The Global Soul, II

There are many articles and essays posted on the Web that address this issue of “globalism versus globalisation”, usually with the former being considered the desirable and the latter judged as undesirable. “Globalisation”, as currently understood, has become identical with the ideology called “neo-liberalism”, and the core belief of neo-liberalism is the belief that the “free market” (or Capitalism) will unify and integrate the world. This very lop-sided belief is typically what is also referred to as “economism“. In that sense, it is perceived as a secular form of fundamentalism or reductionism.

Unfortunately, the term “globalisation” (or planetisation) has become captive of the spin-doctors and perception managers, and for that reason has become contentious. The process of globalisation has some positive content inasmuch as it also describes a process of planetary integration, but its negative polarity is seen in its directly opposite results — dis-integration and fracture. As mentioned, even a champion of neo-liberalism, Amy Chua, has written about this pernicious or perverse effect of globalisation in her book World On Fire.

It is because of this lop-sidedness presently of the process called “globalisation” that it is riddled with self-contradictions, and seems more nihilistic than creative. It is described as a “juggernaut” — after the carriage of the god Jagannatha, “Lord of the Universe”. Jagannath, who is an avatar of the god Vishnu, is a god worshipped by Hindus and neo-liberals, neo-socialists (that is “New Labour” or the Blairites), and neo-conservatives altogther. Blake would probably identify him as his deranged Zoa “Urizen” (who he also calls “Noboddady” or “Jehovah” or “Ancient of Days”). In fact, since Urizen is the ruling Zoa of this age, neo-liberalism, neo-socialism, and neo-conservatism all worship at his altar and under his tent. That is why there is so little to distinguish between them. Politically speaking, it’s the primordial “soup” or “gray goo” all over again. The “neo-” prefix really means nothing more than an attempt by these secular ideologies to come to terms with the convergence and emergence of “One World” since the First World War — a way of ordering this process according to known precedents and paradigms. That model and paradigm is a religion — faith in the “free market”. This is what we call “economism”.

As you know I’m critical of that faith and its logic as being obsolete and antiquated. Some really fine minds have done a masterful job of dissecting the contradictions of this model — David Korten (When Corporations Rule the World), Tom Frank (One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy), William Greider (One World Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism). Naomi Klein (No Logo, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism). All find “globalisation” desirable except in the nearly fanatical way it is currently being implemented, rationalised, and justified. As such, they have had to come up with a term to distinguish themselves from that biased and pernicious approach to “globalisation” without abandoning the positive aspects of the process. Hence the dispute between “globalism versus globalisation”.

I would say that, at root, we are facing really a “spiritual” problem, if we can put it that way. And that problem is the confusion of the meanings of “assimilation” and “integration”. They are used confusedly because they are assumed to be synonyms for each other. In fact, they are diametrically opposite in meaning. “Assimilation” means “to make the same”, and that’s pretty much the intent of what is called “modernisation” or “westernisation”. It’s a term related to metabolism and digestion, hence the notion that “globalisation” is simply another form of imperialism. “Integration” means “to heal” or “to make whole” or “peace-making”.

This confusion of different values (which recalls Nietzsche’s definition of nihilism: “all higher values devalue themselves”) relates to what I consider the ultimate confusion: the tendency to use the terms  “whole” and “total” as synonyms for each other. And I think that right here we come to the gist of the whole current problem, and the main difference between The Mechanical Philosophy and The Holistic Philosophy, as I’ve tried to describe it in previous posts. The “whole” means “healthy” (which is the meaning of the term “integrity” or “integrality”), while “total” is merely a sum and aggregation. In fact, “total” is very likely related to the Germanic word for “dead”, which is “tot“, or “death”, which is “Tod“. That difference explains the reaction to the first English population census, which was referred to as “the Doomsday Book” — this form of measuring by number, summation, aggregation. It seems that earlier, people knew full well the difference between “whole” (the “commonweal” or quality) and “totality” (mere aggregation or quantification). Over time, this difference has become conflated, and this collapse of the higher value into the lower value is what Rene Guenon describes as The Reign of Quantity. And, again, Blake would call that the hegemony of his Zoa “Urizen”. Urizen is alienated reason, and is fully the same as what Jean Gebser calls “the mental-rational structure of consciousness functioning in deficient mode”. Nietzsche simply calls that “nihilism”.

Nietzsche refers to these distinctions of meaning as the difference between “noble” and “ignoble” (or vulgar) values, or the confusion of what is traditionally referred to as the spiritual and the material. The assimilation of the noble into the ignoble, or the conflation of the noble and ignoble, is his understanding of “nihilism” — all higher values devalue themselves. This is the problem we refer to as “reductionism” or “fundamentalism”, or the reduction of the whole to a mere totality, the assimilation of “quality” into “quantity”. There isn’t really much to distinguish rationalist “reductionism” from religious “fundamentalism”. They actually grew up together in the Modern Era like the Gemini twins; or like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Globalisation is fractious because of this root contradiction. That is why the naive faith of the “free marketers” or the “neos” in the unifying power of the market is frustrated by notions and realities about “clash of civilisations” and culture war and of a “world on fire”. It isn’t integrating. It is what I’m calling “ironic reversal” or, otherwise known as perverse outcome, unintended consequence, revenge effect, and so on. These consequences are what the Greeks referred to as “hybris” followed by “Nemesis” or reversal.

