead.

I began in April 2007 and discussed some thoughts of mine on how it was possible to explain the function of our minds with the help of insights from the use of TTDE on myself. Occasionally over the years I have returned to problems that occur as a result of TTDE usage on people and the fact that we again live in a time where it is forbidden to talk about the things that matters most to us. My "book" began as science but continues as political science.

During the last decades we have entered a time of a clandestine revolution that takes place in society. I think it is dangerous to perform these changes without a possibility of a public debate. I would therefore like to return to about 1688, the year of the so called English revolution, and reiterate what John Locke gathered back then. He talked about a legitimate political power based on natural rights. He argued for a constitutional state where no one was above the law. At that time that meant a legislating parliament and an executive monarch.

Since we live in a constitutional monarchy with a legislating parliament where the monarch have been replaced with a prime minister we should probably take note of what went on some 320 years ago. That's right the monarch was not above the law which however is not correct today with all small monarchs around that have in their hands a power tool that makes them very full of themselves and totally dictatorial.

What Locke also argued was that tyranny could be morally destroyed which turned out to be argued during the American and French revolutions some hundred years later. Will it take another hundred years to normalize the situation this time?

Interestingly Locke also talked about the right of private property. Labor leads to private property since we own our own bodies and their power. Well, here we go again. Some people would argue that we don't own our bodies any longer because they can kill us with TTDE or they can steal all information we produce from our bodies before we can make use of it ourselves. It seems to me that people have bought that stupid argument. People can of course kill anyone with a gun but they don't own us for that matter. If we have not allowed slavery to return voluntarily.

Life, Liberty and private property. Over 300 years ago. What seems to be the trouble today?


Darwin's Endless Forms?

Found an interesting web site on the radio. It stems from an exhibition of the life surrounding Charles Darwin and especially as depicted in the Arts.

Speaking about Darwin I would like to speculate some more on the so called "systems". Because they replace families, i.e., ties to the system has priority over family ties, and therefore makes integration difficult. However, perhaps more importantly they make evolution as usual impossible. Evolution continues in Endless Forms and this poses a problem if you all of a sudden find it impossible to talk to your parents or children.

I would assume that people in a system would try to organize themselves in new family units where they are not genetically related based on how people succeed. Some kind of breeding system or optimization of de facto relations? If you are lucky you become someone's son or daughter. Perhaps a spouse. If you are more unfortunate, you might become their dog or cat. Or as I suggested yesterday, you might not make it into a system at all and end up in the "utanförskap".

This might be all and well as long as a system does not arrange with Human Destruction Inc to rid themselves of a person? Because then all of a sudden all people just play games. Nasty games.

David Rennie, or Charlemagne, discusses another problem of the system world today in his latest column. It is the difference between the US and UK relative EU regarding inheritances. In the EU the law, if you remember that obsolete thing, says that children inherits their parents whereas in the US and UK it is completely up to the person writing the will to decide. The parallel world of the systems therefore works much better in the latter setting.

He actually brings up Warren Buffett, the richest man of the world, who wants to give most of his money to charity because he thinks the US should be meritocratic. I must say I like that idea.


Migration and development: The aid workers who really help The Economist: "The World Bank says foreign workers sent $328 billion from richer to poorer countries last year, more than double the $120 billion in official aid flows from OECD members. India got $52 billion from its diaspora, more than it took in foreign direct investment."

This is positive news that Tobias Billström (M) och Gunilla Carlsson (M) also brings forward in an article in Sydsvenska Dagbladet today. Migration coupled with circular migration, i.e., that people also return to their home countries with experience and funds, has been discussed as an important development.

Jan Ekberg, an economist from Växsjö Högskola, calculated on the other hand that there is little incentive for positive effects on immigration if integration works poorly. An article in Spiegel ONLINE International discusses the effects of poor integration something that people have complained at here in Sweden also.

It is interesting that Gunilla Carlsson is a coauthor on the positive article above since the problem becomes one of international support rather than adjustment of the population composition of Sweden if the calculations of Jan Ekberg are correct. So if we want to help the world from poverty, admit foreigners to work in our country. There is of course also a need for a more efficient integration or we just have to start working longer all of us. What perhaps should be discussed at the same time is how we are going to maintain our welfare systems considering the above facts?


