Organisation: A Human Obsession

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Human beings are obsessed by the way we are organised. We are obsessed by the family, the state, our religions; we live in a gossip loving, envious society that above all loves money … All these factors exert strong organisational fields over our lives. But while it is relatively simple, for some, to stop flag-waving and escape from the grip of their local church, or stop watching reality shows and disappear from their family radar, it seems impossible to remove ourselves from the gravitational force of money.

Money is the perfect form of organisation, itself perfected by the control methodologies implemented through the organisation of the great organiser – the economy.

We are a social-animal species. We are born vulnerable and dependent on those who can nourish and protect us. Until, in theory, we leave the nest, but the independence we imagine we gain in our maturity is a myth that is never truly obtained, because we never free ourselves from the obsession we have with that which is always organising us; an obsession which leads to blind faith, and that is the worst loss of freedom. The way we are organised is the way things are: we sense that; we implicitly believe it; but does that mean that we cannot change it? Is the way things are, the way things have to be?

Despite our obsession with organisation, we also need to believe in the anti-organisation concept of freedom. Most Westerners cringe at the idea of loss of freedom. Freedom is a symbol that all human beings should aspire to. But why? If we are so obsessed with organising our lives according to the way things are, and freedom represents that which is not the way things are, why do we place so much importance on this anti-organisation concept.

Certainly, if one lives under the singular-will organisation of a dictatorship, one can dream of the liberating effects that an organisation like the one we call democracy offers. But what happens when you discover that the free world of liberal democracies doesn’t actually offer you real freedom at all? Where does one go from there? Must we surrender to blind faith, and console ourselves with the absurd, illogical belief that the organisation that controls us actually allows us to be independent and free?

The real problem lies in the fact that we never truly organise ourselves: our lives are always organised for us; within a paradigm built in order to organise most of us in a way that allows us to be exploited for its own purposes. No matter how free we think we are in this world of unlimited possibilities, for the vast majority of us, our relationship is a submissive one, determined by the power that organises us. And yet, do you ever ask yourself why we are organised in this way; or how this organisation came to be taken for granted in the first place?

True, we are a social-animal and freedom from organisation is impossible. Nevertheless, it is possible to break free and escape the nest, just as some of us really do break free from the organisation of the family. Organisation can work for everyone, in a way that allows each one of us the power to develop our talents to the fullest. We don’t have to be organised and moulded according to the will of that seemingly random, abstract force we call the economy. Yet, for a liberating organisational force to be possible, we first have to deeply question the reasons why we have been organised in this anti-liberating way in the first place. In order to see the way out, we first have to understand why we really do need to escape.

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Radicalism and the Closet Alt-Right

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The capitalist-built edifice we are all living in is cracking apart. Our architects have made a thorough inspection of the cracks in the wall and recommend a demolition rather than any vain attempts to prop it up and renovate. The problem is not in the façade, but in the very foundations and supports that just cannot keep holding up this far too bulky, overgrown and overweight monstrosity.

The foundation of capitalism depends on a perpetual growth, albeit moving cyclically along, with periodical episodes of recession and even depression, but impossibly perpetual nonetheless. Impossible because this idea of eternal swelling needs an inexhaustible supply of resources to feed its insatiable hunger.

We are now at a moment in capitalism’s great banquet, when the impossibility of this eternal orgy of consumption is becoming well apparent to those of us within the building. The resources that our capitalist-edifice is sucking up out of the planet it is perched on are limited, and that limitation and its effects on the environment around the edifice are becoming frighteningly obvious and tangible.

In short, it is imperative now that we pull this edifice down and build something better – something that will blend in a harmonious way with the environment that it exists in. An environment that it needs to maintain in a healthy way to ensure its own existence and guarantee a high quality of life for all those residing in the edifice.

So, capitalism must go. And, yes, whilst being an honest analysis of the situation, this is also a radical one and a dangerous one. In fact, much of the thinking currently revolving around this crumbling-edifice syndrome is even more dangerous than the current-situation itself.

Instead of looking forward to constructing a new edifice out of the rubble of capitalism, the new radical ideologues are spending great deals of time and money in re-hashing old ideas, moving theological revolutions (ISIS and other radical evangelicals); communist nostalgias; and the ugly growing reactionary wave of the alt-right.

With the legitimacy provided by Trump’s victory taking the presidency of the United States, there has been a proliferation of alt-right ideas in the social networks by a species of closet alt-right complainers; neo-Nazis that haven’t yet come out of the cupboard, they live, like the U.S. President himself, in a space of denial, screaming forth their perverse ideology of fear and hate from the safety of their dark cubbyhole, which they wrongly assume, hides their true colours from the world outside.

The closet alt-right person will typically slip into someone’s Twitter or Facebook feed and post a radical, unmistakeably alt-right statement – something like “if the Nazis had won the war the world would be a better place,” or “Auschwitz was a leftist-plot,” or “the white-race is in danger of extinction.” Of course, anyone expressing such ideologies are flying a swastika flag and announcing that they support fascist ideologies, but when this obviousness is pointed out to them, they claim that they are not fascist sympathisers at all. Hence the term “closet” fascists.

