PROGRESS VS THE GRAVITY OF WEALTH

wealth-cycle

PROGRESS

Progress is change with continuity. Revolution breaks continuity.

However, when the change gravitates into a cyclical motion, revolution is needed to reinstate progress.

In a positive, progressive sense, revolution is a poor term for the idea of this interruption of cyclical motion because it implies a new kind of cyclical motion rather than a positive redirection with a continual-change momentum. In a practical sense, however, all revolutions have in fact been redirecting-breakaways that have gravitated back into cyclical motion.

An analysis of this reality indicates a pessimistic vision of a never-ending cyclical reality. But, does it have to be so? And if so, why?

Nietzsche and Deleuze argued that this had to come about because ideals and purposes cannot be sustained once they are achieved. But, what happens if purpose has a deliberately unattainable objective? That purpose becomes the purpose of always becoming rather than the maintenance of what is? That it becomes motored by progress and creativity itself? Could this not be the basis for a forward pushing drive for humanity?

Yet, if this is possible; how is it that we’ve never been able to manage it before?

 

WEALTH

What is the gravity that has constantly pulled progress back around itself into a cyclical form?

That gravity is “wealth”. “Wealth” as a driving force within the libido of our very civilisation itself.

Any deep analysis of civilisation will always indicate (either positively or negatively, depending on the stand-point from which the analysis is carried out) the role of Wealth in the creation and maintenance of all civilisations. In other words, civilisation is a construct erected by Wealth in order to move all accumulations in an upward way that benefits Wealth itself. All revolutions, so far, have been simple replacements of Wealth without ever removing Wealth from the central position of society.

Wealth uses its own gravity to bend continuity, drawing it back and looping it in cyclical knots.

For this reason, the main foe to human progress is Wealth.

Cycles are necessary for the perpetuation of Wealth – and this explains why we have always had a cyclical reality. For Wealth to perpetuate itself it needs cycles. Wealth has always been the centre of Civilisation; therefore, Civilisation has always had a cyclical form.

If we now interpret Lampedusa’s famous political axiom: “In order for things to remain the same, things have got to change” from this point of view, we see the clever reversal that Wealth itself needs to bring about in order to maintain itself, takes place by bending the curve of progress so acutely that it can curl down and around and perpetuate itself as a cycle.

So, is continual progress impossible, or is it merely inconvenient for Wealth?

If progress is defined as economic growth, then continual progress is impossible; but if progress means an advance of humanity as a whole in the fields of learning, creativity and general well-being, then the answer is the latter – it is not impossible, it is only inconvenient for Wealth.

Wealth is diminished in authentic human progress, and maintained by a politics based on slave-creating economies that function in cyclical forms. For human progress to be possible we have to declare war on Wealth.

positive-wealth-cycle

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The End of Purpose and the Crisis of Creativity

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In his 1981 thesis, ‘Simulacra and Simulation’, Jean Baudrillard lamented the ruination of the university: “non-functional … lacking cultural substance or an end purpose of knowledge.”[i]

Perhaps we should not victimise the universities, the same can be said of our entire nihilistic culture, nevertheless, the idea that a university lacks a reason for learning is a tremendously sad one.

The crippling result of the lack of purposiveness allows societies to throw in their own self-interested crutches: the university becomes a simple place to prepare people for the work-force, or, on a more hopeful level, an environment that will stimulate creativity. But if there is no purpose or reason, why be creative? In fact, how can one be creative when nothing matters? Or the opposite is true: it’s very easy to be creative when nothing matters – too easy.

Either way, the result will always be a crisis of creativity.

“Today’s nihilism is one of transparency, and it is in some sense more radical, more crucial than its prior and historical forms, because this transparency, this irresolution is indissolubly that of the system, and that of all the theory that still pretends to analyse it.”[ii]

Baudrillard regarded Romanticism as the first great manifestation of nihilism; the destroyer of the order of appearances. The second great manifestation came through Dada, Surrealism, the Absurd, and political nihilism – corresponding to the destruction of the order of meaning.

