History…Today…And Human Destiny How much can one say in a few words? There are certain historical dates: 1914, 1917, 1939, 1945, 1989—and 2011 looks as if it will be another one—that has been fixed in historical memory. Recorded history, other than the mythical texts that try to explain the reason for the presence of intelligent life in the universe, go back not much more than the 3000 years and the events recorded are best known through the literature of great poetry, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, down to Beckett in our own time.
What comes out of it all are two presences in all nature that give life a monotheist aspect, an instinctive desire for survival, which is necessarily selfish and, once successful becomes greed, protectionist tribalism and ultimately evil, and its opposite, an idealistic instinct that seeks cooperation, social cohesiveness and the growth of civilisation which, while cut short by mortality, is nevertheless a force for good. Of all the great thinkers, Arthur Schopenhauer has come closest has come closest to explaining what lies behind human, and indeed all, existence. He posits a force or a ‘Will’ that makes everything grow and increase, whether it is the grass, a tree or animate life, or whole planetary systems. It is near enough to theological theories of God or a first force to be identified with it, but there is not necessarily any intelligent consciousness involved. The old Eastern religions such as Hinduism are nearer to Schopenhauer than the monotheistic attempts to explain existence, but no total answer is ever likely to be found. What has this all got to go with current history and world events? This may well be a year of more revolutions than 1848 or of horrors greater than those of the 20th century dates given above. As the age of plenty and illusory growth gives way to a return to deprivation, want and destructiveness, the very basic assumptions that started this blog need to be examined to explain the situation and the instincts that underline what is happening. Politicians are not capable of either understanding what is happening or of doing something about it. It is the mass-movement of people-power that will lead us now, either to world revolution, a world war of possible total destruction or perhaps some hope, not for any particularly happy solution, but perhaps to the temporary survival of some form of continuing existence, not for all, but for some. In spite or ignorant fools like Blair and Palin, incompetents like Brown, and Bush evil dictators and hatred-spreaders, power-seekers whether in governments, the press or the financial world, and military adventurers, there are still a few wise and thinking people around, some with outlets in the universities, the press or other publication-media who deserve to be listened to. It is the movement of events that give individuals the courage to demonstrate, speak up and demand rights, freedom or the means of survival. The times are right for change, but not for a return to the selfish world of the last half-century. At best we might have shared and humane austerity, at worst world war, devastation and the end of civilisation, and with it, knowledge, science, the arts and all that can make life just tolerable. All talk of growth, recovery and prosperity is dishonest, illusory and dangerous. The only hope is a reformed society with total regulation, the rationing of what is scarce and needed, and an ending of individualism except where talent and competence can be given a chance to perform, not for individual benefit, but for the commonwealth. This means strict controls, non-tolerance of even minor crime, reasonably equal living standards, controlled by taxation, regulation, rationing and humane cultural attitudes. Unlikely? Yes, but not impossible. John Calder 4/2/2011