But how should we interpret this? Because the closet alt-right denies the alt-right, does that mean they also, deep-down know that their ideas are morally repugnant, but that, nevertheless, they believe them to be necessary. Well, the first problem with their reasoning is that they can’t really be both at the same time. Authentic morality points humanity in the direction of where we ought to be, or ought to be going, and the morally repugnant indicates the exact opposite – where we should never be. Alt-right morality, therefore, can only be morally acceptable in an alt-right society – which means a racially pure and ideologically singular society of like-minded fascists. In any other kind of society, the alt-right morality is abhorrent, perverse and totally inappropriate – hence the need for the neo-Nazi to stay hidden in the closet. But Trumpism has given them wings. They know the President of the most powerful nation on Earth is one of them – he’s a closet Nazi, and they can learn from him and his obsession to vomit-forth alt-right messages from his Twitter account.

Yes, the edifice is crumbling, but the problem is universal, all of us, the whole of humanity will be affected by its demolition. Because of that, to pull it down and build a new, morally-repugnant construct for humanity would be tantamount to bringing about the end of humanity as we know it; not in order to create the Übermensch of the Aryan race that the Nazis fantasised about, but to create the most barbaric form of humanity that exists and represents the basest kind of human-being and the worst kind of human stupidity – the morally repugnant kind.

The edifice is crumbling, and we need to pull it down and rebuild. But with new ideas that will create a human partnership with the planet and the resources of nature; with technologies that will liberate all of humanity to be intelligent creators; and with a human purposiveness that is focussed on where we are going as a Sapiens entity in a Universe of information. With purposiveness comes happiness, and with happiness comes a better quality of life, but human purpose always has to be human-purpose; a purpose for all. To achieve this, we need fearless thinkers who have authentic moral view-points, cultivated around positive ideas of what humanity as whole ought to be … not from fearful, abominable preachers, whinging from the shadows of their closets.

IF WE ARE ALONE …

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We are either alone in the Universe, or we’re not alone. Until formal contact with an extra-terrestrial life-form is established we can only affirm that: Intelligent life exists beyond the planet Earth or it doesn’t.

Nevertheless, we can statistically try and calculate what the possibilities of life existing beyond Earth are, and yet … does it matter? Well, if a positive, progressive energy can be generated by the conclusion, then yes, it does matter.

*

This week, the media have been latching on to a recently published article from Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute that argues the case that statistically we are most probably alone in the Universe.[1]

The article in question, by Sandberg, Drexler and Ord, called “Dissolving the Fermi Paradox” adds very little to arguments already put forward by Ward and Brownlee in their Rare Earth Hypothesis formulated nearly twenty years ago. Despite this fact, the media have picked up on the FHI paper as if it were a totally new discovery, proving that we must be very much alone.

New or not, the Rare Earth Hypotheses argues that the astrophysical, geological, chemical and biological combinations needed to create the cocktail for the evolution of intelligent life is so complex and needs to be so precise that our own existence is a freak stroke of luck, and that the accident we are is so special and fluky that it is very doubtful that is has been repeated anywhere in our Universe.

Yet, should we now assume this hypothesis as definitive? And if we do accept it, can this ‘we are alone’ perspective be beneficial for humanity in any way?

*

There is an X-Files episode (Redux, the first episode of season 5) in which the hero, Fox Mulder, is in a motel room watching a video of symposium featuring astrophysicist Carl Sagan amongst other, in which the question of the existence of life beyond Earth is being discussed. The actual symposium was held in 1975 and was joint sponsored by NASA and the Boston University.

In this conference, it was argued, in a proclamation by Richard Berendzen, that “the amount of stars in our galaxy alone is so staggeringly large, to the order of 1011 or more; the probability of stars having planetary systems is so high, perhaps half; the probability of those planetary systems might be comparable with our own and that the stars have some kind of ecosphere … suitable for life and it’s not too hot, not too cold … it begins to lead to the sorts of conclusions … that life must exist in the Universe and it must exist quite abundantly.”

Carl Sagan then affirmed that the most optimistic estimates about the number of civilisations there would be in the galaxy is in the order of a million.

Once it had been established unanimously that civilisations had to exist in the Universe, all of the speakers at the symposium expressed the view that contact with an advanced civilisation would have to be positive and enlightening for humanity. With the exception of the scientist and Nobel Prize Winner, George Wald. Wald began his speech with a positive affirmation of life in the Universe, like the others, but ended with a very sobering reflection. The tone of his voice suddenly drops into a melancholy register and he confesses that: “I can conceive of no nightmare as terrifying as establishing such communication with a so-called superior … advanced technology in outer space.” For Wald, such an encounter would be: “The degradation of the human enterprise.” He then went on to describe this enterprise: “One of the greatest of human enterprises is our understanding; something that men have sweated out to the greater dignity and worth of man, and to see the thought that we might attach us by some umbilical cord to some more advanced civilisation, science and technology in outer space, doesn’t thrill me, but just the opposite.”

What Wald is warning us of here, is that an encounter with a superior civilisation would rob ourselves of our purposiveness. And what is implicit in this argument is that humanity could have no meaningful place in any world populated by superior beings, because all our understanding would suddenly be rendered obsolete; and, as such, the human race would itself suddenly become obsolete.

What Wald is describing here, is our reason for being, which is encapsulated in our understanding.  