But, destruction is inevitable when appearances and meanings themselves are devoid of substance; when they are castles made of sand. It wasn’t the Romantics or Dada that destroyed meaning; they were merely realisations that meaninglessness had evolved around them. The real destroyers were those in the institutions themselves, trying to maintain a system which made no sense.

Such a condition can only be perpetuated by dissimulation, and only whilst society swallows the performance in the staging of an ersatz purpose that the system offers them. Once the society grows tired of the theatrics played out before them they will start to yawn, or grimace if they are injured by it, and through that yawn or grimace they will see through the stage-craft to the emptiness behind it. When this happens on a massive scale, real revolution or a brutal reaction can take place.

This awareness is happening today, it has been bubbling for some years, but the train is turning toward the Dystopia rather than any purposive Utopia.

Buadrillard observed a similar scenario in the student revolts of Paris, 1968. Why didn’t a revolution happen then? Why is a purposive revolution unlikely to happen now?

According to Baudrillard, the staging carried out by the media is no longer a staging. He calls the media: “a strip, a track, a perforated map of which we are no longer mere spectators”. All that remains, he says: “is the fascination for desertlike and indifferent forms for the very operation of the system that annihilates us.” [iii]

In other words, we are enchanted and enamoured by the same media that is strangling us and numbing our brains. We love to see the violence and perversion that the society produces so much that we would probably fall into a kind of spiritual crisis if the brutality of the system was taken away from us.

[i] J. Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, Michigan, 1994, digital version p. 98

[ii] Ibid, p.104

[iii] Ibid

REALITY AS A PURPOSEFUL LIE

The mystic philosophers were right when they told us that reality is elsewhere, but they were wrong in claiming that our ultimate delusion came from a lack of spiritual insight; our alienation from reality is a psychological and social delusion created by our tendency to perceive reality in lies.

In essence, however, even this delusional tendency to believe things that cannot be proven, may be a necessary element for any positive human view of reality.

Science gives us a view of reality that goes beyond the narrow confines of the world that we perceive. In this way, science is an attempt to uncover the delusional nature of our lying perceptions. The real is not really what we see and feel.

Nevertheless, scientific objectivity clashes with our attempts to forge a positive view of our place in the cosmos. Ultimately, scientific truth is nihilistic. Vanity of vanities. Everything is headed to an inescapable thermal death. All things will come to an end. There is no ultimate purpose to the Universe.

But does an acceptance of this ultimately pointless reality do humanity as a whole any good? Science tells us how insignificant and ultimately pointless we are in the Universe. The result is nihilism and a depression that bleeds down through the entire fabric of contemporary, nihilistic civilisation. Live the moment. Reality is ephemeral. And so, religion has to be saved or even restored. We need hope, don’t we? Even if that hope is a blatant lie.

But even religions are essentially nihilistic as far as humanity goes. For religions, reality is elsewhere, in the Paradise after death. And so we ask: Why is reality so negative? Why is truth so grim?

A positive view of historical human reality can only be truly comprehensible to human beings from the point of view of humanity itself. However, this statement implies an anthropocentric view, which most scientists now reject as biased; and because of that consider it to be unrealistic.

But, does this mean that in order to be realistic we have to forfeit any positive view of humanity?

In actual fact, science itself gives us a way out here; for there is cosmological data that points to a sentient-life purpose evolution of the Universe. Data exists that explains how the self-organising of the Universe was able to create conditions for organisms so complex that they can comprehend that same organisation.[i]

In order to determine reality without deluding ourselves in lies we need to look at the debate that scientists are having on the idea of a purposefully determined cosmos. In this argument the science that has to be allowed the most authority is cosmology. So, what do cosmologists and other physicists really think about the idea of a deterministic Universe; one that implies that we are evolving purposefully towards an ultimate goal?

Some scientists, like cosmologist Martin Rees and the physicist Paul Davies, are in favour of the idea of purposefully orientated evolution, whilst almost any quantum physicist would argue against the anthropocentric view, in favour of indeterminism. Nevertheless, arguments can be found, that take a middle ground. And perhaps it is here that we can resolve the debate.