How does a modern European society work?

Dick Erixon — I hjärtat rebell: "En gång i tiden stod partier och politiker på medborgarnas sida. Idag är står de på Maktens sida. Statsmaktens sida. Myndighetsmaktens sida. Varför? Politiker har blivit överhetens handgångna män och kvinnor. Riksdagsledamöter är myndigheternas torpeder, som genomför allehanda åtgärder som stärker statens makt och försätter medborgarna i förmynderi"

Well, I think this is an interesting starting point for a discussion, or speculation rather, about what is currently going on in a country such as Sweden. I don't subscribe fully to the above idea because I think it is a little more complicated. People have lost trust in political parties but that doesn't mean they don't trust anything. I believe that something in the civil society has taken over their trust. After all, people are quite content. Just for the sake of explanation a directorship in a "system" of sorts. People have agglutinated in society. It might be dangerous to yell too much on the Afghans. We are becoming more tribal and thus more hard to govern as a unifying state has less trust. Just look at the Latvians that are giving up their sovereignty and directing themselves to EU?

This leaves the politicians in charge of the state as interlocutors to the people. However, they might just have hotlines to the system chiefs? They might seem like "överhetens handgångna män" but politicians are severely constrained managing the complicated state apparatus. This gives them an aloof status. The politician is probably going to need more and more training in order to function. It is becoming a profession in itself. This poses a problem when it comes to integrating politicians that are coming from outside as people that have become popular in some other way. This makes the FRA-law less important as it is related to the state and not to the civil organizations that have lost privacy in an other fashion.

There might be a certain tug-of-war between systems and the state but it has not become official, yet. However, so called systems can be very "förmyndande" as well. There are also people in the so called "outsideship" that I hereby give another definition: people not associated with a system. Integration of foreigners is very difficult because it involves getting people accepted into the systems. Foreigners also form systems by themselves. Probably sometimes even with sharia laws. Power is being transferred to the systems. So are international contacts.


Congress more Responsible Today

Senate Panel Clears Health Bill With One G.O.P. Vote - NYTimes.com: "“Is this bill all that I would want?” Ms. Snowe asked. “Far from it. Is it all that it can be? No. But when history calls, history calls. And I happen to think that the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress to take every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time.”"

I wonder if Ms Snowe also checked the RCP job approval rate for Congress? Apparently it is not nice if the bill does not become bipartisan for the reason that it have been that before at the earlier improvements of health care in the US.

Otherwise I do not quite understand why this is a problem and why it is cover story stuff. The democrats have a clear majority in Congress. However, it is hoped that Ms Snowe's vote will make others vote for the bill. It is also possible that moderate Democrats that have been hard to convince now will side with the majority.

See also Washington Post and Bloomberg.

The Environment?

An important aspect of the relative relevance of environmental issues for the various EU countries is revealed in a table (page 63) in Eurobarometer 71 (June-July 2009). The perhaps most striking feature of the data is the low interest in Germany. It seems to depend on how you have solved your energy needs?

What do you think are the two most important questions facing (OUR COUNTRY) at the moment (Max 2 answers)?

5% - EU27
19% - Sweden and Denmark
11% - France
10% - Finland
6% - United Kingdom, Belgium, Bulgaria, Malta
5% - Netherlands, Luxemburg
4% - Italy
3% - Germany, Austria, Czech Rep., Slovenia, Romania, Cyprus
2% - Slovakia, Poland, Greece, Spain, Estonia
1% - Hungary, Portugal, Lituania, Ireland
0% - Latvia

EU is getting more popular as we speak

The latest data are out in the Eurobarometer 2009 sampled during June-July.

On the question (page 215): Would you say that you are very optimistic, fairly optimistic, fairly pessimistic or very pessimistic about the future of the European union?

Students are optimistic to the degree of 78% and pessimistic in only 14%.

People between 15-24 years of age are optimistic at 70% and pessimistic at 22%.
People at 55+ are optimistic at 58% and pessimistic at 33%.

