A companion blog, The Metacognition Project, has been created to focus specifically on metacognition and related consciousness processes. Newest essay on TMP: Goals and Problems, part two

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Riding the Tiger

There are titanic forces at work in our various systems of societal functioning: political system, economic system, the ultra-complex social/religious/political mix.  These are forces driven by all of the characteristics of our species, many in some understandable native form like hunger, but most today manifesting as some pathological representation of species’ designs; the madness of institutional religion is one powerful example. 

In a way, like our understanding of the physical order, our present is the direct consequence of the most recently preceding past; we seem to have moved through our time with a kind of historical determinism.  The great forces, population, new inventions and energy sources, agricultural scarcity and abundance, military technologies, have played on the even greater designs of our biological and consciousness order natures: love, hate, desire, fear, power relations, preventive and preparatory action.   But while looking back seems to present, with enough massaging, a somewhat coherent image of change, our future dims to the most obscure vision even as we try to look only a few hours into what may come.  This should tip us off that our vision of history is actually as dim (or dim witted); we simply have already moved beyond its moment and can pick and choose (and make up) the patterns that give its designs an order of which we approve.  Our present politics, however, claims some immediate power to influence events while only riding them in the classic ancient Indian conundrum, ‘riding a tiger’ – you can’t stay on and you sure as hell can’t get off.

One of the great movements has been the increasing dependence of human communities and individuals on the political and economic systems.  Today a tiny change in the stabilities of these systems fulfills or lashes millions of people who have no options to feed themselves, protect themselves from the kinds of technology supported assaults becoming more and more common, house themselves, even control the space upon which they physically stand. (Note: give this thought more than a moments reflection; it is axiom, biological expectation, that every organism “owns” the space where it lives.  Only humans negate that foundational principle.)

The great movements are all ‘tiger riding,’ once begun they end with either being beaten to death by staying with them or being consumed by the consequences of trying to get off, i.e., redoing the institutions supporting and supported by the movements.  Our present global economic system is such a movement.  It is quite clear that growth economics is over.  We can’t tolerate more growth in population numbers, in consumption, in resource acquisition, in by-product (pollution), in biodiversity reduction, in habitat loss, in damage to ecological free-service systems and more.  On the big geological clock, ‘growth’ can go on for only the next couple of minutes.

The tiger is trying to throw us off and we sort of know that we should jump, but we also know that as we do the tiger will turn and eat us.  

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