Approaches to the Problem of Civilisation

This essay relies and builds upon the metaphysical world view discussed elsewhere and it is closely related to the essays:

The First Cambrian Explosion or the Global Cellular Meta-System Transition,
The Second Cambrian Explosion or the Global Human Meta-System Transition,
Global Awakening the future of consciousness,
Analysis of Regimes and Resistance A Consultation with the Great Sage (I Ching),
Descent into Chaos an allegory for modern times,
Comments on my Experiences Regarding Authoritarianism


In the context of the standard one dimensional political spectrum, many of my ideas may seem to be rather left-wing and there is a reason for this. In one respect the left and right political agendas may be characterised by their approach to freedom and the contexts within which this freedom is sought. In this respect the right-wing agenda seeks to construct a societal regime that maximises freedom in the context of an economic system that is a high level capitalist idiom that has arisen out of the lower level idiom of humanity. The left-wing agenda seeks to construct a societal regime that maximises freedom in the context of human activity and general well-being which is a lower level idiom that is implicit in humanity and is therefore closer to the ground of being than the capitalist regime is. The extreme left seeks the freedom and well-being of all beings and is therefore even closer to the source. The left focuses on the welfare of the informal structure of society, whilst the right focuses on the welfare of the formal structure of society.

The ultimate truth lies with the ground of being, all higher level idioms take this underlying truth and weave it into fictions which extend that truth. If these fictions are coherent and assimilate harmoniously into the wider context they gradually become higher level realities; such as matter, stars, planets, biology, mind, culture and so on. The left-wing agenda seeks to consolidate our idiomatic foundation as a society and the right-wing agenda seeks to create higher level idioms out of society. As one seeks the deepest truths that underlie reality one must delve down toward the ground of being and the lower level idioms will be seen to be closer to the ultimate truth. That is not to say that high level idioms have no validity or utility but if they are to be harmonious in the wider context they must recognise and be extensions of the underlying truths and not be in conflict with them.

Therefore any analysis toward the ultimate truths will tend to be more left-wing than right wing, since they are excavating into the foundations; (see the discussion on Deep Rectification for more details). So the lower levels seem more left-wing and the higher levels seem more right-wing but in general these definitions are not very metaphysically useful concepts, but they do illustrate the fact that in order to construct higher levels one must exert creative control, favour some more than others and allow the old to decay into non-being and this will seem to be right-wing from some perspectives, whilst to consolidate ones foundations one must utilise understanding, inclusiveness and nurturing which will seem left-wing from some perspectives.

Both approaches are important and both have potential drawbacks. By consolidating our foundations we ensure our long term existence and we may create by developing a richer internal structure or state space. This is culture and art, pure science, religion and other pursuits that lead to greater internal complexity and harmony for society, and new ways of experiencing, comprehending and interacting with our world. There is however the risk of stagnation and settling into long term ruts where the world around one evolves but ones own society remains behind and thereby falls into conflict with the wider context.

By reaching out toward higher level idioms woven out of ourselves we create by developing a richer external structure or configuration space. This is seen in developing new forms of organisation, new concepts of labour and commerce, new technologies that change the world in which we live, new forms of governance and new ways of acting in the world. In this way we use ourselves and our world as the idiomatic basis set with which we create a higher level idiom and thereby change ourselves and our world in the process. There is however the risk of undermining our foundations, destroying aspects of the world upon which we depend, altering the very nature of ourselves in ways that are irreversible and may be detrimental and of generally jeopardising our long term existence.

An example of the first approach is Australian Aboriginal culture which invested very little effort or ingenuity into the development of new technologies for externally controlling and manipulating themselves and their world. Instead they harmonised with their context, developing a rich culture that is deeply complex and subtle, and a stable societal structure that persisted for tens of thousands of years until its invasion by the British. Their spiritual connection with their world is profound, mystical and personal; their way of life was balanced and harmonious with their context; their society was mostly peaceful without any violent tensions, revolutions or the need for extensive propaganda or suppression of the populace. The land remained in a mostly stable and sustainable state once they had assimilated into the land, learning some lessons from early extinctions, and the land had adapted to their presence. Their knowledge of the land in all respects was profound, for example, with the use of song lines they could traverse the entire length of the vast continent of Australia knowing exactly where they were, the legends and cultures of that region and where to find food and water, with only the use of song. However by failing to create beyond themselves with technology and social evolution they remained in an outwardly primitive state and became backward in regards to the breaking wave of creativity that is the overall progression of human civilisation. Although they were stable and sustainable in regards to the land they were not outwardly creative enough to prevent themselves from being overrun by invading foreigners and so in the wider context they were not stable enough. But their culture is still very much alive in spite of widespread genocide and cultural imperialism, and the example of their approach to civilised existence is a valuable lesson for the world at large.

