The Past (and our present Quixotic condition)

The historical past, our anti-human historical process (that which we call civilisation), has been a great mistake that has led us to the existential precipice we stand on today, but that does not mean that any revolutionary response to the disaster should obliterate it and create a new, sanitised collective memory as the Soviets tried to do under Stalin.

Despite the tragic exploitation and anti-human goals of the Wealth-driven historical process, the past is still humanistically glorious: primarily through the arts and sciences. The greatness of humanity lies in the fact that, despite the constant anti-human aggression we have suffered, the human spirit has always been able to find ways of expressing itself in a universal and atemporal way that will always be enriching for all who are willing to spend some time discovering and positively deciphering the achievements and eternal messages that are there. In fact, for the present and future to be humanistically positive spaces, they must be interwoven with the past, i.e., with the words, sounds and images embedded in the dreams and realisations that surge from that deep well that lies behind us. While the past has been an anti-human historical process, at the same time it has, until now, always managed to carry the great shadow of humanity forward and without human hope it would never have sustained itself for so many millennia. The past gives substance to the present and gives form to existence, and because of that we are duty bound to never ignore it nor deprecate it, although, at the same time, our relationship to this past should never be a Quixotic one that blindly defends an undefendable idea. Our relationship with the past needs to be tempered by a constantly critical approach through which the lumpy, anti-human motives of Wealth are forever being sifted out from the smoother deliberations and desires of the human.  

We need to remind ourselves that authentic human existence is part real, and part fictional. Humanity has, and should always have, one foot in the practical and one foot in the mythical; one foot in the realistic and the other in the allegorical. Only then will be able to unravel the reasons of our current predicament and form the more positive view of humanity that is needed to pull us out of the mess we are so deeply swamped in.

Likewise, any analysis of the human condition has to take a concerted look at the environment we find ourselves locked in. Human fulfilment has traditionally always been hanging in a state of suspension, but at the moment we are strung up over a particularly woeful and an enormous abyss. As such, our present circumstances demand that we haul ourselves in and suspend our hopes over a more desirable landscape again. But even this would not be enough: human progress will only take place once we have been able to lower ourselves into the landscape itself and, with our feet on the ground, concentrate our efforts on reaching the other side of the horizon. By so doing we could revitalise the epic spirit of the human soul (for the epic needs horizons to cross). For pragmatism to work, therefore, it needs to be anchored to a positive vision of a possible, better human future and divorced from the needs of immediate, personal gratifications.  

Of course, we are where we are now as a result of the accumulated errors of humanity’s past, errors which have crept up on us and now manifest themselves as one big collective disaster. Seen in this way, the present is like the second part of Don Quixote in which the hero meets characters who have read the first part of the novel and recognise him. And by doing so, make him the object of his own narrative. Likewise, in our current Quixotic reality, the present is the object of the past’s narrative, and this is what creates the paradigm or, at least, allows the paradigm created by Wealth to be perpetuated. Like Don Quixote, humanity is trapped by a need to be faithful to the narrative, albeit a very bad one, that we find ourselves existing as a prolongation of. When we read Don Quixote (or properly exam our present condition) we see that this situation is absurd, but we are incapable of appreciating the real absurdity which is that, with regard to our own reality, we act in the same Quixotic manner. Just as Don Quixote was a mere, absurd shadow of an epic-hero dream, so humanity has become a deviant image of the great dream of wealth.

Through society’s newfound addictions to social networks and its discovery of a new home within the borders of the smartphone screen, humanity has become trapped in a huge advertising campaign in which all truth lies in the campaign itself and its quality control is measured within the quantitative success of the campaign’s exposure. Within this campaign is recorded everything that each one of its members have done, said, seen and thought, and its success depends on its ability to automatically self-reproduce itself, more and more in the mode of the image rather than the word, with the subsequent result that reality becomes more and more pornographic (in the literal sense of that word). The new language is the photo – the complexity of words being swallowed by the simplicity of the photo. The social network experience is a new madness that is being palliated by posing as ‘the real’. In it people take things and other people for what they are not; they break off with their friends and embrace complete strangers; users think they are revealing themselves when in fact they are putting on new masks, and they are constantly encouraged to alter and re-shape themselves, distorting themselves so deeply that any authenticity has become lost forever. The social-media anthropoid wants to be the same as everyone else, even though the sameness that brings them together lies in a quest to be different from all the rest; sameness is upheld by the common search for pseudo-individualism. Ours is a present-tense world devoid of any future and delusional about our history.

