Chapter 4. About societal governance and societal evolution
4.6. Twenty determinant 'individual-society' interrelations (Part 3)
The graph that follows illustrates the dynamic that forms the reality of species. Each living species has two polarities: societies (positive) and individuals (negative). The interactions or the play between these polarities is what creates the reality of species.
As stated in "4.4. 25 interrelations between individuals & society": "Each of the 5 'individual necessities' interacts with each of the 5 'pillars of societal houses' generating a set of 25 feedback loops. These 25 feedback-loops are what gives its substance to the 'individual/society polarity-play'.
This 'individual/society polarity-play' covers the entire gamut of all possible individual as well as all possible societal plays. It is in the analysis of its 25 interactions and feedback loops that one finds the answers to the 'why' and 'how' of such and such actions and behaviors and also the eventual remedies to correct what is unwanted among them. In other words these 25 interactions and feedback loops offer an analytical framework to analyze and to understand the working of societies and how to operate them the most efficiently."
Here follows a graph illustrating these 25 interactions.
The horizontal arrows represent the polarity-plays of the cycle of life and have been analyzed in “4.5. Five polarity-plays between individuals & society”.
The other 20 arrows represent 20 determinant interrelations between the 5 pillars of societal houses and the 5 necessities of individual life.
4.6.14. Societal coexistence – Individual for change
Societal coexistence is a necessary principle for any country that wants to enhance the peace with its neighbors while change, as we have seen in “4.6.10. Societal cohesion – Individual for change”, is a necessity only when societal cohesion is low even when it appears to be carrying the risk of destabilization. But change appears as a downright threat to societies when societal cohesion is high for the good reason that the individuals carrying the message of change have only one way forward and that is to weaken societal cohesion in order to create a space for their message which the societal order will then try to repress.
Societies that are experiencing change have to channel it on sustainable paths to avoid falling into chaos. This is so much more necessary because the path from chaos to order is a very lengthy and demanding process that sucks a country's resources and leaves it potentially in a very weak position versus its neighbors. Such a weakness is a direct invitation for the competitors to take their chances. In the game of competition nations can indeed only understanding such a weakness as an encouragement to foster further damage through propaganda, disinformation, and internal weakening within the borders of the other side. Western countries became specialized in the application of such techniques in order to subjugate the rest of the world and they are still actively applying them to this very day.
The Israelis were among the fastest learners of these Western techniques and they soon gained the upper hand in their conflict with their Palestinian and Arab neighbors. But gaining the upper hand in a conflict is not exactly the same as ending a conflict victoriously; that upper hand can indeed eventually transform into a one way street without any escape. This is exactly what happened to the Israeli who have discovered to their dismay that they are trapped in an impasse because their policies toward societal coexistence with their neighbors have finally proven to strengthen Palestinian societal cohesion. And the strengthening of Palestinian societal cohesion was the direct cause of their increasing rates of natality that is so rapidly pushing up the levels of their population. So a refusal to acquiesce to their rivals' demands to set up their own state has finally set in motion a chain of causality that transforms an absolute Israeli military advantage into an existential impasse.
Israel has ended up fencing its small territory with a high concrete wall that conveys to the mind of the observer the idea that the country has transformed into a gilded prison while its coexistence policies are seen as being directly responsible for the utter destitution of the Palestinian citizens who live on the other side of that wall. That image, of a gilded prison with destitution on the periphery, has been painting danger signals in the minds of outside observers who gradually start to reject Israeli absolutism while siding with the beaten Palestinian under dog.
While the International community is watching in horror, how the Israeli are setting the terms of their context into concrete, the misery that is being generated by such a badly managed societal coexistence with its neighbors is starting to tire Israeli citizens of the opprobrium of the whole world and one day this will motivate them to force change. In the meantime past bad choices in term of societal coexistence are now starting to backfire and will haunt the Israeli nation along the coming decades.
The example of Israel illustrates how societal coexistence can foster individual urges for changes from the inside of society as well as from the outside that will eventually one day force a change in the terms of that society's coexistence with its neighbors.
Another particularly interesting case pitting societal coexistence with the urge felt by individual for changes concerns the relation between the US and the EU countries.
- On one side we have a form of coexistence between the institutions of both sides that is shaped by the balance of power given by US military strength. What I mean to say by this is that the political decision makers of the United States, under the Obama administration, have openly coerced their European Union counterparts to fall in line under the threat of their military might. That threat was not necessarily a direct threat but this we will never know for sure. In any case a direct threat was not really necessary since it is always possible to foster conditions that will manifest as being a threat that only the US military might appears able to protect from. The Ukrainian crisis falls in that category and it manifested as a unique opportunity for the US leadership to coerce the EU leadership to follow its lead in sanctionning Russia. For the US this was like catching two birds with one net:
- the US leadership pushed the EU to fall in line on the question of sanctions against Russia even if this meant causing losses for EU economic actors. Seen from the rest of the world the disregard of the European elite for such losses and the accompanying popular discontent strengthened so much more the perception of US dominance and of EU vassalization.