Some means had to be found to preserve the value of “the whole” and integral against this pernicious and insidious conflation of the higher value with the lower value. That leads to the distinction between “globalism” and “globalisation”.

Now, because the “nation-state” (which was an invention of the Modern Era and its rage for “systems”) cannot adequately manage globalisation, and is at its wits end trying to navigate this new “space” called “the globe”, it has more or less handed power over to the institution that can navigate in this new space — the transnational corporation a.k.a. the “free market”. This is the process also associated with globalisation and neo-liberalism — “privatisation”, “deregulation” or “pubic-private partnership”. The Corporation has been given a mandate (some might say, has “usurped” powers) to re-organise this new “space and time” called “the globe”. That is the gist of Korten’s complaint in When Corporations Rule The World, and many other books on the subject. It’s the meaning of Thatcher’s notorious TINA principle (“There Is No Alternative”).

This is not a solution, however, but a problem. The transnational corporation has been granted powers to manage and regulate the new transnational space called “the globe”. The earlier League of Nations and its successor The United Nations tried to do this following a quasi-democratic model, but was handicapped by an inadequate logic and understanding for maneouvering in this new environment. In fact, it still doesn’t understand that the essential problem of globalisation is not space but times — the convergence of times and of different traditions and histories rather than national spaces. In some cases, the clumsiness of the very process of globalisation is resulting in the dissolution of nation states — such as the former Yugoslavia or even the Middle East, today (especially in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan).

That’s another aspect of the “globalism” versus “globalisation” debate. The essential problem is seen as the convergence of times rather than the convergence of spaces, which again points to the confusion of values. Integration is not the same as assimilation; the whole is not the same as the totality. Some people are even referring to the new global space as “third space”. That’s just retrograde habit. It’s not about space, principally, but about time, which is also confused with space. Different peoples simply don’t live in the same time-horizons, or what we might call “threads”. This is why Rosenstock-Huessy referred to his integral method as “synchronisation of antagonistic distemporaries”. The modern “perspectivising” consciousness, however, is obsessed with the coordination of spaces and doesn’t grasp the critical and crucial problem as Rosenstock and others perceived it. The problem of globalism isn’t the coordination of spaces principally, but the synchronisation of different times. “Integration” is principally about time and timing. “Assimilation” is principally about space. The apparent inability to switch modes of thinking in this regard is what I’m calling, more broadly, the problem of human “narcissism” (ego-fixity) and of entrenched “perspectivisation”.

Once “synchronisation of antagonistic distemporaries” is understood as the core problem of globalisation, then the process will be corrected without all the turbulence and self-contradiction of the present process we call “neo-liberalism”, whose rationales and protocols I hold to be utterly delusional and demented — Greider’s “manic logic”. That “manic logic” is, once again, what Gebser refers to as the “deficient mode” of reason, or the mental-rational (or logico-mathematical) consciousness structure.

In the next post, we’ll talk about that and the “secret” meaning of the famous American Statue of Liberty, for it also is a symbolisation of a consciousness structure, too — the “modern”, and quite explicitly. It was a gift from France, a gift from the Old World to the New World, a highly meaningful gesture of the Old to the New. That gesture is loaded with ironies, as we will see.




7 responses to “The Global Soul, II”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    LANGUAGE is an extension of the human and when the human gets sick , language gets sick. No wonder all this misuse and abuse. We lie, we call economic decline, negative growth and we call shifting our harm to others externalization. We are living in a world of capsized values. It is the self that need to be addressed not concepts, and events are marching to make the change, integration through some humans is at work. Thanks for the pioneer work.

    • Scott Preston says :

      My notion of the global soul attains its apogee in Rumi. If anyone deserves the honourific “Mahatma” or “Great Soul” it’s Rumi. Consider his poem “I died as a mineral”

      I died as a mineral and became a plant,
      I died as plant and rose to animal,
      I died as animal and I was Man.
      Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
      Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
      With angels blest; but even from angelhood
      I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
      When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
      I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
      Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
      Proclaims in organ tones, ‘To Him we shall return.’

      It’s quite an astonishing poem for a 13th century poet. Not only does it contain a knowledge of evolution, but Rumi senses in that also his intimate kinship with every being around him — mineral, plant, animal, human. And then he even senses his intimate kinship with those things “beyond” him and the these beings too, right up to God — “The Friend”. He looks back, and he sees the route of his passing through this world of Time and Death. And he looks forwards and he sees his destiny. He loves his past and he loves his future. In this poem, Rumi is exercising Rosenstock’s “cross of reality”. He’s actually living it out, and more besides. Really an astonishing poem by a very great soul.

