Alla inlägg av Jan Sjunnesson

Bloggar om svensk och internationell politik och kultur. Frihetlig och konträr.

Muslimsk fredsagent hyllar stupad jihadist

Kajs Atallah vid Lidingö folkhögskola på internationell konferens för fredsagenter
Kajs Atallah vid Lidingö folkhögskola på internationell konferens för fredsagenter


Till ledningen för Fryshuset, Lidingö folkhögskola och Tro & Solidaritet,

Jag skriver till er i ett litet men principiellt viktigt ärende. Den 25 juni 2013 publicerade Svenska Dagbladets krönikör Per Gumundsson uppgifter på sin blogg som berör era enheter i varierande grad.

En ung muslimsk man vid namn Kajs Atallah har skrivit på sin Facebook sida en hyllning till en stupad vän men också jihadist i Syrien. Här finns hans ord om vännen på Gudmundssons blogg, kopierat från Atallahs privata FB sida:

”I detta liv var du ett LEJON och nu är du in sha Allah en fågel som flyger runt Allahs tron i paradiset.
En fin människa som visade godhet och omtänksamhet mot sina föräldrar och syskon i synnerhet och sin omgivning i allmänhet.
En ädel bror som var omtyckt av precis ALLA pga. sin etik, moral och karaktär.
Må Allah acceptera dig som shaeed och må Allah besvara din önskan! Amin
Kärleken är obegränsad. Saknaden är stor. Ditt härliga leende och ljuva skratt består! / Din bristfällige storebror”

Texten kan verka oskyldig men orden LEJON och shaeed (som betyder martyr på arabiska) är i sammanhanget inte alls representativt för någon som verkar som fredsagent för Tro & Solidaritet vilket han gjorde bland annat sommaren 2012 vid Lidingö folkhögskola i arrangemang av Tro & Solidaritet, se Jag kan ha fel men en fredsagent kan väl knappast hylla jihadistiska frikårer i Syrien som läget ser ut nu ?

Vidare ingår Kajs Atallah i Fryshusets projekt Tillsammans för Sverige, en , ett projekt för interreligiös dialog som ”utgår från de mänskliga rättigheterna och vill visa hur religion kan vara en väg till integration och en växtkraft för unga i arbetet för fred och förståelse”. Hur denna ambition kan sammanföras med hans hyllning till en jihadist kan bli svårt att förklara men det är inte upp till mig.
Jag som skriver detta är en fd biträdande rektor vid Fryshusets Gymnasium 2005- 2007, sedemera verksamhetschef vid Internationellt Kulturcentrum vid Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan och universitetsadjunkt vid Stockholms universitet. Ni får göra vad ni vill av denna lilla upplysning men ta tag i Kajs Atallah när ni ser honom är ett gott råd. Att Svenska Dagbladet sitter på sådana uppgifter kan visa sig förödande i framtiden.

Allt gott i era strävanden efter interreligiös dialog,

Jan Sjunnesson

Me, Montaigne and Mahabharata

The five Pandava Brothers in the Mahabharata epic
The five Pandava Brothers in the Mahabharata epic. with Yudhisthira in centre

I have now reached well beyond the age when Michel de Montaigne in 1571 took an early retirement to write his Essais, 39 years.  In fact, the age when he died at 59, is just 4 years ahead for me. Parallels abound, personal and philosophical for me and Montaigne, but I want introduce another perspective on such an endeavour in midlife for gentlemen, that of the life-stage of the Forest- Dweller in ancient India who spends time dwelling over the ancient epic Mahabharata.  A 21th century contemporary commentator of the Mahabharata will also appear, Shri Gurcharan Das.

In ancient Indian Vedic tradition and philosophy, life was divided in four stages in according to the ashrama system for devoted Hindus. First, one studies up until around 20 years, the student or Brahmacharya stage. Second, entering the householder’s stage, Grihastha, until around 45 years.  Third, Vanaprastha stage of the hermit in the forest until around 65 years. Fourth and last, the Sannyasa stage of total reclusion with intention to spiritual liberation, Moksha.

Me at 55 years in the 21th century and Montaigne at 39 in the 16th century enter our Vanaprastha stages too, where we look back at our lives, still with ties to family and careers but preparing for the final stage and death. Montaigne sought his role models from Epicurean, Skeptic and Stoic philosophers in ancient Greece and Rome, which I find familiar and useful, but the ancient Indian traditions are also interesting for Western middle-aged middle class men like me and my readers. The forest-dweller of Vanuprastha, which literally means forest (vana) and going to (prastha), is satisfied with what life has brought him materially, as the affluent Montaigne was, and lives on as little as possible. In reality, few people can do this well unless they have had a good life materially and stems from a learned or well-to do family for generations. There is such a forest-dweller today in 21st century India, Gurcharan Das.