- the conflict between the West and Russia that started with Ukraine expanded in intensity and is continually being stoked by the US so that an increasing estrangement takes place between the EU and Russia. The US views such an estrangement as a last straw that could eventually break the back of the camel of possible expansion of the Eurasian market from Lisbon to Vladivostok that President Putin had proposed to the Europeans by the end of the first decade of the 21st century and that the Chinese try to push through by financing their Silk routes infrastructure plan. The geo-political importance of Eurasia is contained in the following figures: 36.2% of the Earth's total land mass, 71% of the planet's population, and 75% of the world's resources. Zbignew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Advisor, observed the following about the Eurasia land mass: “Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power. A power that dominates 'Eurasia' would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over 'Eurasia' would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in 'Eurasia', and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. 'Eurasia' accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (1)
So we come to understand how Eurasia is finally going to shape the future of the world. The perspective of such a set up renders the US nervous. It feels indeed that it has no choice but to insert itself in the Eurasia dynamic because as Brzezinski observes “A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over 'Eurasia' would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent”. This assessment is like an alarm signal that goes off. A rise of Eurasia, in the eyes of the US, means indeed that it ends up being stuck on the margin of the economy world which would be like having been checkmated.
- On the other side we assist at a growing European popular discontent with the economic consequences of a US stoked conflict with Russia. That discontent pitches the European people not only against their own elites but also against the entanglement of EU policies to US interests. The result of this discontent is rapidly strengthening the hand of new populist parties and could possibly bring them to power in a slew of countries in the near term future. France is such a country and if its presidency were to fall in the hands of the "Front National" not only could the whole European construct be broken down eventually by forcing a gradual return of powers to its participating nations; it could also threaten the alliance between Europe and the US by opening the specter of an Eurasian market unification under Chinese leadership which would signal the fall of the US to the margins of the new economy world. This is indeed the great fear of US geo-strategists and so US foreign policies are nearly exclusively about destabilizing such a possibility by sowing chaos at the heart of the Eurasian territory (Ukraine, Syria, Irak, Iran, Caucasus, Afghanistan, Xinjiang, Tibet, North-Korea, South China Sea,... ). But there is a general feel in Europe that the entanglement of EU policies to US interests is coming at the end of its route and that European nations are making themselves ready to make business deals with China and Russia.
So on one side we have a union of the elites in anti Russia policies that blocks the path forward to the creation of an Eurasian market and on the other side we have populist movements that threaten to bring down non democratic European Union institutions as well as its Western Alliance with the US. In one word the EU elites, manipulated by the US elites, are tearing apart the bonds between their countries and Russia while the individuals feel a growing urge to repair these bonds.
In both of these cases, Israel-Palestine and Western Europe-Russia, the elites have fostered anti coexistence policies that shape conflictual conditions which are directly responsible for economic mayhem punishing their citizens. And in both cases we observe a growing individual urge for change that could possibly conclude by toppling the elites that foster such anti-societal coexistence policies.
In both of these cases the dynamic starts with the elites fostering anti-coexistence policies with their neighbors. But are there examples where it is the individual urge for change that starts a dynamic of changing coexistence policies which are then eventually implemented later on by the elites? I have been trying to find such examples but have not succeeded to locate a single one; now this is no proof that no such examples exist at all. But if the dynamic of conflictual coexistence policies were to be observed having always been the fact of the elite then we would have to conclude that conflicts between neighbors is an exclusivity of power societies which would be an incredible find indeed.
4.6.15. Societal coexistence – Individual satisfaction of needs
Anthropological studies suggest that on the whole tribal societies were very peaceful and if conflict arose it was as a result of penuries of food generally due to weather conditions. Tribes that did not succeed to harvest sufficient food had only one alternative and that was to cross the border of the territory of another tribe and steal its resources. Such an act was seen as crossing the line of the acceptable for the invaded neighboring tribe and the recourse to force was thus inevitable. So from the earliest days of societies the satisfaction of individual objective needs resulted sporadically in societal conflicts that put to the test societal coexistence and that same principle has been observed to disturb societal coexistence along the whole time span of human history. But such conflicts over resources must have been rare occurrences in tribal societies for as Pierre Clastres explained these societies had "planned economies of abundance" (2) which ensured reserves were available at all time to cover the needs of the tribes during 3 seasons.
