Kant’s main work on aesthetics is The Critique of Judgement, which is basically about aesthetics and purposefulness and we think that Nietzsche would have had to have had Kant’s associations somewhere in his mind when using the term in Beyond Good and Evil, after all the bracketed note he makes defining the falsest judgements as that to which synthetic judgements a priori belong, is using purely Kantian terminology.
Kant’s book begins with a Critique of Aesthetic Judgement and an analysis of beauty. Kant argues that it is important to understand that something is beautiful only because we judge it to be so and that it cannot be beautiful until that judgement is made, and this is the basic idea that Nietzsche is leafing through in The Will to Power when he argues that, despite the idea that the world astounds us, we basically ignore the fact that there is nothing awesome at all in the world except that which we ourselves infuse it with. Kant attributed four distinguishing features to aesthetic judgements: subjectivity (that the beauty and ugliness we find in the world is disinterested and therefore its appreciation depends on our subjective interpretations); universality; necessity; and purposiveness. Now what Nietzsche does in his own critique of religion, is stress the subjectivity without completely falling into the traps of Berkeleyan idealism, as seen when he ironically makes his hero Zarathustra cry out to the sun: “Great star! What would your happiness be, if you had not those for whom you shine!”[i] The great star, the sun, exists, but its meaning can only come through the meaning granted it by the sapiens observer, and this is what Kant was saying. The sun is only happy because we, or someone, perceives it that way, and, on a larger, metaphysical scale, this means that the Universe is given meaning through being perceived and being analysed judgementally. Or, in other words, the meaningfulness of the Universe is an aesthetic, judgemental construct that we are playing an active role in – and it is this awesome idea, not the idea of God, that needs to inspire humanity if we are ever able to overcome our indifference and incredulity towards human advancement in the world.
(CONTINUED IN PART THREE
[i] Friedrich Nietzsche, THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA, Prologue, Section 1
In his Critique of Religion in The Will to Power, Nietzsche begins with an original insight into the psychological nature of aesthetics (the beauty and sublimitybestowed upon real and imaginary things), calling it our fairest apology[i], and insinuating that through our admiration and worship of things we are actually humbling ourselves as we do not want to admit to ourselves that the world is as it is because we alone have created it to be that way. The idea he expounds here is a kind of Berkeleyan (albeit atheistic), subjective idealism, that the world is the creation of the (human) perceiver, and that it does not take a meaningful shape until the perceiver begins to understand and define what is perceived. But Nietzsche’s original twist to this old idea is that the awesome power granted by the realisation of this concept is, in fact, paradoxically, an ultimately debilitating force. As Nietzsche says: “it raises in him (humanity) a doubt about his own person: he does not dare to think himself the cause of this astonishing feeling – and so he posits a stronger person, a divinity, to account for it.”[ii]Or, in other words, Nietzsche argues that because we cannot cope with the responsibility of our power as creators, we need to invent the idea of God as a greater than human power in the Universe. In this way, the God we make can bear the brunt of the responsibility of creation, while we humans get on with leading the irresponsible kind of life we enjoy the most.
Now, although Nietzsche never actually uses the term aesthetics in these passages, the beauty and sublimitybestowed upon real and imaginary things should almost certainly be considered a simple definition of an aesthetic process, and so the association being made here is between aesthetics and religion, and that is another great Nietzschean insight. While he makes his proposal in order to simply critique humanity and religion, we have found a much deeper insight buried here. Nietzsche is describing a psychological attitude which not only colours our attitude to religion, it also effects the question of our capacity for freedom and, because of that, inhibits our ability to make true moral and social progress in the world.
If Nietzsche was right, embedded in the development of both religions and aesthetics lies an enormous irresponsibility – the denial of ourselves as supreme creators. This denial exposes a human immaturity, a fear of accepting the responsibility of the awesome nature of what we are, and a nihilistic pessimism that negates any attempts to develop our human potential to its fullest. Likewise, it is the fundamental reason behind the domination of classes: by creating a mythical idea that we are subjugated to the will of the gods or God it opens the doors to the possibility for one section of the tribe, state, empire to dominate the rest of us by taking control of that subjection and exploiting it.