 

Reflecting on this point, and on our own civilisation at this point in time, we have to conclude that our own lives are very much alienated from this meaningfulness which is our understanding of things, and this displays the tremendous decadence of our system.

But what Wald’s observation also tells us is this: That if we are not alone, it is best to believe that we are alone.

*

If we are alone it imbues humanity with a tremendous responsibility – the obligation to be sapiens; to understand; to develop the human enterprise toward the fulfilment of knowing; to enjoy the meaningful pursuit of becoming knowledgeable; and, through this understanding, participate in the very Being of the Universe.

The Universe can only really exist in a qualitative way, if there is a conscious entity within that Universe that understands that It does exist. The homo sapiens is the species that knows and reflects on that knowledge. Whether or not we are the only species that knows in this Universe, believing that we are fills us with a powerful, driving purposiveness.

Embedded in this purposiveness is a duty to prolong existence in time and increase the quality of that existence, through progress.

And, in order to do that, we have to overcome the deep, nihilistic decadence that infects our civilisation today.

But again, we run into another paradox, because the human enterprise of understanding necessitates the exploration of the possibility of discovering other intelligent life-forms, even though there is a possibility that we may encounter civilisations so superior to ours that our meaningfulness in the Universe will be totally diminished.

However, perhaps this paradox is false. When we do have the technological capabilities to encounter other civilisations the dilemma would no longer have relevance for we ourselves would be advanced enough to communicate on a partnership level with the other civilisation. Likewise, if Ufologists are right, and we are being visited by extra-terrestrial civilisations already, these civilisations are wise enough to disguise their presence from us, precisely in order not to destroy our purposiveness.

[1] SEE: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/27/aliens-exist-survival-universe-jim-alkhalili

https://metro.co.uk/2018/06/25/probably-intelligent-life-universe-depressing-study-finds-7657344/

 

 

 

SCIENCE VERSUS INDUSTRY: Part Three: In search of the scientific self-consciousness

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THIS ARTICLE IS A CONTINUATION OF SCIENCE VERSUS INDUSTRY:

PART ONE: OBSERVANCE AND WHY REVOLUTIONS DON’T SUCCEED pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/science-versus-industry-part-one-observance-and-why-revolutions-dont-succeed/

PART TWO: THE REVOLUTION WE NEED https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/science-versus-industry-part-two-the-revolution-we-need/

“An emerging, better society cannot be born and cannot function without its own scientific self-consciousness”

“Man is, by his nature, incapable not only of comparing facts and deducing some consequences from them, but even simply of observing them carefully and remembering them reliably, if he does not immediately connect them with some explanation.”

“…science leads to foresight, and foresight allows us to regulate action.”

— August Comte

 

These observations by August Comte now point us toward the first battlefield of the revolution that needs to come.

Every day, in our global culture, science provides its insights and foresights into what can, could, should and must be done. Nevertheless, the, on the one hand, regulatory and on the other hand inventive and creative action that should be stimulated by scientific foresight is either slow to come about or never eventuates at all. This is because, between the thought and the act resides the market. Before any technological answer to our problems can be put into effect it must first prove itself to be the most profitable option. If there is more money to be made in milking the old technologies the market place will do so. If the final eradication of a disease threatens a profit-making industry, then the final cure will be repressed.

In this way, an untamed science becomes the enemy of industry and industry becomes the great enemy of humanity.

From industry’s point-of-view, scientific forecasts and data very often demand increased regulations which means more expenditure, the prohibition of certain uses in manufacturing, or even the prohibition of certain very profitable products (lead in petrol, many unhealthy food additives, or additives in consumer items that cause addiction are some examples of science tampering with the freedom of the market-place).

The last century has been dominated by a war between industry and science in the form of corporate and industrial censorship, manipulation and counter-sciences (bogus scientific reports paid for by industry to debunk authentically objective scientific reports). What has been so ardently proclaimed as the great age of technological advancement, has also been the great age of anti-science.

The Catholic church’s persecution of Galileo for his scientific heresies is very easily matched by the attempts to debunk theories of global climate-change. And the results of industry’s persecution of science in this technological age will be far more tragic than the church in the Renaissance.

Likewise, the military-theological society that created the first atom bomb, preferred to remain deaf to the foresight of physicist’s like Einstein that developed the theories that allowed atomic fusion to happen in the first place.

With these two examples alone, we can get an impression of the extent of anti-scientific foresight and criminality that the last hundred years has been capable of.

The dystopia toward which our society seems to be running is not the fault of science, but rather it has come about through the disregard of scientific foresight, carried out by the self-interested power of the industrialists and militarists.

Comte saw a need for a new kind of scientist: generalist rather than specialist, capable of working in all the main branches of scientific knowledge, but equally the social sciences, in order to harmonise all knowledge, form knowledge into a unified system, connecting all the elements of the new system together, and developing them into a position where it could play a leading moral role.

For the necessary change to come about, for the imminent revolution needed to change the suicide-direction that humanity is running along, a scientific self-consciousness must triumph over industry; and it must happen now!