People in the EU tend to believe that things are going in the right direction at 34% and 35% believe that things are going in the wrong direction. 20% think neither the one or the other.
This can be compared to the Real Clear Politics question for the US: Right track 37%, Wrong track 57%.

On the question: Taking everything into account, would you say that (OUR COUNTRY) has benefited or not from being a member of the European Union? more and more persons are positive over the years. The average number of positive individuals are now 56% whereas the number of negative persons is holding steady at 32% over the years sampled.

Looking at these socio-demographics the conclusion can only be that the EU is a success that will mature more and more as we go along based on the high popularity among the young. However, the reason I started to look for the above data was to find the diagram for how Europeans judge their parliament and government compared to how they feel about the EU parliament and the European Commission. In the Eurobarometer 68 (sampled Nov-Dec 2007) one finds data that people trust the military at 71%, national parliaments at 35% and political parties at 18%. This could be compared with American's job approval for Congress at 25% on the RCP site.

It is interesting that Latvia has the lowest trust in their national government with 10% approval and only 5% approval of their political parties in the light of their devaluation risk and the recent complaints of Anders Borg on their inusufficient frugality. A representative of their government said on SVT that there is a risk of civil unrest if they save more than they do. In Latvia 40% trust the European Parliament!


The American Presidency and Congress

So called pundits are having a field day with what they think are witticisms regarding Obama's Nobel Prize. In the mean time the Real Clear Politics average poll support for Obama has gone up to 53%.

What perhaps is more important is that the poll support for Congress has gone down from 29% to 25% since I took a look at it last time. Could it be that the problem Obama have with the Health care issue is rather aggressions against Congress?

The First European Era of Sweden?

Due to the fact that doctorates could not be received in Sweden but rather warranted that the student spent time abroad, an era in science that was internationally competitive was created. Hopefully we have entered a new such phase with the EU. We are talking about the so called "Frihetstiden", or era of freedom, in the Swedish history, i.e., 1718 to 1772, from the death (murder?) of the warrior king Carl XII, and the collapse of the Great Power Status of Sweden, to the coronation of Gustav III.

Tore Frängsmyr claims in his book, Svensk Idéhistoria from 2004, that the first half of the 18th century ushered in a utility culture in science that led to the establishment of the Science academy 1739, "Vetenskapsakademin", modelled after the Royal Society of London from 1660.

Apparently this challenge in utility imported from England back fired somewhat and did not create a significant enough pay off and was replaced gradually during the latter half of the 18th century with French enlightening, although the interest in the radical parts of this movement was not embraced. Rather the Swedes lost themselves in mystical matters of the type Swedenborgianism.

This demonstrates the danger in a too forceful promotion of the practical aspects of science. Frängsmyr does not mention the great Anthony van Leeuwenhoek that for the first time saw microbes and mammalian cells in his microscope and that was a member of the Royal Society. This was of course a real eye opener in science. Sweden did not build up an interest in the microbial world and excelled in the more macroscopically descriptive botany of Carl von Linné. What we today call medicine was standing still for the entire 18th century in Sweden until 1801 when Edward Jenner's 1796 discovery of the cow-pox vaccine was introduced. Carl Wilhelm Scheele should be mentioned as a forerunner in European chemistry in the hunt for the element oxygen.

Still Sweden was better internationally in science than we were in industrialization during the 18th century. Both an attempt of Jonas Alströmer to start a textile factory and Mårten Triewald to start a steam engine failed and Sweden remained in agriculture only except for the iron business.

Sweden was mainly influenced by the German philosopher Christian Wolff, a rationalist inspired by Leibniz. Even the Church took up wolffianism to fight the modern world with its own weapon. Wolffianism meant that one uses mathematical type deduction for all kinds of problems. The empiricist John Locke was also influential but his influence on Swedish culture is not elucidated formally according to Frängsmyr. Immanuel Kant who fused rationalism with empiricism became important during the so called "gustavianska tiden" 1772 to 1809. However, his tacit support for the French revolution made him look suspicious in this paranoically repressive era. Wolffianism is believed to have inspired the thoroughness of Germans which we just might have inherited as well.