We think this middle ground has been nicely described by Dan Pipono:

“There is no meaningful difference (between determinism and indeterminism). Suppose at some moment there is some kind of undetermined probabilistic event and the universe forks in one of two ways. Then mathematically we can describe the situation in two distinct ways A and B: (1) we could say that after the fork, the universe is either in state A or state B. The universe is non-deterministic because we don’t know which of A and B it is going to be before the fork. OR (2) the universe is in a state that consists of two pieces, A and B, each of which contains a copy of us. The universe is deterministic but appears non-deterministic because we don’t know which of A and B is the one that contains us. Some people will use Occam’s razor in this situation. Some will use it to argue for (1) because a universe with just A or B is simpler than a universe with both A and B. Some will use it to argue for (2) because often (2) is mathematically simpler than (1). I can’t see any way of distinguishing (1) and (2). In practice I’d use whichever is more convenient for whatever I’m trying to do.”[ii]

Like Pipono and Occam, we argue that reality needs to be viewed according to what is most convenient to what needs to be done with that reality. And what we, as humans, need to question is what is the most convenient reality for humanity; a purposeful state or a nihilistic one? If we still cannot, with true scientific certainty, resolve the debate in favour of either purpose or nihilism, which view of reality is ultimately more convenient for us; for our survival and progress?

 

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe

[ii] See Dan Pipono https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-evidence-for-and-against-determinism

JIGSAW PUZZLES – THINKING ABOUT THINKING

If the purpose of thinking is to uncover the hiddenness of Being, how does thinking about thinking help in fulfilling the deepest aims of the human condition as Sapiens? Thinking about thinking can uncover the traps that thinking plays on us when it convinces us that we know. Thinking about thinking is necessary in order to objectify our thought, to objectify the way we objectify reality. This objectification is necessary for all learning which is primarily subjective: the first relationship we have with the word is as an appropriation of that world through the entrapment of reality that takes place as soon as we frame it within our own perception. So, thinking about thinking has to take into account the limits of that framing in order to conceive of a greater enframing[i].

This could be explained through the metaphor of the jigsaw puzzle. A subjective experience that is not deeply thought about can create a piece of the jigsaw, but it has no idea of the larger frame into which that piece can be purposefully slotted if we want to complete the puzzle. Or in other words, without deep thought about life and about how our lives are or should be conceived, we throw ourselves into the game, but without the box to guide us. We have the pieces but no idea of how the finished product should look. So, in order to complete the puzzle we need to first of all try and create a mental construct from the pieces of what the overall picture could be. If there is a lot of sky blue, then the picture is probably an outdoor scene. Can we find any grass, or rocks? Etc..

Having the pieces of the jigsaw is not enough. We need to look for the bigger picture before we can hope to slot it all together. And in order to do that we need to think about what we are thinking about.

[i] One of Martin Heidegger’s terms. See especially his essays from the The Question Concerning Technology

GETTING HUMANITY OUT OF ITS DEPRESSION

If we are with someone who is depressed we might tell them that only they themselves can pull themselves back on track, and the reason for giving this advice is simple – the purposes and grounds that determine and support our lives are individual, personal ones. Perhaps they include a family and they are no doubt embellished with certain other marking factors – stamps of identity, memberships, beliefs and ideologies. In fact, the mesh is so complex that if our friend tells us that he or she is feeling down and lacks the motivation to go on and we ask why? our friend will probably reply that he or she doesn’t know. Perhaps there are clear reasons for the break down, perhaps not, the point is that whether there are or not, when we ask why, they don’t know the answer. They don’t know because the reasons for the purposes and grounds that we stand on are themselves flimsy ones, without any more than a superficial substance based on a measuring of our lives against the lives of others.

This measuring of ourselves is void of any meaningful placement of ourselves within the entirety of things. As soon as we let our thoughts stray toward this entirety we are doomed.  Pascal’s nightmare of “the eternal silence of these empty spaces,” terrifies us all, and, like Pascal, we could drop into the religious for comfort, but even so, the day to day flimsiness still whirls around us and even the churches seem full of this flimsiness.