This process is quite easy to discern when we compare the development of the priestly-caste and witchdoctors into the mammoth monotheistic church congregations we have today alongside the evolution of Wealth and the great class-divide between rich and poor, but while this exploitation of the human fear of our awesome creativity is easy enough to find in the history of religions, what does it tell us about the history of aesthetics and, ultimately, about what aesthetics potentially means. While in these passages, Nietzsche is merely pointing to the fact that both the religious and aesthetic sense of awe originate in the same negation of human responsibility, by doing this he opens up a can of philosophical worms that reverberate back through his earlier writings on aesthetics, creating a seemingly contradictory dialectic within his own arguments … but then, being seemingly contradictory is a typically Nietzschean trait; it is what makes his writings so interesting and awesome.
To unravel this contradiction, let us start with section 4 of Beyond Good and Evil. In that passage he discusses the virtues of false judgements: “The falseness of a judgement is to us not necessarily an objection to a judgement … The question is to what extent it is life-advancing, life-preserving, species-preserving … the falsest judgements (to which synthetic judgements a priori belong) are the most indispensable to us, that without granting as true the fictions of logic, without measuring reality against the purely invented world of the unconditional and self-identical, without a continual falsification of the world by means of numbers, mankind could not live – that to renounce false judgements would be to renounce life, would be to deny life.”[iii] From this fragment of his earlier writing, his earlier thinking seems to be a complete antithesis of what he states later: if by judgement he is talking about aesthetics and religion (don’t worry, this link between judgement and aesthetics will be explained in due course) , instead of seeing a tragic human irresponsibility, he sees it as the most indispensable trait for humanity’s survival.
For those who know Nietzsche this contradiction probably comes as no surprise, he was antithetical to philosophical systems and his thoughts are mainly expressed in aphoristic or short-essay-long snippets which mitigate cohesion, but why are we presuming there is any relationship between the Critique of Religion from the Will to Power and passage 4 of Beyond Good and Evil at all?
If we look at the final part of passage 4 the idea seems even less plausible. The section continues with: “To recognise untruth as a condition of life: that, to be sure, means to resist customary value-sentiments in a dangerous fashion; and a philosophy which ventures to do so places itself, by that fact alone, beyond good and evil.”[iv]
This seemingly quirky idea of the indispensability of false judgements is suddenly exalted by championing the title of the entire book; insinuating that the central idea around this collection of essays is the motivation for a new philosophical thinking that can embrace untruth and by doing so create the kind of thought that can transcend the concepts of good and evil.
However, the subtle ironies that this passage is full of become clearer when seen in light of the seemingly contradictory passage from The Will to Power: the untruth of Beyond Good and Evil is the falsity of the conventional truths created by religion and aesthetics to “conceal from himself (humanity) that it was he who created what he admired.” In this way it becomes clear that the untruth is the revealing of an older truth long hidden by the human failure to embrace our own awesome capacities.
Seen from our 21st century perspective, Nietzsche’s thoughts take another twist. The nihilism that Nietzsche had resolved himself to as a negative but necessary state that had be endured before any revolution of the Overman (Übermensch) could come about, has now become entrenched in our global civilisation with tremendously negative consequences for any harmonious development of humanity. Instead of paving the way for the Overman, the nihilist century behind us has inspired an upsurge in religious fanaticisms and evangelical crusades that threaten to become a new dominant power in the chaotic condition of this budding century. In fact, what we are witnessing now is a tendency to reverse the process of false judgements that Nietzsche envisaged. An irony over Nietzsche’s own ironies in which religions use their lies to reinstate the old untruth, injecting it into the gaping vacuum opened by the unbearable relativity of the everything-is-nothing truth of the nihilistic world. In 2020, the recognition of untruth as a way of life is now the normal state of things, but there is no positive transcendence beyond good and evil here. By embracing lies as a way of life we have thrown civilisation into an existence-threatening, barbaric state.
