THE GREAT LIE

The greatest lie we live with is actually a chain of lies or misconceptions generated by the idea that civilisation is something inherently good.

This lie is easy to detect and unmask. If we want to subvert the system and make the foundations of civilisation’s so-called unquestionably benign existence start to crumble, all we need is to affirm any of one of the many irrefutable axioms such as all civilisations have erected themselves on the backs of enslaved or over-exploited human beings

… Ah yes, if only reality’s truths were so easily rationalised; those who have tried, know fully well that any criticism of systemic reality is rendered mute by the mere fact that the system is reality, and that makes any interrogation of it seem impertinent. And even if such criticisms were able to force a confession out of the system, civilisation has an enormous bag of counterarguments to defend, albeit apologetically, its own dogmas. We might be told that civilisation is an evolutionary phenomenon, in which moral standards are in a constant process of development and that, because of this, we should not judge past civilisations with our own present standards; or that the ends (the sublime complexity of civilisation and the benefits that such complexity has to offer) justify the means (the blood and iron process of the enslaving and exploitation of the billions of individuals who have had to suffer incredible hardships, torture or death in order to establish the great benefits of civilisation’s complexity that some few freely enjoy today).

To make matters worse, any attempts to find a truly humanistic escape from the exploitive nature of civilisation, have been gelded by the problems and failures of the most effective trials so far, the communist revolutions. Communism was right in pointing out the tyranny of Wealth embedded in the system, but wrong in throwing humanity out of the window in order to promote a class war. For the nature of the system to be changed in favour of humanity, it is humanity itself that needs to make and control the change.    

To unmask the truth about the system we need to analyse it, dissect it, and put it on trial. And to judge civilisation, we need to know its purpose. Only then can we estimate how well it has been able to serve and develop that purpose, or, more importantly whether such a purpose is universally desirable for those who are experiencing the realities which the existence of civilisation creates. Once we have begun such an unveiling of prime objectives, we immediately start to see how well the inherently abusive phenomenon of civilisation has been able to disguise itself behind a mask of something good.

Civilisation is a form of organisation, and the good argument will say that it is an organisation geared toward the creation of wealth and prosperity, by which a positive thinker would assume wealth and prosperity for all. In truth, all civilisations have built their wealth via a massive exploitation of labour. Whether real slaves, under-paid sweatshop workers, or other paid workers enslaved by commitments to abusive mortgages or loans, the result is the same: a malevolent exploitation of humanity.

The defining clause of wealth and prosperity for all cannot be applied therefore without creating a huge misconception about what civilisations are. The fact that civilisation as we experience it today has a deeper divide between rich and poor than ever before, only reinforces that civilisation is most definitely not designed for the wealth and prosperity of all human beings.

Once humanity is brought into the equation, all civilisations sadly fail. Humanity as a measure of things, seriously questions all of our positive conceptions about civilisation, making them quite obviously misconceptions. Through the prism of humanity, the light of civilisation has a very dark hue, emitting a list of absurd acts perpetrated over and over again by all civilisations which are anti-human and, ergo, uncivilised.

To judge a civilisation fairly we cannot obliterate the idea of for all, for it is embedded in our moral preconceptions of what a civilisation should be for. That civilisations have not progressed in favour of humanity, demonstrates a lack of real progress in civilisation itself. Yes, there has been technological progress that all of humanity today are able to benefit from, but at the same time, we are also suffering the consequences of such technology which are, in a fundamentally exploitive system called civilisation, designed to exploit the human component of that civilisation to the full.

That technological progress would have been impossible without civilisation is a powerful argument in favour of civilisation. Primitive people, like the Australian aboriginal cultures, never conceptualised the use of the wheel, but then again neither did the advanced civilisations of the Incas or the Aztecs. Organisation helps progress, but the idea of civilisation goes beyond simple organisation, it is organisation with a purpose, a purpose which should be to benefit humanity, yet this has rarely been the case with any civilisation. For a civilisation to be good for humanity, it needs to be explicitly and pragmatically good for humanity, and that has never been the case. It has never really been benign to humanity because its real purposes have no intention of doing such a thing, because its real purposes are always for the benefit of power-wielding groups. Humanity demands democracy, but civilisation has always fed its population with some form of oligarchy.

What this indicates is that our relationship to the term civilisation is not an authentic one because we constantly misinterpret the meaning of the term. How beautiful and impressive would civilisations have become if they had really developed in an authentic way, for humanity rather than for the privileged few.