The temples feed us with man-made dogmas that supposedly come from our omnipotent creator only to make us more guilt-ridden than happy with our place in the world. In theory the monotheistic religions should draw us into the universal and allow us to embrace humanity, but they fail to do this because their dogmas are separating ones, buried in a narrative of good versus evil; of accomplishment versus failure; of our message against theirs.

Decentred, an individual needs to be centred again within the ecumenical whole, and the real community for the individual human being must be humanity itself. Only by positing ourselves with humanity itself can we start to find concrete answers to the why question.

Not only is the damage done by the devaluating of the human a psychological or spiritual problem, it has also pushed us to the brink of existential disaster in our persistent ecological damage to the biosphere that maintains us and all life forms on this planet. The lack of humanity as the measure of all human values and internecine promotion of sectarianism and separations will only keep us on a knife-edge over an annihilating abyss.

Nevertheless, this pessimistic condition has an optimistic side. As Nietzsche believed, the devaluing will lead to a revaluing. The nihilism embedded in our anti-humanity civilisation will become clearer and clearer to the individuals who suffer the consequences of that nihilism, a clarity that will create necessary revaluations and new purposes and grounds for existence, based, hopefully on unifying rather than separating elements. A will to be human, or to be Sapiens. But, in order for human power to be liberated we must accept that nihilism reigns in the world and understand that our nihilistic civilisation is working against humanity rather in its favour.

At the moment we stand at a crucial crossroads between a great revaluation of civilisation or a nihilistic slide into nightmarish dystopias or even internecine destruction and annihilation. Fukuyama preached we had reached the end of history[i]. Quite the contrary, we stand at the doorstep of its beginning – what we call the historical process so far has been an anti-human historical process that needs to be shut down in order to allow for a truly human history to take shape.

Both science and philosophy have led us beyond the magical relationship with the suprasensory. Sacrifices are no longer intelligible acts of bonding with the universal. What really binds us is the fact that we all possess rational minds that need to understand and articulate the reality around us. The real purposes and groundwork for our lives lies in our thoughts and imaginations and our capacity to perceive and dream a Universe that finds itself fulfilled. A Universe in which its own Being is authenticated in the representation of itself in our collective minds.

[i] See Francis Fukuyama THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN

GOD IS DEAD or THE END OF THE SUPRASENSORY

According to Heidegger, Nietzsche’s statement that God is dead is referring not just to the Christian God but to the general suprasensory world, or the realm of Ideas and ideals.[i] Its death is a loss of power.[ii] The human ideal, through a suprasensory or metaphysical partnership with God, has been replaced with squabbling idealisms that are rooted in nationalisms or warring monotheisms that take on a political or economic significance, in the service of Wealth. Through separation the original metaphysical partnership loses its vitality and the great unifier degenerates into a chaos of warring factions struggling for power. However, it is a power which is already degenerate, for the God of the monotheisms has demanded too much. The needs of the Wealth-driven-Power look to liberate through an enslaving of the others rather than by establishing a partnership with the human. In this way, as Heidegger says, metaphysics is “cut off from its essence, (and) is never able to think its own essence.[iii]

Or, as we interpret it, humanity is cut off from its origin and authentic purpose as Sapiens, and is made unable to think purposively beyond the great distractions of God, or Economics and/or Nationalism or the Family. The metaphysical charges into historical progress, evolving into economic progress, and now the Measure of Man is based on how much money one has managed to obtain and what image of oneself one has been able to fashion because of that money. For Heidegger, Nietzsche pronouncement was an affirmation that we are “straying through an infinite nothing,”[iv] cut off from our essence. There is no longer anything left to cling on to and orient ourselves with.[v] “Nihilism, the most uncanny of all guests, is standing at the door.”[vi]

Within this environment technology has become an adornment to human life. It has not effectively liberated humanity from any drudgery as much as it has given us a reason to endure the drudgery. We work to acquire more knick-knacks, which in turn seduce us and draw us away from any meaningful or fulfilling reasons for living, and pulls us apart from the authenticity of our human condition. Our authenticity as Sapiens.

