2004/12/09

On Post modernism (3)

Our world has entered a chaotic period of disorder resulting from the re-balancing of the economic forces around the world. But there is hope, for as science and the Chinese philosophy of change are showing, out of disorder comes order. The future truly global societal system will be integrating all the population of the world with their civilizational foundations and in the case of China those foundations are fundamentally intact.

Herein lies a radical departure between the present encounter of white men with their peers from afar and past encounters that white men called discoveries. In the present encounter, Chinese, Indian and other people have learned to play by the rules of the white men and they are beating them at their own game through the combined weight of their sheer numbers and the depth of their culture.
During the discoveries non-white men perished at the contact of white men... and the Arab men still have not recovered from their encounter with white men during the crusades. This time around, the "game" of white men is bound for a radical change and the beneficiaries of the encounter will not be the white men any longer but the ones they encounter and there is strong evidence that white men's societies will be shaken to their foundations as well materially as spiritually.

Post-modernism has to integrate this economic and cultural re-balancing act. But I believe that it would be unwise to project here on the paper the outcome of this act as it will occur along this century. We know that in the chaos, humanity will find many opportunities and possibilities and we also know that its future path is not to be determined by rational choices only, randomness, chance and unforseen events will also have their part. There is simply no way that a deterministic projection could be verified by future realities.

In Western societies the present stage of evolution, that one can call late-modernity or others call early post-modernity, is a historical process of merchandization. That seems to be a fact. After industrialization has been generalized, to continue to grow the market needed an internal expansion of demand and to make such an expansion of demand possible, the market was in need of a hegemonic ideology [in a Gramscian sense] in order for such an expansion of demand to become acceptable in the eyes of the populations.

For demand to expand, it was indeed necessary for all individuals to accept purchasing what they until then got free of charge from their daily ways of doing. Early industrialization had already taken from the families the free supply of vegetables from their gardens, eggs from their chickens, sweaters from their needles and so on. This later stage of market expansion was about commercializing absolutely everything: water, music, thinking and soon perhaps air to breathe. I'll come back on the ideology that permitted this jump in total consumerism in the next chapter, suffice here to remember that ideology has been actively pursued as a means to expand the market internally.

But this has not been the only strategy put at work under the logic of capital. Free trade was the other leg used to try to increase global demand and free trade has been over-successful those last 20 years in the sense that it unleashed an unforeseen dynamic of geographic re-balancing of economic power that, I think, is leading the whole world into chaos. Pain is felt in the South as well as in the North and gigantic restructuring efforts are already under way but one should be aware of the fact that the coming future restructurings will go far, far deeper. It will not be a question of political vision of how societies should evolve, it will be the world awakening to the principle of reality, awakening to changes that have already taken roots. I firmly believe indeed that changes are already taking place faster than our ideas can adapt to and the distance between the reality of changes and our capacity to perceive them is bound to continue to grow. This indicates the depth of the chaos that has been unleashed.

I believe that this expanding post-modernist shock is bound to surpass in importance the European Renaissance in Western history.
It will lead, I sense, to the emergence of a truly modern worldview shared this time by the world in its entirety.

It seems evident that such a new worldview can only emerge from a long process of interactions between new scientific evidence and past wisdom from all over the world and that such a unifying worldview will not be an end in itself, it will indeed permanently evolve at the rhythm of our new discoveries. Let's be absolutely clear here, humanity never will reach the end of the process of scientific understanding, there is no way for us, cosmic dust, to encompass infinity or what appears at our level as such. In this sense our scientific discoveries are bound to be endless and thus also the evolution of the "coloring" of our worldview. Let me explain what I mean by the coloring of our worldview. Our worldview is a question of culture, of philosophy rather than a question of science. Our civilizational founding blocks have to be readjusted at the light of our scientific knowings and in this process, traditional wisdom will reemerge as enlightening, In contrast with science, wisdom in the traditional or philosophical sense is all encompassing and thus gives us appeasement that brings peace of mind and acceptance of what is. Science for its part is focused on the understanding of parts which is an endless affair as we have seen. Thus we are bound to face new scientific discoveries ad-perpetuum or at least until we disappear which inevitably will happen without this impeaching the world and the cosmos to further evolve without us. Science can't bring us an all encompassing view or understanding, it only helps us shape images of the parts of the all encompassing and as such it colors our world view.

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