The four Estates ruled in Sweden during the so called "Frihetstiden" after the disastrous rule by Carl XII. However, there was no real freedom of religion, the press or speech. A new law for the freedom of the press was enacted 1766 as an expression of the enlightenment. The question is how this period reflects in the absence of a revolutionary mood in Sweden at the time?Frängsmyr does not mention any influence from the American revolution which did have a positive outcome rather than the disastrous French ditto? He did claim however, that the Swedish 1809 constitution is modelled on the separation of powers of Montesquieu.

Happy Columbus Day everyone!


Nobel Obama, the Polarizer

Well, a lot of people have had a lot of ideas regarding this year's Nobel Peace Prize so far. Initially I was surprised because I was mentally busy processing Obama's dilemma with AfPak. Since I firmly believe that it is time for Afghanistan and Pakistan to mind their own business, I do feel, however, that the prize comes as a good omen for peace.

It is of course a very distinguished body of people that nominate candidates for the Peace Prize therefore the prize carries weight and having the idea that Obama is worthy of the prize means that you are in good company.

Personally I believe that Obama got the prize because of the shift in attitude he created for the US. A shift in attitude that is of paramount importance for ushering in the new multipolar world order. This is a major change for the better.

That he takes a firm stance against torture is also very important. I have seen an editorial writer here in Sweden stating that he is against torture in war but in essence don't mind it in civil life. I hope that President Obama is against torture period. I am convinced, and my experience tells me, that this is going to become a very central issue in the not so distant future.

I believe Obama will prove more than worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.


Maslow's triangle and Rokeach values

According to Abraham Maslow, 1948, we all progress from physiological needs to security, love and belonging, esteem and finally self actualization. We find these steps as major Rokeach values, however, the top value self actualization is only checked as very important by 30% of individuals versus for example 75% for love. and 90% for health. Wisdom is checked by 35% of individuals.

Self actualization is a state with independence, a tendency to form few but deep friendships, a philosophical sense of humor, a tendency to resist outside pressures, a general transcendence of the environment rather than merely coping with it.

Self actualization and wisdom are stable values. They do not change with time in the SOM study for Sweden. This is a little depressing because it means that we are not improving the population, i.e., producing more self actualized persons that value wisdom. However, 30-35% is a rather high percentage and this is positive since it means that there are many such individuals in our society. There must be plenty of representatives from the so called "Verklighetens Folk" group, or Real People, that has recently been described. My humble question would however be how "real" people are if they don't value wisdom very high?

When I wrote that I regard people in science as a priesthood that work in search of God, i.e., Einstein's God, I did not realize that so many regarded wisdom so highly. However, it is noted that science is just part of all wisdom on Earth. It would be interesting to know how many scientists would share my idea. According to Richard Dawkins most scientists are atheists. Human behavior is also part of Nature and people in the Arts would also be searching for the Nature God. So again, it is a Liberal Arts Education that counts.

1776 the founding Fathers of the US claimed the Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness was of paramount importance. Well, health, freedom are top Rokeach values. At least in Sweden there seems to be more problems with the pursuit. Only 65-70% of people check happiness as very important and as I already said only 30% search for happiness as self actualized.


New Dogmatics?

After the Reformation started 1517 science began to move, although cautiously. Copernicus died 1543 and some say the manuscript for the heliocentric theory lay on his death bed together with him. He had known at least 10 years prior to that but did not dare to publish when alive.

In Sweden things moved even slower. According to Tore Frängsmyr's Svensk Idéhistoria Carl XI made the church into a subsidiary of the state by a law in 1686. 1689 the king decided that philosophy was to be separate from theology. Philosophy should be completely free at the universities, if it did not compromise Christian faith or Biblical content. This compromise was necessary at the time because science was not stoppable nor was orthodoxy assailable.

Part of science have today disappeared into a new kind of misty dogmatics by a Church unknown. For how long? As far as I can see serious progress has been prevented by this mistake. Is Sweden in the shadows of world science again? This is important to ponder now as we celebrate the Nobel prizes of 2009.


Migration on Earth?