Indian businessman Gurcharan Das took an early retirement at age 51 after a life as a prominent businessman after 30 years. He comes from a good family in western Punjab, now in Pakistan, and made a career with a multinational corporation after been to Harvard, studying philosophy under John Rawls.  In 1994 he decided to devote his life to writing and intellectual pursuits, such as heading the liberal think tank Centre for Civil Society in New Delhi. I met him a few times while working under him at the think tank, and later read his auto-biographical novel A fine family, but foremost his 2009 moral and scholarly treatise The difficulty of being good: on the subtle art of dharma.

This contemporary Indian Montaigne has a similar taste for ancient texts but the choice is the Hindu epic Mahabharata, rather than Seneca’s aphorisms or Herodotus’ stories. Das went back to USA in 2002 for an “academic holiday”, where he studied as a young man, now to University of Chicago and studied the classical Sanskrit text with the best Mahabharata scholars in the world. As a businessman and a concerned citizen, Das was distraught by the moral failures of the global financial system in the first decade of the new millenium.  His attempt was to wrestle some old but still worthwhile truths about mankind which would enable him to better understand both Western and Eastern ways of dealing with tough decisions, moral boundaries and how to be good.

Like with Montaigne in 1572, a certain melancholy got Das started. The two see more tragic wisdom in tales of wars, horrors, superstition, deceit and such in epics like The Iliad and Odysseus, and the Mahabharata, than in philosophical treaties.  Das comments on the two classical tragic war epics, Western and Eastern:

“The Iliad is bloodthirsty, driven by anger and violence. The Mahabharata is just as gory, but it questions the violence. The first word in the Iliad is menin, rage, as Homer asks the Muse to sing about the ‘wrath of Achilles’. The Bhagavadgita’s [central chapter in the Mahabharata] first word is dharma-kshetre, ‘field of righteousness’, signalling that this is no ordinary was enacted on a battlefield; it is also a war of dharma in the conscience of each human being” [1]

Dharma means truth, way, duty, goodness, law – what is good in the same sense as Aristotle and Plato meant it.  The former’s concept of virtue is similar to dharma, the latter’s search for righteousness is also included in dharma.

Although the Essais are a kind of scholarly work albeit very personal and almost private, whereas the Mahabharata is not, if Indian readers forgive me for excluding the esoteric-spritual Bhagavadgita chapter (which was commented upon by Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Emerson and Thoreau in 19th century), I do think the thoughts of the French gentleman and speculations by ancient Indian sages are interesting to compare. Das’ study The difficulty of being good is the best application so far of Western philosophical and ethical ideas and traditions to the Mahabharata, a lot suggested by his friend and colleague Martha Nussbaum, by way of Hume, Kant and Rawls.

For non-Indian readers a short introduction to the story of the Bharata family wars, as compiled in the Maha Bharata (the Great Bharata[2]).  Two closely related warrior families in northern India become enemies to each other after a series of wrong decisions, deceit, envy and sense of duty. Five brothers who share one wife have the god Krishna on their side (an incarnation/avatar of the celestial god Lord Vishnu) against their cousin who has more armies and wealth behind him. After losing a game of dice the five brothers are forced into exile for 12 years but come back with revenge after much deliberation by their leader Yudhishthira who is committed not to use violence.

In the end the god Krishna persuades him and especially his brother Arjuna[3] to do what is right and true dharma, which is to fight the oppressing cousin Duryodhana. After a war with many magical incidents, the five brothers win. But like the ancient Greek heroes felt after bloodshed, the victory does not feel entirely right. The brothers fought their own grandfather, their cousins, and even one brother, although they did not know it. Looking out over the corpses, the leader Yudhishthira who is also a spiritual scholar of the ancient Vedas, a brahmin, just as he is of warrior caste, a kshatriya, wants to give up what he fought for and become a recluse, to enter the melancholy Vanaprashta stage in life. Krishna admonishes him, calls him selfish and ungrateful to the team that fought against the oppressors. None of them are satisfied with being recluses again.

The victorious leader Yudhishthira understands finally what he needs to do as a king, and enters  the palace throne, giving out positions to his brothers and comrades in arms and thus reigning gracefully for 36 years. The god Krishna who persuaded him not to follow a purely spiritual path gets accidentally killed. A remarkable ending but in line with the frail existences of the epic’s heroes.

No one is entirely evil or good. Characters behave as promiscuously as the Greek gods did during Homer’s and Aeschylus’ times. What differs is their reasoning openly about moral and metaphysical in the midst of action[4].  The reluctant non-violent king Yudhishthira is obviously a dharma king, an enlightened despot that understands the role of violence in his reign, but only as a last resort. Even violence must be used to defend dharma, or the good in the world.  Striking is that the deity Krishna needs to twice persuade humans not to be overly spiritual and unworldly, but take up arms and execute royal powers.