 In the world of social media, society and madness blend into each other as never before in any other human society. It is an anti-poetic reality in which all words are swallowed up by images that ultimately erase all authentic meaning from the social narrative. It is a world of identities and differences in which everything is the same. Despite the seemingly political and social polarisation, everything is the same.

In this sense, that which is considered ‘reality’ lacks authenticity and the systemic paradigm we live in today is an absurd fabrication of the real: the great illusion of capitalist realism. Capitalist realism is an alternative reality of alternative truths that are so skilfully embedded that they are seldom questioned. But as the gravity of our disassociation from authenticity has worsened, so has the insanity spread to potentially suicidal extremes. Currently we exist in a massive illusion, fermented by social media madness, that masks authentic reality, the authenticity that spins about a two-pronged foundation entwined around the tragedy of the climate emergency fed by the insane ideology of growth on the one hand, and the tremendous, systemic class divisions, promulgated by the tyranny of wealth on the other.

Through the power of social media, the realism of this alternative reality has been able to render any revolutionary forces driven by the real problems impotent. In a sense then, the mad Quixotic dream is that which dominates societies and propagates ostrich-cultures of downward staring people with their heads in holes in the ground. Because of this, survival depends on our ability to see beyond the present and focus on the future, but without ignoring the glorious and meaningful moments buried in the better parts of our unfortunate past.

 

Revolution, Tradition & Preservation

In Dismantling the Paradigm[1] we analysed the profoundly anti-human nature of the evolution of civilisation and, given the deeply misanthropic essence of our social, political, and economic realities we found, tradition should no longer be seen as a valid pointer for the ethical and moral reconstruction of the postpandemic, pre-climate-collapse world we live in today. Once we have embraced our human identity and become focussed on rectifying the anti-human element of the historical process, it becomes clear that any progressive future vision will have to deny tradition of a large part of its current authority and imagine new kinds of human customs based on an ideal vision of a future utopia.

It is only by contemplating where we should be going that we can imagine the form and extent of the tremendous and tragic mistakes of our anti-human past and truly comprehend the full extent of the tremendous mess that humanity faces today. However, there is an essential danger looming here that is being manifested in many parts of our collapsing civilisation and is most obviously reflected in the deep rift between conservatives and progressives that we see in the USA at the moment. Reason tells us that once we have refocussed our perspectives toward humanity we should expect the ground of tradition’s validity to collapse along with its authority – this is the fundamental faith behind all revolutionary movements – nevertheless, there has to be great caution in going forward with this idea for it is precisely this initial fervour for the dismantling of traditions, and the posterior realisation that there are parts of tradition that need to be preserved, that are the main reasons behind the failure of all revolutions and revolutionary movements.

If we reject the authority of tradition outright, before we begin, then any revolution is doomed to failure right from the start. Our own metaphysical indagations into Being tell us that preservation is one of the basic features of an eternity-orientated spirit of qualitative existence, and for the revolutionary-will surging from the basic principle of saving the planet in order to save our souls then preservation is certainly not a negative term in any way.

Because of this, tradition has to be handled in the same way that we tackle any other paradoxical element, because tradition is a paradox. In dealing with tradition, we must remember that the struggle lies with the authority of traditions, wherein that authority has been wielded for the anti-human historical agendas of Wealth, but not with the fundamental desires for preservation and conservation that should be embedded in the idea of tradition (a paradox that has led us to the climate emergency we are facing today). It is in its affinity for conserving the power of Wealth that makes tradition undesirable for human progress, and in order to dismantle the paradigms of tradition we need to concentrate on what authority lies in those traditions in order to separate the plutocratic motives from the basic rational and human principles that may be buried there, for reason itself is not the antithesis of tradition, in fact the opposite is the case. Many authentically human reasons will be found embedded in traditions once we look for them with a human bias (which is the only bias human beings should have). And once these good and bad reasons are isolated, the cancer can be surgically removed, allowing the tradition to continue, for preservation should be a desirable act of reason.

