Globalisation: More Heat Than Light
The process of globalisation, in the form presently pursued, quite literally generates “more heat than light”. Is that not evidently so? Climate change and globalisation are conjoined. Our present enthusiasts for the economic orthodoxy of global economic growth and the expansion of the realm of production and consumption have somehow managed to ignore the second law of thermodynamics.
Since it is not a question of reversing globalisation, but of transforming it through a “transvaluation of values” to overcome its more destructive tendencies — that is to say, reversing the relationship between heat and light so that it assumes more the character of the latter than the former — we’re obliged to consider how this alchemical process of value transmutation can be effected so that “more light than heat” can be the outcome.
Globalisation, as presently conceived, is about “global economic integration” into a singular world market. That is, different national spaces are expected to coordinate their economies and their social spaces with the universal market and blend into one World Economy — the “universal civilisation of commerce”. “One World, Ready or Not“, as William Greider once put it, as “the manic logic of global capitalism”. A “manic logic” is pretty much the same as a “zombie logic”. And the mania here is largely owing to the fact that the process of globalisation is dominated by spatial thinking. “Integration” is actually only an assimilation of different spaces into one global economic space — the universal market.
It’s of the nature of the mental-rational consciousness structure to be space-dominated, and has been since the Renaissance invention of perspective and the attendant Age of Exploration and Age of Discovery. The ratio of rationality is a perspectivist, triadic, and three-dimensional construct of length, width, and depth which assumes the abstract form of “the dialectic of enlightenment” — thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis. This is the “manic logic” of neo-liberal globalisation that belongs to what cultural philosopher Jean Gebser calls the “deficient mode” of perspectivising consciousness — that it is space-obsessed and space-possessed.
If this now appears as a manic logic, or even a zombie logic, it is because we no longer live inside that three-dimensional cosmos, but now inside a four-dimensional cosmos by the addition of time. The addition of this new factor of time into the spacetime continuum, which is itself an integration, is what allows Jean Gebser, Rosenstock-Huessy, and perhaps William Greider among others to see the essential deficiency now in the mental-rational consciousness structure. Yet time and the meaning of time has become the crucial factor at least since Darwin, Einstein and Picasso, and is also central to any understanding of Jean Gebser’s “structures of consciousness” and civilisational types. Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy are essentially time-thinkers, which is why their work is so often overlooked or appears inaccessible to the manic logic of space-based consciousness.
There are others, of course, but for the present I will restrict my comments here to the work of Jean Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy, since these are the contemporary philosophers of the new integral consciousness whose works I am most familiar with. They are who and what they are because they are pre-eminently time-thinkers, and they have seen the essential problem in a way that the existing consciousness structure, or ethos, has not — that real globalism or globalisation is not about space, but about time, and is not about coordinating different spaces so much as it is about synchronising different times, tempos, traditions, or histories. Gebser’s ideal of a new “universal way of looking at things” by the integration of older consciousness structures with the mental parallels Rosenstock-Huessy’s quest for a “universal history”. Therefore in both the element of time is outstanding, and the problem then is one of synchronisation of times rather than coordination of spaces. In switching from an emphasis on space to an emphasis on time, they have effected this “transvaluation of values” that we are seeking for globalism. Gebser’s “time-freedom” as an aspect of integral consciousness, is a matter of synchronisation of different consciousness structures — the archaic, the magical, the mythical, the mental-rational as civilisational types — as they have manifested in historical time, and as each have their own unique interpretation of time or timelessness. The configuration of time is the essential element in all of them.
Both Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy, although using different approaches, are nonetheless aiming for the same goal — a universal history of the human experience of the Earth, and a way of integrating those histories as consciousness structures into a common consciousness via an “integration”, on the one hand, or a “synchronisation” on the other. These terms, synchronisation and integration, are equivalent in meaning.
For Gebser, the history of the human experience of the Earth is written in the “evolution” of four consciousness structures or “civilisational types” — the archaic consciousness, the magical consciousness, the mythical consciousness, and the mental or mental-rational consciousness. They all remain active within us as aspects of the fourfold human psychic configuration, but in various states of manifestation or latency, or domination or subordination. As such, they conform of Carl Jung’s four “psychological types” or consciousness functions as well, in terms of thinking, willing, feeling, or sensing (or to the four Zoas of William Blake’s disintegrate Adam). Consciousness structures are largely specialisations in one direction of this fourfold configuration, and this accounts for the diversity of the cultures of humankind, with their different historical trajectories and national characters or ethos, and different senses of time and timing. Time is not the least bit like space, in those terms — homogenous and uniform throughout. It is experienced differently by different peoples depending upon the consciousness structure that is active in them. And this is what St. Augustine implies in saying “time is of the soul”. This, also, belongs to time’s relativity. It isn’t just a concept of physics.
It’s in those terms, then, that Rosenstock-Huessy’s urgent quest for a “Universal History” of synchronised histories is the precise counterpart to Gebser’s “integral consciousness structure”. The “Global Soul” is, in effect, the integral consciousness structure of universal history, a consciousness that has effected a synchronisation of all that is before and after, or behind and before, or past and future, in terms of time and knows the whole history of the human race, in and through its various manifestations and metamorphoses, as its own autobiography. This is what Gebser calls “time-freedom” and the basis for his own “universal way of looking at things”.
In effect, then, globalisation for Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy is more about synchronisation/integration of times than it is about the global coordination or assimilation of the spaces called “nations” or “economies”. And without the former, they hold that the latter must ultimately fail and end in a global disaster. And in these terms, with globalisation, what we need presently is more light than heat.
So, I’ll be writing a good deal more about this “transvaluation of values” in terms of the times over spaces in coming weeks.