[i] Martin Heidegger, THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY AND OTHER ESSAYS, Garland, New York & London, 1977, p.61

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid

[v] Ibid

[vi] Ibid, p.62

Potential

Amongst the things that humanity has lost, or lost touch with, is its potential. Potential, where it exists, has become a national impetus – a nationalistic charging of competitiveness in some international race toward nowhere. Human potential, however, if we ever knew what it was, has long been forgotten. After millennia of segregations and separations the human has been reduced to the most abstract of concepts, without substance: so much so that any ideas of making the human a meaningful concept now sound revolutionary. In fact, such an achievement would be revolutionary.

Humanity, as Sapiens, is here to perceive and know the Universe and guarantee its Being through representation. Human technology exists in order to make perception and knowledge of the Universe possible and permanent. Learning how to preserve ourselves may be the first step toward learning how to preserve the dying Universe. Only the undying Being makes any real sense.

 

Let there be light! –

But without any eyes to see

what good is my radiance?

Let there be eyes!

But eyes need a screen as well,

something on which to project

the illuminated image,

and a way to represent

the projection as something

seen.

Let there be consciousness!

What is humanity but a conscious mirror!

Human Purpose in our Unconscious Universe

Collage of human head, molecules and various abstract elements on the subject of modern science, chemistry, physics, human and artificial minds

The Universe is either blind or not. A belief in God is a belief in a universe that knows itself because it can perceive itself. The difficulty with the idea of God is primarily the problem of conceiving how this omniscience could possibly be. If we manage to do this we believe we face an even greater difficulty – if the Universe can perceive itself, what is the purpose of life in such a universe? For a conscious universe, life, and its own perception of the universe could only be a distraction for the universe and its own perception of itself. In a conscious universe, life would be undesirable as it would distort the same, pure consciousness of the Universe itself.

As such, we believe that the presence of life in the Universe proves that the Universe cannot be self-conscious.

The Universe is blind. It is an eye which cannot see itself, and it has nothing to see outside itself. Nevertheless, the evolution of the Universe and its cosmological fine tuning indicates that it intuits itself in an unconscious way. At some time in its blind creation it came to intuit its own possibility of Being. It even seems possessed of a primitive determinism that has been capable of organising itself into its present complex form with complex organisms like human beings.

However, in order to be sure of its own existence, the blind Universe must create a way of seeing itself for what it is. How can this be done if it can only operate within itself? It only has power inside its own limits of space and time.

The Universe can only operate according to its own laws of physics, within its own material reality. To see itself, the eye that does not see must create a perceiving entity within itself. A kind of mind’s eye. An imagination for itself. To perceive itself, the Universe had to create something that could perceive within itself. It needed to create life.

The Universe is either blind or not. A belief in God is a belief in a universe that knows itself because it can perceive itself. The difficulty with the idea of God is primarily the problem of conceiving how this omniscience could possibly be. If we manage to do this we believe we face an even greater difficulty – if the Universe can perceive itself, what is the purpose of life in such a universe? For a conscious universe, life, and its own perception of the universe could only be a distraction for the universe and its own perception of itself. In a conscious universe, life would be undesirable as it would distort the same, pure consciousness of the Universe itself.

As such, we believe that the presence of life in the Universe proves that the Universe cannot be self-conscious.

The Universe is blind. It is an eye which cannot see itself, and it has nothing to see outside itself. Nevertheless, the evolution of the Universe and its cosmological fine tuning indicates that it intuits itself in an unconscious way. At some time in its blind creation it came to intuit its own possibility of Being. It even seems possessed of a primitive determinism that has been capable of organising itself into its present complex form with complex organisms like human beings.

However, in order to be sure of its own existence, the blind Universe must create a way of seeing itself for what it is. How can this be done if it can only operate within itself? It only has power inside its own limits of space and time.

The Universe can only operate according to its own laws of physics, within its own material reality. To see itself, the eye that does not see must create a perceiving entity within itself. A kind of mind’s eye. An imagination for itself. To perceive itself, the Universe had to create something that could perceive within itself. It needed to create life.