This is an historical and hermeneutic task, determined to redefine the significance of our traditions, and it is therefore also a revolutionary task. And like any revolutionary event sacrifices have to be made – in the case of the human revolution and tradition, the sacrifice comes when we accept that our traditions are anyone’s traditions.

On the surface this idea is nothing unique, it has been present for decades through the form of multiculturalism, but what is new in our proposal is the idea of exorcising the anti-human demons from those traditions in order to instil the idea that racial and cultural purity are always negative forces when they protect the interests of Wealth or when they segregate pockets of humanity from each other. On this latter point, it is important to note that isolation in itself is not always bad, and can also be a virtue (e.g., to protect a culture from the ambitions of wealth). Because of that an extirpation of Wealth-motives is always the necessary first step in any hermeneutical procedure in order to encourage isolated cultures against fearing  the big Other that surrounds them (i.e., the rest of humanity). In this way we allow multiculturalism’s virtues to overcome the currently overwhelming problem of small cultural groups and help prevent their traditions from being totally absorbed into the same Wealth-driven macro-culture of the WEIRD civilisation that it should be trying to escape from.

But, to make any of this possible, the first thing that needs to done is to stop concentrating on our present predicament and look positively toward a far-distant, utopian future for guidance.    


[1] Paul David Adkin, DISMANTLING THE PARADIGM, Madrid, 2020

Why is the Universe Purposeful?

You are One With the Universal Mind

From a macrocosmic perspective, the universe is an intensely ordered phenomena, with a sprinkling of ever-increasing randomness (entropy) that makes it possible for complex life-forms to have evolved in it. Despite the entropy and the chaos that is rampant in the quantum fields of reality, when we contemplate our universe we find it regulated by constant physical laws that give us a sense of cosmological order, and it seems to be an apparently harmonious place in which a certain amount of certainty exists, enough at least for us to have been able to develop mathematical equations that will always resolve themselves into their own unique answers. It is true that under the surface there is a subatomic world of underlying anarchy, yet it is precisely this chaotic essence of things that allows the form of the universe to unfold and evolve. For progress to develop there has to be a certain amount of instability within the fabric of the form that is evolving. This is also a ‘law’ of nature and, quite frankly, the cosmological order is so perfect that it all seems perfectly planned. There are just too many working principles and there is too much order in the universe for there to be no determination in cosmological evolution. However, if the cosmos is a determined phenomena then it has to be asked why.

To declare what the purposiveness of the universe is may be as absurd as contemplating the will of God, nevertheless, the simple fact that the universe exists indicates its own reason for it: the primary purpose of the universe is to exist.

This statement sounds (and is) mundane. But if we accept this as the only thing that can be said with any certainty about the universe and modify the statement to declare that “The purpose of the universe is to exist”, the statement is no longer mundane at all. To say “the purpose is to exist” requires a definition of being and now we are entering into the thorny philosophical realms of ontology and idealism, and hence into the now almost tabu area of metaphysical speculation.

And so, fully aware of the dangers ahead, let’s dive in anyway and swim in this perilous lake of speculation … If the purpose of the universe is Being, it is anathema to non-Being. Being from a cosmological perspective, therefore, implies the idea of permanent Being.

But, what is Being? If Being is everything, and the universe is everything then the statement seems tautologically meaningless (the universe = Being), and cannot be stipulated as a purpose. However, the tautology is only manifested when we approach the universe (and Being) from a quantitative perspective. Once we make our approach from a qualitative direction, the problem opens up and allows us in. This was the brilliant apperception that Berkely made with his Esse est percipi (to be is to be perceived), which is a qualitative statement on Being.

Esse est percipi / Esse est intelligenti – in qualitative terms, the universe was nothing (and Being was non-Being) in the void it had created before it succeeded in manufacturing biological organisms capable of perceiving what that creation actually was. If the purpose of the universe was to exist in a qualitative sense, then it had to evolve into a phenomenon capable of perceiving itself, and the universe’s answer to this problem was to fabricate environments that would allow the formation of sentient, conscious biological organisms. Being can be found through perceiving and the universe can live through the life-forms that have successfully evolved within itself. Once it is perceived, the universe can be known and fulfilled in an existential way, through the contemplation of itself via intelligence.

Or more precisely, the universe contemplates itself via a vast plurality of intelligences. Intelligences that not only decipher and understand reality, but are also capable of modifying and transforming it – of contributing to the self-same process of evolution in the universe. Intelligent life-forms are creative life-forms: once the universe has these it is also enriched by them and by the art and technological innovations they create.

