Terrorism And Globalism
“America First!” “Britain First!” “France First!” “Poland First!” “Hungary First!” and on it goes. Or is it “Earth First!“?
Is it not strange that all these ethno-nationalist movements that claim to be against the “special interests” or “vested interests” nonetheless rationalise and justify themselves as a special interest group and claim that national (or religious) self-interest supersedes that of the Earth as a whole? Aren’t we, here, touching upon the essential Double-Think it much current discourse and illogic? The claim to be against “identity politics” while espousing the primacy of their own identity politics. They claim to be against “political correctness” while espousing their own ethno-nationalist dogmas. They claim to be against the “special interests” while espousing the primacy of their own self-interest. It’s no wonder that the contemporary public discourse is riddled with self-contradiction: what I have called our “four riders of the apocalypse” as Double-Think, Double-Talk, Double-Standard, and Double-Bind.
All forms of terrorism presently are reactionary ultra-conservative, whether of the neo-fascist or the Islamicist variety. The fine distinctions made between right-wing terrorism and Islamicist terrorism (where the former is allowed “root causes” while the latter is not permitted “root causes”) are just the extreme expressions of reductionism and fundamentalism, respectively, and are, in those terms, scarcely distinguishable from one another. Altogether contemporary terrorism is a single phenomenon with the same goal — an attack on globalism and on “the Global Soul”.
Globalism is the target of all forms of terrorism, and is what is being repudiated in the ethno-nationalist surge — the prospects of an authentic planetary civilisation. The Norwegian neo-fascist terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, even extended an invitation to Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda to work together to prevent this and to bring about chaos. They now have friends in Trump and Bannon and the cabinet. Why do you think ISIS loves Donald Trump?
All the national supremacists and exceptionalists — the Me or We Firsters — are eventually going to come into conflict with each other over their self-interest without strong multilateralism, just as a century ago a terrorist incident in Sarajevo in the absence of strong internationalism or multilateralism sparked a World War. Note this well: “the sins of the fathers will be visited down to the third and fourth generations”, and it is the fourth generation since the Great War of 1914 -1918. Our present situation is, in some ways, very similar. It resembles the opening sentence of Jennifer Welsch’s new book The Return of History:
“History repeats itself because no one was listening the first time“.
This is true. Rosenstock-Huessy has even made it the foundation of his social philosophy and method — audi ne moriamur! or “Listen, lest we die!”
Pardon my language, but we have been so fucking obsessed with our “Free Speech” rights to the point of narcissistic obsession that we’ve completely forgotten about listening. The failure to actually and really listen might even be a synonym for narcissism (in fact, it is a symptom of narcissism. Jesus made a pointed distinction between merely hearing and listening: “those with ears to hear let them hear”). There is a certain degree of self-forgetting that is involved in the art of listening, of truly paying attention. And if anything, in this era of punditry and of “talking heads” and of the culture of narcissism, it is this real failure and breakdown of listening that makes for a “post-conscious” condition and for “post-historical man”.
The cure is not more effective perspectivity. There’s a deficit of listening moreso than of perspective. In fact, you might say that the whole culture has an “attention deficit disorder”. But that’s just another way of saying “post-conscious”.
Real listening — really paying attention — involves a certain degree of selflessness as well as empathy, which is exactly what “identity politics” of all kinds refuses to do, ie, enter into a state of selflessness. Speaking AND listening are the alternating current that forms “the life-blood of society”, as Rosenstock-Huessy put it. Both have broken down and this portends a social and global catastrophe in the making.
Gebser’s anticipated “aperspectival-arational” consciousness is very much about a shift from the eye to the ear as the chief organ of perception and understanding. And this is very much implicated also in Rosenstock-Huessy’s formula for new science — audi, ne moriamur — “listen, and we will survive” or “listen, lest we die”.
We know we have a problem with speaking and listening today — “the echo chamber” effect that is very much implicated in today’s social chaos and that points to that condition of “isolation” of which Gebser wrote, and so of fracture, fragmentation, and disintegration.
In every infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear
It’s not so much “speech” that needs liberating, then. It’s listening that needs liberating from “the mind-forg’d manacles”.