It appears that the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last week was part of a larger project called “The Summer of Hate”. The rightists seem pretty cognisant of the this being the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love” (1967), and so even this year has symbolic value as a target — the destruction of all the values that defined the counter-culture and The Summer of Love, ironically by trying to emulate it.
Is there any further evidence of the “Shadow” at work than this choice of theme — “The Summer of Hate”? That broader “statement” about the fellowship of hate, or the solidarity of the haters and the righteousness of hate, hasn’t received as much attention as the “Unite the Right” event itself, an event that makes the term “Right” now virtually synonymous with “Hate”, and a belief that hate is more powerful than love or compassion.
When I was an undergraduate, one of my professors (and later my supervisor) steered me in the direction of propaganda analysis. He had been a resistance fighter in Belgium during the Second World War and had been mightily impressed by the power of propaganda to mobilise the energies of the nations for collective mass suicide. Having lived through that period, he came to see the propaganda weapon as the chief danger and threat to the realisation of any kind of human or humane social order.
So, I dived right into the question of propaganda with a sense of mission, both here in Canada and in Germany, where I eventually went to continue my studies and most especially to research the social legacy of the Nazi propaganda system in terms of its current impacts on the German language.
Most dystopian literature depicts a future society in which humanity has ceased to be effectively creative. “Expect poison from the standing water”, as Blake put it in one of his Proverbs of Hell in his The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Another one of Blake’s very wise Proverbs of Hell, related to this, is especially poignant today: “The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind”. Indeed, “reptiles of the mind” is pretty much an accurate description of contemporary man’s state of mind, as we witness it daily — the irruption of the so-called “Lizard Brain” (which is probably what the alt-right’s adopted mascot “Pepe the Frog” signifies — the Lizard Brain associated with the Shadow). You may take these proverbs about the standing water as even the essential problem of the “point-of-view” consciousness structure now functioning, in Gebser’s terms, in “deficient mode”.
This effectively gives us another way of understanding Gebser’s distinction between the “effective” and “deficient” modes of a consciousness structure or civilisational type. Effective means creative; deficient means destructive. “Effective” means “generative”; deficient means “degenerative” or decadent. The one is associated with “Genesis” and the other with the Nihil, or Ens and Non-Ens.
Stephen Marche has a pretty significant article on “survivalism” and “America’s midlife crisis” in today’s Guardian. At least, I think it’s a pretty significant article. Marche puts the question there whether “America [is] falling apart for real this time?”, and as part of his attempt to try to come up with an answer to that question he attended a recent “prepper and survivalist summit” in Bowling Green, which he evidently believes, pars pro toto, served as a microcosm for the more general mood and state of America (although I would add, too, not just America).
Ultimately, I think he doesn’t resolve the question. But the comparison America’s current plight to “midlife crisis” — that America is in suspense somewhere between its beginning and its ending — does remind of the dynamic of enantiodromia, — reversal at the extremity, or a coincidentia oppositorum (which is pretty much the meaning of a “midlife crisis”). And if you interpret “midlife crisis” as a descriptive metaphor for the dynamics of enantiodromia, it becomes pretty significant indeed. As befits enantiodromia, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at it.
A few moments ago, I posted a quotation from the artist Maurice Grosser’s The Painter’s Eye to the comments section of the previous post on Holonic Awareness. The quote is excerpted from Edward T. Hall’s The Hidden Dimension, which is also a book I highly recommend to students of Jean Gebser’s cultural philosophy. I found the quote so deeply meaningful, significant, and revealing in relation to what Gebser calls “the mental-rational” or “perspectival” consciousness structure that I have decided to comment on it at even greater length than could be done in a short comment.
The passage appears on pages 77 and 78 or Hall’s The Hidden Dimension. Here, Grosser is describing the proper distance — not just physical but psychological — for the proper visual rendering and representation of a subject or model in perspective space, just as the Renaissance artists would have approached the problem.
I had never heard of James McGill Buchanan until I read, in today’s Guardian, a review by George Monbiot of Duke University historian Nancy MacLean’s recently published book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. I have yet to read and assess MacLean’s research and argument, but I wouldn’t be really surprised at the revelation of a “stealth plan” for, and prospects of, “totalitarian capitalism”. That was already the conclusion of political scientist Sheldon Wolin in Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and The Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Nor are Maclean or Wolin the first to express fears about totalitarian capitalism, only the most recent. There is also Jane Mayer’s related investigation into Dark Money. Totalitarian Capitalism has been anticipated in any case by other names such as “corporatocracy”, “plutocracy”, or “techno-fascism”. This has been a growing threat.
How likely an outcome and endgame is it? I would say very likely. It would be the logical culmination of Jean Gebser’s anticipated breakdown and collapse of the mental-rational/perspectival consciousness structure barring some unanticipated intervention and disruption of this dynamic.
Or, The Real Problem with “Post-Historic Man”.