Things are not the way they are because they have to be that way. If things should be a different way, then they should be a different way until they are: but the should be will only ever become the way it is when we understand the authentic human purpose of all things human.

At the moment civilisation is a term bestowing Wealth with a legitimacy to remain. Civilisation, in its pragmatic sense, is a message endorsing the necessary endurance of the presence of Wealth. It is a nexus between wealth and us that allows Wealth to perpetuate itself and become ever and ever stronger.

But for civilisation to really exist, it has to be everyone, and the outsiders can no longer be seen as barbarians nor the slaves as labourers. It has to be democratic in an idealistic way: anti-oligarchical and anti-plutocratical. Under the mask of benign terms like civilisation and democracy, Wealth is able to obtain a stable, enduring presence. Whenever threatened it can conjure up the image of barbarians or infidels, civilisation’s age-old enemies, and rally the polis around its flag to save the civilised world once again.

The civilisation of Wealth has always promoted itself, in whatever form it takes, as the only possible form of organisation, seeing itself as the necessary space: that which needs to exist before any meaningful architecture can take place. This, of course, is a misconception. Civilisation is a mode of organisation and is a result of organisation. Organisation is the primary principle and civilisation is the answer to the question of purpose tagged on to the organisational process. Civilisation is always a response to the what for of the organisation. Quite clearly there can be no singular answer to that question. However, for civilisation to progress and evolve the answer has to be for humanity.

Civilisation should be an enabling power in itself for all human beings, instead of a masking tool for the interests of Wealth. In its present state, civilisation is lacking, it lacks humanity, because it is not truly at humanity’s disposal.

As a term then, civilisation is our greatest hope, but it is also our most miserable perdition. We think we have it, but really it has us. It entwines our lives in a complex web of relationships that enslave us to the purposes of Wealth. It is the greatest lie.               

THE PURPOSE OF CIVILISATION

Most of us would like to believe that we are civilised and that we belong to an organising system that is so obviously civilised that it is called civilisation. But, how true is this assumption? What makes us so sure our world is a civilised one? Or even, how can we really be certain that we know what civilisation and being civilised really mean? Could it be that we take civilisation for granted?

Being civilised is a certain way of acting. It is often related to polite and/or diplomatic behaviour. It’s opposite is ‘barbaric’, ‘hooligan’, ‘philistine’, or ‘vulgar’ behaviour. Being civilised implies a respect for other human beings and human institutions whereas the ‘barbarians’ will have no respect for others and will invade the space of other individuals and groups in a loud, brash, aggressive manner. Being civilised suggests a degree of cultural refinement and taste, whereas philistine tastes are crude, kitschy popular, or simply non-existent.

If we do live in a civilisation, we also know that a large amount of barbaric, uncivilised behaviour exists alongside us – perhaps we even partake in some of it ourselves. This means that civilisation as we experience it is not perfect, for if it were then surely all members of our civilisation would have to be civilised. But, to what extent can civilisation cohabit with the barbarians without it losing its right to call itself civilisation? In our world, the barbaric, vulgar, and kitschy are predominant components of society while the refined, cultured, and polite behaviour is confined to a very small minority. So, given that reality, can we truly continue to believe that we live in a civilised world?

To properly answer this question, and resolve any false conceptions we might have about ourselves, we need to look at the original purposes and results of our civilisation and then compare what we find with what we were expecting to find. 

So, what is the purpose of civilisation? To answer this, we must look at its origins. We know that civilisation as a phenomenon arose with the development of agriculture – but why? Agriculture created a surplus, and an accumulation of extras has great advantages for those who have them. They can be used in exchange for other things that are lacking, or for things that bring pleasure, or for increasing one’s personal wealth and perhaps even one’s power. In this way, surplus became a very desirable thing, but to have and maintain this precious advantage created an obligation for a stricter and more complex organisation of societies. This organisation was the beginning of what we now call civilisation.

We can see from this that the original purpose of civilisation was to organise production in a way that would guarantee the benefits of surplus acquisition, i.e., the profits generated by excess. For large scale agriculture to be feasible there had to be an appropriately large and seasonally-permanent workforce to farm it, which in turn created a demand for housing facilities where the workforce could sleep, which needed some sort of urban planning and systems of control to ensure that those workers did not threaten the smooth functioning of the system developed by those in charge of the surplus acquisition. From that early organisation came pyramids and writing, but the purpose of the civilisations that created them was not to build great architecture and communicate universally through writing, it was to organise production, accumulate wealth, and ensure that their control of that wealth was perpetual (through the acquisition of more and more power that was symbolised by the pyramids). Likewise, these first civilisations created the conditions for the first, full-scale wars, not because wars were the purpose of civilisation, but rather that war can only really be understood as a means of protecting or developing the profits that the civilisation aims to make for those who are in charge of the power of acquisition. This is what the purpose of civilisation was.

