Human Rights and “Inverted Totalitarianism”

Let me conclude the previous post on the breakdown of the dialectic with some additional paradoxes and consequences particularly as they pertain to “inverted totalitarianism”.

Orwell’s “Newspeak”, in 1984, is very clearly a case where thesis and antithesis come to mean one and the same thing: “Freedom is Slavery”, “War is Peace”, “Ignorance is Strength”, and so on. Ironically, there is a latent kernel of a paradoxical truth in this that is, nonetheless, opaque to the perspectivist consciousness, and again even here it needs to be born in mind that “only a hair separates the false from the true”. Newspeak would be totally ineffective if it was transparently all lie. It’s deceptive power and its duplicity lies precisely in its “truthiness” quality.

It’s precisely “beyond good and evil” where the coincidence of opposites finds it place, as represented in Newspeak. “Nirvana and samsara are the same; Nirvana and samsara are not the same” bears the same apparently self-contradictory structure as Orwell’s slogans. As it is said, “Satan is but the ape of God”, and for that reason also, in the Book of Revelation, the Anti-Christ is mistaken for the Christ. Only the integral consciousness can penetrate this apparent conundrum and paradox with insight and undo the Gordian Knot it represents for logic.

But we aren’t there yet, and for the time being it matters that we distinguish and discern between the good and the evil, and not as dualisms nor as Manichaean equivalences or symmetries, but as polarities.  Only the archaic consciousness is both “before good and evil” and “beyond good and evil”, and we are not there yet.

Now, with that caveat I want to address how it is possible for inverted totalitarianism to reconcile itself with “human rights” without apparently standing in direct contradiction with the regime of human rights. It’s a simple matter of redefining the meaning of “human” (rebranding) or leaving “human” so intentionally vague as to have no discernible meaning. It is very possible, for example, to insist on “human rights” while all the while excluding from that civil and political rights and freedoms. And, to a large measure, this is precisely what “inverted totalitarianism” does.

It does it be redefining the meaning of “human” as exclusively an economic agent, in terms of producer and consumer, and subtracts from that the meaning “citizen” as a human being with civil and political rights. Human and citizen are, in those terms, “same but different”, as it were. And free market fundamentalism is “fundamentalist” because it reduces the meaning of “human” to exclusively economic agencies or technical means that require management — taken under tutelage and instilled with “branded behaviours”.

Under those conditions of tutelage (the corporatocracy) “humanism” (and “liberal humanism”) can assume far different and even contrary meanings than it had in the times of Erasmus, yet with very few people even realising that those meanings have become deteriorated and inverted over time, and so today “humanitarianism” has even come to rationalise and justify the most brutal atrocities in the name of making the world safe for free market fundamentalism.

In truth, “human” remains something indeterminate, undefined, mysterious, and unknown to itself, and should resist any and all attempts at definition and a fixed exactitude. The closing of the modern mind is largely owing to the fact that everyone is damned sure they know exactly what “human” means. But to be human is a paradox, and we will always escape definition because a large part of us belongs to the infinite and is immeasurable and irreducible. We are the “Eternity in the hour”, as Blake puts it. A paradox.



21 responses to “Human Rights and “Inverted Totalitarianism””

  1. Andrew says :

    My quest for physical survival under their neoliberal economic model in B.C. has left me physically exhausted this weekend so I have some time to engage here ….
    When I was kid on the streets on a certain substance I had a very strange experience. This street actor named Joker ran up to me and told me that Jesus is Satan! For some reason this sent shockwaves through my whole system; at the time I didn’t understand it as I hadn’t formed any coherent thoughts on the nature of reality, or religion …Years later when I did a stand in the evangelical movement my inner radar called b.s. to the narrative of good and evil that they espouse . I spend a fair amount of my time online arguing points with fundamentalists and apologists ….

    Your sixth and seventh paragraphs describe the situation succinctly and accurately:) I suspect, though, that this is not a random evolutionary occurrence ; but rather a highly sophisticated aspect of a greater amnesia matrix…..