Krishna teaches the worldview of being in the world but not of the world. To act one must, as a householder, father, in working life etc., but do not think for a second that this world is all there is. Krishna shows his friend Arjuna how life starts, grows and stops, how generations follow one by one through life and death, and that the questions of meaning in life, man’s place in the universe, love and honour, duty and dharma, will always be there. To do one’s duty is to do the needful, as the colonial Indian English expression has it, with compassion. Only needs will be an animal life, but only compassion will get similarly wasted.

But how does we know what to do ? What is our duty ? Fairly easy in India where the warrior caste fights and the priests chant, as the impression could be from reading the Mahabharata. But even there people have choices. Duty can be also thought in a more universal sense, which runs alongside the sense from caste divisions and traditions. Noteworthy is the beautiful Drupadi who is shared by five husbands. Some characters also change sexes which make even questions of what men and women must do extraordinary. The toughest warrior of the victorious Pandava brothers, Arjuna, teaches dance and music to the court ladies when he is disguised as an eunuch. In the battlefield he is at first the most hesitant though having all sorts of magical powers and weapons.

Duty implies virtues, which in the Indian epic is what most characters strive for but few accomplish. Even the saintly Yudhishthria tells a kind of lie, concealing the truth of who has dies by mixing same name for an enemy’s son and an elephant. He is remorseful of this but appears still more holy than Lord Krishna who uses tricks to win and never excuses himself. He refers instead to a reasoning of means-to-ends that any business executive would appreciate.  For me as for Gurcharan Das, Krishna is not the main heroic character to follow but the anti-hero Yudhishthria.

Aristotelian virtue ethics seem consistent with the ancient Indian concepts at about the same time, 400 B.C.  The careful steering through a middle way between compassion and strength through violence is honoured by both. Forbearance, prudence and philosophical wisdom are more evident in Aristotle, who probably used his Nicomachian Ethics as lecture notes and not as an never- ending tale of wars and heroes, gods and human failures.

For someone like Monsieur Michael de Montaigne, if we return to his 17th century tower, ancient Greek virtues were much cherished and pondered upon. But he did not make himself into a French Renaissance gentleman by repeating the building of character and relying on virtues. Rather his adventure was to find in himself the faults (and farts) of precisely those virtue ethics. One should be courageous in battles, on horseback, in conversation (which probably was his best genre) and courts. His role models from Rome are Stoic where he is not. A modern individual in premodern times, or even postmodern as French philosopher J-F Lyotard once dubbed his fellow countryman, M. de Montaigne.

The only character in the Mahabharata that equals Montagine is Yudhishthira. Though they chose opposite ways, Montaigne going in to inner exile leading a Western Vanaprastha stage in life, while Yudhishthira takes on the throne as king, albeit a dharmic and therefore good king, they both are melancholic and remorseful at middle age. None of them are satisfied really. Montaigne finds he has failed his philosophical heroes and Yudhishthira ponders over his violent actions. Life was and is not better than this they seem to say. What unities them further is their truthfulness to their experiences and ambitions for leading truthful lives. Montaigne seems to miss his public life with all its mishappens, not being satisfied with his ancient books as friends.  Yudhishthira is reluctant ruler who longs for recluse, but does his duty no matter what he feels. Or he feels he must do his duty as king and is convinced that it is for the benefit of all. Maybe not for himself but for the kingdom, his kins and the protection of dharma.  He even states after being lectured by his wise uncle Bhishma about the need for a king to use violent force in order to protect the innocent,

“O Lord, the rod of punishment that reaches everywhere with the tremendous fiery energy is the best thing for all living things”[5]

Melancholy anti-heroes Montaigne and Yudhishthira had both been exposed to death, murder, wars as responsible rulers, yet keeping distance to their gruesome experiences. In the end, both of them continue to pursue their respective philosophical and spiritual developments. They persevere.  In fact, the name Yudhishthira means ”steady in war”, which is something he was not from the beginning but became. Montaigne’s perseverance is creating an open reflective and honest gentilhomme of himself. Their lives have taught them a kind of duty to do what is right irrespective of circumstances. An imperative to do good that has been tremendously hard for them to follow. Easier for Montaigne for sure, but he has a minute eye for all his failed ambitions that Yudhishthira does not tell us. Both of them want to lead a peaceful life where one does what one should do as any carpenter would do with a saw and a plank.  The trouble with them is their intellectual abilities that questions their duties and wants to find out why something needs to be done. They would make sorry carpenters.

Sarah Bakewell, How to live or A life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer (Other Press, London 2010)

Gurcharan Das, The difficulty of being good. On the subtle art of dharma (Oxford University Press, New York 2009)

Gurcharan Das, A fine family (Penguin India, New Delhi 1990)

Michel de Montaigne, The Complete essays. Translated by M.A. Screech (Penguin, London, 1991). Original texts 1580-1592.