Since the birth of civilisation, there has only ever been this one same purpose for it: the organisation, protection, and development of profits from processes of production.

The irony of this is that this kind of system is not particularly geared towards creating what we would consider civilised behaviour based on respect and refinement. It could be argued that civilised behaviour is a result of civilisation because the complexity of its social organisation requires social civility, but the relationship between civilised behaviour and civilisation is not a purely reciprocal one. One the one hand, civilised behaviour is necessary in order for a complex society to function, but members of a complex society cannot have the same profit-making capabilities that civilisation itself has because the engine of civilisation is designed to move the advantages of acquisitions always in a vertical way, taking away from the workers who produce the surplus for the profit of the elites that control the means of that production. Because of this, there is no reason why those who stand outside of the circle of entitlement have to act in a civilised way.

So, whilst the relationship between civilised behaviour and civilisation is not an accidental one, because civilisation believes it needs a civilised society for it to function, in actual fact this is one of civilisations greatest misapprehensions, because in reality the greater part of society in the civilised world is hardly civilised at all.

The relationship between the terms ‘civilisation’ and ‘civilised’, therefore, demands a leeway. Not all of civilisation can be civilised. The idea of a civilisation with a civilised elite supported by highly refined and cultured slave-servants, is absurd. Civilisation needs to have barbarians working at its base in order to uphold its primary purpose which is the progress and preservation of its profit-making nobility.

Traditionally, civilisation handled this discrepancy through the phenomenon of classes which made a systematic progression from the vulgar to the refined seem logical. This produced an ideal of civilised behaviour that culminated in Europe’s 18th century’s Age of Enlightenment. A refinement that, because of its enlightenment, coincided with an upsurge in democratic values that exploded into the French Revolution and has developed into the western democratic parliamentary models we have today on a global scale.

As a conglomerate of democracies, civilisation has been able to find a way out of the dilemma with the civilised. Once democratic principles had been enforced, civilisation no longer needed to be refined and even the great elites were able to relax and allow themselves to indulge in what had always been considered vulgar behaviour. In a sense, civilisation has become more honest with itself, and its relationship with civilised behaviour has become more contingent by basing it on the basic tenets of civilisation itself, centring correct behaviour around the needs of commerce, of the organisation of acquisitions and exploitations, and of engendering surplus and profit. Civilised behaviour, therefore, could revolve around politeness, but it could just as easily be centred on brutality: civilisation is about obtaining what the elite want, and profits can be obtained either through polite negotiation or through violent extortion and the power of military might. Given the real purpose of civilisation, the images of a democratic plantation owner in Alabama whipping his negro slave, or a refined Nazi officer overlooking a queue of naked Jews on their way to the gas chamber are perfectly legitimate interpretations of ‘civilised’ behaviour given the real purpose of civilisation and its surplus-exploitation roots. Thankfully, however, they are not considered acceptable for the vast majority of human beings. For most of us, what we have just described is the pinnacle of barbarity. But the discrepancy remains: both of these acts were perpetrated within the paradigm of supposedly civilised societies that were part of the overall system of Western Civilisation that we have today, and while that discrepancy between our concept of civilised behaviour and the true purpose of civilisation exists, then the chance that such barbarity will one day return will also exist.

So, what is wrong here? Could it be that the terms ‘civilisation’ and ‘civilised’ mean something else than they really are?

Our history is the history of civilisation, which means the history of the organisation of production on a mass scale and a perpetuation of profit making by certain areas of society as a result of that organisation. As we see, this is an anti-human process that segregates human societies in order to exploit certain sectors, and this means that this civilisation, which is the central pivot of our history, is an anti-human concept. This does not mean, however, that another kind of system designed to organise societies in a way in which the welfare, dignity, and fulfilment of all of humanity will be taken into consideration is not possible.

We have heard them talk about the End of History, now it is time to contemplate the possibility of an End of Civilisation.            

Progress = Decline

There is a profound paradox slicing through our global-world civilisation – progress is also decline. However, the contradiction is easy to understand once we accept the erroneous nature of its inception.

Growth is supposed to be a virtue, but any growth that goes beyond natural limits is a vice. The values ingrained in us, telling us that growth is an essential component of our well-being and happiness, are not in step with reality: they are perversions, breeding deadly monsters and engendering tragic scenarios.