    • Scott Preston says :

      The Joker who told you Jesus was Satan was probably not far wrong. Blake also held that the Jesus of orthodox Christianity was actually Satan

      “THE VISION OF CHRIST that thou dost see
      Is my vision’s greatest enemy.”

      • Andrew says :

        Thanks for the link! I’ve of course heard of Blake but also see a kindred spirit with my own experiences . The downside to this is that the ‘archons of the apocalypse’ have had centuries to form strategies dealing with these/we types .
        It was the Christian classical liberals who put those children up those chimneys as it is the Christian Zionists today who embrace neo-fascism . This statement is not an endorsement of any other religion, sorry Islam, and all the rest of you:(
        Love your blog, though!

      • mikemackd says :

        I wonder if we should make a distinction here between Jesuses, or rather, concepts thereof: the ones of the gospels, of the epistles, and the faux one of the Constantinians concealing themselves under the name of Jesus, but really the very same kind of imperialists that Jesus was crucified for opposing.

        The one of the Sermon on the Mount, the one who got himself crucified for opposing the above: there was a real Son of Man/Son of God. A real man, not like the macho poseur imperialists flaunting themselves as such, but thereby of, as Blake might say, the Deceiver.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          A distinction between [concepts of] Jesus

          That would be an excellent start in ferreting out the different views Christians have of him, but there are far more concepts of Jesus than can be found in biblical literature, denominations and even religions.

          there was a real Son of Man/Son of God

          I’m going to tread as lightly as possible here. I know that one of the basic tenets of Christianity is that Jesus was the one and only “son of Man and son of God” and, while that’s a perfectly acceptable concept for some, I believe the intention of that phrasing is to impart to the reader that there is more than one. These phrases are capitalized in biblical literature so as to encompass the whole of humanity. As that is my understanding, when a Muslim says, “Jesus was [one of] the greatest of the prophets, but not the one and only son of God,” I agree and, of course, extend that rather patriarchal view to “daughters” as well. That doesn’t make me Muslim, of course. It’s just a point of agreement.

          Am I wrong? I’ll never hear the end of it that I am, but if I’m wrong, I’d rather be wrong than right.

          Everyone’s spiritual experience is different and far too involved for anyone else to grasp it in its entirety, but to this point, just a little background…. At the college I attended, two prerequisites in (Christian) religion were required for graduation. One of the professors I wound up with was a Southern Baptist who, despite the stereotypical image many people have of that particular branch, asked the wholly unexpected of us in our course on the Gospel Parallels: keep a journal of what Jesus’ teachings in those four books say to you. I approached that assignment by rejecting everything I’d ever been taught (actually, I’d already done that), with no prejudice or expectations, and was frankly amazed at what I heard. (So was my Professor.)

          Just for the record: I’m not considered acceptable in any spiritual community anywhere because my own spirituality is as free of concepts as is humanly possible. So, one can take my comments on the subject of “Son of Man/ Son of God” with a grain of salt, if desired. It’s just an example of the exceptional variety of experience one will encounter when broaching the subject of Jesus himself. What I wonder is whether Christians and others are likely to agree more often when the subject being broached is the meaning of “Christ,” which — needless to say — was not Jesus’ last name.

          • mikemackd says :

            Dear Infinite Warrior. I agree with your approach freeing your spirituality from conceptual biases as much as is humanly possible. My statement was not meant to be theological, but stating that the accounts we have of Jesus’s stand against what still rules the world makes him a real man in my personal estimation, which can be summed up in those terms used in the bible.

            For a change, I will give poor Mumford a rest on this (although he has lots to say on the subject), but quote Ashley Montague instead:

            “The indifference, callousness and contempt that so many people exhibit toward animals is evil first because it results in great suffering in animals, and second because it results in an incalculably great impoverishment of the human spirit. All education should be directed toward the refinement of the individual’s sensibilities in relation not only to one’s fellow humans everywhere, but to all things whatsoever.