 

SCIENCE VERSUS INDUSTRY: Part Two: THE REVOLUTION WE NEED

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THIS ARTICLE IS A CONTINUATION OF SCIENCE VERSUS INDUSTRY: PART ONE: OBSERVANCE AND WHY REVOLUTIONS DON’T SUCCEED pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/science-versus-industry-part-one-observance-and-why-revolutions-dont-succeed/

 

Comte believed that only advanced “scientific prevision can avert or mitigate violent revolutions.”[2] What he did not mean when he said this, was that the scientific prevision should be invented in military projects and reactionary wars of rivalry.

But if this is what he didn’t mean, what did he mean? How could a scientific prevision have made our world a better place than it is today?   …

To answer this question, we firstly need a political imagination which is observant of the ways that science can be used positively (i.e. non-superficially and non-militarily). This kind of imagination does not currently exist on any significant political level, in any “significant” nation states, either on the right or the left. This absence only makes the importance of deeper and long-range political thought more urgently necessary. This science-supportive imagination would fuel a positive, purposeful political approach that would make visionary schemes possible. Such schemes would not be industrial because their purposeful aims cannot be corrupted by profit-making needs and remain pure.

We are NOT saying that science has not produced marvellous things with industry, but that it could have produced much better, more human-enriching things if it had not been enslaved to the creativity-numbing limits imposed by the marketplace.

Schooling in this kind of science needs to be nurtured through fantastic and boundless Utopian thinking with a strong idea that we are embarking on a purposeful and limitless journey. The kind of ideas we need are those of futures in which interstellar travel is the norm; in which poverty, war and disease are abolished; in which even death is abolished, and humans will have a chance to live and learn eternally; in which humans have an advanced spiritual connection with the Universe; and in which the ecological destruction of the planet has been reversed. A positive eschatological view of the end of times, in which the descendants of humanity will become the guardians of an ever-expanding cosmos; using knowledge and incredible technologies to work with the physical nature of the Universe in order to prevent its death.

These fantastic ideas exist. It is not hard to conceive of an amazing destiny for humanity’s descendants, but our nihilistic and capitalist system does very little to take the leap into the area where science is seen as a truly transforming power for humanity. By being absorbed into the marketplace, science, like art, loses its seriousness and becomes a mere tool for profits.

The purposeful political imagination needs to imbue science with a humanistic logic and an observance of authentic human development and empowerment, free of the tremendous prejudices heaped against science by the capitalist system in favour of superficial consumerism. Corporate bodies are self-interested. Profit is their authenticity, but also their profound handicap where expectations of making a better world are concerned.

Once it is disassociated from military power and the restrictions of profit-making demands, science becomes the disinterested tool through which humanity can properly understand itself and subsequently develop its own real path towards fulfilment.

 

Of course, this is a radically new reassessment of the real tendency of civilisation, and yet, people have been crying out for it ever since August Comte began to raise these questions in the 1820s. Not that we want to resurrect Comte’s formulated system, or any Marxist formulas either, the immediate and most pressing crisis facing the whole of humanity at the moment is our ecological one and it is toward the enforcement of a definitive solution to our great existential problem that our purposeful political observance must first be aimed.

To put into effect the solutions to this crisis, science and technology are indispensable; the economy is not. If we must dismantle the capitalist marketplace to save our planet and save humanity, then let us make that sacrifice. It is quite simple: We have the problem A. The problem is caused by B. Only by eradicating B can we solve the problem of A.

Our problem is that the ecosystem that maintains life on Earth is being eroded away by the effects of a civilisation based on the superficial aims of production and growth. Superficialities are the lifeblood of our economic system and their superfluity is dragging our superficial civilisation to an absurd, unnecessary end.

The superficial aims of industry have been linked quite effectively and falsely to the noble ideas of freedom and democracy.

Of course, Wealth is reluctant to surrender the measliest millimetre of the profit-making machine it calls civilisation. Wealth will believe in its principles of constant growth, even though the consequences of this ideology are Apocalyptic. Very much of the profits nurtured by the system of growth are spent on maintaining a constant stream of propaganda that reinforces its ideology and defends it as the lifeblood of our world – even to the extent that profit-growth becomes more important than the ecosystem itself.

Gradually, however, the real enemy starts to reveal itself, and we begin to see (because science tells us) that the lifeblood of our system is a cancer. We are ill, and we need some serious painful therapy if we are to avoid a very ugly, and also very painful, premature death.

Before we can direct our mission toward Utopia, we must first undergo the therapy needed to save us from a grizzly death. This therapy will be the next, inevitable revolution. The form of the revolution depends on us, but two things are imperative: it has to take place as soon as possible, and, to succeed as a revolution (and escape the military-theological system[i]) it needs to bring about a non-violent change. Here, we want to replant Comte’s statement on science with an adjustment: not only can scientific prevision avert or mitigate violent revolutions, it can also propagate non-violent change at a revolutionary level. 

Violent revolution has to be averted at all cost, but the revolution itself is absolutely necessary.

The longer we postpone the therapy, the more painful it will be – the more likely it will be bloody, and the less likely it will be of providing any successful result.

It is time now for a great social reorganisation to take place, under the benevolent eye of science and the progressive will of creativity. Let the revolution begin!