The problem with civilisation in the 20th century, therefore, is that it is built on this dangerously false premise. Our System tells us that the greatest value for all societies to aspire toward is growth and that non-growth means death. This argument is absurd and wrong and yet at the same time it is so widely accepted that it is the driving force of civilisation. Because of this, we can and must declare that with this century we have now become deeply entrenched in the Insanity Age.

The growth that is preached to us from the pulpits of economic wisdom, has been tagged, at the political and social level, as progress, even though the result is decline.

Our world is an empire without an emperor, and its decline began with its inception, so that there never has really been a vice, the vice is embedded in that which is.

When analysing the insanity of our age, one has to wonder if there is some kind of phoenix-hope psychology embedded in the subconscious of its affirmations. What the global-world civilisation longs for is a resurrection via a process of annihilation in its all-consuming-fire economy. This kind of thinking is of the most primitive kind: an observation of the seasons and a sympathetic-magic belief in the power of cycles. But, there is no perpetual growth in nature, it would be impossible.

The cycles don’t support perpetual growth, they inhibit it. They pull it back. In nature also, winter is not a crisis, it is a natural alleviation and a necessity. There are no elites in nature who benefit from the cyclic organisation of the biosphere; natural cycles unfold in order to create harmony. So, if we really must be cyclic in our organisation, let us be honest about it and take the real seasonal changes into positive consideration.

To have faith in progress without having any conception of what that progress is moving towards is absurd. So is the idea of progress as a nothing more than a quantitative thing, such as growth. And yet, this is our present insane condition. We are condemned to the absurd whilst we remain in the impossible tension of progress through nihilism.  

Progress will only happen when we can replace the work elite with the values of thinking; using the theoretical to lift us away from the constant tyranny of the pragmatic. We have been building machines to alleviate labour for millennia and yet, in many respects, we work as hard as ever – we are certainly more stressed than ever – and, despite social networking, individuals in societies suffer more alienation than ever. For progress to happen we need to have a theoretical image of where it should take us. The future is a guide and our objectives are horizons – we can always see them, and they are constantly changing and can never be reached, but we need to keep advancing toward them for progress to happen.

Progress has to be measured qualitatively and not quantitatively. Our obsession with the quantitative measure of reality has been the greatest error of our Insanity Age.

Our Centuries

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The 20th Century

 

Nietzsche summarised the modern world by looking for the essence of each century and attributing a philosopher to each one[i]: The 17th century is aristocratic and ruled by Descartes; the 18th is feminine and dominated by Rousseau; and the 19th is animalistic and under the sway of Schopenhauer.

Following the same line of thought we could call the 20th century nihilistic and Nietzschean. The spirit of the 20th century is, above all, one of a paradoxical dominance: individualism rules, but so does the herd, and both are motivated by a dictatorial will. Because of this paradox, the 20th century is Nietzschean but also anti-Nietzschean: the Last Man has an ubiquitous presence whilst the Übermensch is a dangerous illusion that only appears in a form that has been perverted by the Last Man (Nazism). It is adolescent in spirit, greedy and neurotic.

But while the 20th century is Nietzschean, it is also Marxist and Capitalist and it is the century of economy more than anything else, one that is dominated by the god of money.

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The 21st Century

 

This century is yet to have begun for we are still immersed in the nihilist, plutocratic century of Nietzsche. Nevertheless, we can imagine what it needs to be like if we are ever to survive the internecine forces driving our lives at the moment.

If civilisation is to survive the 21st century, it must be a period of responsibility: ecological duties are pending, and these responsibilities are also linked to human rights and justice.

The philosophical will need to generate awareness and the transformation will only come about through the communication of that awareness. In that sense, the 21st century will have to be a new era of enlightenment. Likewise, it will be a time of maturing: the adolescent 20th century needs to become an adult. It will need to be forward looking, even teleological, and imbued with far-reaching teleological purposiveness. Everything must change, and it will be the most revolutionary era since the Neolithic.

The 21st century will see the emergence of a more consistent humanity that will start to identify itself as humanity instead of as a nation, religion, or race. Human nature will start to be perceived as the nature of the species – homo sapiens; homo habilis – rather than the manifestations of activity by the many kinds of social animal or the homo economicus.