R.K. Narayan, The Mahabharata (Penguin, London, 1978). Original text  ̴ 1500 B.C.E.

[1] P. 107-108

[2] Bharat is also the first name for India, still officially in use.  Persians called the people along the Indus Valley Hindus and their country India, but that was later. For Hindu religious purposes Bharat is used.

[3] Krishna’s reasoning with Arjuna who hesitates to fight his own cousins is the theme of the Bhagavadgita chapter, the Song of God (Bhagvan). Gandhi, Aurobindo and Tilak used the Gita in the fight against the British colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century. I read first the Gita in Arkansas, USA, 1976, of all places.

[4] This reasoning, repetitions and the bewildering family linkages (where charcters change names like in Russian novels) make the story very long, sometimes boring and quite complicated, much like the Bible. R.K. Narayan’s condensed version  is 180 pages long, whereas the original texts make up 18 volumes.

[5] The Mahabharata quoted in The difficulty of being good, p. 228

Presentation av The Swedish story i New Delhi


I mitten av juli 2013 presenterade jag min Sverigebok The Swedish story vid Centre for Civil Society i New Delhi, Indien. En liberal tankesmedja som jag själv arbetat på tidigare.

De unga åhörarna fick höra om det extrema landet i norr och hur det kan bli mer likt normala länder i World Values Survey diagram.  De ställde kloka frågor om vad detta skulle innebära t ex i välståndsförändringar vilket kan besvaras med att USA, Australien och övriga Skandinavien är minst lika rika el tom rikare men med mer normala värderingar. Här finns min PPT.

Snart kommer den svenska översättningen, prel kallad Bortom Extremsverige. Både den och den engelska upplagan kommer också finnas som eböcker.

Förbannade svenskar skriver, arga invandrare agerar


Vad som gör vissa etniska svenskar, här kallat vanligt folk, mest förbannade och får dem att skriva vulgära angrepp på invandrare i kommentarsfält och bloggar är det hyckleri de åser angående ursäkter för vissa arga invandrarungdomars agerande.

Orden som gränsar till rashets och definitivt är främlingsfientliga gör inte någon glad eller fyller annan funktion än att få ur sig frustration. Och väl är väl det. För om dessa arga svenskar inte skulle skriva på internet utan ta sig ut i natten och tända eld på okända bilägares egendom eller bränna ned förskolor, finns knappast ord för vad media och etablissemang skulle kunna ta sig till.

Men just dessa handlingar som i varierande antal utförts av just ett fåtal men högljudda och av medier påhejade invandrarungdomar i förorter i Europa och USA de senaste decennierna ursäktas alltför ofta. I England 2011, i Husby i våras  2013 och nu i dagarna efter domen i Florida så går arga unga till angrepp mot egendom och andra oskyldiga.

Kommentarsfälten är fulla av arga utbrott över att dessa handlingar ursäktas, t ex av professor Ove Sernhede (och til blivande lärare),  partiordförande Stefan Löven och naturligtvis av Aftonbladet.  Minsta illa valt ord i dessa kommentarer däremot kan ge upphov till drapor i sagda slaskblad som i en vecka kan hävda att rasism minsann sker i det fördolda på Avpixlat, Exponerat och Fria Tider.  Jag ser som jag noterat tidigare dessa forum som folkfostrare och folkbildare. Fanns inte de skulle de mest arga och vulgära skribenterna dra sig till Nationell, Motpol, Realisten, Nya Tider och vad de kan heta. Där finns nog en del äkta rasister och mörkermän som välkomnar de arga besökarna och inte modererar så noga. En konsekvens blir då emellertid att dessa nya besökare får dels fel kontaktnät, dels bli kallade nazister och rasister oavsett vad de än skriver.  Blotta faktum att skriva där räcker. Blir man sedan kallad rasist för vad man än skriver tror man sig till sist vara det, fast man kanske ville ha en mer restriktiv migrationspolitik, kanske i paritet med EU genomsnittet. Vilket för över till nästa ämne.

SD har länge förespråkat en lägre nivå för invandringen, vilket inte lär ha undgått någon.  Nu har Cecilia Malmström tagit tag i frågan och, se, lagt ett förslag om lägre invandring med sikte på EU genomsnitt (vi tar redan in flest per capita med undantag för Malta, och nr 3 i absoluta tal). Ingen reagerar på att siffrorna hon föreslår är ungefär samma som SD:s utan plötsligt är hon en klok kommissionär (det är hon fö. inte alls, dvs. klok med sin doktorsgrad och IQ men totalt omdömeslös i vad svenska folket förväntas godta utan knussel).