But the irony of this situation does not stop there: Nietzsche was right, the only way forward for humanity is its awakening into the realisation that we truly are the great bestowers of judgement on reality and that the Universe is meaningful because we are able to give it that meaning; that it is time for humanity to stop apologising for itself and be itself; but that this step forward is impeded by the nihilistic civilisation that Nietzsche himself has been an integral part of creating.
The question now is: Can the awakening allowing a great revaluation of purpose still take place and save humanity from itself? But first we have to deal with another query: What does any of this have to do with aesthetics? To answer that we need to look back to an older pre-Nietzschean philosophy and sift Nietzsche’s concepts through the sieve of Kant.
(But that will be dealt with in Part Two …)
[i] Friedrich Nietzsche, THE WILL TO POWER, Ed. Kaufmann, Vintage, New York, 1968, p. 85
Humanity (homo sapiens) is the revealing, learning species and empathy must be considered one of our most valuable attributes. It is that which the psychopath lacks and it could be said that a dearth of empathy makes one less human, more monstrous.
Empathy recognises the positivity expressed in life and the importance of the adage ‘to live and let live’, which also means ‘live well and let live well’.
Empathy therefore promotes humanity: its preservation and its progress. It encourages the evolutionary process from the pseudo-humanity, that we endure now, into the fully developed form of authentic humanity that we will have to become for the species to survive in the distant future. Because of this, empathy is a progressive component in the law of natural selection applied to human beings. Progress towards the authentic humanity will only occur when humanity learns how to properly exploit the creative, revealing qualities of our species by allowing all of humanity real access to the conditions and resources needed to liberate and develop their most human capacities. Our empathy is the quality that will allow this process, through the development of human potential through dignity.
Empathy is the emotional quality needed to fight for the rights of those who have been disinherited and condemned by the anti-human historical process created and maintained by the power of Wealth. Empathy enlightens us enough to fight for the rights of those who are born into a world that has been fashioned to give them none.
Not only is empathy a virtue, it is the source of all virtues. In this way, it is the antithesis of all nihilisms, or at least as long as it maintains itself rooted in reality. We are not talking about religious virtues like Christian pity, which are in themselves nihilistic in their denial of the importance of this material reality, which is, in effect, the denial of the importance of life itself.
Empathy builds through the process of uncovering and unites by revealing and opening the common space of humanity and life for all of humanity to enter.
Learning things changes us and binds us to those changes. Once we learn a new skill we are moulded by that acquisition and introduced into the world in which that skill can be applied. Being able to play the piano, bake meat pies, or even ride a bike, locks us into a relationship with those activities and the objects involved in performing them. Likewise, reading a novel, uncovering historical data, or understanding certain laws of physics, alters our perception of the world and moulds us into a different person than we were before we had made the discovery of such things.
Through learning we ourselves become more un-hidden and more available for use in the world. In a sense, we are imbued with more purposefulness because we are more embedded in the world and the complexities of reality. All education as such, is a kind of spiritual experience that opens the essential reality of sapiens before us and allows us access to that reality, not unlike any other initiation ceremony. But unlike most religious or cultural initiations, real learning cannot be restricted by constraining concepts such as purity, or truth. Learning things binds us, but the ties that are made are ropes of freedom, that unleash our un-hiddenness and our accessibility to life. To be open to the world, as such, is to be tied to the things of the world and only by mastering the knots of reality can we be truly capable, truly sapiens, human beings in the world.
Whilst the human is something enormously valuable that should be treasured, in actual fact it is a worthless thing, made so by its dubious existence. Asking what humanity is, is like asking what a unicorn is: everyone knows what it should be like but no one can actually find one.
In the conditional sense, humanity has become a should be: The human should be something we want to become, even though we already are. But: How can we become what we already are? The problem is that everything we want to become (and do become), things like our nationality, race, wealth (or lack of wealth), and religion, strip us of the human thing that we authentically are.