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[i] See f. Nietszche, THE WILL TO POWER, #95 – The Three Centuries

The Abstract and the Conditional versus the Casserole of Duties

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All human activity and progress has come from our ability to conceptualise reality abstractly and conditionally. The future is not built on dreams, but on the idea of what is possible; of what we could do if …

Nevertheless, despite all the conditional possibilities thrown at us every day in a civilisation driven by publicity campaigns, contemporary society offers little room to let our minds wander into the now dangerous realm of the abstract.

The contemporary human condition is full of the obligations of the here and now: family responsibilities; work obligations; needs to find work; to buy; to pay one’s debts. Obligations that have their own spaces, but which seep into the other spaces, constantly mixing and creating a thick stew of obligations. And it is this casserole of duties that we come to call the System. A thick-stew system that gives us less and less space in which to look for the abstract and conditional.

In the casserole of duties, life is enclosed in the actual. Whenever gaps appear, they are quickly plugged by consumer needs or the indoctrinations of the games used by the System to divert thoughts that may start to wander, fixing them by immersing them in the actuality of the game, so that when the current match finishes the arrival of the next great sporting event is already immanent.

Everything is designed to promote the here-and-now and inhibit the conditional, and, by so doing, foster the real and the factual, extinguishing our thoughts until we are left empty of possibilities and full of the actual.

The modern man and woman is full of the System, and the irony is that our very social complexity in the System alienates us from our humanity.

While we are full of the System, we have no room to progress as humans; no room to discover our vital, creative potential within the future potentials of all imagined conditionals.

Money and Civilisation

Great-Pyramid-Giza

Money was created for a very practical purpose: to simplify rituals of exchange and create a tool that can be used to fairly measure all acquisitions.

What began as being a utensil, however, very quickly turned into a monster that seems to hammer at us even before we have any real exchanges to make. Instead of being a tool, it is now an obligation or an addiction. We are possessed by it. No one any longer questions its necessity. Its rule over us is dogmatic; its kingdom is ubiquitous. If God exists it is probably in the form of money. We worship it, have complete faith in it, and hardly ever take its name in vain.

We could say that money is the key factor in creating our feeling of alienation from the world because it is draped like a veil over reality. Between us and the world, therefore, there exists a thin transparent veneer, acting as a kind of barrier, telling us that the only way to get proper access to what we want has to involve the magic of money.

But this alienation is not completely the fault of money: even before the invention of coins, magical veils had already been draped over the world to ensure that certain exchanges brought great profit and power to some at the expense of others. It is always a sobering idea to remind ourselves that the great pyramids were built on an exchange of beer and bread. The first civilisations were erected before the invention of coins, but once it had been created, money became an integral feature of all that civilisation now represents.

Civilisation itself is one enormous paradox: it contains humanity’s greatest idealisation of reality – through art and technology – and seems to be the only vehicle possible through which the spirit of human progress can be driven. However, it is the weapon with which all power-led ideologies are able to wield their control; it is the chopping block of all anti-human segregations, and the vocal piece for all anti-progressive dogmas. In a sense, Civilisation contains the greatest of all possibilities for humanity, while at the same time it produces each of our most frustrating disappointments.

Civilisation today is a vast global market that is consuming resources at such a rate that our unsustainable model of existence threatens to destroy itself. Of course, this means that a new model for civilisation becomes imperative, but can such a revolution take place before the monster that the System has become devours its own tail?

We think the answer lies in a rehabilitation of Civilisation from the addiction it has to money, in order to allow the global empire to feed the humanity it supports rather than the all-consuming demands of the drug that surges through its blood-stream. Of course, this is perhaps the most radical, seemingly impossible solution imaginable: how can we kick the habit of a drug when we are all addicted to it, even the doctors?

Yet, impossible as it seems, until we decide to get clean there will never be any hope for civilisation or humanity. This is the real pessimistic stand-point afflicting humanity today.

Nationalism & Patriotism: TOTEM IDENTITIES & POWER (part 2)

In the firstpart of this article (https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/nationalism-patriotism-totem-identities-power/) we argued that both nationalism and patriotism are part of the same anti-human historical process that began with the segregating cults of thetotem: “Throughthe totem, … the individual surrendered his voice in the community and allowedall voices to be concentrated in the singular decrees of the priest-kings.Community, as such, died with the totem that was set up to build it, and a newanti-human history was born that became a process of maintaining classdistinction and privileges for the few at the expense of the manipulation andexploitation of the many.”

