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Fragment 151, word count: 367.

The historical rise and accomplishments of the political left-wing in opposition to perennial oligarchic dominance is what makes the Euro-American cultural system actually special. The rise and survival of the political left expresses an intuition that the nature of persons as supra-actual points and enduring arcs of purposeful ideality, self-orienting within a sensed, guessed, and unstable surroundings, is such that we have a self-sourced mission or project beyond becoming a satisfied or even ecstatic eating machine, work supplier in a production system, or follower of commands as the belonging of a hive. Two vectors of ancient philosophy which were already leaning left were, first, an effort to get rid of superstitious myths about capricious divine personalities such as the Olympian gods and demons; and second, to clarify the peculiar existence of the gaze of personal consciousness, opening onto, and questing into surroundings of shifting and drifting possibilities and impossibilities as the context and meaning of brute actualities. The cultural imperative for universal literacy, mass education, free-ranging research and philosophical enquiry, and democratic influence on institutions of sovereignty, all express a striving for open-ended individual empowerment, a sense that existing societies are all too small to contain or express the whole of any individual. This spirit of the left affirms that education should provide individuals with the means to understand and take a substantial measure of participation and control in the ongoing evolution of society and culture.

The dominant orientation in folk societies is backward-looking. In traditional societies time is an eternally recurring circle or wheel. What was done in the past is so revered that it is assigned the status of metaphysical template of what society should be and do forever. From the influence of thinking on the political left, modernity has a different conception of time in which both futurity and temporal anteriority are considered absolutely unique. Modernity embraces progress as a requirement for health and well-being because the past is recognized as pervaded by ignorance, superstition, oppression, monotony, poverty, and the conformity imposed by myths of an urgent need for strength in numbers, from which even the most advanced societies are still only beginning to emerge.

Copyright © 2019 Sandy MacDonald.