TO BE CONTINUED …

[i] For an explanation of this, see part one: pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/science-versus-industry-part-one-observance-and-why-revolutions-dont-succeed/

SCIENCE VERSUS INDUSTRY: Part One: OBSERVANCE, AND WHY REVOLUTIONS DON’T SUCCEED

 

Science

“When a new system comes into existence, its intellectual basis, the results of science, is to be found in a new principle of trust, and then the critical epoch is over.”

— August Comte

The positivist philosopher, August Comte, believed European history could be read as a long transition that displaced the military-theological feudal system.[1] The description is very simplistic: there has been an evolution towards high-tech industrial developments powered by science, but the military-theological structures that have always maintained power and control are still there. In fact, they seem to be getting stronger rather than diminishing.

Comte, like most positive thinking in the last two hundred years, based his optimism on science, but he envisaged the power of science to be operating in tandem with industry, and this was his mistake. For science to be a positive, transformative agent on human society it needs to be in control of that transformation: it must control industry rather than being a mere tool for profit-making. Science today is merely a submissive puppet in industry’s rapacious game of accumulation and domination.

In Comte’s defence, he himself was fully aware of how easy it was for feudalism to make a come-back after a progressive revolution, for he had already seen how quickly the retrograde power of Napoleon’s dictatorship was able to install itself after the Revolution. Because of that, he thought very deeply on how a post-revolutionary regression to the military-theological system could be avoided.

Firstly, Comte reasoned, political imagination had to be observant. And what Comte meant by being observant was that it must be conscious of what it needs to look for and what it needs to fear.

Here we find a reason to explain why Comte, despite our need for positive political thinking, has been largely ignored by theorists – for to be observant in Comte’s sense of the word would imply that the political imagination of any revolution would be conscious of any retrograde thinking that could give credence to the military-theological power base embedded within the same revolution. What Comte assumed was that that power base had to have been vanquished by the revolution, but that never happened, and never will happen whenever the success of a revolution is seen as dependent on military force rather than passive surrender. If the force of the system can only be vanquished by a greater force, the force will only be substituted by more force and this creates a snowballing effect that amplifies the basic problem itself. Likewise, an observant revolution can never take place through Parliamentary-political processes. The congressional politics of our current representationally-democratic systems can never really be observant because they can never truly liberate themselves from the kind of power they are supposed to be vigilant of.

Comte’s argument is therefore correct – but unrealistic. After the French Revolution failed a new revolution was needed and came via Marx and the spirit of the proletariat. The communist regimes were vigilant, but half-heartedly. Where communism was largely effective in escaping the theological paradigm, it could do nothing to escape the militaristic, and hence the theological returned in the communist regimes through the dogmatic personality cults of its military dictators.

The Second World War, and the subsequent arms race of the Cold War, gave industry and its faithful tool science, a fertile field for cultivating and accumulating enormous wealth. The Cold War was a conflict between military-theological-industry (and science) and military-antitheological-industry (and science), in which the real winners were Industry and the Military; and science was always their faithful hound.

Likewise, observance became a vigilance of rivals (on the industrial plane) and their theological or antitheological enemies (on the theological plane). Then, with the collapse of the antitheological, the communist threat was very quickly replaced by a new global power: the guerrilla/military-theological feudal power that is Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or Isis.

In Comte’s terms, positive progress has not only been thwarted by not being allowed to move forward at all, it is in danger of collapsing right back into feudalism. The observance of industrial rivals is still a first priority, but the vigilance of the capitalist system has another annoying fight with terrorists to contend with. Terrorists and other militants fighting a guerrilla war to reinstate feudalism as another kind of military-theology. Force breeds more force, and the neo-feudalism we see spreading through central Asia breeds another kind of feudalism in other parts of Asia, America and Europe. What Comte called feudalism, we now call populism.

There is of course nothing positive or forward moving toward human fulfilment in any of our current power-struggle scenarios.

What has failed to take place in order for Comte’s optimistic plan to unravel itself, has been the lack of prevision in science, or the lack of scientific criteria in the development of political programmes that have abused science for military and profit-making purposes.

Comte believed that only advanced “scientific prevision can avert or mitigate violent revolutions.”[2] What he did not mean when he said this, was that the scientific prevision should be invented in military projects and reactionary wars of rivalry.

But if this is what he didn’t mean, what did he mean? How could a scientific prevision have made our world a better place than it is today?

We will try and answer those questions when we continue in Science versus Industry: Part Two.

pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/science-versus-industry-part-two-the-revolution-we-need/

[1] See Mike Gane, AUGUST COMTE, Routledge, p.31

[2] Ibid, p.33

Doctor Faustus & America’s Demons

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We can see and feel it coming, and we hope that we will be wrong. It’s a sickness that we share: an insanity rooted in nihilism, xenophobia and hatred; creating a general paranoia that is very much alike to a diabolical possession.

There is nothing new in what we see now: the demons have been lurking in wait to take possession of their inheritance for as long as we can remember. It was conceptualized in nineteenth-century imperialism, becoming manifest in twentieth-century fascisms, and has been simmering under the surface ever since Nazi Germany was defeated by other kinds of fascisms wearing democratic masks.

The success of Trumpism lies in the fact that he sold his brand to the voters by claiming to be the only one untainted by the errors and miscalculations that have brought our consumer civilization to the brink of an apocalyptical demise.