The nature of one society's relationships with its neighbors undoubtedly impacts the satisfaction by its individual atoms of their daily needs. A harmonious relationship will invariably lead to trade exchanges between neighbors of their production surpluses or of specialized services and such trade, eventually over long distances, has been documented since early tribal times. Trade offers the citizens of societies an increased income and a wider variety of goods at a lower cost, if this were not the case trade would have no reason to take place in the first place. Now imagine two societies that bear a grudge against each other. Such societies will keep their distances and avoid contacts and trade; if trade occurs at all its volume will remain low. A conflictual relation results in a decrease in the volume of trade and by reducing the offer of available goods to the citizens such a conflictual relation takes away a potential source of income and also decreases the offer of available goods making it thus so much more difficult for them to satisfy their daily needs.
4.6.16. Societal coexistence – Increased individual consciousness
Inter-species relations are, as a rule of thumb, based on the coexistence between the different species while intra-species relations are based on the coexistence between their societies. This general principle applies for all living species on earth at the exception of the human species that, as far as we can see down in history, has always been a threat for the other species. In Late-Modernity humanity has become so successful at threatening other species that it put in motion the process of a 6th mass-extinction that scientists say takes place at a lot faster speed than anything that has been observed in the geologic traces of the 5 preceding mass-extinctions.
The fact that relations within a species are based on the coexistence between their societies implies that:
- or societal evolution passes through the evolution of the shared societal worldview. This means that the individuals have attained the consciousness that their society has to entertain 'live and let live' relationship with their neighbors:
- In tribes this kind of consciousness was shared among the men of knowledge or shaman and the deliberation of the practical modalities of societal coexistence took place between them during their retreats from their fellow tribesmen. The socialization between shaman and their fellow tribesmen was indeed limited to their encounters while delivering their services or during the tribe's feasts and ceremonies. The communication between a shaman and his fellow tribesmen was necessarily limited due to his specialization in knowledge formation and acquisition. It should thus not come as a surprise that shaman regularly retreated from their tribal community to assemble with their colleagues from neighboring tribes. And these retreats soon appeared to be the ideal occasion to deliberate about the practical modalities of the coexistence between their tribes. Being opportunities to commune with same minded individuals and friends shaman would necessarily want to perpetuate these retreats without any interruptions and so they had a strong personal interest to keep the status quo and to keep the peace between their tribes.
- In power societies the consciousness of the relationship with the neighborhood was the reserved domain of the men of power who were the only ones to decide on matters of peace or war. I stated as conclusion of “4.6.14. Societal coexistence – Individual for change” that “If the dynamic of conflictual coexistence policies were to be observed having always been the fact of the elite then we would have to conclude that conflicts between neighbors is an exclusivity of power societies which would be an incredible find indeed”. In power societies the relationship with the neighborhood was always the reserved domain of the men of power while, as we just saw, in tribal non-power societies it was in the shaman's personal interest to keep the peace between tribes. All this indicates that there is nothing exceptional in the fact that conflicts between societies are nearly exclusive to power societies. The men of power were indeed the ones who decided how the relations with neighboring societies evolved and having no special incentives to prefer peace, as did the shaman, they often engaged in wars with their neighbors…
- or societal evolution is being transmitted through biological evolution. In this case, which is the case of ants, bees and other species, their society bio-chemically manipulates the brains of its citizens and as a result its citizens entertain instinctual 'live and let live' relationships with the citizens of its neighboring societies. The coexistence between societies, whose evolution is biologically fostered, is based on the orders the brains of their citizens are transmitting to their minds. Consciousness in this particular model of evolution only applies to the formal execution of the individual instinct. In other words if the instinct of the worker ant is to work assembling food for the community the consciousness of the individual aunt worker would let him pick which leave it wants to crunch as well as handling to its best judgment the trajectory it takes to carry the leave material back to the colony.
I just have been developing the idea that societal evolution may take different routes:
- or societal evolution and behaviors can be fostered as a result of the evolution of culture
- or societal evolution and behaviors can be fostered as a result of the evolution of biology
This idea that societal evolution can take different routes does not mean that one of these routes is superior, or more advanced, than the other. It simply means that nature offers different evolutionary paths, each path being better adapted to given contextual configurations, so that species can chose the path that best answers the needs they encounter. And the consciousness of the individuals adapt to the particular societal scaffolding built by the different societal evolutionary routes by assuming different roles in different places.
As humans sharing the values imposed on us by Modernity we may think, for example, that bees and aunts have no freedom because the role they play in their societies is being imposed on them by biology. But are we so sure that we are the creators of our cultural evolution? Or is cultural evolution perhaps a path that is out of our conscious control? I personally posit that to this very day we do not understand how cultural evolution operates. The difference between a worldview and daily culture appears nearly nowhere in the literature. But how could we understand how a meme that arises in daily culture eventually results in a mutation inside our worldview?
The only logical conclusion I can find for our ignorance, about how a meme that arises in daily culture eventually results in a mutation inside our worldview, is that:
- we are not behaving as free individuals in our daily culture. We are sheep following trends and fashions and have no control what so ever over the evolving path of daily culture.