Perhaps Marx would say that the class struggle began with this class creation, but, in the beginning, there was probably minimalconflict. Not only class consciousness, but any kind of consciousness was inits embryonic stages, and political struggle needs to be fired by a conscious desirethat transcends the mere physical needs for food, shelter and propagation. Inthe early days when the totem societies began to develop into the firstcivilisations, any vestiges of political consciousness were mitigated by themanipulation, and creation via that manipulation, of the social reality thatenshrouded the priest-kings with the veil of apparent truth.

While the Sumerian tablets mention internal strife and indicate that there must have been some early opposition to the flagrant grabbing of power in the creation of the first civilisation, the real struggle was carried out by those who had established their power already. Early progress has to be measured in the degree of success obtained in the maintenance of the enormous fiction of the totem; that monstrous, empowering lie. If there has been a motor, or a process through history, it has been the maintenance via re-modelling which has allowed the perpetual existence of privileged classes and the freedom for those classes to exploit the other classes of society. This condition has not changed in the last 5,000 years.

Identity is, of course, a process of separation. A separation that is needed in order to maintain the lies of the totem identities of the City-State. The City-State can maintain its identity only while it has enemies to compare itself with. For this reason, during the current process of globalisation which is really a process of centralising power and privileges for the ruling elite, we do not see any diminishing of nationalisms, but rather a strengthening of them.

Once the totem was established, the lies could be formulated to justify all sorts of behaviourin the name of the divine symbol of the new society. But if people questionedthese lies, or the exploitive and repressive measures they were suffering as aconsequence of them, they had to be forced into a submission to the belief. Andso, the high-priests took charge, not only of the temple economy, but also ofthe warriors that could defend it. As such, any opposition to the lie couldeasily be a death sentence and the classes without an army to defend them had to wonder if opposition was not a madness. If opposition is life-threatening, it is probably best to tow the line, even if by doing so life is mademiserable. The exploited labourer is told that his or her life can always beworse – or no life at all. If thinking inspires the dangers and miseries causedby Power’s brutal reprisals, then it is best not to think at all; to go withthe flow and be a good citizen. And its best to teach your children to thinkthe same way. Soon the oppression and exploitation becomes immersed in thegreat fog of normality in which things happen in a certain manner because thatis the way things are.  

But from the time of Sumer, the way things are is that the society is organised in a way that will produce an abundance that is enjoyed by the privileged class, while those producing the abundance with their labour are given enough to survive on and little else. In history, we can see a progression and emergence of a middle-class who were encouraged to think they were comfortable and free. But rather than being a process of egalitarianism, it was merely a necessary process carried out to ensure the supply of abundance to the privileged class who were consolidating their fortunes through the sale of consumer goods. In order for the privileged to accumulate the billions they have made it was necessary to have billions of individuals capable of buying the billions of products they were selling. And so, there arose an economic need for what we call the middle-class.

But let us not fool ourselves: the privileged who hold power have not had to succumb to democratic or revolutionary demands on them, but rather technology has allowed them to create new ways of making fortunes by selling new manufactured products. All the rest, in its essence, has not changed since Sumer and Urk.

Aside from Sumer other powers were born in different ways: the Egyptian class-system grew primarily out of a power won militarily for the power of the Hawk-god that absorbed the priestly functions of control after making military conquests. Of course, Egypt took the priest-king idea one-step further and its leaders became Pharaohs, king-gods. That the lie could be taken so far seems ludicrous, but, for the Egyptian it was either believe the lie or die, and then, as in Sumer, after a few generations the king-god system would have been understood as the way things are, because that is how they have always been.

Power and its privileges are the centre of all civilisations, but so is the subsequent retarding of thought. The Greek Commonwealth, and especially the richly artistic and philosophical culture of Athens is so special because it was a blatantexception to this rule. In Greece there were City States, but there were alsothinkers thinking some of the deepest thoughts that have ever been contemplated. To understand how Greece was possible, we have to remindourselves that, before Alexander, it was just a peripheral place, on theoutskirts of the real centres of power that grew in western Asia and Egypt. And,on the periphery, it was more possible that thinkingwould be allowed.

Rather than stimulating and benefiting from the natural creativity and inventiveness ofhuman beings, the privileged classes pulling the strings of power havegenerally wasted the inherent talent of human beings and because of this it could be said that civilisation has been an obstacle in authentic humanprogress.

