Fascism, Racism, Neo-Paganism, and Alt-Right, II
One of the pillars of the Modern Age and of Enlightenment, and therefore of the mental-rational consciousness structure, is the principle of universality. It is this core principle that has decayed into a mere sense of uniformity and unipolarity, along with a debased understanding of equality as being equivalence, which is an aspect of the deficient mode of the rational consciousness. This decay of the universal is bound up with the post-modern “end of the Grand Narrative” and has also become a focus of attack by the extreme Right.
Fascism is, essentially, an attack on the principle of universality — whether this is in terms of gender, race, or human rights, and so on, and consequently on science as well, since the notion of “universal laws” applicable everywhere and at all times is very much connected with our general ideals and values of universality. So, on the one hand, you have this decayed understanding of universality as unipolarity and the “one best way” (which informs much of neo-liberal orthodoxy) while on the other hand you have this attack on the very principle of universality, and I suppose the temptation is to fall on one side or the other, which is fairly typical of dualistic thinking. But both are symptoms of decay.
Post-modernism also challenges the idea of universality, and this decay of universality is very much tied up with issues of “chaotic transition”. Throw identity politics into the mix and you have a perfect “witches’ cauldron” of fragmentation, fermentation, and turmoil. It should be apparent that our conviction that there are “universal laws” and corresponding universal rights, principles, and values are very much conjoined issues through the medium of “Universal Reason”.
So, you have these two extremes of a neo-liberalism where “universal” has come to mean uniform, unipolar, and “the one best way” (that is, Thatcher’s “There is No Alternative” and Fukuyama’s “end of history” triumphalism) and is therefore decayed universality, while on the other hand you have this extreme reactionary attack on the whole idea of universality, along with everything in between these two extremes, in various degrees of narcissism, racism, sexism, nativism, identity politics and so on.
They are both manifestations of the dysfunctionality of the mental-rational consciousness, the disintegration of “Universal Reason”, and both are manifestations of post-modernity.
Here is where the act of “retrieval”, as Charles Taylor calls it, takes on great significance. For it is no longer a question of saving or preserving the idea of universality and Universal Reason from these debasements, degradations, and onslaughts, but of performing a “revaluation of values”, as Nietzsche would put it. The principle of universality must be retrieved and revalued as integrity or integrality. Universal Reason must become Integral Consciousness.
Recognising that the dynamics of neo-liberalism are decadence, just as much as the reactionary assault on neo-liberalism is also decadence, should keep us from identifying with either, and therefore of being drawn into the maelstrom of the negative manifestations of the deficiency of the mental-rational in the throes of its dissolution.
Is this not precisely the problem that many people have with the Trump versus Clinton political contest in the US presently? The choice only between the Dreadful and the Dreary? This contest is of great interest because it does represent the contest of the two deficient aspects of the Modern Era in its dualistic mode of consciousness, and a lot of people are having trouble with the “lesser of two evils” argument, too. So, as much as Hermetic Philosophy must be retrieved from the Renaissance, so must the principle of universality be retrieved from Enlightenment, or the post-Enlightenment. Liberal democracy was itself based on the principle, the value, the ideal of universality, so its fate is very much connected with what happens to this core value.
We can acknowledge that there are indeed “species of consciousness”. We can hardly understand Jean Gebser’s cultural philosophy without acknowledging this diversity — the archaic, magical, mythical, and mental. This doesn’t at all preclude the realisation of an authentic universality as integrality.
In a very ironic sense, we can even thank Ms. Thatcher for her declaration of the death of society, and Mr. Fukuyama too for his end of history, which are two aspects of the same thing. “There is no such thing as society” also made it possible to re-imagine society differently, and Fukuyama’s “end of history” freed us to re-imagine history differently, so that we were really no longer bearers of its baggage or caught up in the trap of history. We are now free to re-imagine both society and history as re-visioning — the irony being, of course, that this is not what they intended. The greater irony of the conservative Fukuyama was that his “end of history” and the post-modern “end of the Grand Narrative” were precisely the same thing.
“What is now prov’d was once only imagined.” – Blake.