But did the void have to be filled by such a monstrous apparition? For potentially, this creature is even worse than the Nazi Führer. He is capable of everything Hitler was capable of and yet wields a power a thousand-times more potent than Hitler’s was, and a psychology that is more infantile and egocentric than Hitler’s was.

At the end of the Second World War, Thomas Mann, in a talk entitled ‘Germany and the Germans’ described a pact between the German people and the devil, Hitler. The speech was given in retrospect, Satan was already defeated, but Mann had developed the metaphor years before and had written a novel about it called Doctor Faustus.

Like Faustus, Germany sold its soul to Hitler, and like Faustus, America has sold its soul to Donald Trump.

Trumpist America has many of the same symptoms of Nazi Germany: the evocation of nationalist (patriotic) feelings and militaristic pride; the humiliation of past bungled military operations; the influence of perverted theologies and the feelings of family love – and these are all themes that are developed in gruesome detail in Mann’s Doctor Faustus.

The Second World war did not bring about the End of Times, but the demon-Hitler certainly pushed us to the brink of it. It inspired the creation and utilisation of the doomsday weapon (the atom bomb) and we have been living under that apocalyptic cloud ever since.

In Trumpism, even when he chants his own optimistic slogan “Let’s make America great again”, there is an apocalyptic atmosphere that engulfs our present, creating a tone of fear: a fear of the nihilism; the xenophobic and egocentric stupidity that the devil-Trump represents.

Middle-class America is shrinking and the divide between rich and poor is widening; a generalized decline which has been running its course since the 1970s[1]; a decline that is not only reflected in an increase of poverty but is also a psychological depressant as it worms its way through a way of life that has always been deeply fragile in its depth of consumer-based nihilisms, precariously held up by the fragile supports of hypocritical evangelical theologies and the symbol of the dollar. It is hardly surprising, then, that they have mistaken Trump’s promises of greatness as a chance to restore what has been eroded away. His message is that America’s middle-class can only be resurrected by flexing America’s muscle, creating the common-sense, but intrinsically false, equation that the country with the biggest army should be able to dictate any and all the terms in order to bring the maximum profits to all American nationals.

But the greatest errors that these believers-in-Trump have made, and the greatest misfortune for them, is that they expect this restoration of consumer-power to come from a silver-spoon-fed businessman, who built and ruined his own empire on the bricks of inheritance, who has a perverted, psychopathic self-esteem and a mind that is anything but centred and orderly, and who prefers watching Fox & Friends to receiving counsel from his advisors.

If the Trump presidency does succeed, the most logical outcome of that success will be alike to a biblical End of Days. The success of Trumpism depends on a Trump-dictatorship. It is doubtful that the prolongation of the Trump regime will be able to last without intense gerrymandering of the already intensely gerrymandered electoral system in the U.S.A., or without a more blatant redesigning of the constitution to allow his dictatorship to be formalized, but, logically, these are all part of Trumpism’s agenda – the one who seems like a dictator wants to be a dictator, and they will continue to seem like a dictator until he or she is a dictator.

This dictatorship will be a bellicose one, pushing the world to the edge of the End of Days. To avoid it, the Americans will need to everything the Germans in the 1930s did not do when Hitler rose to power, and that means recognizing the devil for what he is before he is allowed to begin his destructive Armageddon and become the personification of Satan himself.

For this recognition to happen, the enlightenment has to be stirred, not in the already enlightened liberal folk, but in the vast army of evangelist Trump supporters themselves. The great irony of Trumpism is that its Satanic ideology has so easily infected the hearts of those who should have known better – all the God-fearing Evangelists.

We can now read Thomas Mann’s description of Germany’s pact with Satan because Satan’s attempt, as Hitler, to either control or destroy the world failed. But now the devil has made a new pact with a country more powerful and potentially more destructive than anything ever seen on Earth before. If he is successful this time, there won’t be any new Thomas Mann to tell us about it afterwards.

[1] Richard Florida, THE GEOGRAPHY OF MIDDLE CLASS DECLINE, 2016, CITYLAB

On Culture

high culture

We have said before that culture is memory, another way of saying this is that it is determined by a certain way of thinking. Either way we are talking about what we are thinking about or what we remember and, therefore, what we can bring to mind, hence, what we know. Knowledge has to be expansive. Therefore, whichever way we look at culture, the idea of containing it within certain regional or national borders is a constricting manipulation that starves culture rather than enriching it. States can reduce it to a common language, a unique diet or a shared religion, but such bottling up only impoverishes the notion of culture.

Although it is true that isolation has developed very rich regional cultures (we only need to think of the case of Japan), a richness which is often endangered by exposure to other cultural influences and needs to be preserved, this should not distract us away from the overall richness of culture itself. Culture, as a whole, is all human cultures as a whole. The whole is made up of its parts and is enriched by those parts. Knowledge of the universal is more enriching than a deep commitment to the local. Culture is not something which should be restrictive and isolating, quite the contrary, it should be a method of inspiring expression through learning and discovery.

A cultured person can never be defined as a person who speaks one language, the exact opposite is the case. The more languages you speak, the more cultured you are, because you know more; you have a fuller memory.