Esse est percipi – Being is in its being perceived. But what is revealed by this perception? A universe of three spatial dimensions locked in the cage of time and space. Reality (despite the possibilities of quantum physics) is driven by cause and effect. The future is regulated by the present, and the present by all that has past. Mistakes happen, as do accidents, and the past and future are conditioned as much by the errors as by the successful developments and positive, permanent-being orientated achievements.

Yes, permanent-being orientated achievements, for Being is only Being when it is not non-Being. If the purpose of the universe is to exist as being-perceived, then embedded in that purpose is an idea of permanence. Being wants to exist forever. However, from what the laws of physics tell us, the idea of a permanent universe is a fantasy: everything is destined to perish, even the universe itself.

So, the question must be asked: is the universe a mistake in logical terms? For, without permanence, the purposiveness in Being disintegrates within the immanence of non-Being (and its subsequent permanence).

To overcome this pessimism therefore we need a faith in the idea that mistakes can be rectified, even at a cosmological level. If the universe is truly a permanent-being orientated system, then it is also capable of continually rectifying its own mistakes. Mistakes which can be perceived via the sentient, rational beings it has been able to produce. It must be emphasised that the universe is not just expanding, it is also continually evolving. That the universe must eventually die has to be regarded as an undesirable notion for the universe – a fundamental mistake in its own physical nature that needs to be rectified. Our current knowledge of physics tells us that this rectification is impossible, nonetheless, the universe has displayed a capacity for acute fine tuning which enabled the conditions for life in the universe to take place, so why not expect the same universe to be able to re-tune itself in order to fabricate conditions that will eternalise its own existence and Being.

From a logical point of view, if the purposiveness of the universe is permanent-being, its own death must be resolved. Intelligence may play an active part in such a resolution. The universe created intelligence to ensure its own Being, to safeguard the permanence of the universe … therein lies the purposiveness of the universe.     

The “I” and the “Not-I”

We must always put our egos, our affirmations of the I, in the midst of the not-I from which all our motivations and our ways of understanding ourselves come from. We can only properly understand ourselves through the great complexity of what we are not.

Nevertheless, it is not for our differences that the not-I stand in conflict, quite the contrary … it is precisely our differences that makes what-we-are-not interesting for us and allows us to be desirable for each other. Our own I is possible only through our relationship with the not-I. The not-I is always another-I and it is within this idea of the another rather than the other, that a recognition and mutuality can be engendered between us.

The recognition of the not-I as that which is another-self is what holds the intersubjective framework of societies together. It is what makes us capable of feeling empathy for the not-I and its importance can be seen when it is lacking, as in the case of psychotic criminals who lack any kind of faculty of empathy.

We are the same and we are different. We are different and we are the same.

Presently we are witnessing the collapse of the current globalised civilisation and experiencing the advanced stages of an historic process toward a world-wide mesh of apocalyptic dystopias. For globalisation to work again it has to been made to function in a positive way and in order to do that it needs to be revaluated and reconstructed from a will to embrace what globalisation itself implied – i.e., A universal culture, by which we mean a truly human culture in which all our not-I-ness could be united in one all-embracing We.

Manipulation

Perhaps the most correctly defining idea for our species after the label of the Homo sapiens belongs to one of our distant ancestors, the Homo habilis, the hominoid manipulator.

In truth, the notion of discovery and understanding embedded in the idea of sapiens and the concept of manipulation in the term habilis are entwined. Together they lead to technological development, creativity, the arts and sciences, and almost everything good we can imagine about humanity, but also to everything loathsome. In fact, there is probably nothing that encompasses all our positive and negative qualities so completely as the concept of reasoned manipulation, for not only has humanity manipulated our natural environment for better or worse, we are also constantly and unashamedly manipulating each other. Having said this, it is also true that the term manipulation has mainly negative connotations, and this reveals a great deal about the way we perceive each other as well as ourselves. It is as if we are born with an enormous potential but cannot help but screw it up when we put that power into practice. The result is the sense of guilt and guilt-ridden anxiety that was exploited by religions through the concept of sin. Nietzsche was probably the first thinker to unravel this ambiguous, psychological relationship we have with our manipulatory nature when he developed his idea of the will to power. It is the gifted nature of humanity which needs to be wrestled with in order to turn our inherent power into something positive – this is what Nietzsche believed. And in the essential part of his argument Nietzsche was right, but he failed to see the common sense embedded in our own sinful anxiety over our manipulatory nature. Let me repeat, we feel guilty about our blessed abilities to take control because when we do embrace it we tend to screw it all up.

