Leviathan and Urizen

My attempts to frame a reply to David’s comment in the last post is the occasion for clarifying some things about Peter Pogany’s “havoc”, “chaotic transition” and “globalisation”, as I’ve come to understand these issues in relation to Gebser’s “structures of consciousness” and William Blake’s mythology of the Four Zoas (or, for that matter, Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”). I realise many people are not familiar with Gebser, Blake, or Rosenstock-Huessy (or John Ralston Saul) so I’ll try to proceed here in a step-by-step manner, beginning with the “dark underbelly”, or Shadow-side, of the European Enlightenment that went by the name of Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes is notable for his most famous book of political philosophy called Leviathan, which argued for the absolutism of the sovereign power in the absence of which there was only “war of all against all”, which sometimes is referred to as a bleak “Hobbesian world”. Hobbes, in other words, did not believe in the individual’s capacity for authentic “self-government”, but that reason and government should be left in the hands of an absolute sovereign or hegemon.

Even more than Edmund Burke, Hobbes and his concept of “Leviathan” have become a significant influence again on neo-conservativism and neo-liberalism to justify “globalisation” and “neo-imperialism” in terms of the perceived need to construct a “New World Order” in the face of persistent global crisis, “rogue nations”, “failed states”, chaos or “the coming anarchy” (of which the neo-conservative Robert Kaplan wrote) — ie, what Pogany calls “havoc” or “chaotic transition”.

Hobbes’ Leviathan, as the hegemon, is the guarantor of social security and of law & order, and “absolutist” in the sense that Leviathan does not share power. Leviathan is the embodiment of “Reason” or rationality and final authority, meaning, of course, that Leviathan is the mental-rational consciousness structure itself. In that sense, Leviathan is the spitting image of Blake’s Zoa named “Urizen”. Leviathan and Urizen are equivalent, and both are images of Gebser’s mental-rational consciousness structure.

This becomes important in understanding what is meant by “globalisation” currently. It is the attempt of “Urizen” (who is the embodiment of rationality and the mental-rational) to extend his dominion and hegemony universally, and in which he is violently opposed by the other Zoas of the disintegrate human form or dissolute “Adam”, according to Blake’s mythology. The mutual antagonism of the four Zoas plays itself out in human affairs, as Blake was keen to point out. As such, Blake’s mythology of the four Zoas is a precise mapping of the dynamics of globalisation itself, and could easily be read as such. And as such, I will interpret it. In effect, much of the “coming anarchy” and chaos is generated by Urizen himself, as he attempts to supplant and suppress the other Zoas of the fourfold human form.

When John Feffer describes the ideal of globalisation as the construction of a single global market of “rational actors” in “On the Verge of the Great Unraveling“, he is describing Urizen-Levithan as hegemon. This is the same “dictatorship of reason” described by John Ralston Saul in Voltaire’s Bastards. In this, individuals, groups, ideologies, corporations, or nations act or serve only as the unconscious agencies or minions of this particular consciousness structure — the hegemonic power, in effect and in reality.

Blake’s “four Zoas” (Urizen, Urthona, Luvah, and Tharmas and their various avatars and “emanations”) are aspects or facets of consciousness, or the fourfold self, quite in keeping with Jung’s four “psychological types” or functions of consciousness — thinking, sensing, feeling, willing. So, when “globalisation” is defined as the attempt to construct a universal market of rational actors it is, in fact, making a normative, prescriptive and consequently proscriptive claim to hegemony not so much of “the market”, but of the mental-rational consciousness structure itself — Urizen’s usurpation of the human form. This claim to the supremacy and hegemony of the mental-rational consciousness structure is the Leviathan, and is a reflection of the very same kind of warfare that goes on within the human psychic structure and which is the theme of Blake’s warring “four Zoas”.

The so-called “clash of civilisations” is, in effect, a reflection of Blake’s warring “four Zoas” of the disintegrate Adam who have lost remembrance of their primordial unity, reflected in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Recovering the knowledge of their inherent unity is the issue of Gebser’s “integral consciousness”, and which is represented in Blake’s transformed human “Albion”, who is the reintegrate human form.

So this is, then, another way to understand the difference between “globalisation” and “globalism”, and they differ as “point of view” from “overview” differ. “Globalisation” is the attempt of Urizen-as-Leviathan, or the mental-rational consciousness, to become the hegemon — the inner tyrant, as it were — in the human psychic ecology. “Globalism” is the attempt to achieve a true equilibrium or integration of the human psychic ecology in the express form of a “universal history” of the human experience. And to my mind, Blake’s mythology of the four Zoas, their struggles, and final reconciliation in and through the reborn “Albion” is a clear roadmap to that “globalism” that Blake anticipated as a coming “New Age”, which he was confident would emerge from the rubble and ruins of the conflict of the four Zoas.

What we call “real” is a true reflection of the human soul itself. As within, so without. That’s why Blake’s mythology of the Zoas works as an interpretive framework in both domains because there is ultimately no real separation of the “in-here” from the “out-there”, between consciousness and cosmos. Urizen becomes demonic when he loses his connection to origin and his remembrance of the whole, (as do all the Zoas). He becomes “Leviathan”.



4 responses to “Leviathan and Urizen”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    It is a successful attempt. It is the remembrance of the primordial unity. Ibn Arabi said no one can fail to know him in his primordial and original nature. It is what is behind the appearance, once we avoid being besieged and pay devout attention and sincere intention in the the way of disclosure. Abu alhasan albasri an 18 century sufi said I remembered the bond as if I hear it ringing in my ear now. It is a fight against fragmentation and refusal of imprisonment in the single vision. It is to be present with the source and everything that the source manifested.

  2. davidm58 says :

    Interesting that James Howard Kunstler’s latest blog post is entitled “Leviathan” as well.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Thanks. I’m not familiar with Mr Kunstler. Looks like an interesting blog.

      • davidm58 says :

        Kunstler became a popular figure in the “peak oil” community, first for his role as a talking head in the documentary “The End of Suburbia” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3uvzcY2Xug), then for his blog posts, then his book “The Long Emergency.” Urban planning folks know him for his earlier book critiquing suburbia, “The Geography of Nowhere.”

        Not exactly an integral thinker, but his criticisms of contemporary culture are usually worth reading.

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