- the fact that the concept “worldview”, or “foundational narrative” (Jean-Francois Lyotard), is being a near universal unknown unknown is proof enough that the freedom we so much like to talk about is an illusion.
One of the central thesis that runs all along “From Modernity to After-Modernity” is summarized in the introduction of this part 2 about theoretical considerations: “...the sharing of grand narratives has totally collapsed in Late-Modernity and in consequence societies are un-gluing and starting to fragment to the point of having nearly reached today the stage of full societal atomization. This is when the individual atom considers she or he detains the truth about everything which is also when societies are seen starting to collapse”.
That's human freedom at work!
I think that humans need urgently to make some place for humility in their minds. It should be clear by now that the societal model adopted by humanity is not really working so well indeed. How could we otherwise retain such a casual attitude observing the atomization of our societies on their way to collapse?
The interrelation between “societal coexistence – increased individual consciousness” has the merit to show us that Modernity has blinded humanity to systemic reality and forced on us an ideologically distorted vision. But by opening our minds to that reality we come to appreciate that it is power that was the original trap. Modernity was merely a new link in a chain that had been initiated by “power societies” and reinforced under “Christianity forced individualism”. That chain formed the ideal background, a fertile dirt indeed, in which individualism prospered and in this particular context the crusades and further European “discoveries” were the seeds out of which the reason of capital finally sprouted and uncorked the bottle that contained the evil genie of individualism. We should consider the knowledge of that chain of event as our greatest opportunity to rediscover that the evolution of a shared societal worldview is a mechanism of societal evolution that can be as potent as biological evolution.
4.6.17. Systemic reality – Individual reproduction
These two parameters are objective quantities and as such they don't tolerate any deviations. What I mean to say is that one can't simply turn around systemic reality hoping to cancel out its effects and the same goes for individual reproduction; if the individual does not reproduce his gene-pool is being lost, if all individuals don't reproduce the society collapses, and if all individuals in all human societies don't reproduce the human species becomes extinct.
Both parameters are also directly impacting the other. Systemic reality contains the principle of what is possible and of what is not possible in the given context of the individual. In other words sets that are part of vaster sets inherit their properties from these vaster sets and that includes what is possible (what is working) and what is not possible (what is not working) in the context given by the larger set. This means that the larger sets also contain the terms of the principle of life and of individual reproduction; in other words for life to emerge in one set it's working principle must be contained as a possibility in its larger containing sets. This implies that life is not a characteristic that is reserved exclusively to the individuals belonging to living species on earth… Life must be contained as a working principle in the larger sets that contain earth for it to possibly emerge and develop on earth. This then begs the question is the working principle of life contained as a possibility in the whole, in the universe? The answer to this question is a resounding yes for the good reason that, as life on earth is a working principle contained in the sets containing the set earth, these larger sets containing the set earth are themselves inheriting that property from larger sets. In other words all working principles that are possible in whatever set that is a part of the whole universe are the working principles of the whole universe. This means that what is not a working principle of the whole universe can not possibly find an application in one of the sets contained in the universe. What we just saw is that life is a working principle of the universe and as such it can emerge in whatever set that contains the right mixture of conditions for life to emerge (bio-chemistry, energy, ...).
Individual reproduction, in turn, has a direct bearing on systemic reality. No reproduction by one individual means his gene-pool disappears, if most individuals do not reproduce it means that most gene-pools will be lost, and if all individuals do not reproduce it means their society goes extinct and if all societies of that species go extinct it means that the species itself is going extinct. When a species goes extinct the principle of life is still in application in the other species within that particular set. But when all species go extinct that means that the principle of life disappears from that given set which can not be construed otherwise than being a loss, not only for that particular set, but also for its larger sets and ultimately for the whole universe.
We have reached here the understanding of the systemic essence of the universe. The working principle of life is what procures sense and shares meaning in the whole. Take away the principle of life and there is no sense left in the universe and no meaning to be shared between all its parts.
Can a universe without sense be a sensible proposition for an infinitely small particle of that same universe? No this is definitely not a sensible proposition because the very idea of such a proposition renders that infinitely small particle nonsensical. From a set theory perspective a part can't possibly have a property that is not already contained as a working proposition in its containing sets and ultimately in the whole. (3)
Sets are determined by properties and, in the case we are interested in, these properties pertain to life. In this particular case the universal set contains all the properties pertaining to life. While the earth, which is a sub-set of the Universal set, contains the properties pertaining to life on earth which corresponds to some of the properties of life in the universe; but it does not necessarily contain all the properties of life in the universe. Life on other planets, in our galaxy or in other galaxies, may indeed originate from different properties than life on earth. To this very day science has not found traces of life on other planets but this does not prove that it will not find such proofs sometimes in the future. In the meantime the best we can do is to keep an open mind concerning - the existence of life on other planets - as well as the high probability that the properties of life on other planets will vary from the properties of life on earth.