In a sense, our human way of life erodes our humanity. Because of this, the value of the human needs to be regained. It needs to be rediscovered in our nostalgic ability to resurrect lost things, restore them, and preserve them. Of course, there is a great irony in this process, that what needs to be discovered is that which is all around us; that we cannot find the forest because the tree we are sitting under gets in the way. But this irony only reveals the simplicity of the task once we find the will to achieve it. To rediscover we have to merely remember; recall that our humanity is that which unites us to the rest of our species; it is that which we all have in common … that we are bipods with hands that have fingers and a thumb; that we have the ability to laugh, etc.. However, an amputee is not considered non-human because they have lost a leg, or a thumb, and one can imagine human beings who never smile or laugh. No, the real determiner of the human being is rooted in our special intellect, in our special ability to communicate via language, and in our curiosity, to know things, and our creativity to invent and make things. It is in these qualities that the sapiens instincts are housed, and it is the sapiens qualities that really define the human.
Curiosity creates our restlessness and our passion for uncovering. It makes us capable of boredom, when there is nothing that sparks our curiosity, and fires our creativity. Curiosity then is a positive human value that needs to be stimulated and nurtured by any sapiens-human society. Likewise, our intellectual and high artistic values need to be resurrected as that which is valuable, where valuable is considered as that which is enriching for our humanity.
But aren’t we curious and creative enough already? If you look around, the world is full of the fruits of our curiosity and inventive imagination: Aren’t we living in a marvellous information age in which we can enjoy the gifts of the incredible technologies we have already developed and can be purchased? Yes, and no … because in the reality expressed in that question lies the great divider of the human … in human civilisation as we have it at the moment, the fruits of our creative, collective, curiosity have to be bought. Money, and what we call the economy, is the great shredder of humanity, slicing through us like a ploughing machine through the common home of our humanity.
A civilisation geared toward what money can buy, turns its back on the human and the intellect as things of little value in themselves. Intellect in a society driven by the plutocratic impulse of making money, will be little more than a small tool toward achieving that final goal, or even an impediment to it. Intellect in our society is not valuable in itself, and its only value comes from the salary gained by the kind of job requiring intellectual skills. In the economy, the authentically human is undervalued while those with the anti-human, human-shredding skills that know how to manipulate money are the successful sub-species that has turned much of humanity into the sad-cruel figure of the homo economicus.
When civilisations become too dependent on, or become slaves to their own technologies, decadence sets in, and this truth must not ignore the most influential technological invention we have ever come up with – money. Our relationship with money has been the most obvious whilst at the same time most obscure process of human degeneration. In its essence money is a tool that can be used to facilitate exchange and make life simpler. Nevertheless, the effect of money on society has been quite the opposite. Money is now a complex thing that dominates all human societies. It creates more misery than happiness; it is responsible for the virtual enslavement of the vast majority of human beings; it is used as the measure of society and its use is, for the most part, unjust.
Money is the root of all evil: and yet we cannot live without it. We are totally dependent on the evil of it; it is the cause of all degeneracy; it is degeneracy itself. The degenerate-value of money.
To be able to remedy this essentially anti-human reality buried in the very fabric of our civilisation and to resurrect the authentic nature of the human, will require a revolutionary upheaval. Yet at the same time, that revaluation will have to come from a very simple source: through the recognition of the authenticity of what we already are – through a recognition of the authentically human. To rediscover we only have to remember.
The System which rules us and which we benevolently call Civilisation, is actually a despotic plutocracy – a tyranny of greed. This dictatorship of the greedy is also a tyranny of the superficial and, subsequently, the most envious and stupid elements of society. Above all it is a tyranny of purposelessness.
Purposelessness creates shallowness and hates all depth. Without any authentic purpose to thicken its achievements, that which is won remains insubstantial and unsatisfying. Instead of being satisfied by our accomplishments we long for the success of others.
In the tyranny of greed, one follows one’s desires without knowing where those desires come from or where they might be taking us. On the whole, the tyranny of greed is a hopeless affair. Like all despotisms, the tyranny of greed negates humanity and ignores human rights whenever they do not favour its own greedy, superficial, and envious purposes.
