By Badb Catha
The Western world’s love of technology is a Faustian bargain. Trapped within the commercial world, the democratic majority tend only to see the sides of technology that bring material pleasure and instant gratification; a trend that is only accelerating into greater social atomisation with individuals adrift in various virtual worlds. Liberal capitalism and socialism have been condensed into an Anglo-American ‘communitarianism’, which sees man reduced to a consumer of commodities. In the process, modernity’s foundational neurotic need for material satiation is reinforced. The status quo reduces the individual’s life aims to profit, excluding any traditional, holistic good. Our good impulses towards caring for the health of the whole are channelled into ineffectual ’causes’, from donations to sustain the sick and impoverished half a world away, to endless campaigns in the never-ending struggle for equality. Man, for all his technics, is an inadequate animal. The notions of progress, evolution and betterment have been a blind alley into the dead-end of herd morality and egalitarian delusions. ‘Science’ is pulled up as a trump card of atheists and humanistic crusaders alike, invariably to condemn traditional social standards that maintain a semblance of social order, but never in favour of ‘scientific racism’ or to recognise the myriad biochemical realities which account for the many disparities between the sexes. Indeed, the most damaging aspect of the progressive mind is an inability or unwillingness to recognise when reality conflicts with the popular utopian viewpoint or dream. Beneath this staunch denial is the deeply held belief that truth is subject to change (if not entirely subjective), that man and nature are malleable, and that history has and will continue follow a linear trajectory. To them, mankind is being pulled in exactly the right direction, moving quickly towards the land of milk and honey.
In the 21st century, advances in communication and the affordability of travel provide more opportunity for exchange than ever before, yet we live in times of profound isolation and abject loneliness. The more our world shrinks, the more it becomes possible to delude ourselves into believing that reality was created for our indulgences alone. Nature entertains many strange and interesting experiments, and we’re not the only one. The humanistic, human-centric world is hubristically destructive and callous to the environment which sustains us, laying waste to vast amounts of wilderness with industrial waste. With consumption being the default method of individual self(ie)-expression, the consumerist motto is that everyone is equal, everyone is special, and that everyone is entitled to have their wants met. The entertainment industry also immerses us in a world of pleasure, yet we face an unrelenting flip-flop between stagnation and overwhelm. With our imaginations and creative energies quashed beneath a never ending onslaught of media, we run to hollow entertainment as a means of quick and easy escapism. Expansions in the field of medical science have extended the human life span to the greatest of lengths, and yet the West is plagued by obesity, behavioural disorders, mental illness and other pathologies directly linked to modern living. Multiculturalism promises enrichment; the harmonious fellowship between people of all races, religions and creeds, yet it has caused only destruction and ever increasing levels of conflict. As an antidote to our world-weariness, we are then directed toward the empty maxims found within the pages of self-help manuals. Despair not; for the the cult of pleasure has spawned a million insipid platitudes, feel-good mantras, self-esteem campaigns, and tidy sound bites of superficiality dressed up as profundity. “Love thyself and follow thy bliss!”, we’re told. In the end, we settle for what is easy, achievable and instantaneous. Indulgence temporarily wards off the pains of purposelessness, and follow our bliss we do. Wash, rinse, repeat!
While technological development certainly seems to be following a linear path, but the same cannot be said for culture. Denial is a simple and straightforward process, but bitter pills are difficult to swallow. Progressives will refuse to take their medicine, even if that healthy dose of hard facts is sent down with a spoonful of sugar. However, refinement, purpose and meaning can only be born through struggle and conflict. If this truth applies to the individual then it must also, by extension, be applied to the collective. The polar opposite of this traditional viewpoint might well be the contemporary hipster; the fashionista who appropriates the aesthetics of another group that has eked out its existence the hard way, parasitically parading the garments of the other, and then moving on to a new style next season. This is the contrast between an individual of good health by having to compete in a world of resource scarcity, and individuals raised within resource abundance who are not even able to conceptualise group competition as natural, healthy and necessary.
It is the very lack of civilisation which presents the necessary conditions to separate of the wheat from the chaff. A taxing environment brings the the ingenious, the creative, the brave and the prudent to the forefront. It is out of this tundra that men of virtue build civilisation; a world more orderly and harmonious, just and reasonable, capable of elevating man out of his Dionysian soup. But it is in this same order that men of lower quality may multiply and thrive. Egalitarianism is the foundation of both liberal humanism and internationalism, and mediocrity and egalitarianism are natural bedfellows. Post-Enlightenment man is born into a world of liberalism, and those who embrace it unquestioningly embrace its soulless, means-before-ends world of bread and circuses and quantity over quality. Engineered and enforced on an ever increasing scale, this stands in stark contrast with organic cultural exchanges, be they through conquest or collaboration. Globalism is liberalism taken to a logical conclusion, and one of its goals is the destruction of distinction through low-culture uniformity and commerce.
Anyone who observes natural phenomena will be aware that existence is not linear, but composed of cycles. The shift between seasons may strike us as the most obvious and immediate example. As an historically settled agricultural and pastoral people, the cyclical condition of the natural world presented us with a blueprint to aid our understanding of life. Mortality and rebirth are entwined into numerous primordial religion and traditionalist teachings; for example, a Hindu naming ceremony of a newborn child states “May you live long, under God’s protection, for a hundred autumns to come!”. This conception of existence reveals an ancestral chain from which every child inherits an entire history as his birthright. While youth and beauty have always been revered, it was taken as providence, rather than to be technologically maintained as a permanent condition (in Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, the mere sight of skin ageing is shocking to its inhabitants). Life and death were not considered personal ego-based conditions, but stages of growth and decay through which every life form inevitably passes.
“All mortal things, by necessity of Nature, revolve in a wheel of changes. … When they are born they grow, and when they are grown they reach their height, and after that they grow old, and at last perish. At one time Nature causes them to come to their goal in her region of darkness, and then again out of the darkness they come back into mortal form, by alternation of birth and repayment of death, in the cycle wherein Nature returns upon herself.”
– Hippodamus the Pythagorean
Traditional knowledge reminds us everything is cyclical and everything is interconnected. And as a man passes through stages from birth until death, so it must go for the rise and fall of cultures and civilisations. To manifest destiny is to find purpose, in purpose we find struggle, and in overcoming we find joy and understanding. But Western man is in a degraded state of unconsciousness and wilful ignorance. In rejecting truth in favour of comfort, the fear of death brings with it the worship of youthful vice; frivolous, dependent, irresponsible, capricious, attention-seeking, impressionable, herd-minded and emotion-based. The descent into cultural and social infantilism is the West’s death knell – an unwillingness to look imminent doom in the face for fear of being accused of some kind of -ism, right up until the point that the nightclubs are bombed and we fade away with a whimper as opposed to a bang. Our current state of suicidal dysgenics shatters any notion of inevitable linear progress. Truth is timeless, and time marches over us all. The most simple of truths may be forgotten, overlooked or vilified, but none the less survive to outlive us all. It is through this wisdom of ages that we’re offered eternal life. Fortunately for us, wisdom is not inclined to hold grudges! It is ours for the taking, always and forever.