Mohamed El-Erian has published a piece in today’s Guardian entitled “Retreat from globalisation will destabilise the world economy“. I can’t help but comment on this because it was precisely neo-liberalism that constituted the unstable factor in globalisation and globalism. Neo-liberalism (in which I include neo-conservatism and neo-socialism as well) was an edifice erected upon a foundation of running water. Only the willfully blind could fail to see that it would inevitably implode on its own self-contradictions through a process I’ve frequently described as “ironic reversal”.
The destabilisation of the (neo-liberal) world economy signals the intensification of that “chaotic transition” that is the theme of The Chrysalis. But, at the same time, it might be considered the prelude to a transformation of the existing world economy into a truly planetary economy on a sounder basis than it is presently. Neo-liberal economics was always promiscuous in its disregard for limits.
The chief feature of the fascist dynamic is a process that, in the German historical context, was referred to as Gleichschaltung. Gleichschaltung (pronounced like “glykshaltung”) is a difficult word to translate into English. Literally, it means something akin to “like-switching”, but generally it describes how gears interlock and intermesh, like in the transmission of a car or as the power-train of the automobile (or a factory, for that matter). Gleichschaltung is literally, then, about turning everything into a “cog in the machine”. “Nazification” is often used as a synonym for Gleichschaltung, although that is not very accurate in my opinion. Both terms refer to a process of “totalitarian coordination” of all aspects of society with the State, although, in effect, the State is represented in the will of the Maximum Leader, which was called der Führerprinzip, and the “great personality” in whom the magic and mysticism of all-powerful “will” was made manifest. Hence Leni Riefenstahl’s famous film and Nazi propaganda “masterpiece” called “Triumph of the Will“.
I hope Chris Kutarna, co-author of The Age of Discovery, doesn’t mind my public posting of a private correspondence, but I thought that I would re-post something I wrote to Chris this morning, as a follow-up to our meeting earlier this month. It does, I think, express the central concerns of The Chrysalis in a nutshell.
I found this image below on a website called “The Chicago Philosophy Meetup“, and given all we’ve discussed here in the past about the “pyramid of vision” (perspectivising consciousness) and the triadic structure of modern consciousness (as represented, for example, on The Great Seal of the United States) I found this particular representation striking as an example of “metamorphosis” connected with the act of perception.
Buddhism recognises Three Evils: Greed, Malice (or Ill-Will), and Ignorance. There is quite an abundance of these today. They are the elements of samsaric existence. And against these Three Evils it sets up the Three Gems as refuge from the evils — “I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha”. You can say that the Three Gems are transforms or metamorphoses of the Three Evils, or the Three Evils, optionally, are perversions of the Three Gems. The names, or virtues, “Buddha”, “Dharma”, and “Sangha” are simply surrogate terms for what Jesus also referred to as “The Way, the Truth, and the Life”, or, optionally, the three virtues named “faith, hope, and charity”. These, however, have lost their original meaning over the centuries. But you can also say that “faith, hope, and charity” correspond to the meanings “Buddha”, “Dharma”, and “Sangha”.
I’m back from my two-week travels in Wonderland, and very happy to be home again. Man, is it weird out there! It makes me appreciate the life of a hermit.
But what I want to address today is something that was alluded to in the comments to the earlier post on The Pursuit of Power, particularly in relation to Jean Gebser’s anticipation of a “new mutation” in the consciousness structure of late modern man, such as he attempted to describe it in his book The Ever-Present Origin (and thanks to David for digging up that quotation from the book about “synairesis” as Gebser introduced this term, which I’ve had some time to reflect upon in relation to Nora Bateson’s “symmathesy” and Rosenstock-Huessy’s “metanomics”).
While we are on the subject of the pursuit of power, let’s turn our attention to W.B. Yeats’ famous poem “The Second Coming” and his intriguing image of “the rough beast”. I have read some contemporary interpretations of this “rough beast” (such as the very conservative US judge Robert Bork’s best-selling Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline with its purely self-serving, conservative ideological slant on the “rough beast”), and most of those interpretations get it wrong.