The tyranny is so entrenched in our civilisation that it seems unmovable. But immovability has been the symptom of the collapse of all tyrannical civilisations. The stagnation of the system will always crumble under the disquietude of its citizens and their need to move forward.
To vanquish a dictatorship of purposelessness, the procedure is quite simple: inject an authentic purposefulness into that same system … and by authentic we mean meaningful for humanity; we mean an authentic human purposefulness, one that envisions an authentic human progress towards a civilisation with a forever evolving human quality of life.
But for that to happen we have to start seeing these purposeful human aims toward authentic progress ourselves.
The practical worlds that societies enclose are shared experiences that can exist without a common language. If you have access to money and there is a supermarket nearby, your survival is ensured. Any tourist or ex-patriot who is ignorant of the local language knows how that works: you go to the store, pick what you want off the shelves, pay and leave, without needing to utter a single word.
What this means is, we have created societies in which even dummies can cope … but … have we intentionally made societies for dummies? Is there a structural aim to this simplicity? If the basic elements of survival are quite simply ‘get a salary and close proximity to a supermarket and you’ll be fine’, how can real progress on a human, sapiens level, come about? What is there to inspire the masses for more when they are perfectly comfortable with much less?
The essence of the practical reality boils down to this, and practical reality is economic reality. The progressive motor of the homo economicus is his or her ambition, but the most practical side of the practical world is that ambition and dreams are not necessary – in fact, they are not even practical. The American Dream might hover around, but in general it gets lost in the linings of the corridors of Walmart.
A society that can be imagined without any need for language is a sapiens-impoverished one. The practical world that economists dream of is language-poor and Sapiens deficient. It is an inhuman or anti-human world.
The opposite of this world would be one in which language becomes a priority. This means that a literate society is a human one. Humanity as a purposive, progressive entity, could be measured according to its literacy. Reductionism is a fascist, anti-humanism with a purpose toward creating a silent, ant-like species (although, even ants communicate more than supermarket shoppers do).
Linguistic interaction is necessary for intentionality and its development is necessary for the intentional progress of society itself and for the creation of a human civilisation pushed forward by democratic, intentional progress. A linguistically poor society, on the other hand, is impoverished in democratic intentionality.
Deep thinking requires linguistic richness. Even the ability to synthesise linguistic expression needs linguistic richness as well. One who lacks linguistic dexterity in the first place cannot simplify what they could never express in the first place.
Language, along with our physical motor skills, is the first thing we learn. For human society to properly function in an intentional, progressive way, we should never stop progressing linguistically, even if this means abandoning the practical side of life.
Underlying the tragedy that the Covid-19 pandemic is, lies a conflict which is quite clearly revealed, if not yet resolved, by the extent of that catastrophe. We’re referring to the political/economic conflict between the public and private sectors of our lives.
For decades neo-liberal thought has argued the superiority of the private sector in terms of quality and efficiency, and yet, now, when put to the real test, that private sector has shown itself completely incapable of tackling the most pressing problems (health and security) created by this crisis. In fact, the pandemic has stripped the private sector bare of all its lofty pretensions, revealing its absolute impotence, while promoting the power of the public sector as the only force capable of dealing with crisis.
In a few months, the pandemic has dealt a crippling blow to our private-sector-friendly world, throwing the system into a melt-down, and exposing its failings in such a way that it has to be asked who the system was built for in the first place. If it was built for society, why has it proved so incapable of protecting society in times of crisis (not just in this crisis but in any tragic time)? The answer is clear, the private sector is not designed for the authentic needs of a society as a whole, but for the surplus needs and fantasies of the wealthy, who are the only ones who really benefit from the private-sector economy.
This revelation has to be taken seriously, and regarded as a positive lesson as we approach the challenges of the greater tragedy within which the pandemic has emerged – the tragedy of the climate emergency.
