Globalism and Evolving Consciousness

This post should be considered a continuation of the previous post on the Iraq War as global watershed event, and of the comments which I later appended to it. In some ways, it also continues a theme I introduced much earlier in The Parable of the Toothbrush about the naivete and myopia with which people have hurled themselves into the crucible of economic, “free market” globalisation without appreciating, or being prepared for, the consequences of that decision.

That naivete can be attributed to “the culture of narcissism” and the human condition of narcissism, which is the ever-recurrent theme of The Chrysalis. If human folly knows no limits, it is because of the narcissistic condition, which seems to be the inevitable fate of creatures which become self-aware and are endowed with self-reflection. Invariably, this “reflection” of the mind, which always suggests a mirror image, comes to be seen as the truth and as being the reality itself, whereas it is merely a reflection and is derived via reflection — that is to say, the self-image.  Ideology becomes confused with consciousness (in actual fact, ideology merely censors awareness and dictates perception). The authentic self becomes eclipsed, denied, or is re-interpreted through the prism of the self-image, as was the case with Narcissus, who eventually perished from his unbreakable fixation on, and fascination with, his self-image (although it must be stated here again that Narcissus was not aware that the image in the reflecting pool was his own, and that this is the issue with what we still call, today, “projection”).

Or, to quote Anais Nin: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” (not much different from Nietzsche’s remark, “Fundamentally, we experience only ourselves.”)

The self-image, which is the ego-nature, is also called “the mortal self in time” because it has no permanence, being a thing cobbled together from selected fragments of experience, simple associations, and often very self-contradictory beliefs, beliefs passed on unquestioningly from authorities like parents or society-at-large. It has built its house on shifting sands. All it is, really, is a belief system, and this belief system or construct then becomes confused with the core identity, and as being the seat of the identity. Its very “foundations” are merely untested and unproven (and typically false) assumptions about oneself and the world-at-large, and its uneasiness (malaise or Angst) with and about the world is largely owing to the fact that it senses itself as being ungrounded as well as impermanent form — as transient and temporal process. It has its little “point-of-view” and its little “line-of-thought”, which means it is simply a perspective construct.  It is what I have taken to calling, after Castaneda’s usage, “the foreign installation” or the occupier. Its identity is merely an assigned social role that has become confused with the true individuality — or what is truly indivisible within the human frame and form. This is the true self or “unknown” self.

We can distinguish, even if only for the sake of argument, between a “local self” (the ego-nature with its narrow perspectivising perception) and a “global self”, which is the true individuality or consciousness, and which is “aperspectival” (Jean Gebser’s term, or what Seth calls “multidimensional”, which has the same significance). This way of description between local and global has the merit of not being dualistic. The local and the global are not opposites, since the local is contained within the global matrix and is an aspect of it, or a “node” in the web of world-wide relations resembling Indra’s Net. The relation local-to- global corresponds, of course, to the relation particular-to-the-whole, or the integral.

Indra's Net 2In my former life as a representative of the global ag-food industry, I was struck by the naivete with which most people (mis)understood “globalisation”. The political controversies about “free trade” continue in Canada (as I imagine they do elsewhere), but without real understanding of what “globalisation” implies or means. Most people who supported the neo-liberal agenda of “free market globalisation” and the removal of barriers, fences, and walls to trade (and, of course, the attendant deregulation of corporate behaviour), failed to understand that it is a reciprocal and dialectical process. They imagined they would be selling their goods and services “outwards” from their unchallengeably unchangeable secure little locales and outposts into something bigger “out there” called “the globe” or “the global market” In fact, once the barriers and fences were removed, it was their secure little local outposts of hominess and provincial or national identity that were overwhelmed by the globe, not vice versa.

Suddenly, globalism was in their face, and they didn’t like it one bit. But to embrace market globalisation meant also the globalisation of their own locales and their unchallengeably unchangeable local sovereignties and identities. They wanted globalisation without tears, and without experiencing that conservative’s horror called “cosmopolitanism” — a very unlikely segregation. Marshall McLuhan became famous for his term “The Global Village”, but in the global era, it is every village, or oasis and reservation of quaint national folkways, that submits to be globalised, and that becomes itself, a global crossroads.