UNDP-rapport om migration - invandring lönsamt för alla Wolfgang Hansson Analys Nyheter Aftonbladet: "Migranter skickar hem stora summor pengarna till familjen som är kvar i hemlandet. Pengar som sammantaget är långt större än hela västvärldens bistånd. Pengar som leder till ökad konsumtion och skapar fler jobb. Precis som det finns ett flöde av idéer och innovation till mottagarländerna så återvänder migranterna med sin kunskap till de gamla hemländerna. En slags omvänd 'brain-drain' som leder till färre barn, en större vilja att sätta barnen i skola och höjer kvinnornas status."

There was recently an online debate on The Economist web site where the pros and cons of migration were discussed. The consensus between the two propositions became that Mother Earth could take more migration than at present and still benefit. One question that came up was to which extent migration should be regulated in the receiving country. It was called societal engineering. Sounds a little difficult in my humble opinion but Nyamko Sabuni recently advocated such measures for Sweden.

The Logical Argument - Then What?

Op-Ed Columnist - The Public Imperative - NYTimes.com: "I can see the conservative argument that welfare undermines the work ethic and dampens moral fiber. Provide sufficient unemployment benefits and people will opt to chill rather than labor. But it’s preposterous to extend this argument to health care. Guaranteeing health coverage doesn’t incentivize anybody to get meningitis."

This logic is putting the finger on a crucial difference over the Atlantic. The question is how much else that depend on the underlying psychology. The conservatives in the US argue that they have the best medicine in the world, which is true in the absolute sense, but at the same time they don't want to make health care a human right. I have earlier argued around this but the question now is can the excellence in science seen in the US be related to the above delineated conservative logic?

The question is important because the people of EU does not want to give up universal health care if that would be the price for excelling in science. The Americans are currently trying to solve their health care dilemma but how should the EU solve the science dilemma?

I'm talking about basic science, not technology, although there is probably a lot of cross feeding these days. The first thing that I would like to comment on is that despite the fact that the grant application ways in the US are more demanding it is popular to do science in the US. From this would follow that the more secure research paths in Europe might not be so popular after all and could be replaced. More peer reviewed competition in other words. European science should perhaps be more like European business rather than European welfare.

Another important issue is whether or not research should be performed at institutes or at the universities together with education of students? Or should the basic science be performed in house at pharmaceutical companies? Or in collaboration? When I left science in 1993, it seemed like much of the data was disappearing into smaller units than on the open publication market. Hard to know in other words. Information flows in various ways these days.

How much utility is supposed to emanate from the science? Necessity does not generate basic science results. They evolve from the curiosity of the individual scientist. They need propinquity, however, and therefore mobility should be supported. Political steering of basic science is futile. It expands and contracts as there are scientists available. The politicians can help in shaping the schooling system.

Gunnar Hökmark discussed the organization of universities in Europe recently. He disliked their focus on how old they were rather on their placement in the Shanghai list. In Sweden they expanded the university system a lot while I was in the US. This is all and well for education engineers but the five universities of my student times are probably too many for Sweden when basic science is discussed. Two would probably be better. Two competing centers of excellence.

As the one American born Nobel laureate in Medicine of today points out. The Swedish Nobel prizes are great publicity for basic science and I hope the trend of awarding prizes for more applied research, like computer hard discs, is phased out. There must be other ways of popularizing science.


Congratulations Europe

Now finally we have the Lisbon Treaty that will make Europe more like a nation. I know there is people for and against this notion but I firmly believe the time has come for a United Europe. However, many emphasized the EU is just serving the member states and it is not something by itself. A philosophical question with great practical implications. Unfortunately there is ambivalence for the European project currently and this is so wrong. Remember that if you have talent in the US it does not matter where you come from. In Europe people tend to retain a nationalist perspective where you promote your own country before the Union. This is internationally costly.

President Obama's administration clearly indicated that a multipolar world is emerging. This mean that we are having new players that are larger than before and that the many small countries in Europe must come together for staying in the game. The Lisbon Treaty will give us a president and a high representative for foreign policy that will make it easier for people around the world to register a Europe on the map rather than having to try to integrate the interests of 27 nations.