By defining culture this way, it can be clearly seen how cultural development is at the basis of all social progress. Intellectual enlightenment and reason is the basis of all change in society, but it is also the basis of all order. Ignoring the importance of an intellectually trained society jeopardises not only social progress, but its order as well. All totalitarian regimes have fallen prey to this simple sociological fact: deny your people access to the sources of knowledge and limit their power of expression, and, no matter how much control you impose on the people, the social structure will eventually crack and fall apart.

Seen as memory or knowing, localised ethnic groups and nation states have been used as guardians of that collective local memory. The Spanish will look after flamenco music; the Chinese will preserve their opera; the Japanese their Kabuki; the locals in the republic of Tuva will deal with Tuvan throat singing; the Welsh will ensure that the manufacture of harps continues. Let us not be misunderstood, protecting these aspects of culture are important: but not just to the locals who have developed these arts, it is important for all of us, because every human achievement enriches humanity through culture, and every loss of any creative achievement is a cultural loss for the whole of humanity.

The universal development of culture is made possible through the creation of museums, libraries and encyclopaedias; with the invention of recording devices and the miracle of the World Wide Web. Culture is now a global experience that mitigates the need for national protectionism. It is relatively easy now for someone from Japan to be ignorant of Kabuki but a specialist in flamenco. This phenomenon has its advantages and dangers: whilst amplifying the number of potential guardians of human knowledge and skills, it also brings with it very few guarantees. Local guardianship through the guarantee of tradition and local cultural identity is still the best safeguard for preserving cultural elements in danger of extinction. When cultures are domesticated, taken out of their natural geographical location and cared for by new guardians who could be in any part of the world, this is often perceived as an existential threat to cultural groups who may define their whole existence via their cultural identity, and the steady tramp of empirical expansion has been responsible for the decimation of countless indigenous cultures. If there is any need for the preservation of nation-states or regional identities it is this.

And yet, if the real cry for preserving the national identity is that of saving culture, why is culture such a meagre concern for nation states?

In terms of the percentage of GNP spent on culture in the European Union, only one of the member states, Estonia, dedicated more than 1%, and the average is only 0.58% of GNP.[1] Perhaps the economic argument behind this is: “if you want culture you can pay for it yourself,” and yet, if the reason for having a national identity is a cultural one, how is it that less than one percent of the taxes we pay is invested in the culture that is our reason for having a nation state that can be allowed to tax us in the first place?

In any case, the problem of preserving cultural parts, especially minority cultures, draws a vicious circle in the question of culture, in which cultural gain through universality destroys the very parts that enrich that same universal culture. The local has to be preserved, but it can no longer be expected to continue in isolation. To resolve the paradox, we must look between the internecine poles of action, but what lies between the universal and the solitary? Communication is a way out of the solitary into the universal, but it doesn’t give us a route back into isolation if we need to go back; this can only be guaranteed through memory. Culture, then, can be a destructive force for cultures, and the only way the negative aspect of the relationship can be made positive is through the preserving power of memory. For culture to be alive it needs to keep its memory alive – alive in such a way that the cultures remembered can maintain themselves as living cultures. Likewise, cultures have to see their significance not only from their own isolationist perspective, but their larger importance in the greater space of our universal culture.

What we are discussing here is nothing new, but it is something forgotten. The question of culture is best represented if we look at our traditions of funeral rites. When our loved ones die, we make an effort, through ritual, to preserve their memory. When we die, we would not like to be forgotten. Our dealing with death is embedded in our culture and in fact culture is a kind of metaphor for our attitude toward death, or impermanence. That is why culture is memory.

[1] Source: Council of Europe Compendium: Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 2010-2011

SCIENCE AND METAPHYSICS

Vitruvian_macrocosm

HAS SCIENCE MADE HUMANITY BETTER?

Thinking through historical processes in order to develop a positivist philosophy from which he could develop a secular religion for humanity, Auguste Comte saw three intellectual stages through which human thought had passed: A) the theological stage, with its belief that supernatural characters are at the root of all things; B) the metaphysical stage (occurring between 1300 and 1800) in which abstract forces like ‘nature’, rather than personalized gods, explain everything, and C) the positivistic stage, characterized by a belief in science.[1]

Comte has identified a real progression, but the problem with this evolution is that in fact there is no real progress, at least not between B and C, because science is really nothing more than an analysis and explanation of nature. So, rather than being a great leap forward for humanity, our scientific era is more accurately a period in which nature is better explained than it had been before. Yes, this is a good thing. It is always good to know things better. But, from the positivist point of view that Comte was expressing, and with the advantage of the hindsight of two centuries that Comte himself did not possess, we must ask ourselves: How has our understanding of nature made humanity a better kind of human being? Comte saw science as a progress away from nature. Yet, while science seems to explain everything, it just explains nature, which explains everything – and in Comte’s simplification, that was already happening in the metaphysical period before.

The illusion created by ideas such as Comte’s of positivistic progress away from nature, has in fact had deeply scarring results. The most obvious wound being that which has necessitated the creation of the science of ecology. The irony of ecology is that it is a science created out of the necessity to put nature back on track, because of the damage done to it by the application other scientific developments of contaminating technologies. Through the understanding of nature that ecology gives us, we now understand the urgency to put nature back into the metaphysical space it had before scientific revelations tampered with it. The scientific period that Comte labelled as positivistic has, in fact, been dangerously nihilistic, precisely because it uprooted itself from the metaphysics of nature and lost all respect for the nature that sustained it. The most positivist action we could take now, would be to put all the technology sciences under the umbrella of ecology. In a sense, this would mean embracing the wisdom of the metaphysical age again in which everything is connected, a connection needs to be respected above all else.

