Nationalism & Patriotism: TOTEM IDENTITIES & POWER

Powhatans

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.

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

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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/

WHAT DO WE TAKE? … C) from Marx

KarlMarx

FROM MARX:

We get the idea that capitalism is concealment: hiding its exploitation well.

It conceals through seduction: the enamoured victim of the seducer is always blind to the depths of the one-sidedness of their relationship.

“… things do not always immediately appear as they are. The divorce between reality and the way it appears is a central aspect of Marx’s dialectical thought.”[i]

What we learn from Marx is the need to be critical and vigilant of appearances. In fact, it is precisely when everything looks quite rosy that we must be especially on our guard.

Marx argued that in communist societies technological development would seek to eliminate repetitive, physically demanding, unsafe and unhealthy tasks; reduce overall labour time, satisfy basic needs and develop human potential.[ii] The failure of communism is usually estimated by its inability to achieve, or even successfully approach the achievement of these goals.

However, in assessing this failure, it is also true that the communist states were set up at times when technologies were not advanced enough to make this forward-moving cultural-leap possible. Very many of the technologies capable of transforming our lives were developed in the capitalist, not the communist world, and the great spike in technological development that we are experiencing now came after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In a sense, it could be affirmed that communism arose as a political alternative before its time. Ironically, the application of Marx’s Utopian dream is far easier to envisage now. Whilst, a development of our current AI and robotics technologies offers an alternative to human labour that could give us the means to nurture our potential, the pressing needs for systemic change that are demanded by the ecological crisis give us a sound reason for wanting to make such a revolutionary change as well.

One of the goals of all human societies, if they are truly human, should be to get humans out of the psychologically and physically tedious work spaces, and into environments where human potential can be focussed on tasks related to the full development of our human, homo sapiens, potentials. Technology is now our greatest hope, and the more utopian are our hopes for the technological world, the better. Nevertheless, it is also true, and it should always be uppermost in any technological thrust forward, that a Utopia will only ever be built once research and the production of new technologies are liberated from the profit-making obligations of the market place. (Capitalism + Technology = Dystopia) is the true equation behind the façade of the current System, but it is this same monstrous equation that has to be avoided at all costs.

One of the ways to achieve the liberation from tedious, repetitive work that offers no spiritual reward for the labourer, would lie through a complete automation of production – a process which is taking place, but which is unpopular because it produces unemployment, which produces, in our capitalist-monetary system, misery and poverty. What this implies, therefore, is another Marxist or neo-Marxist goal: the deconstruction of the idea of unemployment allowing for a conception of society to be formed in which being without a wage-earning occupation never has to be a problem.

[i] From Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad, MARX’S CAPITAL, Routledge, p.4

 

[ii] Ibid, p.8

WHAT DO WE TAKE? … A) from Feuerbach

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FROM FEUERBACH:

(i) “… human needs determine consciousness

(ii) “The essence of man is the Origin, Cause and Goal of history …”[1]

In THE ESSENCE OF CHRISTIANITY, Feuerbach examines the need for God, which he describes as an emotional need. This is true, but within that emotional need is also a need for an ultimate meaning to existence; a need for eschatological meaning; an answer to the question: where are we going?

The problem with this need is that it is easily manipulated: the very essence of religions is an indication of how sentimental attachments to symbols and fetishes can be easily implanted in society. Religions have also shown us how this implantation can be used by interested groups to socialise the masses in a way that is obviously beneficial to the groups that are controlling the manipulation. Religions are always, primarily, forms of exploiting the emotional need for existential and eschatological meaning in order to build easily controllable societies and cultures.

If we accept Feuerbach’s thesis that human needs determine consciousness and that God is an emotional need, we can see that obliterating what God is does not obliterate the problem of God, for, although we can obliterate religious superstition, without a substitute for God, we fail to satisfy the emotional need we have for an ultimate meaning to our existence.

To resolve this dilemma, we need to find another kind of final goal for humanity, one based on scientific and mathematical data, that can satisfy the human need for ultimate meaning and replace the purely mythical eschatologies of our religions. For example, it is a more positive idea if we construct our needs for ultimate meaning on the very physical and evolutionary nature of the cosmos, and our possible role within that evolution itself, rather than waiting for a supernatural End of Days.

We know that the Universe exists, and it is much easier to prove than the existence of God.

We can speculate on the purpose of the Universe in a scientific way, and such speculation can produce far more satisfying and pragmatic results than speculation on the existence of God.

Human purpose in the Universe depends on our relationship with the same Universe, and this idea ultimately leads to an interconnectivity between everything, both material and spiritual, that is lacking in the monotheistic religions that disparage the material in favour of an all-important, but also most-obscure idea of the spiritual.