4.6.18. Systemic reality – Individual urge for change
As we have seen in 4.7.17. systemic reality is the absolute reality. On the other side the individual urge for change is relative to the working of the individual's mind and his level of consciousness. In other words the impact of systemic reality is unavoidable while the individual urge for change is a quantity that is negotiable in our minds and consciousness. This implies that systemic reality (absolute reality) will force the individual urge for change (relative quantity) to adopt another path after it passes a threshold of irritability and if the individual urge for change does not execute it ends up being crushed.
Systemic reality is constituted by all the properties of the super-sets that our own sub-set belongs to as well as all the other properties of our universe. In the case that interests us here these properties pertain to life. Whatever the individual urge for change might be forcing scientists to dream about, in term of artificial intelligence and robotics, the fact is that the earth inherited the properties pertaining to life from its super-sets and from the universe. And in that sense it is unrealistic to believe that the individual urge for change could possibly alter the systemic reality of living species.
In other words humans don't have a god-like powers to create their destiny outside of the systemic reality given by the universe and all endeavors that dwell outside of that systemic reality end up in tears. While consciousness evolves and helps us to generate new knowings the fact of the matter remains that these knowings concern no more than parcels of the systemic reality that encompasses life and as such these knowings at best have to be considered as relative knowledge. This is why we are eventually bound to discover later on that the actions, and productions based on such knowings, will be confronted by the universal properties that our consciousness missed in the first place. Now this does not mean that human knowledge has necessarily to be stuck forever in relative approximations of reality.
Animism shows us that it is possible for societies to contain their relative knowledge within the bounds of systemic reality. As I tried to explain in “1.1. non-power societies = tribes & animism. Feedback between the one and its components”: “tribal men of knowledge devised an understanding of reality that was systemic: “Ultimately the whole mechanism of feedback loops unveiled by animism provides sense to the principle of life. It procures a reason for life to have emerged in the first place and why it then expands. Life is indeed the force that powers the feed-back loop between all the parts of the gigantic system composed by the whole and the whole universe and its parts. Life is what projects a path towards consciousness into the minds of the parts of the whole and life is what ultimately gives full consciousness to the whole itself ”.
Animism is an example of worldview that succeeded to contain the relative knowledge of a society within the bounds of systemic reality. But the fact of the matter is that the context of Late-Modernity is ill adapted to a worldview like animism. As I indicated in “Chapter 1. About the formation of human knowledge. How different worldviews affect the context humans live in.”: “...the primary aim of knowledge acquisition under animism is to ensure the continuity of the principle of life while trying to ensure better living conditions to its citizens. The primary aim of scientific knowledge acquisition is to generate profits for its investors and because of this its applications are prone to provoke rupture ”.
Late-Modernity invokes indeed rupture. It is like an “old Modernity” that waits to give over its baton to a “young ‘After-Modernity’ “. Late-Modernity is the era when societies stop sharing the worldview of Modernity because systemic reality is gradually dismantling it and imposing a turning of humanity’s relative understanding of what reality is all about. A new worldview will soon emerge out of the chaos of Late-Modernity. It will be a pragmatic narrative about what is possible in the ensuing order. That is when humanity will find the opportunity to contain the relative knowledge of its societies within the bounds of systemic reality. But are we going to size that opportunity?
As I wrote in “From relative to absolute consciousness”: “...the knowledge generated within the scope of a far remote sub-system of the whole is inevitably relative. In the case of humanity the whole is the universe which generates the absolute knowledge that governs all its sub-ensembles and their parts. But that absolute knowledge remains largely unattainable to the observation of the parts of the sub-systems of the whole. Consciousness is the process of conquering the different unknown strata of that absolute knowledge and the highest stage of consciousness is 'universal consciousness' which gives 'to read the mind and see through the eyes of the universe'.
… We know that the universe as a whole is the ontological ultimate reality or better the all encompassing set that constitutes the absolute reality of all the parts within that set. We know that the universe is growing (expanding) and constantly changing locally to adapt to that growth. Its growth and local changes are not random but resulting from its internal programming. Science succeeds to capture the rules of that programming in their expression as 'fleeting localized moments of the whole'. In other words what science succeeds to capture is the localized expression of the universe's actions resulting from its internal programming but not the programming itself.
… The internal programming of the universe is what gives it life and shapes its consciousness. As an all encompassing living and conscious ensemble the universe is the absolute reality for all its constitutive parts and its knowledge is the absolute knowledge. In that sense absolute knowledge trumps relative knowledge and as a consequence relative knowledge has to submit to the rules of absolute knowledge in order to avoid the collapse of those who put it into practice. The practice of Modernity is a perfect illustration of this idea. It was so successful that it forgot about the principles enunciated by the absolute knowledge derived from the working of the whole and as a consequence it pulls human societies into the great convergence of its numerous side-effects which ends with the collapse of these societies”.
