At the End of the Day

Give any philosophy absolute power, and you take away its sanity. This is the recurring Catch22 that has dogged thinkers about civilisation and society over the last 3000 years.

Giving black people, women, the disabled and Roman Christians an even break were fine and much-needed ideas. But the minute the Establishment allies itself to such things, we get everything from political correctness and feminist catechism to the Spanish Inquisition.

Eventually, it all shelters under the heading of what Jean-Jacques Rousseau described as – with memorable French irony – “forcing people to be free”.

Survey those societies where Islam has been around for a long time with neither collaboration nor condemnation from the State, and you could (until twenty years ago) have found lots of harmless religionists minding their own business. But stick some fundamentalists into the equation, mix that with a revolution where Islam is at the core of the new State….and you get something entirely different.

Precisely the same was true of Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages, English Puritanism three centuries later, and Jihadism in the 21st century. Spanish conquistadores hacked South American unbelievers limb from limb, Cromwell’s armies slaughtered Irish Catholics on an unbelievable scale, and now ISIS burns infidels alive while they celebrate their saviours’s birth in Churches across central Africa.

For myself, I despise organised religion – while admiring the humanity of many of its adherents, and retaining a healthy scepticism about the concept of a random Universe. I do think there is a pattern. I do wonder why geniuses pop up every thousand years or so and suggest better ways to get on with each other.

But the one thing I know for sure is that once power is handed down from prophets to Pharisees (who then politick to get State influence) the whole thing goes horribly wrong.

I don’t believe there is a jot of difference between how religions do this, and how political ideologies go about it.

Communism is a great ideal unwilling to accept human wiring’s telling influence in relation to stockpiling. Small-government Neoliberalism is a sound idea unwilling to accept why stockpiling among Alpha humans turns into the sort of greed that condemns the Betas to penury.

In the Soviet Union, China, the US and Britain, the State sold out to such flawed ideals. The USSR condemned opponents to mental institutions on the grounds of insanity. The UK’s Camerlot government today relegates opposition to the linguistic insanity of being non-violent extremists. In the contemporary United States, anyone suggesting there’s more to life than growth and productivity begets blank stares and patronising analyses. In the EU, the sacrifice of social programmes to shareholder returns is called “reform”.

In such Belief Wars, the first casualty as always is Truth.

Is there such a thing as Truth? I think there is a subject of study called empiricism. It embraces all the sciences, but especially the behaviourally observable sciences such as etymology, social anthropology, archaeology, qualitative market research, neuroscience, sub-atomic physics and football. You’ll just have to go along with me on that last one.

We like to think we have emerged from the Renaissance as rational rejectors of unsubstantiated faith. In reality, the Real remains – for millions of our species across the globe – obfuscated by the repetitive assertion and peer pressure of power-crazed nutters.

A good exercise every day is to lie on the ground, and get back into concert with your primary senses: see that which is Here, listen to that which is Now, and physically feel that which is Here and Now…the smells, tastes, and touches that we normally ignore.

We don’t need any priests and politicians to explain such things. The more you experience the obvious clarity they bring, the less you need anyone with a false God in tow to persuade you that up is down and blue is yellow.

If we all spend more time on what is – and  ignore the temptation to pretend Homo sapiens is a suitable raw material for the fashioning Utopia – we will stop wasting time in the insouciant production of dystopia.

Enjoy the weekend.

Earlier at The Slog: The less than objective Brexit advice of President Obama

13 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. A good exercise every day is to lie on the ground, and get back into concert with your primary senses: see that which is Here, listen to that which is Now, and physically feel that which is Here and Now…the smells, tastes, and touches that we normally ignore.

    Is this not the truth you seek? After all, we all have these senses, it is only a matter of engaging with them. The colours of the sunset cost nothing, even the time taken in watching it is well spent.

    Corporate life is everything that opposes such things and thus corporate life opposes the truth.

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  2. “In the contemporary United States, anyone suggesting there’s more to life than growth and productivity begets blank stares and patronising analyses.”