Margot Wallström started a forum called Debate Europe a while ago that I found interesting. I learned that it is impossible to discuss the very important language question. My conclusion was that it would be good if most countries accepted English as a second language after the native one. It is a matter of keeping English as the World language of science and technoloogy. The other thing I realized was that the UK is doubting the EU project. David Cameron, the leader of the Tories in the UK, has promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if it is not ready when he probably comes to power during 2010. The risk is now that the Czechs will delay their signature until the election in the UK. The Lisbon Treaty makes it possible for a country to leave the EU and lets hope a conservative England does not do just that.

Many people have guessed that Tony Blair, the late Labour leader of Great Britain, would become President for the EU during the first 2.5 years. Blair became a Catholic which would make this more probable due to the Catholic nature of the Continent. A devout president is also favorable for the trans-Atlantic relations. I think he would be an excellent candidate because I agree with him about George W. Bush and Iraq something that is a draw back for him in Europe in general. I would not mind seeing Carl Bildt as high representative but I would not be surprised if a more russophile individual will be elected. Will we see an Asian shift of Europe or will it stay Atlanticist?

There is one risk with a more assertive EU, however, speaking of its foreign policy, and that is for Israel. The relations have not been good since Avigdor Lieberman became foreign minster. According to The Jerusalem Post the relationship with the US is back on track for Israel so the situation is not so serious as it seemed a few months ago. People don't talk about this in Sweden much but 30% of Europeans think the Jews started the financial crisis according to a recent poll. The rising muslim population in Europe is part of this problem but I hope it will not deteriorate further.

Another problem for Bildt as a high representative would be the enlargement issue. Sweden is pro-Turkey. Berlin, Paris and Rome are against adding Turkey to the union. I agree with the Continental notion on this matter but I am for the inclusion of the Balkan states. Apparently Bildt is managing this question well under the Swedish chairmanship since the problem with Croatia and Slovenia seems to have found a solution. Ukraine is of course a major issue but I would advocate a wait and see approach. Russia just changed the telephone country code to Abkhazia and South Ossetia to their own so they are telling everyone what they think. The problem with Russian thoughts, however, seems to be that they depend largely on the price of oil.

What I also hope will emanate from a more defined EU is that a more permanent president will find time to make Europe front line in science again. EU might be the most secure place to be on Earth but it is not the best in science and technology. The US and Japan have beaten us on this and China and India is catching up quickly. Japan was also ravaged by World War II so we can not make this excuse. I believe a more united leadership would solve this problem. The question is if an Euro club lead would motivate more countries to integrate into core European values and thus motivate more mobility in science that I believe would be very important for its development. Centers of excellence will have to be defined and effectively utilized. Due to the multipolarity power situation important information that used to be published for all to see is now staying in the respective power centers which makes self reliance important.


Georgia and Russia

I don't like what seems to be the fact in a new report from the EU where equal blame, or even Georgia's fault, is advocated in the war now gone for a year for the reason that it seems like a measurement of the position of EU between the US and Russia. More Russia now, then more blame on Georgia.

I see no change from what was said a year ago in the report. Russia had an agenda for the two provinces Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and carried it through, thus they are most to be blamed.

Post German Election--The Continent Starts to Move?

France and Germany unite to push Britain to EU sidelines - Times Online: "Joschka Fischer, a former German Foreign Minister, said the Franco-German axis had to come into its own again whatever the fate of the Lisbon treaty. “The centre of gravity of Europe can only be Paris and Berlin,” he told Le Monde last weekend. “Britain has decided to stay on the edge. Italy is . . . Italy. Poland has a way to come. Spain is buried in deep crisis.”"

In The New York Times Roger Cohen writes:

"This Germany is more nationalistic, more evenly poised between Washington and Moscow, cool to the point of disinterest about the European Union, self-absorbed and self-satisfied, dutiful but unenthused about the NATO alliance."

This is post financial crisis stuff where Sarkozy and Merkel have come together on bonuses and tax-havens. I took a look at Gordon Brown's speech the other day and thought it was good. He made a good case for Labour rather than the Tories. However, he was facing severe criticism from many corners and the overall feeling is that he, and the UK, will be essentially gone for a year pending the election next spring. On top of this the Tories are very EU sceptic and has left the EPP in the EU parliament.

Well, Ireland is voting on the Lisbon Treaty tomorrow.