Humanity must always remember that it has to submit, at all time, the Individual urge for change to the systemic reality of the universe. This does not mean that the individual urge for change has no place in societies. It simply means that the individuals and their societies have to make it their first mission to grow their consciousness about the operation of the internal programing of the universe. In other words human freedom resides within the boundaries of the internal programing of the universe. Outside of these boundaries the outcome is certain death of the individuals, their societies, and the human species.
4.6.19. Systemic reality – Individual satisfaction of needs
It follows from the conclusion of 4.6.18 that the possibility to satisfy the needs of the individuals resides also within the boundaries of the internal programing of the universe or systemic reality.
How to realize this is another question that I'll try to develop in 4.7. What I'm trying to do here is to lay-out the general parameters that are shaping the conditions to satisfy these needs:
- satisfying individual objective needs can only happen inside the boundaries of the internal programing of the universe which excludes the possibility to satisfy individual needs outside of the boundaries of systemic reality. This may seem obvious but is nevertheless the cause for so much of the misery observed around the world. The introduction of Gene Modified Organisms in people's daily diet is a contemporary example of the forced satisfaction of individual needs outside of the bounds of the internal programing of the universe. The living organisms, like the plants we eat, resulted from tens of thousands of years of trial and errors that resulted in the mutations that selected for their present genetic make-up. What scientists are doing is forcing mutations to the genetic make-up without waiting for the reactions of these organisms. What that reaction will be we'll eventually know sometime during the next decades. But in the meantime those responsible for the forcing of genetically modified organisms in peoples' diet are subjecting the innocent consumers to the eventual reactions of their biology to the forced mutations of these organisms. Big capital is now introducing secret clauses in International agreements to protect itself from the liabilities attached to the spread of such side-effects in the future. Now as a matter of human decency that is simply inadmissible and should be banned by all political systems. But what is most shocking is that the initiators of such secret clauses, that detach the responsibility of big corporations from their liabilities, are being negotiated into acceptance by Western democracies! What we observe here is the decision makers of Western democracies and the holders of big capital, which owns the majority stakes of the big corporations, shameless plotting to keep the corporations out of reach of justice when the side-effects of their products are finally certified later by scientists… This is a shameless abdication of their humanity by the decision makers of Western democracies and the holders of big capital which brings us to the absolute necessity to impose the principle of prudence at the heart of the political decision making process.
- satisfying individual objective needs can only happen within the context of prudence while adopting and integrating increased complexity in daily life. It is often the case that increased complexity substitutes for existing ways of doing that render citizens dependent on a system that puts value on an exchange of something that earlier had only a usage value. In such a case the complexity reduces the individuals' self sufficiency, and their freedom, while making them captives of a new exchange stream that obliges them to generate an income to pay for such an exchange. This mechanism has been the root cause for the emergence of inequality and its later exacerbation which is also responsible for the helplessness of the majority of citizens in power societies. The introduction of increased complexity is furthermore replacing past ways of doing things that were known to be safe and without side-effects with new ways that are, not only more expansive but are also most of the time, accompanied by side-effects that are only discovered and made public after the citizens have suffered the consequences of these side effects.
- satisfying individual objective needs can only happen within the context of a strong societal cohesion that ensures the necessary communion between the individuals in order to take the necessary societal decisions to the effect of helping all citizens satisfy their objective needs. Extreme levels of inequality are like scars, on the body of a society, that indicate it is severely sick and we all know that severe sickness often drags the sufferer to his grave. So reason suggests that societies should avoid extreme levels of inequality because this weakens their societal cohesion. Societal cohesion is like the immune system of societies. It fosters communion among the citizens and this encourages them to cooperate in treating societal sicknesses. Communion and cooperation among the citizens will automatically bring them to fight the sickness of extreme inequality and force their society to act in solidarity.
- satisfying individual objective needs can only happen within the context of a society's coexistence with its neighbors. Conflicts and wars are siphoning off the resources of societies thus diminishing the potential of its citizens to satisfy their needs.
All this somehow implies first and foremost that the men of knowledge constitute a societal entity that is respected by all, or at least by the great majority of citizens, and secondly this implies that these men of knowledge have a working consciousness about the interrelations between the 25 parameters laid out in 4.5 and 4.6. But this is evidently not the case any longer in most societies and as a consequence:
- a great deal of the world population does not satisfy its objective needs.
- the majority of the world population suffers from what is being seen as a glaring and annoying disparity between the citizens of societies and between societies themselves.