            “In the societies of the Western world compassionate intelligence is encouraged in girls – in boys it is tabu. The tabu on tenderness in which boys are conditioned, the emphasis on “manliness,” “machoism,” plays havoc with the male’s capacity for compassionate intelligence. Tenderness is considered to be feminine, and that is sufficient to remove it from the repertoire of masculine behavior. Indeed, things have reached such a pass in the Western world that many men seem to have lost all understanding of its meaning. The masculine world would substitute for it the idea of “justice.” The difficulty with that is that there is not much compassion in their justice, and justice without compassion is not justice at all.” Ashley Montague

            So I meant that most who are not real men live their lives terrorised by an internalised, socially-installed, tabu on tenderness, and thereby become slaves of that terror. Jesus did not.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              That would be my central criticism of the parched and acerbic commentary of Hedges, et al. There is little (other than feigned) compassion where most commentators are concerned, especially in the realm of politics.

              For some reason, I am reminded of the Krogan female’s words in Mass Effect 3.

              Rivalries are an the invention of the males. Under their rule, Tuchanka has lain in ruins for over a thousand years. It’s time females took our place back in society and resurrected our future.

              Some (and, in fact, most) would take that as a gender-specific statement, e.g. “Oh, poor, pitiful females. So neglected. So underappreciated.” Etc., etc. But, of course, it isn’t. Compassion is not a “female” quality anymore than it is a “male” quality.

              Looking forward to the day when our qualifications are more important to us than our quantifications.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              All education should be directed toward the refinement of the individual’s sensibilities in relation not only to one’s fellow humans everywhere, but to all things whatsoever.

              BTB, I’m one of those crazy people who believes these sensibilities are inherent to our nature. Jesus himself pointed this out to his contemporaries time and again. (Matthew 18:3; Luke 18:16)

              Many communities of faith (and, perhaps, especially Christianity) definitely dropped the ball on this one with a heaping dose of anthropcentricity, but that is something that would appear to be in the process of rectification. See, for example, Season of Creation and Religious Organizations Taking Action on Climate Change. (And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.)

              Better late than never. : )

            • Scott Preston says :

              You can also think of it in these terms. For Rosenstock-Huessy, what we are calling “chaotic transition” amounts to the deconstruction of the Pauline Age of religion, and the onset of the Johannine Age of the spiritual.

              I don’t know how much this thinking influenced Gebser too. But both he and Hannah Arendt were both students in Munich of the theologian Romano Guardini (who is also a favourite of the present Pope). Guardini wrote The End of the Modern World amongst other titles.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Yes. That’s been discussed quite a bit both here and in the pages of TDAB. Someone recently shared a link, which I’m unable to locate atm, unless it was to the encyclical, Pacem in Terris?

              Following on that is Laudato Si.

            • mikemackd says :

              Interesting about Gebser’s tutelage by Guardini: I didn’t know that. I wonder, then, if they saw the Ever-Present Origin as God: the Tao, the Light, and the Truth?

              That would mean that, when Jesus was silent to Pontius Pilate’s question “what is truth?”, he was supplying the answer.

            • Scott Preston says :

              When I first became acquainted with Gebser, I was suspicious that he was simply a disguise for the counter-reformation, particularly his express preference for “the Mediterranean way of life” as opposed to the Northern European (protestant, German, etc) way of life. Also his insistence (in the second half of EPO) on the Christian heritage only reinforced my suspicions.

              I think that was there, until he had his “metanoia” or satori later on with his Asian travels — especially his insight when visiting the site where buddha is said to have had his enlightenment. It was a transformative event for Gebser.

              Until that moment, his “universal way of looking at things” was probably too small-c “catholic” in that sense. In fact, he stated explicitly that it did change him.