For the most part, with or without the will to power on the one hand or any religious morality on the other, humanity is drowning in a deep sea of constant negative manipulation. This is done psychologically, through language and feelings, symbolically, through money, ideologically, institutionally and, as such, bureaucratically through the systems (government or private) that are set up to organise human societies.

Capitalism is an evolutionary result of the acceptance of our own negative manipulating instincts. It is the philosophical apologist for unbridled exploitation par excellence. To manipulate things is to be human, but it needs to be understood and processed in an ethical way by rationality in order to dampen those negative effects of manipulation and channel our manipulatory skills so that they flow through the positive fields of creative invention and artistry, focussing on survival rather than on a blind, self-destructive sense of manipulation that serves greedy desires related to over-consumption and wealth accumulation rather than any authentic human progress.  

By focussing on the positive sides of our human essence we will be able to create a constructive, authentic mood for humanity which will lead to a more authentic human relationship or humane relationship between human beings.

From an existentialist point of view (and here we mean existentialist in the literal sense of the term, i.e., concerning the existence and the potential non-existence of conscious life in the universe) the decision that the dominant political forces manipulating humanity (our ersatz representatives) made when they multilaterally decided to embrace capitalism as the engine for all individual and social exchange, was a fatal choice. Fundamentally so because once the inspirations of the decision had been submitted to and absorbed on a global scale, it took on the form of a singularity, and by doing so made all alternative systems seem unfeasible in a practical sense.

This fundamental decision is grave because it has made all alternative decision making impossible despite the fact that changing circumstances have rendered the original principles and course of action toxic. Today’s principal problem stems from the manipulative decisions human beings made generations ago and its seriousness resides in the fact that we find ourselves incapable of escaping from the blunder.

Only by changing our stance on our system’s assumptions regarding the necessity of perpetual economic growth and on our submissive acceptance of the manipulatory, exploitive instincts of capitalism might we save the planet and save ourselves.  

S.O.S. Paul Adkin      

Work and Freedom

Work is only human when the worker is able to express him/herself via the process of work itself. Labouring in a way that only has the interest of making money and is devoid of any opportunity for self-expression, is a demeaning process for any human being and, because of that, it is anti-human.  

However, from this idea we run headlong into the question of what self-expression is, or more importantly, what would self-expression be in an authentically human society or civilisation? In an authentically human society self-expression has to be imbued with a human worth … But what does that mean?

As the product of rational (in the most part) or creatively irrational beings (at another level) all human activity, whether positive or negative adds to the richness of the experience of being human as long as it contributes in a favourable way to our standards of living and to human progress in the world. But progress can only be positive, and the quality of life can only be good, if the environment we live in, our world, is also cared for. Because of this, non-favourable human activity like the exploitation of other human beings and the rampant abuse of natural resources, intended for the simple aim of maximising profits, can only be considered morally reprehensible.

Yet this ethically unbearable praxis is exactly what our current economic system is designed for, and is meant to foment and propagate. As such, almost all of the daily activity in this global-economy fuelled world is a moral abomination for any authentic view of humanity. And this means that, in order to create an authentically human society, our economic model and its economic conceptions have to be completely demolished and revolutionary (or transcendentally) reconstructed.

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Traditionally, the idea of work has encompassed negative notions of uncritical sacrifice and devotedness. However, labour seen as a process of self-expression transforms those negative notions into positive concepts – the ideas of sacrifice and duty in the realm of self-expression are positive drives.

Likewise, as self-expression by a human being embodies an authentic human experience, the same human authenticity is embedded in every individual human-being’s sacrifice-through-self-expression to humanity. In other words: I express myself because I am human, and because of that my self-expression is a labour geared toward the whole of humanity. In this way, self-expression for humanity becomes a moral duty for all members of an authentically human society.

By aiming one’s self-expression towards our common humanity, human purpose becomes visible and feasible. And once clarity of human purpose becomes comprehensible and tangible, then it becomes more difficult for individuals to operate badly without abandoning that purpose.

