cultural malaise, dystopia, existential idealism, hive mind, politics, religion, Romanticism, science, war
Fragment 161, word count: 653.
In terms of culturally mainstream frameworks of explanation, an exit from dystopia depends on finding a way past the grossly contradictory bifurcation currently embracing at the same time creationist monotheism and scientific materialism, monolithic science alongside myths of angels and demons, as conceptual frameworks for understanding the world and the ongoing improvisation of lives in the world. (Fragment 145: Desperately Seeking Reality.) There is strident institutional support for this historically embedded contradiction, even in the most educationally advanced societies. A religious orientation toward a commanding height blends seamlessly into a hive-mind political-state and into reverence for its war-ready collective drama. Any questioning of that inspires panic for social pragmatists. At the same time, science is the darling of capital accumulators, weapons developers, and advertising media device multipliers. Not a single person in higher boxes of organization charts is looking for a way beyond this cultural contradiction, not since the conservative backlash against the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, movements which disputed the religious-political side of the contradiction based mainly (and regrettably) on an assertion of scientific materialism. It isn’t just that both scientific materialism and creationist monotheism disparage humanity/ personality (the first by conceiving only dead mechanism about which nothing matters in itself, and the second by conceiving human personality as a weak imperfect image of a disembodied original), but also that both are comprehensive systems of explanation that essentially contradict each other and yet have arranged for peaceful co-existence because each solves a fatal deficiency in the other. They tolerate and support each other because neither one is viable alone.
Both of these schools of explanation are dystopian by constructing hive minds on a nucleus of denigrated personality/ humanity. This is easy to see in the case of creationist monotheism with its counterintuitive concepts of sin and the self-denying path to salvation. Romanticism, fables strategically decontextualized from crucial givens of living reality, happily embraces the drama of mysterious ordeals and glorious rewards, and especially thrills on hidden higher powers, so all religion is inherently romantic. On the other side of the coin, the materialist insistence on strict exteriority expresses a distinctly romantic asceticism. Since the core of materialist ideology is a denigrating denial of subjective ideality, of the condition for there being anything that matters, it is incapable of sensing its own emotional underpinning in a Calvinist-inspired romance, asceticism as a heroically purifying gesture. That thread of self-denying asceticism binds scientific materialism to creationist monotheism with a force like a molecular bond, and pre-determines that the gravitas of science, faced with the hive-mind political-state demanding reverence for war, will pragmatically interpret the state as nature’s food chain manifested in human sociability. Science has declared the dystopia inevitable and made it far more lethal instead of questing for a way beyond it.
The only way to end war is to disband the collective identities that commit to and execute wars. That is not something that will be proposed or initiated by any government or corporation or any other collective entity which earnestly works at creating itself as a collective identity. This is something that can only be accomplished by individuals recognizing themselves as such through philosophical thinking. In our hive-minded dystopia, individualizing idealism is indispensable. Since creative novelty emerges from the particular drama that is the interiority of an individual’s living in the world, the modern idealism exploring this, described in Fragment 160 is a framework of orientation that enables individuals to separate viably from hive-minds. This idealism (call it Existential Idealism) leaps past the metaphysical denigration of what has been called human nature. It recognizes human existence/ personality as a transcendence of nature, if nature is conceived as it is in scientific materialism, and instead recognizes personality as an active supra-actuality in such a way that political rights derive entirely from that transcendent existence, existence as living ideality.
Copyright © 2020 Sandy MacDonald.