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The Chains That Bind


European Modernism (EM)


It might be helpful to know the state religion that most of us subscribe to , without being aware of its import?
We deploy it to analyse/criticise everything: yet itself escaping any such scrutiny
It is second nature now to us, in the EM world, and we assume its (im)proprieties to be self evident.
Even those loyal to EM ideas, in daily praxis, are unaware of its complex of assumptions.
It informs our education, our politics, and our culture: it even affects our most personal, intimate, hopes and aspirations.
To our everlasting discomfort.
It is, in fact, the very locus of our manifold alienation(s).
So, to ‘Know Thyself’, one needs to be explicitly aware of its epistemics.
Recall that EM was never, anywhere, ‘voted in’, as welcome anodyne: it was, everywhere, including within Europe itself , imposed by dint of force and fraud.
It constitutes the panoply of the chains that bind us.
So , what constitutes EM?
It has several components.
Firstly , it is a philosophy of crass materialism (everything is matter: and all objects are material) , aping classical Newtonian Physics.
Latter-day Quantum Physics debunks this notion.
Secondly , it adopts a triumphalist, self-serving view of Progress (expressed again in vulgar material terms: GDP, etc.). Worse, it takes it for granted that Progress is wherever Europe happens to find itself, because Europe is the gold standard.
Thirdly, it claims official science (scientism) as defined by it elites , as its foundation, rejecting any and all other epistemologies (e.g. acupuncture, homeopathy herbal treatments, et. al. , were all rejected as ‘non-science”).
Even worse, it marries science to the state, thereby risking despotism, substituting it for religion as in pre-Modern Europe.
Fourthly , it enables the Statist use of Force, as needed, to ‘force people to be free’ (JS Mill): another dangerous license for unlimited aggression, in favor of any ,and all, statist objectives.
Fifthly , it has a formal/mechanical /contractual /instrumentalist view of society , rejecting its organic features.
It’s Asocial Individualismthe most toxic notion in human history – actually sees society as but an instrument to be used to achieve individualist ends. The individual is sovereign, society is but a means.
Sixthly, it sees ‘nature’ as external to us as ‘humans’ who stand ‘above’ it. Women, children, and native peoples, were, on the other hand, all assimilated to being ‘naturvolk‘, to be raised/disciplined/ and tamed (Recall Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew trope).
Nature exists only to serve us: in fact, the economist Solow once implied, we can do without nature.
Seventhly, it privileges reason (in economics , this morphs into ‘rationality’ , where it is rational to be materialistic!), presumed to be free of anthropic bias, over other forms of knowing (intuition, ‘common sense’ , revelation, et. al).
It is also privileged above emotions (again women, children, and natives, were all assimilated to being irrational, for being ’emotive’ and ‘childlike’.)

, it sees us humans as untouched by essentialist properties such as instincts. Animals have instincts, Humans don’t (since the latter are cast, in the image of god: Darwin’s correction came much later but has not altered this). Levi Strauss , famously, wrote that “instincts explain nothing’.
Ninthly, it privileges humans as the ‘sovereigns of creation’, set above all other forms of life (anthropocentrism).
Tenthly , it sanctions adversarialism as innate in society (Spencer) , and validates the idea(l) of a brutish struggle for existence (Malthus). Distrust is institutionalized, and intra-societal aggression/anger promoted
Eleventh it substitutes abstract idylls (rarely or never realised) , as a decoy away from attending to real human needs (so they offer you the chimera of equality and democracy, not food and shelter).
Twelfth, it forces perpetual, strenuous, heroics as the idyll of life; climb every mountain, ford every stream, etc. (doing is endless, being is seen as passive), thereby overloading vulnerable flesh and blood humans with unbearable stress to ‘achieve’ as per systemic norms.
N.B. note the overlap between some elements of Judeo-Christian ideas and EM, as also between EuroCapitalism and Eurosocialism .

© R.Kanth 2022


Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (A Novel), A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse), and Farewell to Modernism (Political Economy Tract).

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