Religions have always failed in their task of achieving moral rectitude precisely because the great monotheisms have always held human nature as something profoundly flawed and negative in itself. One cannot expect human civilisation to get better by following a precedent that all human beings are, by nature, bad. Quite the contrary: civilisation will only become meaningful for human beings when it is constructed on a bedrock of faith in humanity itself and embedded with an idea of human purposiveness.  

Hegel talked about spirit not yet finding its truly real substance. The human spirit will only be able to reach its truly real substance when it looks for it in the realm of humanity itself. A human being can only be really conscious of his or her substance when he or she is truly aware of him or herself as a human being amongst a civilisation and within a world full of other human beings.

We are all the same in our condition of being human, and separated by our individuality, and it is our individuality which is the only authentic separation we have. All others: gender, race, nationality, religion, or ideology, are non-authentic segregations and parts of our anti-human historical process that need to be rectified in favour of human authenticity.    

The Worth of Rational Beings

To say that rational beings have the same worth as I do, only makes sense if rational beings have any worth at all beyond being rational to themselves. Humanism can only exist therefore if we have first established the worth of rational beings in the Universe. Or in other words found a rational answer to the question: Why are we here?

If civilisation had been a building of society according to truly rational grounds – which it hasn’t been – then there would be no need for human-rights as these rights would have been built into the very fabric of civilisation itself.

For humanity to be a reality, the Bill of Human rights needs to be taken seriously at all levels of society. But in order for that to happen we have to also firstly develop a credible, coherent and easily communicable notion of what humanity is.

NOTES CONCERNING THE NOTION OF HUMANITY

What has deteriorated, or what was never properly formed in the first place, is our notion of humanity.

From a philosophical point-of-view it seems pertinent to ask ourselves if a NOTION OF HUMANITY is, in the first place, actually possible in the authentic sense. But this is a dangerous question. Before asking it we need to consider the idea of what a negative response would entail – that a surrender to the belief that an authentic NOTION OF HUMANITY is impossible opens the door unto the ethical wastelands and social voids of nihilism.

The need for avoiding nihilism – which in our case has to be contemplated as an escape from the nihilism that we are drowning in – demands a positive incentive toward the task of defining this authentic NOTION OF HUMANITY.

All notions are constructs, so how do we make our NOTION OF HUMANITY out of an authenticity? How do we make an authentic construct?

To make an authentic construct of humanity it has to be a truthful reflection of all human beings – the AUTHENTIC NOTION OF HUMANITY has to be one through which every human being can identify oneself with without exception. This may seem absurdly utopian, but each human being is human, and a NOTION OF HUMANITY must reinforce this truth. The NOTION OF HUMANITY has to be adequate to itself, i.e., it has to be adequate to humanity itself. The authentic notion can therefore operate in the Name of Humanity as a metaphoric substitute but also as an Ideal and an aspiration for humanity.

Whether certainty is in the being or the thinking (cogito), it is definitely embedded in the human and the NOTION OF HUMANITY also brings CERTAINTY to the UNIVERSE through the human.

The simple act of communication between human beings implies the existence of humanity, but in this information age that implied-humanity has been reduced to something which is forever taken for granted. By making this reduction the information-age has managed to diminish the notion of humanity to an almost non-existent state.

We are human and, because of that fact, in order to live a purposeful life we must act according to the dictates of a NOTION OF HUMANITY. But to do that we must educate ourselves humanistically in order to forge a shared will to believe in and understand the importance of the humanity that such a concept would be about.    

WHAT TO DO?

Before 2020 we were sitting on the edge of a cliff, contemplating the possibilities of a very possible, and ever more tangible likelihood of climate collapse, and asked ourselves: ‘What to do?’. Then the pandemic came, and we could see answers to the question allowing a postpandemic philosophy to emerge in which the disciplines of the pandemic experience provided positive, solution scenarios to the problem. However, we quickly got sick of the restraints imposed on us by the Ministry of Health and yearned for a return to all our bad habits, gradually sinking back into the old normality, and with that return slipping back into the need for the old depressing question: ‘What to do now?’. But almost before we had even uttered the last syllable of that weak-willed interrogative, the normality has again been shattered by the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Our lives are now filled with complaints concerning the rising price of oil and gas which turns into the rising prices of everything, and we bemoan our plight as if we had never sat on the cliff edge before and there had never been a climate emergency, when it fact the real underlying factor and authentic regulatory force that must be tackled if we are to ever avoid the looming dystopia, is precisely that climate crisis. This new disaster, the war in the Ukraine and the energy crisis unfolding from it, requires the same global self-sacrifice that the pandemic demanded of us, because the real problem that envelopes all problems, the mother-of-all crises underlying reason for all our woes, is the climate emergency.  