In order to properly answer where we are going, we have to redraw our home, the where-we-are, away from the ambiguities of God, but not into the abyss of no-place, yet rather into the concrete reality of the Cosmos. Between God and No-God, lies the Universe.

If God is eternal, the Universe created itself out of nothing. If God is omnipotent, the Universe if driven by a blind will that needs sapient organisms (like us) to see.  In God there can be no evolution; no authentic progress, whilst the Universe is always expanding and changing, and we are the conscious part of that evolution and change. In God, we are insignificant; in the Universe and its evolution to self-consciousness, we are a fundamental, purposeful ingredient.

[1] As quoted in Althusser: ESSAY ON SELF-CRITICISM, p.101, (ebook)

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 AND METAPHYSICS

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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

Heidegger’s Accordance (via Nietzsche)

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In the third volume of his opus on Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger asks:

‘In what direction does the security of stability of the living being “man” go?’[1]

In other words: what line must the train of history be carried along in order for the stability of humanity to be guaranteed?

Given the ever-present threat of ecological collapse, and the social-political-economic chaos that would result from such a break-down, this question is paramount for humanity at the moment. So …

what was Heidegger’s answer to the question? And …

can his analysis, made in 1939, shed any light on our human condition eighty years later?

 

Heidegger claimed that we are moving ‘In a twofold direction,’ adding: ‘that is already prefigured in the essence of man,’[2] by which he means, by our relationship to other people and things.

For Heidegger then, or for Nietzsche as Heidegger understood him: ‘Man stands in relation to man, man stands in relation to things.’[3]

From this double relationship a kind of two-fold mutual accordance is made in which individuals relate, not only to the other individuals that make up our societies, but also to the things which we, and those other people, relate to. At first, this seems to be just another way of saying no man is an island, but then Heidegger makes a more committed definition, stating: ‘that accordance in the essential sense is the highest and most difficult struggle, more difficult than war and infinitely remote from pacifism. Accordance is the highest struggle for the essential goals that historical humanity sets up over itself.[4] And then, in the same paragraph, he makes a claim which, we believe, makes as much sense now as it would have done in the tragically turbulent 1939: ‘… in the present historical situation, accordance can only mean having the courage for the simple question as to whether the West still dares to create a goal above itself and its history, or whether it prefers to sink to the level of preservation and enhancement of trade interests and entertainments, to be satisfied with appealing to the status quo as if this were absolute.’[5]

However, we would now add that the situation has become so grave that the ‘daring’ attitude has become the dangerously daring one which maintains the status quo, whereas the act of creating a goal above itself and its history would be one of simple good-sense.

*

The positive view that Heidegger’s logic shows us, is that the direction towards a higher goal is no more difficult than the pursuit of the status quo: it is all just a matter of accordance. To go either way, the same procedure has to be followed – we have to be able to count on each other. In either case, we must think ahead ‘to a horizon that contains directives and rules in accordance with which what throngs towards us is caught and secured.[6] To go forward unto a Utopia, is no different to creating the Dystopia that promises to arise if we maintain the status quo. Whichever way we go, the choice must be made by establishing a process of accordance.

*

According to Heidegger/Nietzschean logic: ‘Representing beings and thinking rationally are the praxis of life, the primordial securing of permanence for itself,’[7] and in order to secure permanence today, humanity has to move in a direction that goes above and beyond the status quo that we have today. In order for survival to be guaranteed, a doctrine of permanence needs to be accorded; a doctrine that can replace the internecine doctrine of constant, economic growth that currently drives the status-quo, and which threatens rather than guarantees safety and survival.

 

 

[1] Martin Heidegger, NIETZSCHE, Volumes III and IV, ed. David Farrell Krell; Harper Collins, 1991; p.90

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid, p.91

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid, p. 92

[7] Ibid

ON THE CORRUPTION OF LOVE

cupid_psyche

If there is a question for “our-times”, an enigma which constantly rears its horny head in much of the political debates and opinion articles of all the so-called developed countries of the western world, it is that of why people support political agendas that are detrimental to their own interests.

The phenomenon is often treated as something new, which it is not, but it is certainly emphasized by the election of President Trump, or the Brexit debacle; the growing emergence of far-right parties throughout Europe; the Catalonian fiasco in Spain; the return of Berlusconi in Italy; or the massive support of President Putin in Russia.

For half the world there is a general feeling that the other half have gone mad. However, that conclusion almost inevitably provokes another conclusion – surely, so many people cannot be insane; and by assuming they are, we are losing sight of the real problem. Nevertheless, after making that very-wise, self-cautionary statement, the question is abandoned, and the dilemma is left beneath, poking his horns into our arse.