Vidare liknande händelser med samma märkliga medielogik under våren 2013 var mordet på soldaten Rigby i södra London av två svarta muslimer.  De stod kvar och skrek Allah Akbhar när de greps men när jag läste om nyheten på BBC:s hemsida stod detta fundamentala faktum mot slutet i beskrivningen. Det såg annars ut som ett vansinnesdåd utan orsak, liksom när major Nidal Hasan skrek samma Allah Akbhar när han dödade 13 och skadade 29 vid Fort Hood i Texas 2009 men blev rapporterat som en arbetsplatsolycka.

Den brittiske Douglas Murray följde nyhetsrapporteringen om mordet på Rigby och inom några timmar fann han att nyheten hade förändrats till att bevaka så att inga angrepp skedde mot brittiska muslimer eller att någon skrev något på twitter. I sin bok Islamophilia berättar han om denna och andra särbehandlingar muslimer fått i media. Tyvärr gjorde någon det och en tant sade till pressen att muslimer inte var att lita på. Båda åtalades för att använt sin yttrandefrihet efter en fruktansvärt tragisk händelse och givit utlopp för sin frustration.

Den frustration som britter och svenskar visar i ord kan inte jämställas med den frustration som vissa invandrare visar genom att förstöra egendom och slåss med polis och oskyldiga. Naturligtvis kan även arga invandrarungdomar skriva vulgära påhopp på twitter och internet, följ @ingridcarlqvist @rogsahl får ni se, men dessa påhopp anmäls sällan.

Folk ser hur olika måttstockar används för skilda grupper och handlingar; svenskar som skriver illa om invandrare hängs ut, invandrare som förstör egendom (ofta andra invandrares) ursäktas.   Det är ingen konspiration, ingen dold agenda, utan något de som följer näthatsdebatten och annat sett länge.

Jag upprepar: Det är BRA att Avpixlat m fl. finns som tar in nästan alla kommentarer, och det är FEL att Newsmill m fl. inte låter folk skriva av sig.  Det är FEL när Aftonbladet kan driva hetskampanjer mot ”skiten” i kommentarsfälten och det är BRA att Mats Dagerlind får tala till punkt på Publicistklubben.

Yttrandefriheten tål det mesta men det finns tillfällen som den kan behöva inskränkas menade JS Mill.  Det ena är om man framför hot och hetsande yttranden framför en grupp med uppmaning till att begå brott, t ex vid Reclaim the Streets fönsterkrossningar i Göteborg 2000 och i Husbyupploppen (då via sociala media). Det andra tillfället är, givetvis, när yttranden övergå i kriminella handlingar vilket skett över hela Västeuropa och USA sedan decennier, nästan alltid utfört av arga (halvkriminella) invandrarungdomar (i Frankrike 2006 i synnerhet, i London 2011 troligen lika delar arga vita som bruna butiksrövare).

När man så öppet visar att inte samma villkor gäller för olika gruppers ord och handlingar kallas det hyckleri. Om dessa grupper skiljer sig åt etniskt och i hudfärg kallas det rasism.

Home schooling an American boy in Ukraine – a book review


This review on Amazon of the ebook Edward came about as the author, Graham Seibert, contacted me after reviewing my book The Swedish story. My book is quoted in his and now I will try to judge his book. Amazon sure makes people publish and find new online friends. Much appreciated as I have similar international experiences..

His book is by far the most unique writing on education and society I have read. It is deeply personal yet abstract in its reasoning over his choice to leave the US for Ukraine and home school his very young child Edward. He tries to connect every detail of his own life, including two failed marriages and unsupportive adult children, with general knowledge and views about the rise and fall of Western civilisation, morals, politics and bits of science on intelligence testing and races, social development and ethnics groups. Not unlike my book about Swedish culture and history but more personal and far reaching into future demographic and economic changes.


He starts his writing of the book Edward, which alludes to J-J Rousseau’s similar self-educational 18th century treatise Émile, from an impersonal point of view yet bold:

“This is a plan to home school Mr. Seibert’s son, Edward in his mother’s homeland, Ukraine. Character is key: if he is honest and dependable, Edward will be a success. Pride and respect for himself and his ancestors are essential inspirations to be a good husband, father, and provider. Mr. Seibert’s experience as a parent, private school trustee, teacher, and finally educational school student led to the strong conviction that, in educating a second family, he had to take full control of the process. This book describes why and how.”

By this rather megalomaniac stance the reader is caught into the author’s world of learning, views and future plans in Ukraine. Seldom has an author been as self-critical and open as this author and readers will be aware that he does not bow down to anyone.

Readers who do not appreciate his fight for starting a new family – and by God, telling the world about it in a book – will put the book down and are also urged to do so. Rousseau was also considered mad in his pedagogical fervour yet he started a whole new educational tradition, the progressive (of which neither I nor the author Graham Seibert have much care for).

I predict that very few will actually read and appreciate this new 21th century Émile but for those who do, it is a pleasure to follow Seibert’s well-written and well- reasoned ways. Yes, the book is mad to begin with but it is worth investing the price and read carefully. In the end, one may consider it a worthwhile read but still a mad endeavour to tell the world about one’s personal life and total focus on one single poor toddler in Kiev, Edward or Eddie as his writing father calls him.

