Sayf Carman runs the Ummah Fight Camp martial arts youtube channel and has recently started Mindscrub, an intellectual channel.
Carman teaches martial arts in New Jersey. He has been in the Nation of Islam, the Communist Party, has studied Buddhism and Western Philosophy.
We talk about different approaches to thinking, teaching, and techniques and approaches in martial arts, and what it means to be an intellectual in the good and bad sense, using ideas from Noam Chomsky to Malcolm X to Amos Wilson.
John Brown routed 75 men with 14, defended Lawrence from raiders, wrote a manual for the Underground Railroad, and began the war that ended slavery.
Frederick Douglass, talking about Brown’s actions in Kansas, wrote that one could not read the history “without feeling that the man who in all this bewildering broil was least the puppet of circumstances – the man who most clearly saw the real crux of the conflict, most definitely knew his own convictions and was readiest at the crisis for decisive action, was a man whose leadership lay not in his office, wealth, or influence, but in the white flame of his utter devotion to an ideal.”
This episode of Civilizations is all about John Brown – relying on W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1909 biography. Du Bois’s maps of Harper’s Ferry and Brown’s strategy are on the Civilizations Resources page.
I’m joined by the Anti-Empire Project’s special correspondent for Pakistan, Saadia Toor, professor at CSI CUNY and author of the State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan. Saadia gives us a quick sweep of Pakistan’s history including the key role of the left in the many twists and turns. We get caught up all the way to Imran Khan’s hybrid civil-military regime and the inspiring youth-led Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM).
Civilizations begins our study (at least four parts) of the American Civil War. We start with the abolitionist movement in the decades before the war, and the conflict between the British Empire and the United States over abolition. This episode relies on (among other sources) Kellie Carter Jackson’s book Force and Freedom, and Gerald Horne’s book Negro Comrades of the Crown.
Step off of the Artificial Intelligence hype train with me and my guest Yarden Katz. Yarden is the author of Artificial Whiteness: Politics and Ideology in Artificial Intelligence. AI is a squishy concept, and under scrutiny it is full of imperialist and racial assumptions. We go over some of the many ideas in this idea-packed book, which I highly recommend.
The name most associated with the unification of Germany is that of Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck was the great puppet master of Europe in the 1860s, but he may just have set things up for future conflagrations.
Two very different characters – Cavour and Garibaldi – were instrumental in orchestrating the unification of Italy in the 1860s. We talk unification and consequences, and give a mention to Garibaldi’s famous letters to Abraham Lincoln of 1861 and 1863.
The Delhi Liberated Zone under Bahadur Shah Zafar falls; Tatia Tope and others fight on for another two years; the British kill perhaps 10 million Indian people (7% of the population); the 1857 has some victories even in defeat. But what does it all mean? We conclude our discussion with the concept of a point-of-view in history. I identify six different points of view (RSS, Congress, British imperialist, 1857 line, Subaltern Studies, and Marxist) and show how you end up having to pick one, and why I went with the “1857 line” on the event – for which the key source is Amaresh Mishra’s 2000 page book, War of Civilisations.
At the end of the episode, Dave and I discuss a table that I made about the different points of view I was able to identify in historical scholarship of 1857. The table we are looking at is in the Civilizations Resources Page under episode 20b.
I take full responsibility for this table, which I made up. Here is what I’d say is a representative source for each point of view. You may disagree – and I’m declaring my point of view, after reading all these, is with Misra and the 1857 line.
BJP – Savarkar, The Indian War of Independence
1857 line – Amaresh Misra, War of Civilisations
Marxist – Marx, the Indian War of Independence
Subaltern Studies – Guha, Prose of Counterinsurgency
Are we really doing this? One podcaster with Indian roots and another with British roots, trying to do the history of 1857 India? This is the Civilizations podcast, so yes we are! I’m arguing that 1857 is up there with the other great revolutions of this time – 1848 or 1870 in Europe, or Bolivar’s campaigns in Latin America. Part 1 takes you from the antecedents and context through to the Delhi Liberated Zone under Bahadur Shah Zafar.