So, what is the real problem, and what is the real answer to that question: why do people support political agendas that go against their own self-interests?

We have been tackling this question for years, and its answer is partly wrapped up in what we call the anti-human historical process itself, but the other part of the answer must come through a second analysis of how an anti-human historical process was possible in the first place. As an answer to the enigma the anti-human process is not enough, for the real question is: what is the driving force behind the anti-human?

The success of the anti-human resides in its all-enveloping condition as a paradigm, and this is obtained by a sometimes deliberate, but more often contingent, process of distorting and corrupting language in a way that has shaped human reality into the impossible form of the anti-human, and it continues to solidify that shape.

This corruption of our architecture of language and its subsequent corruption of thinking, is what allows an anti-human civilization to exist and maintain itself, but the driving forces within that general perversion can be found in the distortion of certain key words that mould the anti-human identity. Of these key words, the most powerful one is love.

In an earlier entry (LOVE, THE REAL AND THE IDEAL) we described love as the capacity of appreciating, and the desire for understanding, and that this leads to a will for preservation. Through these three pillars of love, a sapiens humanity is tied to the existence of the Universe itself. It is through love that humanity is relevant in the enormity of the Universe we are otherwise so insignificantly placed in. But this is not the general perception we have of love now. Love has been corrupted.

The political philosophers, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, highlighted the corruption of love in an Intermezzo in their book Commonwealth. In that essay they associate love with the power of the common: ‘the power that the common exerts and the power to constitute the common’[1] in which the common can be understood as any social grouping from the family to the Empire.

In an ideal, uncorrupted form then, the common would always be an enlightened place, driven by its capacity to appreciate, its desire to understand and its will to preserve itself and everything that comes into its orbit. That this does not occur, does not indicate that we live in a loveless world, but rather that the love that drives us is a corrupted form of the concept that maintains its original and deeply positive intentionality, but perverts it in an individualistic or anti-human interpretation of that original force.

This explains why love is able to engender so much evil. ‘In the name of love’ we see the violence of the passionate, jealous lover or spouse; the unscrupulous justifications for immoral or criminal acts to protect our loved-ones; or the tremendous crimes and tragic violence that can be wielded from the stand-point of patriotic love.

Hardt and Negri cite Spinoza, who called love the antithesis of evil,[2] and yet in all its corrupt forms, love embodies the evil it is supposedly opposed to.

The result is a perverted confusion: in order to protect what I love – in order to preserve and protect what I appreciate and understand – I must act in an evil way. This justification, of justifying the use of immoral means by the vindication that by doing so we are preserving that which we love, is a perverse manipulation of the concept of love. Once we analyse it from the point of view of a correct interpretation of what love is, the corrupted, self-interested, or anti-humanly motivated perception of love is revealed. Only when the ‘lover’ can see with clarity that his or her perception of love is corrupted can these anti-human crimes of love be eradicated.

In all the moral questions of the right or wrong way to act, the love that drives the individuals or groups making the decisions has to come into play if we are to ever improve things. A more humane, and subsequently Sapiens, world can only be possible through a revaluation of what we say we love. By rooting love in appreciation and understanding we are establishing a force that can drive becoming that is also tempered by the power of preservation that is also one of the pillars of the ideal love.

In its corrupt form, love drives violent crimes, acts of terror and tragic brutality of war. To eradicate these anti-human aberrations, we need to tackle this corruption of love. It is not love itself which is evil, but a corrupted form of it that clouds our perception of good and evil. To do this, we have to put love back onto the rails of humanity, for in its essence love is the most Sapiens of human drives. Love feeds all creativity and innovation through curiosity and its capacity for appreciation and its desire for understanding. It is the great unifying force and the only force that could bring humanity together and turn the anti-human historical process into a properly human one. Love’s true battle then, is the struggle against its own corruption, which requires a constant recognition of the corrupted anti-human forms of love – all love which puts its segregating point-of-view above the ultimate, universal forms of love. above the love of an object or an individual, has to be a passion for the common; above our love of family, a love of community; above all patriotism, a love of humanity and a world without borders; above a love of religion, a love of the Universe. The same is true of the struggle for rights, that your individual rights and the rights of every oppressed minority group are best served by understanding and appreciating the rights of all and the struggle to establish a common area in which everyone’s rights are appreciated and protected.

Corrupted love permeates the entire fabric of our Civilisation, pushing us towards a Dystopia with an ever-increasing, snowballing force. It is an evil, anti-human motor that needs to be recognised and turned off, so that we can re-direct the voyage toward a more positive, human, Sapiens place.

[1] Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth, Belknap Press, 2009, p.189

[2] Ibid, p. 192