  2. abdulmonem says :

    I can not agree more, god has an internet everything is connected to him and to him we return.

  3. LittleBigMan says :

    “This confusion of different values (which recalls Nietzsche’s definition of nihilism: “all higher values devalue themselves”) relates to what I consider the ultimate confusion: the tendency to use the terms “whole” and “total” as synonyms for each other.”

    Yes, and the place where this confusion takes place is the “workplace.”

    It seems to me that, nowadays, the unfolding center of a developed ego-consciousness, or the “center of voice” has become the workplace, since earlier education leads to it and what happens in the workplace (e.g. the movie “Up in the Air” which you mentioned in the previous essay being a good example) will determine the financial, physical and psychological future of the individual.

    So, this is how globalization has made its onslaught: first by taking ownership of the workplace for a growing number of citizens that migrated to cities, and then by making the workplace the center of existence and aspiration. And oh boy, what a cesspool the workplace has become.

    And every time a young professional has a child or purchases a high value property like land or a house, they make their ties to this cesspool even less escapable.

    When the workplace becomes the center of existence, the individual looses entire view of how truly precious life is. And if that memory is lost, then it isn’t a difficult matter at all that values devalue themselves overnight and en masse.

    One time I was having a conversation with a successful and retiring colleague who is now mostly mentoring new professionals to succeed in a career working for some of the top four accounting corporations in the world. I asked him:

    “So, tell me what your mentees can expect when they begin their work at these corporations.”

    “Well, basically” he said “for the first five years, they’re going to have to put in 17 hour long weekdays – easy – plus work during the weekend.”

    I’m no stranger to work within a corporate environment. But that response from him blew my mind.

    “You’re kidding, right?” I said.

    “No,” he said “And those are the good ones who even get that opportunity.”

    “So, what happens to them? Do they usually put up with it.” I asked.

    “No, a lot of them get burnt out within the first year. But if they do make it through the first five years, they can pretty much right their ticket the rest of the way. Everyone is going to want to chase them.”

    So, unfortunately, that’s how easily the “Global Soul” gets placed on life support.

    • Scott Preston says :

      If you’re interested in the socio-psychology of the contemporary workplace, you might be interested in E.F. Schumacher’s book “Good Work” and Rosenstock-Huessy’s “The Multiformity of Man”. The latter, at least, is available online.

      But I imagine your book list has inflated to an impossible list.

      The corporation, as it presently exists, is a pathological form. You probably saw the documentary “The Corporation”? There are even more reasons than those included in the documentary to consider the corporation a pathogen in the body of society, as it presently exists in any case — legally, as a “person” and as being an “immortal” person. In other words, a “god” by any description. And it’s members are expected to be the god’s devotees and sacrifices on the altar. Not all corporations are so devouring, but it’s almost the nature of the corporation as institution, as a “god”, to be so.

      • Scott Preston says :

        I just checked. Schumacher’s book ‘Good Work’ is also available in pdf online — it’s only 93 pages long.

        • LittleBigMan says :

          Yes, absolutely, I am interested in any source that you believe can be an eye-opener into our current malaise. I have downloaded “Good Work,” and I do have the “The Multiformity of Man” from the links you have provided in the past. Thank you.

          LOL, yes, my list of books to read has indeed become impossibly long – I just checked and it has now 424 books (not including the online PDF files that you have mentioned) on it.

          It’s funny you should mention it, because less then 24 hours ago I was thinking about a strategy that would help me read every item on the list before checking out of this world. If I didn’t work (which includes copious research and writing in its own track), I’m confident I could finish one book per week. With the current list, that would take me a little over 8 years.

          Suppose by the time I retire, this list has ballooned to 900 books. That would mean it would take me a little over 17 years…..let’s say about 20 years……to read every book on the list, even the ones you keep citing as you post more essays.

          So, you are quite right. it would be impossible to finish the list if I waited until retirement. That’s why I concluded that I must finish reading books as I work my way toward retirement.

          To give myself guts and a sense of accomplishment, I have, once again, dusted off one of the skinniest books I have, “The Anti-Christ,” to continue my non-accomplishable mission 🙂

          Some of my colleagues don’t buy books anymore. They “listen” to them on CDs (could this be the return of an auditory structure of consciousness?). But I’d like to read books in hard copy.

          I have watched “The Corporation” twice so far. I believe you had mentioned it moons ago, and that’s when I first watched it. It’s a very informative documentary, and I’m sure I would want to refresh my memory by watching it again in the future.

          The corporation has indeed become “god,” even if people don’t believe it so themselves. Corporations may be relatively new, but the spirit behind them is quite ancient. Mankind has not yet been able to overcome this ancient nemesis. I’m hoping “the age Aquarius” isn’t a myth.

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