I cannot refrain from thinking while reading about the fatherly cares and plans for his son, the progeny, of what Edward Seibert will think when he reads the book himself, by year 2030 or so. But that has not and should not keep Seibert Senior from publishing his thoughts.  His grownup children in USA seem to be lost to him anyway and maybe Edward will be proud to become the topic of 230 pages of partly dense academic prose of the philosophical foundations of his character development. Or not.


Here is the family story of the author Graham SeibertEdward, essential knowledge to readers:

The author Graham Seibert grew up in California in early 1940s and had a decent career in information technology, teaching and statistics on the East coast (Maryland and Washington D.C.).  After two marriages and somewhat unsuccessful attempts to raise his children, he is now starting a second family in Ukraine.  His dissatisfaction with raising his first children seems to be their inability to appreciate traditional American values, history and culture (but in that they are like all born after 1950) and their abstinence from granting him grandchildren, not to mention decent careers, stable relationships and marriages.  He states openly that:

“I assign the bulk of the responsibility for my first family’s failure to carry on my values, to do the ‘normal’ thing and give me grandchildren, to dysfunctional cultural trends in the United States”.

Seibert set out , in 2007 to find a new mate by the time he retired at 65 years. After a stint in Costa Rica, he set off to Kiev in Ukraine to study Russian and eager to find someone more like him with traditional/conservative values and less liberal/individual bias. Mrs. Oksana Seibert appeared out of the blue, a Russian speaking Ukraine traditional woman. Seibert does not tell us how they met as that may be another book and Edward was born 2011. The book tells also of his future children, which means this adventurous American septuagenarian will procreate siblings to the much awaited Edward. Yes he is too much but I like his daring ways.

His reasons for favouring Ukraine is its freedom for children (ride on public buses to school, play and walk outside, much like Sweden), high trust in neighbourhood but distrust of government (which has supported self-reliance), homogenous population and economical living standards. His American retirement on Social Security will get him by but he plans to invest in real estate as money may be taxed or taken somehow. He trades and invests online to stretch his budget, an occupation he seems to love and recommend to toddler Eddie too.


His learning is deep yet he reads widely and draws conclusions which are in the order of libertarian and paleo-conservative lines. His statement  “Our message for Eddie will be that he can and should expect just about nothing from government” is of classical liberal and laissez faire governments of the 1776 constitutional kind, not found anywhere since. Furthermore, 18th century conservative philosopher Edmund Burke will guide the political philosophy of the author’s progeny dear Edward:

“Our job will be do provide Eddie with a Burkian sense of how the world really works, starting with the premise that the only person in the entire world who is entirely dedicated to his welfare will be Eddie himself.”

The author calls himself an ex-patriate which is true but in US’ political terms he would support the two presidential candidates Pauls anyday.  This is no stated but my conclusion as he does not dwell much on contemporary American politics, thankfully. He rather discuss long term changes in Western culture and civilisation, often contrasting Christian, liberal and evolutionary thoughts with one another. Evolution wins most of the time,

A thesis he argues for with some scholarly and journalistic references is that the white Americans and Europeans will become the new Jews, destined to be a successful yet unappreciated minority.  They will be scare in numbers with their higher intelligence and lower birth rates, but essential to drive an even more complicated economy relying on technology, science and information services. People will hate them for their brains like the Jews always have been and unfortunately the whites are the first to blame themselves for their privileges.  He notes that:

“As intelligent people are having fewer and fewer children, and the world is simultaneously putting a premium on intelligence, on people who can create value by automating the repetitive work now done by duller people, Eddie’s talents should be in increasing demand. Jews have been combating envy for eternity; white people have only a couple of generations’ practice. We should have become more adept at defending ourselves by the time Eddie comes of age.”


The relentless self-criticism of Western civilisation is one of the main threads in this book, which echoes of Bruce Bawer, William Dalrymple and Charles Murray. Edward is thought to be safer in Ukraine when the financial chaos will start to spread in the next decades the author and father claims and hopes. Left in the US, he would be target of even more criticism from both minority groups (by then in majority) and from the whites themselves in their political correctness and self-annihilation.

Like Gibbon’s classical 18th century study of the rise and fall of Rome and the 20th century study Family and Civilization  in 1939 by Carle Zimmerman,  Siebert  views civilisations come and go but finds a pattern in the decline due to rise of nuclear family both in Athens, Rome and the West. A mis-guided sense of altruism, UN mantra of egalitarianism making all racial differences due to ill-meaning society and neglect of adherence to one’s tribe, culture and nation adds to the current crisis of the West, along with its near economic disasters. He notes that:

“You can count me among today’s doomsayers. As I write this I am predicting a worldwide depression starting fairly soon, one that will affect just about every country in the world. I anticipate a lot of good coming out of it, however. I think it will restore a work ethic and expose the multitudinous faults in the social models that have emerged from academia to dominate all of Western society over the past century. Specifically, it will show that people are indeed different, and that unbounded altruism can doom a society. I expect that it will accelerate the decline in birth rates already visible in almost every nation, which in turn will reduce population and pressure on the world’s resources. It will also put a premium on educated and capable young men – like Eddie.”