Like all tragedies, the pandemic generates both fear and pity, but also the idea of reconciliation, which, as Hegel points out in his Aesthetics, comes from “the glimpse of eternal justice”[i] that it affords. Hegel goes on to say:
“In its absolute way, this justice overrides the relative justification of one-sided aims and passions because it cannot suffer the conflict and contradiction of ethical powers which according to their concept must be unified to be victorious and permanent in true actuality.”[ii]
According to Miguel de Beistegui, Hegel believed tragedy to “awaken in us the feeling of the necessity of the reconciliation of the powers of ethical life.”[iii]
The pandemic is not a tragic work, but a tragedy experienced, endured and suffered by hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. Nevertheless, this real rather than fictional or literaryform of tragedy does not diminish the level of calamity with it, rather it exacerbates it.
Of course, writing from the very midst of the real, may seem to argue against the author’s credentials by accusing him of a severe lack of objectivity, but the very act of analysing the crisis from the point-of-view of the aesthetics of tragedy does, in fact, proportion an objectivity.
What the tragedy of the pandemic has shown us is that the tragic figure lies in the private area whilst the hero of this epic disaster is the public sector. This is not the typical tragic tale of the fall of an over-ambitious individual, but that of the collapse of a whole, over-ambitious system. That is the great revelation and hope that this current disaster affords us.
The shock we are experiencing today, is an age-old one that exists in all tragic art; it is the clash between rights and duties. But once exposed, the weaknesses of one must succumb to the virtues of the other in order for a necessary, mutual co-existence to be feasible in a sustainable way in harmony with the natural world and its laws. A natural world that will, like the gods, destroy us if such a co-belonging cannot be resolved.
As Beistegui says in his essay on the tragic in Hegel: “The revelation, the true stake of tragedy, is the proper mark of the Destiny which imposes itself as the absolutely rational in which Spirit is reconciled with itself.”[iv]
Our actual world, smitten by a profound nihilism that has been seeping into its fabric for the last hundred and fifty years, seems bereft of Destiny … Perhaps it is, or has been, but the current tragedy has unveiled the enormous errors of our system and the desperate need for it to reconcile its most antagonistic forces. In this way, the tragic scenario we are currently immersed in has to be seen as intrinsically necessary and, because of that, essentially positive.
We have evolved in a rapacious way, away from the natural world which also constitutes and ultimately conditions our own natures. It is now time for humanity to look for an authentic destiny through which our own sapiens’ dimension can be realised and developed. We stand now exposed as a species, and despite the horror, we need to understand that we can, we now have the opportunity to, elevate ourselves through this challenge by allowing the heroic-side of our societies, the public sector, to take the lead.
The tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic is the tragedy of the audaciousness of capitalism. Capitalism has a tremendous pride in itself and pride attracts the wrath of hubris, which paints all cruel self-satisfaction with the tar of tragedy. Like Oedipus, capitalism has perverted the laws of nature with its arrogant own laws of perpetual growth. It has ravaged and slaughtered in a consciously self-profiting way, like Macbeth, which is also an unethical way. Our world is like Hamlet’s Denmark and we all know something is rotten in the State. However, after the pandemic has left the State stripped naked and infirm, Fortinbras arrives in the form of the public sector to rebuild the empire. In this sense, the reconciliation has to come through the off-stage reconstruction. After the tragedy the revolution.
Heidegger defined Being as that which is unconcealed or, more accurately, he proposed that what entities are depends on the conditions that allow them to manifest themselves, and it was this dependency that Heidegger called Unconcealment (Unverborgenheit).
Implied in this link between Being and Unconcealment is a dependency on the unconcealed buried in the nature of all Being.
Unconcealment is an important concept for us for three reasons:
Firstly, we believe that the Universe, as an entity, has evolved in a deliberate way that enables Unconcealment to come about.
Secondly, the human, homo sapiens, as an unconcealing entity, finds itself in a central and essential position in the Universe. We are invested with the power to unconceal the Universe; the same Universe that created the conditions allowing for our existence as unconcealers in order to bring forth Being … Being comes from the sapiens’ unconcealing of it.