The environmental damage we have wreaked on the planet has been far from positivistic, and the only positivism remaining in our nihilistic world is the perverse, suicidal cult of growth and expansion.

In order to continue viewing science as a positive element for human progress, we need to project all sciences through the microcosmical lens of ecology and the macrocosmic eye of cosmology, for it is through these two lenses that metaphysical notions are starting to once again filter into the intellectual mesh of our present age.

THE NEW METAPHYSICAL AGE: COSMOLOGY, ECOLOGY AND SAPIENS-CENTRISM

Perhaps the most important scientific theory for any new-age positivism, is the idea of the cosmological constant, the tiny force of dark matter that is so necessary for existence and is, numerically, so precise that it emboldens existence with deterministic meanings. The Big Bang may have been an accidental phenomenon, but from it developed a physical nature which now works deliberately in the direction of producing conditions to allow the evolution of life forms and the creation of self-conscious Being. The Universe is a physical process geared toward positive evolution, and human beings, as sapiens organisms capable of understanding things, are a central part of Being.

Armed with cosmological and ecological arguments, it is time to swing the pendulum back to the metaphysical age. Cosmology and ecology refuel a human positivism, but to drive the positivistic wagon we need a philosophical pilot. A pilot that is motivated by a belief in the necessity of humanity as a purpose for his or her own mission. The philosophical pilot of the positivistic wagon has to see beyond our nihilistic notions of humanity and put our consciousness and awareness back in the centre again: a sapiens-centrism in which humanity becomes the subject of the universe again (just as in Comte’s metaphysical age).

Sapiens exist in order for the macrocosm and microcosm to be perceived. We stand at the centre of the Universe. Being can only Be whilst sapiens organisms exist. Being is enriched when Sapiens develops its knowledge and creativity to the full.

DETERMINISM

If the observance of natural laws indicates a determinism that is positive for humanity in that it gives a meaningful answer to the question why we are here, then such a determinism must be considered desirable and worth promoting. If this determinism also indicates ecological values, then this gives us further reasons for embracing the concept. Our survival in a world that is suffering daily deterioration under the impact of our non-ecological behaviour, may depend on it. The problems facing humanity in our relationship with our planet cannot be resolved in a nihilistic system driven by the ethics of growth and sadly lacking in the spirit of real sustainability. For humanity to survive, it needs a positive reason why humanity is here. It needs a sapiens-meaning, rather than squabbling individual reasons.

A METAPHYSICS BIRTHED FROM SCIENCE

But Comte was right enough in seeing that where the three stages of his history cohabitated in the same society, the metaphysical state enacted a kind of deontological mediating role within the antagonistic space between theology and rationality.[2]

What Comte could never dream of, however, was the possibility of a science driven and fuelled by a metaphysics. Metaphysics for Comte was always an ingredient buried in the theological notion and therefore something that science had to eradicate in order for culture to make positive progress. But what happens when the metaphysics is birthed out of science (ecology and cosmology) rather than God? How can theological myths stand up to so much truth?

Likewise, science is equally troublesome if by science we refer to those individuals and their corporations who use the technologies created by science to accumulate power and turn themselves into a race of oligarchical technocrats. When we talk about a science-based metaphysics we are talking about a new relationship with science, undermining the ethical relativity of our present, nihilistic civilisation suffocated by its philosophy of perpetual growth. A ecological-cosmological science-metaphysics demands an equality with nature: Sapiens is in the world, and the world is in Sapiens.

SCIENCE-BASED METAPHYSICS

Rather than being a mediator, the science-based metaphysics will probably find itself being attacked from both sides (from both the science-technology world and the world of religion), for it must certainly be seen as a threat to both sides. Between the emperors of accumulation and the dogmas of monotheisms, the only weapon available to science-based metaphysics is the shield of truth. The same shields the monotheisms wielded when they erected their own theological revolutions. But this truth is stamped not with the vague ambiguity of scriptures, but with the authoritative seal of scientific evidence itself. In this way, it is not a threat to the antagonistic systems of science and religion, it is a fusion of the two. And what a powerful new peace-maker this is.

Ecology and the inherent metaphysics embedded in all ecological thought which is that we are all in the world and the world must be protected from our own mad, degradation of the world, is a nascent, antagonistic force against the System. Antagonistic but necessary. Its attack on the system has to be directed more and more forcefully as solutions to the ecological-problem are constantly thwarted. While ecology may be a threat to the System, our System is presently a threat to existence and must therefore be transformed or eliminated. A positive logic that accepts Being over Non-being tells us irrefutably that, despite its present lack of real power, a science-based metaphysics must triumph over the nihilists, technocrats and theologians. Science-based metaphysics is a logical necessity.

 

[1] Ritzer, 1996:14, quoted in Mike Gane, AUGUSTE COMTE, Routledge, New York, 2006, p.23

[2] Ibid