This inevitable double-movement in which the “without” would also become the “within” — a single global economic space that ignores distinctions between the global and the local — was not appreciated, nor its consequences understood. Particularly conservatives who embraced and espoused global economic liberalism but simultaneously embraced social conservatism fell into a trap and a dilemma of their own making. Now they have become resentful and even reactionary, but still cling to their self-contradictory “principles” — the conflict between globalisation and local ways and traditions that are now under stress. It makes for that strange duplicitous and self-contradictory rhetoric of contemporary conservatism that bespeaks a loss of integrity — double-think, double-talk, double-standard, and double-bind.

That old saying, “to have one’s cake but to eat it too” is particularly appropriate in this context. So is another old saying that “time makes hypocrites of us all”.

There is also another saying that is particularly appropriate here, and it comes from Nietzsche: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become the monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” If you substitute “global market” for abyss, my meaning is clear.

This is the most perfect expression, too, of the full meaning of “globalisation”. What is being “globalised” is all local spaces and perspectives. Yet the same people who have embraced and supported it from supposed “rational self-interest” and perceptions of personal advantage, also resent it and rage against it equally as a solvent of all local self-determination and local sovereignty.

It’s just another example of that strange tendency of Late Modernity, where the rational pursuit of self-interest has become indistinguishable from the irrational pursuit of self-destruction.

Globalisation, far more than an economic dogma or even coercive military and police action, is the exertion of a constant pressure on local identities, local perspectivism, and even consciousness, a stress or pressure that has become an irritant and a cause of deep resentment everywhere as people are exposed to strangers with their strange customs, strange ideas, strange looks, strange ways. Even as they tear down the fences, they just as quickly try to erect them again in an absurd vaudeville act, or in carousel-like fashion. It’s the karmic law of action and reaction, yet they aren’t willing to take responsibility for, or even recognise, the consequences of what were and are their own decisions.

Al-Qaeda is just as much a reaction to globalisation as much as the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik (at least, Breivik had the sense to recognise that). The fanatic and manic defence of local sovereignties, loyalties, and identities against the dissolving pressures of globalisation, which gives to neo-liberalism and globalism its nihilistic dynamic, or what is now called “creative destruction”. The “global soul” or citizen, who thinks globally but acts locally, has as his shadow and counterpart, the global terrorist, who thinks locally, but acts globally.

Those who recognise this double-movement in globalisation are wont to divide them into distinct formal names: “globalism” for the creative dynamic, “globalisation” for the destructive and nihilistic one. There is some merit in that, although it doesn’t alter the fact that both tendencies belong to what Gebser earlier called “an essential restructuration” of consciousness, and the dissolution of local perspectives (however “narrow-minded” such perspectives may be and are) is part of this essential restructuration. The process is not just an economic one, but also a psychic one. Failure to recognise this is why the process is often uneven, violent, unjust, and hypocritical.

The restructuration of human consciousness and the human form (identity) is never a smooth or even welcome event. It is usually attended with great violence and destruction (as Seth affirms). But this restructuration of human consciousness in the global or planetary era is the other aspect of what we call “globalisation”.


14 responses to “Globalism and Evolving Consciousness”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    It must be kismet. Interesting how these things happen.

    This piece by John Harris in The Guardian, “Protests around the world are keeping the spirit of Occupy alive”, follows a similar argument as here.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    “Al-Qaeda is just as much a reaction to globalisation as much as the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik (at least, Breivik had the sense to recognise that). The fanatic and manic defence of local sovereignties, loyalties, and identities against the dissolving pressures of globalisation, which gives to neo-liberalism and globalism its nihilistic dynamic, or what is now called “creative destruction”. The “global soul” or citizen, who thinks globally but acts locally, has as his shadow and counterpart, the global terrorist, who thinks locally, but acts globally.”

    That’s the most revealing and concise capture of the illusive cause of the events that have dominated the global news for the past 12 years. It’s a lesson our elite never learned from the animal kingdom: to respect the territory of others.

    • LittleBigMan says :

      Not to respect the territory of others and hence we now live with the blowback effects.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    “Globalisation” is (ostensibly, overtly) about the restructuration of economies and markets along neo-liberal lines. That’s the overt rationale, but it’s not even the main effect of globalisation, which is about the dissolution of local identities and perspectives and the restructuration of consciousness. This is the “covert” or embedded process that doesn’t get much, if any, attention at all. Those who promote neo-liberal globalisation are really quite blind about what it is they are actually doing.