        • Andrew says :

          I find myself more and more in the mythicist camp these days. But I would have an idiosyncratic take on that, too, I don’t think Jesus was a literal person; as I don’t think Moses was( there was no literal Exodus nor grand Solomon empire); Abraham; Muhammad; etc….All those traditions have it wrong interpreting these actors literally; there was no Adam in the literal sense ( therefore all the other characters are myth) . I do, however, believe these stories to be true in a metaphorical pointing out sense; that these stories are pointing to some type of universal spiritual truth, and that Mr. Preston may be pointing to the same things.
          On Israel: the jews have a long tradition in that part of the world and should be able to live there; they just shouldn’t be living there in the way they’ve chosen to live there recently, but Islam would have to change, too, and not persecute them or collect taxes on them as second class citizens- they would all have to treat each other as spiritual equals and abide by The Golden Rule which is premised on not acting out unnecessary exploitation or coercion of other people, life forms, and resources …This is where capitalism has gone horribly wrong ….

          • mikemackd says :

            Yep. Stories are where the money is, and propaganda pumps in power. Usually a powerful narrative trumps truth, so Trump trumps truth by telling the suckers want they want to hear.

            I consider your first paragraph spot on as a point of view, but often (not always) in Popper’s sense as unfalsifiable as the claims of their existence. I also think you are right that stories can point to universal spiritual truths, as stories are vehicles of values. The story of Jesus is one conveying the values of a real man. But they can also point the other way, to these faux real men, the so-called “tough guys”.

        • mikemackd says :

          Scott, having read a bit online about Guardini, Lumbini makes more sense, though the seeds are there …

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      my inner radar called b.s. to the narrative of good and evil that they espouse . I spend a fair amount of my time online arguing points with fundamentalists and apologists

      Gotta love that inner radar.

      The worst of it is….

      [Fundamentalists] enthralled by such thinking…have fused the iconography and symbols of the American state with the iconography and symbols of the Christian religion…. The American flag is given the same sacred value as the Christian cross. The Pledge of Allegiance has the religious power of the Lord’s Prayer…. (We Are All Deplorables, Chris Hedges)

      Needless to say, they’ve also fused the iconography and symbols of Israel with the iconography and symbols of the Jewish religion. Ergo, the state of Israel is, to them, “the heart of God.” (<– Egads.)

      We will not argue or scold them out of their beliefs.

      Erm…well, no. It is possible, however, to dissociate the fused aspects and let nature takes its course. (Something having to do with the transitory and fleeting, e.g. empires and nations, as opposed to the eternal.)

      Still, fundamentalist and reductionist aspects of our societies are small, but exceedingly vocal minorities are they not? “81% of Evangelicals”, after all, amounts to roughly 15-25% of “the vote” and interfaith, interdisciplinary movements and dialogues have taken the West by storm. That being the case, am I alone in thinking that every “religion” (“secular” and otherwise) has its extremist, fringe elements, but — at heart — are doing just fine?

  2. abdulmonem says :

    Honest hearts are doing fine. The problem starts when the purity is polluted and lies set in, and crooked vision overcomes the imagination,and no longer one distinguishes between the truth sayers and the shysters. it is not a question of religion,it is a question of honesty in front of meaning. I think everyone knows when he is lying. it is intentional lies that hurt. The fault is not in Jesus it is in how we want to understand him. As IW puts it, we do not need to argue or scold the others but say our honest truth and god,the truth take cares of the rest, for those who know the divine force. If truth in not well-established in the heart of the humans, it will be of no value citing it and talk about post-truth or fakery, deception etc etc and trying to find the right path to Truth. It is strange we run from him to him the all encompassing that puts in the human heart that internal urge despite the knowledge that we can not comprehend him, the urge to search, to finally settle either with him or in the lap of the opposite. The greater amnesia is to be unaware of it and never exercise your given will to find him, to remember the bond of your soul. We must not forget the strength of our long memory that can go beyond the collections of our physical existence. There is always the significance and the trivial and the human misplacement of attention which constitute the human trial with its opposite outcomes. It is a personal problem the realm of each one responsibility. It is a question of surrender either here or there.

  3. abdulmonem says :

    In the six line if truth is instead of in.

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