But why is it so hard to answer this ‘What to do’? Is it because we do not properly grasp what we are asking: that this is not a pragmatic, political question, but a moral one, in fact it is the fundamental question underlying all morality. But that is ignored: the System prefers to pass the question over to the economists who can only deal with the problem in a theoretical way and that, for them, in ultimate terms beyond the next financial year, or at most, the next presidential term in office, the question is unanswerable.

Our nihilistic, capitalist civilisation has no bedrock to anchor its own moralities on and because of that it lacks a meaningful response to the question, so that the question itself dissolves into a simple ‘what should I do?’. But the problem is that even this simple ‘what should I do?’ can become torturous if the general ‘what to do?’ is considered unanswerable.

To anchor ‘what to do?’ we need to place it within the scope of ‘where are we going?’. If the answer to the latter has the form of an eternal continuation through progress, then the commitment to such a journeying will be a liberating one – set free by our powers of creativity, rational thinking and the technologies at our disposal that are themselves products of our liberating creativity. By situating our destiny at the eternal point that can never be reached, we make our purpose an ultimate one: free and ultimate. Asking ‘what to ultimately do to get where we are ultimately headed?’ is, as such, a way of searching for the best way to achieve the end that can never be attained, but will keep us moving forward. By envisioning an end-point beyond a horizon that we are forever crossing, we liberate our Sisyphus-like condition and escape from the tyranny of the systemic hill. The rock we are pushing immediately becomes easier to roll: meaningfulness makes being more bearably lighter. Being itself becomes the object of pursuit, an object that can be worthy and meaningful for all human beings, forever.  

Civilisation as an Obstacle

We have, for more than a century, been experiencing the fall of Western Civilisation, i.e., the collapse of the so-called democratic world also known as the W.E.I.R.D. (Western Educated Industrial Rich and Democratic) civilisation. There is systemic ossification: while industry booms, academia and high-culture are undermined by the power of popular cultures driven by vulgar economic motives that pump wealth inexorably upward to the already wealthy; and while hi-tech industry booms thanks to the information revolution, our WEIRD obsession with growth and consumption has created its own systemic disruption, the existential threat of a climate collapse that highlights our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels for energy, creating its own bellicose power struggles to control the wealth and political power generated by energy distribution that is now seriously threatening to boil over into the third world war, which really will be the last world war.

In this state of decadence and corruption, civilisation itself has become, not only an obstacle to the development of human progress, but an actual threat to our existence. In theory civilisations are built for human survival and needs, and are designed to ensure that the fruits accumulated in the construction of a civilised world will perdure by being passed on from one civilisation to another. Nevertheless, this optimistic view of civilisation has one basic flaw: the human element of all civilisations has always been sadly lacking. Whilst it is true that communities of human beings have been formed for the survival and needs of its group members, civilisation in itself is built for the interests of the accumulation of wealth for the Wealthy and its own real aims are in preserving the status of the oligarchies that are shaped by that wealth as well as the aristocratic nature of wealth itself. It is the aristocratic and plutocratic fabric of civilisation that is maintained over the long run and passed on from one civilisation to another. In many ways, if we look at its effects on the majority of individual, human lives, it has never been more than an obstacle. There is a widespread belief that civilisation is essential for creative and cultural progress but in fact it has always limited the capabilities of individual expression and has frustrated the greater part of collective human potential through the design of systems aimed at the accumulation and perpetuity of wealth.

Civilisation is, in fact, an anti-human organisation. Only through authentically human orientation will societies truly function in a liberating, creative, and truly progressive way for the realisation of authentically-human, individual capabilities.

Social institutions, and our duties within them, will only cease to be hindrances on freedom when they can be geared towards human purposiveness rather than the self-interestedness of a civilisation designed exclusively for the needs of the wealthy.