Nationalism & Patriotism: TOTEM IDENTITIES & POWER (part 1)

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At a centenary memorial service for the victims of the First World War, Emmanuel Macron warned of the dangers of nationalisms whilst praising the virtues of patriotism. The nuances separating the two terms are important: nationalism is based on cultural and linguistic or even, in the worst-case scenario, racial or ethnic ties, whilst patriotism is nurtured by the values and beliefs of the state. Nationalism is more aggressive to foreign states and foreigners than patriotism is. When nationalisms clash there is always a threat of war, whilst patriotisms use diplomacy in conflicts to find peaceful outcomes to conflicts. Nevertheless, both terms generally represent the same thing. One might be seen as the ‘good cop’ and the other the ‘bad cop’, but both are cops, or, if we look at it from humanity’s point of view, both belong to the same mafias we call Nation States.

Nationalism or patriotism, against the measuring rod of Humanity they are both segregating and oppressive forces. Yet, it’s hard to imagine a world without countries. After all, they have always been here, haven’t they? And the hardest thing to imagine away is that which has been around, seemingly forever.

Certainly they’ve been here, in a simplified form, ever since the first societies gathered around the first totems. Each one with their own symbolic deity. These totem-cultures then gathered together into city states, under the protection of a unifying divine entity that began to take the totemic form of a divine statue. These city-state countries would expand and create larger states and even empires, regimes that needed ever more powerful totems … until they discovered the One, which was the mightiest totem of all, demanding that all must bow to its omnipotent symbols.

But even before reaching the One, the totem went through many metamorphoses: the pyramid shaped ziggurats and the pyramids themselves. In the first city, the Sumerian Uruk, the temples and land were considered properties of the gods. Divine properties which certain families were placed in charge of, as if by divine will. So we see, even at the very beginning of civilization, how religion was used to justify an enhanced privilege over the others.

The first concentration of power was assumed by the priestly caste. Once the people had been indoctrinated into identifying themselves with the totem representative of the gods that were supposed to control and even predetermine their fate through the power of concepts like destiny, it was a simple step to mould them into servants of the totem. Only the priests had access to the gods’ thoughts and motives. It was through the priests and the unsullied, pure character of the High Priestess, that the gods gave their laws to men.

Through the totem, therefore, the individual surrendered his voice in the community and allowed all voices to be concentrated in the singular decrees of the priest-kings. Community, as such, died with the totem that was set up to build it, and a new anti-human history was born that became a process of maintaining class distinction and privileges for the few at the expense of the manipulation and exploitation of the many.

Patriotism might be the good cholesterol that the nation state needs to preserve itself, but the nation state itself is a powerful virus that has put humanity into a coma for millennia. It’s time now, not to be good patriots but to see the virus for what it is, and dismantle the nation state in order to resuscitate what we really are: humanity.

CONTINUED AT: https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/11/26/nationalism-patriotism-totem-identities-power-part-2/

CIVILISATION, NATIONALISM & WAR: The decline and fall of the homo sapiens

fall

OUR EVOLUTION

1) 2.5 million years ago – evolution of the first hominids: able to walk upright and make tools.

2) 200,000 years ago – evolution of the homo sapiens: bigger brains and better ability for making tools; social organization and the cultural adaptation to different kinds of environments.

3) 12,000 years ago – due to the impact of climate change and the scarcity of food, some communities evolve from being hunters and collectors to being herdsmen.

4) 6,000 years ago – New techniques of irrigation and drainage, allowing for intensive agriculture based on the use of the plough.

The emergence of the first communities practising husbandry and agriculture was a result of necessity rather than mere wilful choice, and they were responses to needs created by environmental realities (first of all, the Ice Age and later because of desertification in the Middle East and North African regions where the Earth’s warming brought about extensive desertification).

Sedentary society in the early Neolithic era was classless and communal, in which the nuclear family did not exist.[i] As such, it can be affirmed that he first steps toward civilisation were a divergence from a basic form of communism. But why did that divergence from social harmony take place?

THE DECLINE:

The production of an abundance of food that agriculture provided caused a rapid population growth. However, this same population had to be maintained, and agriculture in the Neolithic era was still precarious. Plagues, droughts and other natural disasters had tragic results for many Neolithic communities. Also, populations kept increasing even though arable land was scarce. Over farming created sterile land: exploration was needed to find fertile spots where the community could be replanted, and different social groups began to find themselves with conflicts of interest. “Poverty and property, scarcity and abundance were the primary causes of the first wars.”[ii]

FIRST WARS:

The earliest archaeological indication of violent conflict dates back 7,500 years, and it was in the 6th Millennium BCE that groups emerged that began to identify themselves with a certain area and dominate that area for their own. As such, the year that the mythological Cain killed his brother Able should symbolically be set in the Neolithic era, at around 5,500 BCE.

