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Toward Transcendence: The Way Forward

[A desperately brief Critique of Euro-Modernism* (EM) and a bare Outline of The Alternative]

(For Noam Chomsky)

By Rajani Kanth
 

I will make this piece short and simple.
 
The times call for such economies of style.
 
We need now to have done with the genre of immanent critiques, where we rock to and fro, endlessly, w/out getting anyplace.
 
Besides, old recipes, old formulas , old panaceas, have no place now.
 
It is, as so many of us sense, a New Game.
 
And it is time for Change.
 
BIG Change.
 
Indeed, it is time now , I think, for Transcendence (the antipode of immanent critiques): rising above/beyond routine, ‘authorised’ , modes of discourse.
 
Put differently, the Left, Right and Centre versions of EM theorising simply keep us locked in to the same otiose paradigm, from which there is No Exit.
 
*
 
There has been a new Physics for almost a century now.
 
A new Biology for but a few odd years: Epigenetics.
 
But we still retain the old, antiquated, Social Theory.
 
Modeled , if understandably, after the materialism of Classical Physics (Yes, so-called ‘social science’ was engendered in the spirit of Physics-Envy).
 
Time to jettison that baggage.
 
In its Entirety.
 
It is not only archaic, it is wrong, categorically, judged by the canons of Q. Physics.
 
*
 
Darwin’s idea of mutations finds relevance here.
 
He saw mutations as random.
 
And many are.
 
But some are not.
 
Some are ‘purposive’, in the minimal sense of restoring balance.
 
We are, likely, going through such a shift.
 
We humans have radically skewed Nature’s rude and rough balances, over a very long time: but far more precipitously in recent times.
 
Since WWII , over 60% of animal and plant life, even a higher percentage of large mammals, has vanished.
 
We have exhausted more planetary resources in that same short span of time than in all of human history.
 
Nature is, in a sense, now ‘intervening’ (or ‘reacting’).
 
But one must not read too much into that word (I am no fan of ‘new age’ fantasies).
 
I do not use it in any anthropic sense.
 
Let me illustrate.
 
Water finds its own level.
 
One might see it as seeking a certain ‘balance’, in its spread.
 
However, it does not ‘choose”, but follows its inherent properties.
 
So is Nature , following her own Logos, morphing her varied forces (and they bid fair to check our pretensions).
 
But we are different: we can, self-consciously, Choose.
 
*
 
Descartes said: I think therefore I am.
 
The Buddha, a far more accomplished philosopher, albeit 2 millenia prior, provided the needful.
 
He said: as/what you think, you are: and you become.
 
So, all change , when not the chance accident of history, begins in the mind.
 
The Collective mind.
 
And the Choice is clear: either we change, or Nature must suffer a disruption of Evolution.
 
She, apparently, is unready to suspend her long-delved plans.
 
So, either we Change , or we Go.
 
Climate change (as but one mechanism) will see to the latter.
 
Maybe, even regardless of what we do.
 
There is some paradox to this.
 
At one remove, she is not apart from us , but works through us.
 
Yet, she is the macrocosm , of which we are but sub-entities; so hers is the larger mind.
 
And her secrets are not always shared, readily, with us.
 
*
 
We need now to Reorient Life.
 
Here, but a few clues.
 
They will suffice: a word to the wise , they say , is sufficient.
 
We need to divest ourselves from this onerous fetish of incessant consumption and production.

Radically alter our methods/instruments in both domains (no mass production, no mass consumption).
 
Possessive, Asocial Individualism – the very (EM) scourge of our current history – needs be junked.
 
The Profit-motive, retired: it has served its historical use, if any.
 
The Adversarial Society, abandoned.
 
Competition, Monopoly, and Economic activity tied to, led by, Private gain, abrogated.
 
The Nation-State dissolved.
 
From Gesellschaft forms of organization we need to return, again, to Gemeinschaft forms, which is how we began.
 
Abjuring the spurious universalisms of globalization (ploys only for control and marketing) we have to relocate ourselves in face-to-face social relations, within a local culture – of ‘little’ traditions – of our own making, and within our own controls.
 
But, as I will imply, none of the above require any mass effort to topple the system.
 
Rather is it a matter of erosion of its principal , ideational, supports.
 
*
 
EuroModernist (EM) societies are engineered, artificial constructs, organized, historically, from above, by the machinations of commerce , capital, and empire.
 
They are NOT human societies.
 
They are rationalist, cold, uncaring, and mechanistic.
 
We are , au contraire, caring, feeling, organic, beings.
 
Classical Socialism failed because it did not raze that foundation.
 
The USSR – for all of its many successes, which must not be forgotten – still pursued the grail of GDP, no less avidly than its Capitalist counterparts.
 
But a bigger bowl of Goulash simply doesn’t cut it.
 
It does not answer to that primal cri de couer that animates our bosoms.
 
We have to realign, rebond, with our kith and kin (no matter how defined).
 
Rediscover our quashed norms of Affective Society.
 
Antic values: of Hearth and Home.
 
And re-embrace the basic joy(s) of our kind: Convivialism.
 
And know who we are, as a species.
 
Co-operative, caring, familial, and co-respective.
 
*
 
This is a far cry from how EM ideology views us.
 
The real scarce resource is not time, nor money : but love.
 
For we are Lovers, in short, rather than law-givers, conquerors, colonisers, and adventurers.
 
Or, calculating, canny, crafty , hucksters.
 
Time it is to bid farewell to the nostrums of Hobbes and Smith.
 
Doing was thrust upon us by the exploitative wiles of rulers and conquerors, and turned into a social value.
 
Becoming is a EuroModernist mantra, the talisman of accumulationist drives.
 
So much so that some religions/political traditions, took ‘labor’ itself as a commandment of morality and virtue (Arbeit Macht Frei) rather than a temporary nuisance to be swiftly performed and relinquished.
 