Thirdly, the vital role that humanity plays in the Unconcealment and subsequently the very Being of the Universe, creates a positive, moral purposiveness for humanity embedded in Being and the perpetuation of Being through our power to unconceal.
Before Unconcealment, or before the existence of sapiens’ consciousness, there was no awareness of the Universe and no possible context for the Universe to exist in. With the evolution of consciousness that context was created. From a purposive point of view, therefore, we think in order to unconceal. However, paradoxically, the human mind is also proficient at making its own concealments.
We were created to unconceal and yet, ask anyone what truth is, and they will almost undoubtedly struggle to give any semblance of a satisfactory answer. Embedded in our power to unconceal is also a powerful capacity for sceptical reasoning. If there is a struggle in human society between light and darkness, it is contained in our proficiency to conceal and unconceal at the same time. In fact, our very own ability to unconceal is concealed from us. Although the will to unconceal is manifest in all truly creative, artistic and scientific endeavours there is very little in the design of human societies and cultures pushing Unconcealment forward as an essential element of human activity.
In reality, the importance of our unconcealing faculties, which are our true nature, are concealed from us, and this paradoxical fact may be the basic human flaw that allows for the seemingly unavoidable propagation of all crimes against humanity such as war and famine and the deliberate fermentation of ignorance created by anti-Unconcealment, and subsequently anti-human, economic principles.
It is not hard to understand why Unconcealment as a basic, purposive drive for human beings is concealed. After all, all human purposiveness is in the main part concealed by all human societies. Of course, this seems wrong: the same societies that enmesh our lives are alienating us by obfuscating authentic human purpose from us. Surely, the first thing that a civilisation would want to impart to its communities would be a common, authentic purposiveness, yet, in actual fact, the complete opposite is true. How can this be so?
The answer is simple: the power (Wealth) that organises and runs society is an economically-interested one that reaps more profit by concentrating all our attention on the present rather than any long-term future. Capitalism builds only where profits can be made from that construction, whereas purposiveness demands a different kind of progress.
The concealment of long-term purposiveness is therefore a conscious, anti-human act, dictated by the immediate purpose of making profit. There is no profit to be made out of the long-term.
How can we honestly gauge concepts like progress and achievement on a social level? Technological advances are obvious – of course they are, this is a technological revolution age – but positive evolution has to be measured against the negative, dystopian-production side of our hi-tech, global-economy world.
Technology has created machines that can transport us over land and sea, and even through the air. It has taken us to the Moon, and we have landed robots on Mars. We are capable of exploring the entire Solar System and we can look with our telescopes into the deepest reaches of the cosmos whilst with our microscopes we can examine the minutest particles that make up reality. We have cured diseases and the average life-span of men and women is increasing at a constant rate. In terms of recreation, we have developed sports and arts that give us a wealth of cultural activities that can be easily enjoyed wherever we go in the world thanks to our marvellous digital technologies.
Nevertheless, despite all these fantastic attainments, our standards of living are dropping, and the new generations being born today will most probably have a worse standard of living than their parents and grandparents. The havoc being wrought by the climate emergency and the covid-19 pandemic have stripped the emperor bare, and it is now easy for us all to see the enormous weaknesses in the structure of our system. The world we live in is not just full of cracks, it is infested with a plague of bugs that are streaming out of those cracks.
Could it be that we have not really achieved anything at all? Could it be that the opposite is the case? – that our historical process is a constant evolution towards more despair and perdition?
If we have ever achieved anything it must be considered in terms of gain for humanity. But once we analyse achievement in terms of human-gain we find that we have lost so much. The anti-human forces (ideologies, nationalisms and religious dogmas) have always been so strong that the idea of HUMANITY has been reduced to an impossibility that only exists in Utopian fantasies. HUMANITY today equals humanity. So, if HUMANITY is impossible, how can human achievement be possible? Of course it can’t. If we want humanity to achieve anything, we must firstly believe in it.