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.