An example of the latter approach is European or Western culture in general but this has culminated in U.S. culture that is an extreme form of the European culture that gave rise to it, and it is at present an epicentre of Western culture. It is constantly changing, innovating and reaching out toward the new at almost any cost; it is a source of profound innovation and new technologies which have transformed the world in countless ways. Its entrepreneurial spirit is legendary; it takes risks and makes things happen in the world; always seeking out the newer, bigger, better, brighter; always reaching out toward the future with science, technology, science fiction and the bulk of its culture, resources and ingenuity. However in only a few centuries its land has become degraded; its resources depleted; its societal fabric is disintegrating from neglect and exploitation; with violence, dissent and authoritarian suppression becoming the norm; its wider international relations are breaking down with conflict, fragile strategic alliances and militarism becoming the main discourse with the world at large and much of its foundation is crumbling whilst it desperately reaches toward the next higher level of technological mastery over nature including military dominance over the world; it erroneously thinks that then it can do without its old foundation. Its culture is in a state of decay; the overall education of its young and the care of its people is primitive; the content of its cultural discourse is generally stereotypical, propagandist and primarily serves to reinforces its overall agenda; its pursuit of science is geared primarily toward the pursuit of technological control and dominance of the external world without deep understanding of or respect for the world, and its mass religion is generally lacking any deep mystical foundation or connection with Truth and is primarily focused on blind faith and belief in shallow superstitions and dogmas.

Neither of the above two examples are extreme cases, the Aboriginal civilisation engaged in conflicts and technological manipulations of its world and the U.S. civilisation and Western civilisation in general is a profound source of art, literature, spiritual wisdom, fundamental science and ecological awareness. Neither is entirely one or the other, and indeed all civilisations are a complex mixture of both, but in a broad analysis each is a good example of two types of approaches to civilised existence in the world and each exhibits the various benefits and dangers of the two approaches. The Aboriginal civilisation lasted harmoniously for tens of thousands of years but it stagnated in terms of external creative evolution and was nearly annihilated by surrounding civilisations, whilst the U.S. civilisation and Western civilisation in general has created a global regime that has united much of humanity and has been a great flowering of human potential in regards to human rights, science, spiritual growth and so on but it has also engendered massive conflict, suffering and suppression throughout modern history and is in the process of creating a social and ecological catastrophe on a global scale.

The first approach seeks harmony with truth and a deepening relationship with that truth via the growth of a complex and subtle culture, the second approach seeks power, control and to create new truths; it gives free reign to its desires, it transforms itself and reaches out to create that which it imagines. But if it does not understand or respect its foundation then that which it desires may ultimately be in conflict with the underlying truth. For continued long term evolution a combination of both of these approaches is required; to retain a strong and firm foundation and a complex and subtle culture but also to create and innovate beyond ourselves in ways that reach out toward higher level creations both within and without.

The modern world understands the second approach very well but we have a great deal to learn from the ancient cultures of the world if we are to ever live as part of the world and not simply use it as a stage upon which to act out ill conceived agendas. We as a species have learnt many lessons throughout civilisation, both ancient and modern. If we do not close our minds to them we may benefit from them and thereby navigate our way along the razors edge that leads to our future.

Related Discussions:
The First Cambrian Explosion or the Global Cellular Meta-System Transition,
The Second Cambrian Explosion or the Global Human Meta-System Transition,
Global Awakening the future of consciousness,
Analysis of Regimes and Resistance A Consultation with the Great Sage (I Ching),
Descent into Chaos an allegory for modern times,
Comments on my Experiences Regarding Authoritarianism,

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