Human society has often been destructive towards other societies – but never towards itself. The very idea was unthinkable, why would we want to destroy our selves, which is all we have? The answer is simple: because, as a society, we have become evil, and as inherently moral beings we have no choice but to destroy ourselves. I hope you can see the irony, but also the morality, of our response.
Unfortunately, the first step of this process, by our technology and power obsessed society, was the elimination of the antonymous self, which only seemed to get in the way of new way of life we could not resist. We forgot our selves, the irreplaceable beings that we had started with.
As a result, there was no one left to save us from ourselves – except our primitive moral nature, who promptly set to work destroying everything. Everything, may be putting it a little strongly, unless atomic warfare breaks out – and the long-term prospects for that become more certain all the time.
Writing this posting, I am well aware that I am placing myself outside the limits of what is acceptable discourse. This is not something I relish – but, on the other hand, something that has happened already. In the same way, I am not reporting on something in the process of happening – but something that, in essence, has happened already. The die has been set, and the resulting process is inexorable.
I am reporting from a battlefield after the battle is over. The situation is not impossible for me personally – I still have my Social Security benefits coming in every month, and Amazon is happy to sell me almost anything I want. Still, living in the wreckage of what was once the strongest nation in history, the nation of my youth, I cannot help but suffer from shell-shock.
Consider where we were then. Rationally, we could have said “Wow, lucky us! We can now build a better society, something that mankind has always wanted, one that will be good for us – and indirectly, for the whole world!”
But we could not do this – and launched into the Cold War instead. We simply could not be good to ourselves – why, one can only guess, but evidently we didn’t think we were worth saving. I suspect this was a remanent of our Calvinist heritage, with its belief in total depravity. And an effort to overcome this with a new religion of infinite improvement.
Our succeeding history tends to affirm this – with its compulsive rush into the future. In psychoanalytic terms (Karen Horney) a neurosis of anxiety and hostility. Or, in more contemporary terms, childhood abuse (children too are being destroyed).
I will go into the theory of all this in my next posting Three Ways of Being.