The question I address here is not a dream to ensure a full equality in how the individuals satisfy their needs. From birth we are all different physically, mentally, socially and so on. So inequality is somehow a fact of life. But the principle of belonging to a common society, and the need for that society to be cohesive, forces us to recognize that the differentiation between individuals has to be kept within the limits of what the citizens perceive as being decent and acceptable. Passed these limits of decency the inequality is perceived as being humiliating and it corrodes societal cohesion. To avoid such a corrosion it is necessary that societies somehow harmonize the satisfaction of individual needs so that the remaining inequalities are being accepted by all as the manifestations of given natural conditions.
4.6.20. Systemic reality – Increased individual consciousness
I approached the interrelation between systemic reality and increased individual consciousness in "2.7. Consciousness and systemic reality" and I concluded that "It is often in times of extreme urgency that humanity discovers where it went astray. The interplay between consciousness and systemic reality indicates without any possible doubt that the introduction of increased complexity in our societal systems has to be checked for its ‘absorbability’ by humanity. If for whatever reason humanity can't exercise this precautionary principle our systemic reality will take care of it by sanctioning us. There is no escape route from systemic reality". It may leave us in the illusion for a certain time that we can do this or that but in the end it always comes back to re-balance any excess we may have engendered. Before High-Modernity change was operating at a slower pace and the levels of increased complexity were better manageable so the risks of divorcing consciousness-complexity from systemic reality were less likely. But this did nevertheless not spare societies and most civilizations from the deadly consequences of an imbalance that resulted in their collapse.
So the question that should keep us awake is the following. What kind of mechanism has to be put in place, and at what level, so as to avoid a divorce between "consciousness-complexity" and systemic reality?
It seems to me that the answer lays partially in what I wrote in “2.3.2. Knowledge formation and acquisition of knowledge”:
- knowledge has to submit to the precautionary principle that establishes the necessity of conformity to a series of foundational principles.
- to possibly satisfy this precautionary principle it is an imperative necessity that the different dimensions of knowledge are being integrated."
188.8.131.52. knowledge formation and acquisition
The interplay between consciousness and systemic reality fundamentally relates to how the individuals position themselves inside reality. But we have seen already that the individuals are sheep following the flock and that the flock adopts the knowledge and consciousness transmitted to it by the men of knowledge. This gives our first societal rule: societies need to reserve a special status to the men of knowledge or the sages among them.
But we already saw in “2.2. The vanishing of the men of knowledge” that the men of knowledge disappeared in the level playing field of the market for ideas sometime before High-Modernity, most probably, with the emergence of industrial mass-production and its need to expand the consumer base to all. But as I wrote “As far as the eye can see down the trail of history the men of knowledge have always been in charge of the narrative that constitutes the group's 'worldview' or its shared perception of reality and their authority went always unquestioned ”.
I further indicated that "The passage from the manufacture phase of commercial capitalism to industrial capitalism (end of Early-Modernity to beginning of High-Modernity) sees the rise of philosophic rationalism, science, the mass-market and political demand for representative democracy (one vote per man who has money, then all men and later still all men and women). Sometime and somehow during this transition the role of the men of knowledge fell in disuse.
The differentiation between traditional men of knowledge and intellectuals is central to our comprehension of how knowledge fell from its pedestal to the floor of the market. Science, philosophy and art, ended up being separated each in the corner of their own specialty which explains why Modernity has been so successful in the first place. Science at the service of the reason of capital exploded indeed the production of material goods... thus allowing for a population explosion and the rise of an unconditional belief in the illusion of permanent growth while the environment is finite. In other words modernity fell for an intellectual idiocy!”
Since time immemorial the men of knowledge had cumulated the later functions of science, philosophy, and art. Modernity, and more particularly its industrial and mass-market phase, separated these three different functions:
- science went to the scientists who were financed by capital to discover new methods that would allow them to reduce production costs and thus generate higher profits.
- philosophy went to philosophers. But the fact that they were not generating outcomes that were useful to capital left them penniless. Being centered on money the culture of High-Modernity soon depreciated philosophy and by Late-Modernity the citizens got the perception that philosophy is not about generating knowledge but about slicing words for the pleasure of it.
- the arts had emerged originally as the instruments the tribal men of knowledge used to share their vision of what reality is all about with their fellow tribesmen. When the men of knowledge vanished from the societal scene science went to the scientists, philosophy to the philosophers, and all the while the arts lost the substance on which they had been growing over the last tens of thousands of years. What resulted was confusion. I'll deal extensively with this subject in chapter 5.
The differentiation between traditional men of knowledge and intellectuals and artists is central to our comprehension of knowledge. Knowledge separated in science, philosophy, and the arts. This annihilated its unity and terminated its traditional function which was to act as the worldview shared by all the citizens of a society. This was assuredly the worst that could ever have happened to societies which immediately experienced a decrease in their cohesion. The last stage of decreasing societal cohesion results in societal atomization which unleashes the irremediable disintegration of these same societies. This gives our second societal rule: the men of knowledge have to reunite science, philosophy, and the arts in one narrative that forms the worldview of society shared by all citizens.
