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, February 21, 2009

The Final Choice

(essay four) 

It is an outrageous proposal: that the materially wealthy and the politically powerful – those who dominate the processes and events of the human presence on the planet – would and could organize and implement the killing off of billions of “ordinary” humans rather than accept dramatic reductions in their privileged use of the earth’s capacity.  Or, it would be an outrageous proposal if it were not so common place an observation in less universal contexts.  

I was fortunate, near the beginning of my journeys, to be instructed on this distinction: Do not ask if this person or that group might do an action; rather, ask if the action is done at all and how commonly, then take that as the basis for your answers to the particular.   I think that we would have to agree that humans have regularly killed off other humans, both indirectly and directly, who stood in the way of attaining or maintaining a preferred life style.

Of course, that something can, or is even likely to, happen does not make it a certainty – especially when there are many other options.  I would only point out that the horror of an action has seldom been an inhibition for very long.  Other factors, such as efficacy and possibility, tend to dominate our choices. 

My intention in making the argument is to excite an increased and refocused observation of events.  If the tools for such a mass murder are made available, then the condition of possibility is met.  If the totality of our situation is hopeless, then so is the condition of efficacy.  

As a species, with the capacity to project events into the unknown future and thus change the future from the grubby confines of the present, we are not fixed in our trajectory; this is one of the great lessons of the Consciousness System of Order.  It is a bit like the silly rhyme: ‘I shot an arrow into the air. It fell to earth, I know not where.’ But, if we have some knowledge of the lay of the land, we can have, at least, some idea about where our arrows might land and their possible consequences. 

One of the paths into the mid-century and beyond would have all humans living with a primary concession to the biophysical reality of personal biological need: every person would supply, by their own hand, some significant part of their personal needs.  Such a standard could, with the ‘invisible hand’ determine population goals, energy use levels and, to some extent, environmental impact levels. The intellectual support for this possibility is largely lacking in our present moment.  There are bits in the kinder parts of major religions.  Various philosophers have for thousands of years spoken to the value of living in close contact with the land – this is such a common part of human thought that it has become cliché.  It is cliché because it is so simply and completely true. 

The diametrically opposed possibility is something with which humanity has more recent experience, an elite parasitizing a slave-based economy (wage-slave based serves the same function and only modifies some of the technicalities of economic design).  We have the “intellectual” arguments around this possibility, from Locke, Hume, Marx, Rand, Hayek, Galbraith and many others, and only arguments of this form are allowed to be considered for our present troubles.   The organization and manipulation of power in a Mad world structure, where all things increase at increasing rates and Reality is denied as a founding principle, cannot sustain, but can produce a great amount of bizarre, conflicting opinion. 

Ultimately, it is a question of whether the great depth of our Madness will carry us into a final conflict with biophysical reality – a madman flaying at imaginary demons while being tormented by a disinterested reality to which he is blind – or will we come again into the wind and the rain, into the seasons, cycles and other realities of earthly existence? 

My sensible reason answers that the Madness will dominate the final days of this iteration of my species, that over the next 30 to 80 years we will cling to the most misguided and defeating self-referenced notions of reality until an enraged environment indiscriminately smites the living world – and we will still behave badly even in the ruins of our world. 

But my capacity of imagination and wonder believes, in the way that the consciousness order designs impossible ‘possibilities,’ that we can come to see the madness and demand its retreat; the way that smokers now have to hide next to the dumpster in the back of the building.  We will no longer hear that we respect wealth and see its virtues, but that we respect the real “self-sufficiency” of community life, and not the pathological individualism of the sociopath.  We will no longer praise as progress the life denying objects that separate us from the work of directly sustaining, and therefore participating in and truly understanding, our lives.  We will no longer raise to adulation those who are willing to do the most harm to all things, but condemn their actions and require that they be part of the sanity of sustaining their own existence with their own efforts.  We will no longer accept a machinery of societal, economic and political control that claims superiority of idea, power and personal omniscience, but see such claims as self-servingly insane. 

Just as it is “impossible’ to comprehend how billions of people could be intentionally killed to sustain the present Madness, it is impossible to see how we might come to see the Madness with increasing clarity; and in seeing it find and act on ways to reject it.  But ultimately we will end up doing one or the other.

1 comment:

Michael Dawson said...

"the pathological individualism of the sociopath"

Nice phrase!