No, Labor is not the choice avenue to social Virtue (as in some variants of Protestant thinking).
 
It is drudgery, and worse: when performed involuntarily, and by force.
 
Arbeit Macht Frei?
 
Tell that to the Bushmen(and women).
 
*
 
All that Utopian thinking that followed the EM revolutions was, objectively, a waste of social energy.
 
And also caused a lot of irreparable harm.
 
But it was unavoidable: in recoiling from the dehumanization(s) of the latter, it showed up their manifold shortcomings.
 
Society had been turned upside down by the latter forces , so these idealists hoped to ‘re-engineer’ it : toward a better state of being.
 
Wishful thinking, at best: but who can blame them?
 
They meant well: but had not a clue about the ineluctable realities of human anthropology.
 
Lacking that, they borrowed their ideas, in that domain, of from either religion (Judeo-Christian ideology) or political theory (e..g., so-called ‘social contract’ ideas).
 
Which was to err grievously.
 
For we don’t need Utopia as Invention: we simply need to Rediscover it.
 
Nor can we simply , willy nilly, invent slogans, coin lofty declarations, and codify master plans for a New World: and expect human nature to conform to it.
 
*
 
We are programmed to live, tribally (parse that as kindred/community based) , in a joyful state (in Being, not Becoming, or Doing).
 
We are Mammals, Heat-seeking rather than Light-seeking.
 
Our greatest Human Need may simply be: to Huddle.
 
That is our species-being, our social DNA.
 
It can still be found , albeit now in remote parts of a world thoroughly ravished by EM ideology and praxis.
 
But it is also deep within us, and easy to locate: IF we can shuffle off the coils of religious and political shibboleths that hold us in thrall.
 
*
 
Our eternal ‘home’ is the humblest of societal units: the human family, at once natural and social.
 
Note that it meets not one single, vaunted, E-Modernist criterion.
 
It is not free, individualist, equal, nor democratic.
 
Wrap your head around that last sentence.
 
Not once, but twice.
 
Yet, it gives to us what we crave the most: a haven, refuge, and sanctuary.
 
What extra-terrestrial ‘heaven’ , conjured up by the tendentious fantasies of religious bigotry, could hope, even remotely, to compare with that?
 
Bears thinking.
 
*
 
You get the point (I hope).
 
We are natural, instinctual beings: an idea anathema to EM postulates, which prefers to see us as automatons who can take on any shape and form as per requirements of the ruling ethos , ideology. and political agenda.
 
Instincts are granted in the study of animals, but not permitted to intrude into the study of the ‘sovereign of creation’, i.e. , MAN (gender intended, in the original EM docket).
 
That came straight from Judeo-Christian ideas, where we are cast in the image of the Creator, until Darwin interrupted that chain of argument.
 
So we need to remind ourselves, again, lest we forget, in our hubris.
 
For all our pretensions, We are Apes.
 
Chimps and Bonobos, our closest cousins, have definable traits: so have we.
 
*
 
So, think.
 
And disburden yourself of repressive, ideological, chains that diminish you , and erode your energies.
 
For, as/what you think, you become.
 
And discover the rich troves of the Affective Life -lavish, abundant – you have ignored, or suppressed, for being stuck on the Wheel , ever since you can recall.
 
That is our real, imperishable, wealth.
 
The Virus has just given some of us the time/opportunity for some reflection on such matters.
 
Employ it well.
 
And get off the treadmill – of endless, unrequiting, toil – soon as you can.
 
After all, you are not , if you are reading this, a hamster.
 
We have been hoodwinked, forced, duped, and systematically misled, into thinking of ourselves in dystopian, sub-human, and asocial terms.
 
We have, in short, been forced to live a lie.
 
Contrast , in your thinking, how you live ,and function, to who we/you are, on the inside.
 
The rest will follow, as day follows night.
 
Let me repeat that.
 
Seek simply to Know Yourself : (all) necessary changes will, then, ensue.
 
*
 
We have been , alas, deceived by fine words.
 
One of the many unstated functions of language (which may well be a primary one) is concealment of motives.
 
Language is an indispensable aid to dissembling.
 
W/out that guileful artefact, our feelings, as humans, are all too easy to comprehend , requiring no interpreters.
 
Complexity of language is often associated with high density of oppression and exploitation.
 
No wonder elites monopolise language (Latin, in Rome, Sanskrit in ancient Vedic society)
 
And both religion and politics utilize language, to repressive effect.
 
*
 
Note that I am not outlining a nouvelle manifesto, in the classic EM mode of ‘we can be anything we wish to be’.
 
No.
 
Instead , I am suggesting that our contentment lies in effortless conformity to our anthropic species being.
 
So it requires no force, no mass movements, no marches, no revolutions.
 
Nor even consulting learned tomes of deep philosophy.
 
Simply an internal, personal recognition of the obvious, based on reflection alone.
 
And it will be found to be obvious.
 
Promise.
 
* EM, or EuroModernism , the specific template of Modernism that Europe invented and imposed on the world, consisted of , in my rendition: a very selective faith in a self-defined, triumphalist , reductionist, Science; a tendentious, self- serving belief in ‘progress’ ; a rampant philosophy of materialism; and an abiding conviction that no cost was too high, societal, military, or ecological, to impose this world-view, by force, on Others. It imposed the Restless Society on us all, ever discontented, ever transformational, sacrificing Being to Becoming. Understood, with care, it covers both the Tweedledum and Tweedledee Idylls of EM vintage: Capitalism and Socialism.

 

R E F E R E N C E S
 
Kanth, R . Farewell to Modernism: On Human Devolution in the Twenty-First Century, NY: Peter Lang, 2017
 
[© R.Kanth 2020]

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