“The most important distinction, between different forms of knowledge acquisition, resides in how they help the citizens of their societies handle the production of daily life. It is my contention that those systems of knowledge formation, whose application offer the best outcome in term of generating the most pleasant life for their individual citizens while simultaneously ensuring the highest probability of reproducing their societies over the long haul, are the most pragmatic among any systems of knowledge formation. In that sense pragmatism appears as the optimum form of knowledge. There is no possible equivalence between pragmatism and ideology.”
This gives our third societal rule: knowledge has to be pragmatic. Its function is primary to generate the most pleasant daily life for the individuals.
184.108.40.206. Increased individual consciousness
I wrote the following in “ 1.4.7. Science is not a societal approximation of reality”: “… societal worldviews are the approximation of reality that a society infers from the knowledge its men of knowledge acquire from within the context of their time. This means that the men of knowledge dig for knowledge in the context of their societies and their environment and the knowledge they gain helps them to write the narrative of the best approximation of reality in the particular conditions of that context. Such narratives are then shared by the citizens of their societies. ”
This description of knowledge acquisition has to be confronted with what I wrote in “1.4.4. Knowledge and free will” that I believe gives a strong image of what consciousness is all about and how it evolved into a Late-Modern delusion: “The developmental process of consciousness relies on selflessness in order to discover ever more hidden truths about oneself and about how the reality of the world unfolds. The appearance of the ego on the scene of the mind crushed selflessness and by the same token blocked any possible deepening of the individual's consciousness which means that his knowledge about the working of reality has been irremediably handicapped.”
On one side societies have lost their traditionally shared worldviews while on the other side over centuries of capital accumulation the abstract reason at work within capital has imposed itself as the absolute truth, or golden veal, that all moderns revere. But this has been achieved at the price of the individuals losing:
- their selflessness and growing their ego which irremediably handicapped their “capacity to see” how reality operates
- having lost their “capacity to see” their consciousness wilted and as a result their minds wander without possibility to distinguish any longer between systemic reality and the fog of illusion.
This gives our fourth societal rule: knowledge acquisition is the highest societal ideal. It cultivate selflessness while rejecting the ego as in egoism. Such a societal ideal concludes with the development by the individuals of their consciousness about the hidden truths about themselves and about how the reality of the world unfolds.
220.127.116.11. the individual urge for change
I wrote in “4.5.3. Conservation – change” “that the impact, of the societal urge for conservation on the individual urge for change and its corollary the impact of the individual urge for change on the societal urge for conservation, is one of the major factors shaping the direction and the speed of the process of societal evolution“.
This should be understood in the context of what I wrote here above in “4.6.18. Systemic reality – Individual urge for change”: “As we have seen in 4.7.17. systemic reality is an objective quantity. On the other side the individual urge for change is relative to the working of the individual's mind and his level of consciousness. In other words the impact of systemic reality is unavoidable while the individual urge for change is a quantity that is negotiable in our minds and consciousness. This implies that systemic reality has the power to force the individual urge for change to adopt another path and if it does not execute it could end up being crushed. ”
What I mean to say here is that the direction and the speed of the process of societal evolution have to be contained within systemic reality. In other words the accepted domain where the individual urge for change may operate is limited to the field of systemic reality and in no case is it acceptable for the individual urge for change to operate outside of the field of systemic reality. Ignoring this rule is equivalent to risking the future of one's society which, in Late-Modernity, is nevertheless done with impunity by the corporations owned by big capital.
This gives our fifth societal rule: humanity can in no case derogate to what is feasible or unfeasible in systemic reality and in consequence the principle of societal conservation primes the individual urge for change. This is to be implemented by putting prudence at the core of societal decision making.
I'm well aware that this rule runs counter to present-day practices but reason ultimately concludes that it is a necessity if we want to avoid future societal traps similar to those of the great-convergence of Late-Modernity.
1. Citation from “The grand chessboard: American primacy and its geostrategic imperatives” by Brzezinski, Zbigniew (2006). New York, NY: Basic Books.
2. in “Society against the State” by Pierre Clastres.
3. “The celebrated Löwenheim-Skolem theorem asserts that the definable properties of a given (infinite) structure are identical with those of some of its (comparatively small) parts and with those of other, larger, structures, of which the original constitutes a (small) part. A related result, the reflection principle of set theory (see, e.g., Bell and Machover 1977) asserts that the definable properties of the universe of sets is "reflected" in those of a small part—to wit, a set.” in “Whole and Part in Mathematics” by John L. Bell (free pdf).