The political correctness of American academia, politics and media is surely a reason to keep Edward away from his country (his citizenship is American) but he needs to learn how the important mumbo-jumbo talk. His father relates current PC taboos without pardon:

“Should you happen to have a social death wish, you can easily exercise it on campus by offering the opinion that homosexuals subject themselves to more health risks than heterosexuals, that children do best when they are raised by two natural parents who happen to be married to each other, or by repeating Larry Summers’ gaffe of referring to intelligence research that rather conclusively shows that at the high end of the range of intelligence, men fairly handily outnumbers women. Don’t even get started talking about how low the actual incidence of rape by white men is, compared to minorities, or how many false reports of rape there happen to be. Anybody with a brain in his head knows that rationality has nothing to do with these dogmas. If you are a student, a government employee, or some cog in the wheel of a big corporation you have to spout the party line or the powers that be will make your life miserable. This is the modern limit on individual freedom: even to propose that unlimited freedom in individual behaviour might not necessarily be a good thing is not permissible.”


Edward’s education will be about character formation rather than only academics. The author and father  notes that his educational role models- Aristotle, Locke and Rousseau-  devote their efforts to morals, virtues, judgement and steady development of one’s civil and familial duties. Central is Aristotle’s ethical doctrine of the Mean and in the background the classical wisdoms of Socrates, Stoics and Montaigne.  Four principles of moral virtue should define the goals of Edward; work hard, learn from experience, pray/meditate and depend on your judgment.

Edward and his future siblings  “need to appreciate restraint and modesty in an immoderate age”, the author writes with reference to sex and indulgence in drinking and drugs etc.

The father recalls these values of modesty being around when he grew up in California by 1940s, went to El Cerrito High School and attended Mrs. Stewart’s private etiquette and ballroom dance academy. Of course he is quaint and old-fashioned in his attitudes but he argues reasonably and grants that his cherished childhood and decent middle-class schooling will never appear as the world has changed. But it was not all bad and there are things to learn from his own father, Edward’s grandfather, who taught young Graham to drive nails with three strokes in mid 20th century California. His father’s hammer is still with him in Ukraine.


Home schooling a child, which is the rationale for writing this book on little Edward, is often thought to raise egotistic and weird anti-social children.  The author strongly declare his and his new family’s and society’s abilities to counter any such developments. The liberalism in USA is what breeds these undesirable traits he states and what is even more unintended; people have become less original in their individual freedoms, strangely enough:

“Liberating man from historical constraints and responsibilities has taken away the incentives that drive people to be creative. Nobody would argue that free time is more abundant today than ever, and there are more people than ever, yet none would argue that humanity is reaching new heights in music, fine art, theatre, literature, inventiveness or much of anything else. The liberal premise that freedom was a prerequisite to creative expression is simply not borne out. The disadvantages, however, of freeing citizens from the obligation to invest in social capital are becoming clearer by the year.”

This observation of a conformist individualism is something I also have found in Swedish value systems (see my book The Swedish story and Gina Gustavsson’s PhD thesis, Treacherous Liberties, 2011, Uppsala University).

His current scholarly references on morals, education and evolution, apart from Charles Murray, are David Gelernter’s America Lite, John Gatto’s An Underground History of American Education and books by Stephen Pinker , Alain de Benoist, Diane Ravitch among others. With these contemporary sparring partners in research and current debate, he sets out to discuss his thoughts on Christianity and liberalism vs. evolution and socio-biology. Being a science – inclined thinker, the author leans towards his teenage hero Charles Darwin but views somehow that practical Christianity rather than Enlightment liberalism is evolution has found does the job better.

But he is very clear about his unfounded support for Christianity which bothers him but in the end is useless to argue about. His wife Oksana is a Russian Orthodox Christian and himself, the retired and late father Graham Seibert, is a reluctant believer, more of an agnostic and existentialist. But he calls himself a practical Christian, in the view of Winston Churchill who cheered the British masses with “Onward, Christian Soldiers” to unite them in faith but most of all in hope.


Since the book is about home schooling (which is the lesser part but does not make the book less valuable), the writer tells us some things about how Edward shall go about his studies.

The curriculum  at the Seibert family home in Kiev will contain;

Languages – English, Russian and Ukrainian








Information tools

There will be focus on one or two subjects at a time, depth rather than skipping through. Meta cognitive skills are desired goals above all as academic content change quickly.