    Ironically, “growth” and “productivity” in the US are more often a larger faked number, whether retail sales of foreign-made goods, earnings per share, alleged employment gains, or alleged income gains, than any increase in real economic output. “Investment” is usually short-term speculative betting, not long-term capital investment in sectors with some prospect of increased economic activity. Financial manipulation has replaced production, while debt accumulation has replaced saving.

    The American ideal of “Having the Right Stuff” now means accumulating vast quantities of fashionable crap rather than developing desirable qualities of character. Self Storage facilities have proliferated as people accumulated crap (that serves as badges of accomplishment and prosperity), that they don’t use but cannot bring themselves to sell off or discard.

    Perhaps a Self Storage facility sign should be put on the $20 bill instead of Harriet Tubman.

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  3. As an aside, regarding the new $20 dollar bill. President Jackson was the original ‘face’ on the bill and it was he who routed out the bankers and shut down the First Bank of America. This led to the war of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans. They have waited a long time to get even by replacing him with a colored lady.

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  4. I believe in God and I read the Bible and it doesn’t disagree with the conclusions you have reached. Especially the bit about power being handed from prophets to Pharisees. The essential part missing from your analysis though is that there is a final reckoning. The prayers of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18, 10-14 make it clear.

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  5. Luke 18:10-14Contemporary English Version (CEV)

    10 Two men went into the temple to pray.[a] One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.[b] 11 The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed,[c] “God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. 12 I go without eating[d] for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn.”

    13 The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, “God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner.”

    14 Then Jesus said, “When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God . If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.”

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  6. A ‘Day of Reckoning’, that’s a bit like Karma in my book, the belief of both is a very human trait, always looking, hoping for somthing that might come about in the future. It never does because the future never arrives, because it’s always in the future, hence it’s called the ‘future’. Now, is here and now, that’s all there is to it.
    If you want proof Karma doesn’t exist, Tony Blair, G W Bush, P Mandleson Boris Johnson, Ruprt Murdoch, Peirs Morgan,Jeremy Hunt, oh the list is endless…all alive and well not at all worried that something bad might happen to them as a result of the previous bad behaviours.

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  7. “A good exercise every day is to lie on the ground and get back into concert with your primary senses”

    If you want to better reconnect with your inner nature then the best way is to download the reality app. Lying on the ground is unsanitary and risks having your children removed due to setting a bad example of health and safety practices.

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  8. JW your article is philosophical and my ideas are much akin to yours. I was brought up in the Catholic faith by my Irish grandmother who was most fervent and God fearing. I reached a point in life in my early thirtieswhen I questioned the belief and decided to eschew it. My rational told me that I could no longer accept that which was imposed on me by others as being the truth. I endeavour to live life for just the moment, forgetting knowledge of past, {philosophical knowledge] and do not project into the future. I’m no authority ref; philosophy. My own stance regarding beliefs, is that they’re simply man made.

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  9. ” . . . . accept human wiring’s telling influence in relation to stockpiling. ”
    What?
    Imagining a possible future?

    Farmerbraun’s cows never do that.

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  10. “But the one thing I know for sure is that once power is handed down from prophets to Pharisees (who then politick to get State influence) the whole thing goes horribly wrong.

    I don’t believe there is a jot of difference between how religions do this, and how political ideologies go about it.”

    I’ll have a stab at that one. (Ducks in anticipation).

    The perceived power you see the profits holding is different from the power exercised by the Pharisees.

    A profit attains his universal view through finding equanimity in all things of mind & body & action. The perfect position to have a balanced view of the all too real world. The Pharisees miss all the finding the point of persute of the fulcrum of equanimity & merely writes a miss judged auto biography & then in all ignorance & misplaced belief Preaches his version. Having neatly & effectively missed the point he ends up using it in an unknowing form of propaganda, this is quickly adopted & massaged by the state, to maintain & justify wresting power from the individual.

    Bugger this twaddle, I’m just off to live it, too much two dimensional flat world thinking, in the two dimensional world of written language.

    Some things just don’t translate across dimensions. but we do.

    Nos dah. As the drewid said to the to the soon to be burned accountant supplicants… All must eventually balance.

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