Hieronymus_Bosch_-_The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_-_The_exterior_(shutters)

The Universe is the subject that does not know itself. It is substance evolving toward subject. But how can such an evolution take place? What we are talking about is an evolution of consciousness, evolving from perception into knowing. It’s an evolution we have seen in our own world. The evolution of our own species: the process that transformed the protozoa into a Da Vinci or an Einstein. Human purpose is to know the Universe, both without and within – to invent and create according to our knowledge and sculpt from the material that is to create an even better Universe, the Universe that ought to be.

The Universe is the subject that does not know itself. It is substance evolving toward subject. But how can such an evolution take place? What we are talking about is an evolution of consciousness, evolving from perception into knowing. It’s an evolution we have seen in our own world. The evolution of our own species: the process that transformed the protozoa into a Da Vinci or an Einstein. Human purpose is to know the Universe, both without and within – to invent and create according to our knowledge and sculpt from the material that is to create an even better Universe, the Universe that ought to be.

A NEW HETEROTOPIA

We first published this entry in June, 2013. We’ve now revised it in order to give it more clarity and consistency with the larger picture of the philosophical thesis we’re developing …

Michel Foucault, wrestling with the problem of the crisis of space, and, subsequently, the idea of the real and imaginary in spatial terms, came up with the concept of heterotopia to describe a place that is real and unreal at the same time[i] – as opposed to the Utopia which is imaginary only and does not exist.

In his essay Foucault lists the type of places that fit this dual-quality criterion, perhaps his most useful analogy being the mirror. You look in the mirror and see yourself, but you know that you are not really in the mirror. Nevertheless, the mirror exists. Your presence in the mirror is real and unreal at the same time.

The idea of the Heterotopia is an interesting one, that has generated more interest by our own Heterotopic existences in the virtual worlds we can inhabit on the Internet. However, we feel Foucault in a sense could not see the forest for the trees, for, from the point of view of the Human-whole, the very fabric of our civilisation itself is heterotopic and, consequently, so is our human condition. We live a dual reality existence that embraces reality (that which can be found in a space) and the imaginary (that which exists in no space) at the same time. In a sense then, the term Heterotopia opens doors to perceiving the concept of Idealism from a new angle. For this reason, we would like to keep Foucault’s term, but amplify its range.

Heterotopic realities can be true abstractions of what they are intended to be, or they can be false ones. A mirror image, for example, can be true if it is well-made or misleading if the image it reflects is distorted. Likewise, the images we create of ourselves in a social forum or chat room may be attempts to reflect our true personality, or they may be ways of presenting ourselves in another form all together. The ones that are constructed in a falsifying way, conceal the real purpose or nature of their original conception. We call these constructs masking-heterotopias.

Another example of the masking-heterotopia is civilisation. Civilisation is a thing edified from certain human fantasies in order to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of the few within a form that seems admissible. It can only be admissible of course if it hides its desires and designs for wealth. At the same time, the demos, the people, or the civilian population, is also a masking-heterotopic construct. The demos is an ideated form of humanity that has emerged out of the desires of civilisation itself. The Wealth (yes, with a capital W) that runs civilisation began with its selfish-needs’ fantasy of what the human race could be used for, and turned them into a masking-heterotopic reality that the exploited themselves are largely unconscious of. In the masking-heterotopia, the admissible, imaginary form, once created, solidifies and becomes more and more real with time, but, in its essence, it is always that which was created as a mask over the real nature of the thing conceived.

To think of the people as something to be exploited for one’s own gain and for the maintenance of its own falsely heterotopic mega-construction, is a depressing pessimism. Nevertheless, the fact that human reality is an imaginative construct also bears very positive seeds.

If a civilisation serving Wealth can be imagined and constructed from that idea, then so can a future, authentically heterotopic civilisation serving the whole of humanity be construed in abstraction and made real in space. The greater our technological capacity grows the deeper should be our faith in our ability to create any kind of reality we wish.

Nevertheless, such a belief seems to frighten us more than inspire us. We not only have dreams to build; we also have horrible recurring nightmares. The idea of crashing once more into a Quixotic impossibility, a new Third Reich or a new Communist hell of terror and bureaucracy, paralyses us. The idea of the collective dreams, our collective ego-projections of grandeur, terrify us.