Much attention is given to values and social behaviour, just was set out in the preface with references to Aristotle, Locke and Rousseau. Little Edward as well as all future Seibart children will have learn to behave well before one year. We find small sections on preparations for Edward’s future relationships, flirting, courting, how to find a mate and succeed in marriage, as well as who to make small talk, dinner conversation and if needed, argue and fight.

The home schooler and father Graham Seibert hopes to find fellow homeschoolers in Kiev and globally online which is an important reason for writing his book Edward. That seems not be an easy task locally in Kiev, but online there are many opportunities to meet and share experiences and teaching matters.

The 70 year old father Graham Seibert keeps well after doing daily physical exercises for 40 years, which he wants to his son Edward to continue, as well as to train in some (individual) sport. Outings will be useful to home schooled little Edward, such as paddling down the Dnieper River by Kiev and visiting the family cottage, the traditional Russian/Ukrainian dacha, close by. Biking will be common way of transport and enjoyment including how to fix flat tyres oneself.  Music, grooming, sketching, painting is to be taught along with photography, video, computer graphics, housework (including sewing). Regular text books are to be avoided but father and son will assembling text books themselves when needed. Test will be done as time comes.

The little boy will listen to fairy tales, pre-Disney style and some Biblical tales, such as

The story of creation

Adam and Eve

Cain and Abel

Sodom and Gomorrah /Lot’s wife

Noah and the flood

Noah and Ham

Abraham and Sarah; Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice Isaac

Getting Jacob married, the story of Jacob and Laban deceiving one another

Joseph and the coat of many colours

Pharaoh and the plagues; the Exodus

The Kiev house where all this will be done will have small bedroom for the children with no electronic devices available, certainly not handheld connected machines. No television will be sounding in the living room and no children sneaking into their rooms for undesirable activities (as the author’s earlier children did watching porn and smoking pot).


The future career of Edward is vaguely mentioned yet with some directives.  The father hopes for him to excel academically and find a future in science, business, finance or real estate. Ideally he should be his own boss, have integrity and be a master of his wealth, not enslaved by it. Further, he should marry early and abstain from sex.  Entering the workforce by 2030, when a high IQ and sought after traditional middle-class social skills are desired but rare, he should make it as well as his father or better.  They may even cooperate:

“I also plan to teach Eddie about trading and investing. I will be entering my eighties as he enters his teens. One doesn’t have to be a statistician to anticipate that I will lose a little bit of mental acuity in my ninth decade. I will depend on Eddie to help manage my IRA portfolio, when possible giving him some fraction of it to manage by himself. I hope he takes a strong interest; it is the money that will support him in college and his mother in later life.”

Life will not be all fun and play for Edward. Being kind of thrown out of two countries with an fast aging father and not siblings close by (or even desiring to meet the former family members), the father and author “anticipate a kind of existential loneliness for Eddie, as a man out of his times”. He will be like a Jew but without a Jewish tradition and tribe. If the whites of Europe will gather into new nationalist tribes, Edwards may feel connected to them but the father is sceptical, even if these groups would support his agenda of procreating more white (grand) children.  He suggests Edward to remain aloof and simply observe the cultural changes, a wise decision. Edward’s loyalty is primarily to his family and he is expected to carry on the family line, no matter what happens to the world.

We want grandchildren, the father and mother of Edward state. That was the reason Seibert left the US and why he found a new wife and wrote this remarkable book. Sorry his personal longing for grandchildren might not come true within his own lifespan, but being a true Darwinist he seems not to care as long as his genes evolve.  I am impressed by his honesty and his clear-sightedness in so many important areas.


However a few glitches stick out that I noticed.

His criticism of Jewish cosmopolitanism and their support for black grievances against the whites but also admiration of their learning, success and separation of culture does not make sense. He scorns them for promoting universal values yet they have survived by keeping to themselves.

He wants to instil a sense of being superior in Edward which is of course fair for any parent, but stating it in a book makes a teenage and adult Edward Seibert embarrassed and maybe bullied. Tell him rather, but do not write it. His personal future being the topic of a book by his father is enough.

Digressions abound. Most of the time entertaining but for readers with little interest in the history and evolution of our civilisation, they could make up another book, the third in line.

Bitterness is accidentally surfacing, as when the old family and children are mentioned. I find them awkward even if their attitudes and life choices are set into a general picture of the decline of the West. How they relate to their father after this publication I do not want to think about.

These are small drawbacks in a great book. Yes it is by far the maddest thing I have read in a long time but I like his old tyme style. He is certainly a Grumpy Old Man to most people, a proud one at that but he has every reason to be a Happy Elderly Man.


Many thanks Graham Seibert for the splendid endeavour accomplished with starting your new family and the book to you written to set yourself a goal in your home schooling.  I am sure that in a century or two Edward will be as well known as Émile.