    Globalisation is, as one part of its dynamic — the nihilistic part –, a corrosive. It is the process of dissolving perspectivising consciousness or “point-of-view” identity (which I’ve called “local” identity) and which is connected with that “loss of self” that is the theme of much contemporary literature. That “self” was represented, as discussed earlier, by the “cone of vision” or pyramid-shape, which is the shape of modern consciousness, as discussed earlier in “The Globalising Soul” ( ) along with the significance of Modernity’s symbols of that. The pyramid represents perspectivising perception, as even represented in dialectical reason with its three terms — thesis and antithesis (as base) producing a synthesis (as apex).

    “Globalisation” is the sphere, not the pyramid of vision. So these things are in conflict. It would be better if this were made explicit. Globalisation acts, on the one hand, as a solvent upon all local identities/perspectives/traditions, and this is profoundly disturbing to a consciousness structure subjected to these pressures towards dissolution. It produces great anxiety for it is, in a real sense, the pressure of death.

    The other side of this dissolution is a restructuration, and this is the process that lacks guidance by reason because it is not perceived for being what it is — as “an essential restructuration” of that consciousness in the form of “the global soul”. This isn’t understood. You have this twin dynamic (sometimes referred to as “creative destruction”, but without real consciousness of what this means) — the nihilistic and the genetic; a dissolution (of all local perspectivist identity) along with fumbling attempts at a reconstitution of the structure of consciousness. This is what Rosenstock-Huessy attempts to provide a new map or model for with his “cross of reality”, discussed earlier in “Evil and the Integral Consciousness” ( ).

    The solvent effect of globalisation upon perspectivism and local identity is what is experienced as a great evil, as a loss of identity (local, national), and it is an evil because based on wrong premisses. It is pursued blindly, myopically, foolishly and stupidly without illuminated insight into its real meaning, which should be made explicit. As it is, it is all confusion, perplexity, disorienting. The restructuring of human identity and consciousness, which globalisation is implicitly, is not something to be undertaken haphazardly, randomly, arbitrarily, coercively or compulsively. It will not be peaceful process if those submitted to it are not allowed to participate in it of their own free will or to understand this double dynamic. There is, in effect, something of Rumi’s poem “Green Ears” in this process.

    This double-process is the tension presently existing between global “integration” or mere “assimilation”, between “wholism” or mere “totalisation” (uniformisation, homogenisation, standardisation). This is the race of the holistic, the integralist, the ecological against the totalising, assimilationist, quantifying, monological thrust of present globalisation, which are the recidivist values of an already decadent era and age. This situation reflects, in some ways, Seth’s remark about there being “species of consciousness”, and the race is on between the integrationist and the assimilationist (or the integralist versus the totalitarian).

    This is, in another way, the straining of time in two directions simultaneously, for the integralist aims towards an as yet unrealised future (destiny), while the totalitarian or assimilationist seeks out its models in the past — in Empire, which is the fascistic element in globalisation and is represented best in Robert D. Kaplan’s book “Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a New Pagan Ethos”, and Kaplan looks to Imperial Rome for his model — exactly as Mussolini and Hitler — “universal fascism”, as it has been named.

    These two separate dynamics in globalisation are often confused as being one process. They aren’t. They are as different as the revolutionary and the reactionary.

    • Scott Preston says :

      By the way, the nihilistic dynamic in globalisation is precisely what Nietzsche characterised in his definition of nihilism: “All higher values devalue themselves”. In the confusion of the integral with the annexationist or assimilationist; or of the holistic with the totalitarian, or unity with the uniform — those are examples of how noble values are demoted and made ignoble, gold transformed into lead, as it were, by a perverse alchemy.

      • srosesmith says :

        I’ve just caught up on reading your recent posts. From Techno-Corporate on : thank you, Scott! Though the conversation is of the terrifying, it’s a relief to have it put in enlightening context and terms!
        — Sharon

        • Scott Preston says :

          Thanks Sharon. The situation is, as you say “terrifying” in many ways. But being yourself a student of Jean Gebser’s works, that probably doesn’t come as too much of a shock or surprise. I became inoculated against the terrifying (or at least being surprised by it) from reading Nietzsche on nihilism and his forecast for “two centuries of nihilism”, and by the first two or three pages of Gebser’s Ever-Present Origin, which are terrifying enough. Also Seth’s warning about the possibility that the race may not endure —

          So, I may not be immune to the experience of the terrifying completely, but at least I won’t be ambushed by it or having it taking me by surprise and unprepared.