To create our own authentic Heterotopia, we need to overcome this fear. Overcome the fear and then imagine the future.

[i] See Michel Foucault’s essay, OF OTHER SPACES. A PDF copy can be found online via MIT http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/foucault1.pdf

OUR GREAT DIALECTIC – between the dictatorship of non-desire and the tyranny of want

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20th century literature produced two antithetical prophecies of the technological world we have today: George Orwell’s 1984 with its Big Brother and the Brave New World of Aldous Huxley. In one sense we could affirm that neither prophecy has really come true, but in another sense we could argue that both prophecies have been realised. How can that be?

Modernity is in fact a dialectical struggle between Big Brother’s omnipresent gaze and oppression of desire, on the one hand, and the seemingly liberating dictatorship of the Brave New World on the other.

Totalitarianism is a rejection of superfluous commodities while liberation is an embracing of the superfluous.

In another sense, totalitarianism is an embracing of responsibility and liberalism is a fleeing from responsibilities.

Dictatorship can only work in a perfectly enclosed reality. Enclosure can only work by closing frontiers (as in the iron curtain between communism and capitalism, or in the isolation policies of traditional Japan or modern day North Korea), or by making itself a total-reality in which there is no alternative to its dominion, as in the aspirations of our current economic globalisation programme.

Dictatorship only fails when the subjects within the total-reality becomes aware that their reality is not total but that in fact it is sadly lacking in many things. When this is realised, the regime itself becomes a hindrance towards achieving possibilities or fulfilment. Once the awareness of blocked possibilities seeps into the society, the dictatorship is doomed. Because of this, all regimes must struggle to maintain the illusion that their power does not actually retard possibilities, or that any oppression that takes place is necessary to combat undesirable elements threatening the comfort of the reality it has created.

In order to maintain power, all regimes must dedicate much of their energy convincing their subjects of the inexistence of any fundamental lack. If lack does exist, it is because what is absent is either frivolous or dangerous. Or, it simply just hasn’t been obtained yet by a system which potentially has the power to provide everything for everyone who subjects themselves to the rules and norms of the system.

Modernity is a dialectic between responsibility and desire: between the necessary and the frivolous; between duty and freedom; between obligation and emancipation; between the freedom achieved through responsible action and the oppression maintained through the addictions provoked by unfettered desires…

This dialectic is a complex one, at times favouring one side and, as Power itself, it takes a firm hold on the reins of the discourse in order to drive our cart in its direction. It is the dialectic between communism and capitalism; between Freud and Marx; between Al Qaeda and the oil companies; between religions and the women’s or gay-rights movements; between democracy and plutocracy; between humanity and the world.

What is our place in this constant dialectic? Our argument is not a condemnation of desire but a redirecting of it away from Big Brother or Brave New World manipulations. We obviously stand on the side of responsibility and necessity, but we are not waging war on desire itself. Desire needs to be harmonised with necessity in order to inflame desire with purposiveness and infuse humanity with a sense of itself based on its optimistic and noble visions. We define positive human desires as those impulses which point towards the fulfilment of human interests against the negative, because self-interested, desires of individuals or corporations.

The dialectic now changes and becomes immersed in a new antagonism between the personal desires and the solving of immediate problems against the future perspectives for humanity as a whole that are looking toward the fulfilment of our deeper, collective desires. This new dialectic is one between the desire for progress and the need for preservation; between the self-centred reality and the human; between the sharply focussed point-of-view and the global vision; between the family and the world; between the perception of things within us and the space around us and its atmosphere that allows us to exist at all.

But basically, it is a dialectic between the immediate present and the far-distant future that is threatened by our present. Whether we believe in the future or not, it must always compete with the conditions of the “now”. It is the dialectic compressed into the story of the Grasshopper and the Ant. In that fable labour – the ant’s labour – is a necessary condition that has to be done now in order for future survival, whilst the grasshopper’s summer appetite – our own locust appetite – will be its death sentence in the winter to come.