But for war to occur, there needs to be the kind of complexity in a society that can fashion armies (soldiers and arms for those soldiers). We don’t have any evidence of armies before the creation of civilisations. The earliest pictographs of armies have been dated at 3,500 BCE, from the kingdom of Kish,[iii] at the beginning of the Bronze Age. Historically, in the evolution of western societies, war is a consequence of civilisation.

But civilisation alone is not a reason for the creation of warfare: these first wars were made possible not be mere cultural organisation, but by a mixture of complexity, necessity and manipulation. Needs existed where scarcity was the norm and abundance was something that others had; or where one’s own abundance was threatened by the scarcity suffered by one’s neighbours. We have nothing while they have so much, or we have so much and they want to take it from us. But this condition alone is probably not enough to drive two communities into an armed combat in which, a priori, a large number of individuals will be killed. There has to be powerful psychological motives to ignore the natural possibilities of sharing and/or exchange and sink into the extremism of violence and combat.

War could not happen between communities until the communities themselves had developed an imaginary identity around themselves. The identity of the tribe: the ones who dance a common dance around the same totem.

The tribal identity is a mini-nationalism which used a primitive form of national-history, based on the imaginary stories of the totem myths, in order to define themselves as a group. Without this controlled separation through the creation of identity, it would be impossible to organise a force of warriors designed specifically for the killing of other humans, members of the same species; people who should have been tied to one another through human empathy toward their common species.

CONCLUSION:

Societies created their own identities, and the process of socialisation-through-identities was an anti-humanising process designed to create people who feel different to other people in order to create anti-human humans with the potential for making enormous sacrifices for the community (and the king) in its struggles against other communities. It was the creation of these social identities which lay the foundation for the possibilities of all wars. It was also a preliminary step toward the forming of the class divisions in society that we suffer from today. Our anti-human identities are now the greatest misfortune we suffer today, for they are the progenitors of all our other misfortunes. They are deeply embedded in our System, and their omnipresence and seeming omnipotence makes any ideas of real systemic reform seem futile. Nevertheless, at least we know what needs to be extirpated from the System to make it work for humanity. Rolling back 6,000 years of anti-human history may seem like a daunting task, but it is the only choice we have now if we want to make humanity human again.

[i] Neil Faulkner, DE LOS NEANDERTALES A LOS NEOLIBERALES, p. 27

[ii] Ibid, p.29

[iii] Source WAR IN ANCIENT TIMES https://www.ancient.eu/war/

OUR CLIMATE & COMFORT

Hurricane-Irma-NASA

Superstorm Hurricane Irma

How much does our quality of life depend on the climate? How much of civilisation is the taming of climate, or the acclimatisation of our ‘civilised’ living areas? Part climatization, part sanitation … that which makes the cities ‘comfortable’ and for the masses to gravitate towards their ‘comfortable’ centres … What makes up the core of our lives is all a consequence of the process of gravitating towards comfort: the organisation of mobility and communication; the provision of security; and the chance to find work and the subsequent salary which will hopefully be generous enough to make life comfortable in the comfort-zone centre. For most people, civilisation = comfort. And real comfort depends on the acquiring of a good climate, or more correctly, the taming of climate through acclimatisation. So, we could declare from this that: civilisation = acclimatisation.

Yet, what price is paid for this climatization and sanitation? We now see only negative effects on climate itself that operate in a vicious circle that is spiralling civilisation into a rapidly spinning vortex that threatens to blow civilisation itself into the exact opposite of what it desires. The deeper our level of acclimatisation is, the greater is its effect on the deterioration of the climate. This deterioration creates more need for acclimatisation which creates more deterioration which makes more need for better acclimatisation …  until it all collapses.

in the struggle to be comfortable we make the world more inhospitable, until climate change takes on life-threatening proportions. Present scenarios are uncomfortable and the future promises to be more uncomfortable. Is this what we want? Of course it isn’t, and what is demonstrated by the lack of political or economic will to change this ridiculous cycle, demonstrates a) the levels of denial that societies are able to perpetuate; and b) the vicious cycles’ advantageousness for enterprises, especially the energy industries, that are making vast profits from the spiralling mechanism of climate degradation.

It is hard to fight the power that corporations wield, but that difficulty is augmented thousand-fold by the range of denial that is rife in society. We know what has to be done to preserve the comfortable in a sustainable way. We know what we want, and, to get what we want, we need to vocalise it loudly enough to change the hugely profit-making spiral of destructive-acclimatisation before it’s too late to ever be comfortable ever again.