          It’s hard for me, I have to admit, to live in these torn-to-pieces-hood times — that is, to live through the disintegrative, the nihilistic, the destructive trends of the present. I endure it, though, in the hope that in some small way I can contribute with others to helping mitigate the more destructive tendencies by diverting them along more constructive paths and routes. At least, I try. The gates of hell have already been opened, I’m afraid. The issue now (otherwise everything is lost) is to master these destructive forces and steer them towards constructive ends. Not an impossible task.

    • LittleBigMan says :

      “This situation reflects, in some ways, Seth’s remark about there being “species of consciousness”, ”

      Yes, and oh once in a while something happens that holds before me, much to my dismay, that despite how hard I try, my ego-consciousness remains powerful. The only difference between now and, say, two decades ago, is that I am now able to observe my ego in action, whereas before I was completely oblivious to it. If you have seen the most recent seuel of the movie, Iron Man, I can see that my ego works exactly like that…..with different parts of it being assimilated into a whole from the environment. Ego-consciousness truly is an assimilative process. I hate to admit it, but I have a long way to go before I can shed myself of this ego — while I am alive.

      • Scott Preston says :

        The ego is a necessary adjunct to the overall functioning of the psyche. The path is to integrate its role and its functioning into the broader psychic framework, rather than to disavow it. A strong ego is necessary to withstand the shock of the real.

        Here there is a connection with what Castaneda (citing don Juan) calls “controlled folly”. The ego-nature is an act, a doing, a role. It is enacted or performed well or badly. “Controlled folly” is the strategy of a man who knows he is not the ego-nature, but performs the ego-nature.

        This is connected with a passage in Nietzsche’s “The Despisers of the Body” : “Ego,” sayest thou, and art proud of that word. But the greater thing—in which thou art unwilling to believe—is thy body with its big sagacity; it saith not “ego,” but doeth it.”

        The passage from Separate Reality which contains don Juan’s explanation of his practice of controlled folly can be read here, it starts out “My acts are sincere but they are only the acts of an actor because everything I do is controlled folly. Everything I do in regard to myself and my fellow men is folly, because nothing matters.”

        • LittleBigMan says :

          Thank you for the words of wisdom and for the link to the excerpts from “A Separate Reality.” No matter how many times I read the words of don Juan to Carlos Castaneda, they are always so refreshing to me. It reminds me how fortunate I was to have a gap long enough in my life to be able to read all of his 11 books a few years back. Here are a couple of excerpts from the link:

          “a man of knowledge has no honor, no dignity, no family, no name, no country, but only life to be lived, and under these circumstances his only tie to his fellow men is his controlled folly. Thus a man of knowledge endeavors, and sweats, and puffs, and if one looks at him he is just like any ordinary man, except that the folly of his life is under control. Nothing being more important than anything else, a man of knowledge chooses any act, and acts it out as if it matters to him. His controlled folly makes him say that what he does matters and makes him act as if it did, and yet he knows that it doesn’t; so when he fulfills his acts he retreats in peace, and whether his acts were good or bad, or worked or didn’t, is in no way part of his concern.”

          “The world is indeed full of frightening things and we are helpless creatures surrounded by forces that are inexplicable and unbending. The average man, in ignorance, believes that those forces can be explained or changed; he doesn’t really know how to do that, but he expects that the actions of mankind will explain them or change them sooner or later. A sorcerer, on the other hand, does not think of explaining or changing them; instead, he learns to use such forces by redirecting himself and adapting to their direction. That’s his trick.”

  4. LittleBigMan says :

    “I endure it, though, in the hope that in some small way I can contribute with others to helping mitigate the more destructive tendencies by diverting them along more constructive paths and routes.”

    You certainly have succeeded in accomplishing that, Scott, and much much more, of course. I have learned far far more from your analyses and essays than what I picked up in all of my formal education. Your work is divine, insightful, illuminating, and enlightening.

  5. amothman33 says :

    The fallacy of dismantling. The head here, the leg there, the heart over there and the other parts there and there. .How right Blake is ,when errors burn truth appear. Let us wake up! everything is psychic and life is as SETH says value fulfillment. Back to the old prophets. Realizing there is there is instruction from the Above.

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