President Barack Obama
“But, now, comes the writer with a theology or a political theory, in terms of which these vague feelings can be rationalized. The energy developed by the prevailing passions of the masses is given a direction and at the same time strengthened and made continuous. Sporadic outbursts are converted by the rationalization into purposive and unremitting activity.
The mechanism of successful propaganda may be roughly summed up as follows. Men accept the propagandist’s theology or political theory, because it apparently justifies and explains the sentiments and desires evoked in them by the circumstances. The theory may, of course, be completely absurd from a scientific point of view; but this is of no importance so long as men believe it to be true. Having accepted the theory, men will work in obedience to its precepts even in times of emotional tranquillity. Moreover, the theory will often cause them to perform in cold blood acts which they would hardly have performed even in a state of emotional excitement.” Aldous Huxley (1936) The Theory of “The Intellectual Motivation for ‘Mass Ideology and Religion’”.
“The industrial nations of the world and their governments have been swept forward by the pressure of invention, through a barrier they did not see, into a world they have not yet understood. As the resources of the earth become more depleted, populations more crowded and more deprived, the greater will be their effort to pass the problem on to the next generation. Self-deception will become more persuasive. Optimism will take hold.
The remedy for our ills is neither remote nor obscure. It is to recognise that the world is indebted to Europe for two great achievements, which have transformed human life in the last 500 years. One is the control of nature, which has led to our present crisis. The other is the understanding of nature and of man, which is our means of escape from this crisis. How you may ask, can the two things be separated? Europe forced them together on America, Asia, and Africa.
In the first place, let us imagine, what would have happened without that rough intrusion. The conditions of these continents could scarcely have changed in the last 500 years. China would still cowtowe to the Son of Heaven and Japan would still be shut up in the Shogun’s Cage. India would still be the pray to warring Rajas. Along the road to Tripoli, Khartoum, and Zanzibar; Arabs would still profitably drive their caravans of castrated slaves. Cannibal flotillas would still block the cataracts of the Congo. On their remote islands, Maoris and Melanesian’s would still be consuming human flesh. No population problem would have disturbed any of these lands. Indeed, it might never have disturbed them until genetic or ecological decay overtook them.
We must put aside our moral indignation about what the Europeans did, and how, and why they did it. What matters are the results?
For the first result, was the liberation of Asia and Africa. The way was opened for processes of change, favouring the growth and the unity of all human understanding.
The second was the subjugation of the whole world to the European idea of progress, by the control and unlimited exploitation of nature.
This good and this evil having been done, we can assume that the rest of the world enlightened by Europe will accept the good and reject the evil.
The evidence is that the rest of the world will not generally accept free speech, representative government, and human rights as they are known in our Western World.
But, they will generally accept all the means they can get for exploiting nature and destroying the resources of the earth. The problem therefore returns, what we have let loose on humanity returns to us. Our chickens come home to roost. It remains for us to use our understanding of nature and of ourselves to control the dangerous power.
If we look back on the last 500 years, we see the Hebrew and Greek, and Christian confidence in man as the master of nature, orate-ing the Protestant Ethic of industry, ambition, and self-reliance, whose success especially in the New World has created the profligate societies we know. These, are the societies whose fraudulent promise the Third World so greedily accepts.
The peoples of course, know nothing of what is happening.
By the time their rulers have led them to disaster these rulers will be elsewhere. In addition, the industrial nations will be having all they can do to save themselves, without helping anyone else.
Our remedy, then is a respect for nature, the practise of thrift, and the restraint of greed, and self-indulgence, which need not be too painful if we undertake it soon. But the longer we postpone it the more painful will it be.
To any such reformation, any such changing of course, one grave obstacle at once appears.
All the great industrial nations would have to change course together.
In addition, we know that each will believe it can do better than its neighbours can and will try to prove it. But, in all these nations, now, there are a few people who take seriously the future of mankind its quantity and its quality.
They are the people who know that our past evolution has been governed by the needs of future generations.
They are the people who recognise that the race, class, nation or species, which rejects this principle is putting its own future at hazard.
They are the people who therefore ask themselves the practical question, “Do we want to expand, to multiply, and to consume the good things of the Earth without limit, and without regard, either to the earth itself or to the children who will inherit it? Are we willing to set ourselves a limit, to measure the capacity of the earth to support our descendants, and us, and to fit ourselves to that capacity”?
The attempt to study the whole of our little universe, to understand its connectedness with the past and the future, to see the value of knowledge will perhaps persuade our own generation to pause, before it plunges into the abyss.” Professor, C.D. Darlington FRS. A summery of his book, ‘The Little Universe of Man’.
“The East has the ordeal of privation. The West has the ordeal of desire”. Saul Bellow. It is perhaps the final paradox of the paradoxical age in which we live that while no other has been marked by personal suffering on such a vast scale, yet also in no other have so many agreed that violence and atrocity are controllable in principle. True, most of the appalling bloodshed of our century can be explained as a side effect or function of the technological intensification of modern war, rather than as evidence of increasing wickedness or cynical unwillingness to seek peaceful solutions. Nonetheless, the Western World seems to remain optimistic on one subject, on whom there may be less ground for optimism than any other, the innate improvability of man. Similarly, our belief that a benevolent world order (New World Order) is obtainable seems strangely undisturbed by the colossal spectres looming on the horizon as a result of what has been done so far; we cannot satisfy even basic expectations rapidly enough. There is just not enough power, food, and basic medicine, to go round without redistribution of so dramatic and radical a kind that it cannot be envisaged and would be practically impossible on a reasonable time-scale. Yet desire and envy are outrunning satisfaction.
An even more frightening spectra looms behind that one too. May not the West, have in fact, communicated to the rest of the world expectations which are not merely unsatisfiable in the short run of a couple of decades, but unsatisfiable in principle, because limitlessly expanding beyond our power to meet them. It is not just the colossal demands of the burgeoning populations of poor countries for fuel, food, even water, that are so frightening. (Though there may be actual finite limits to our material resources). What is worse is that the faith that history is progressive may have already led us to set ourselves goals, which are psychologically unattainable. Many people seem already to think that any physical or mental pain ought somehow to be removable. Such assurance is a terrible, and a burdensome legacy of our utopianism and our confidence in the rational manipulation of nature. Perhaps it is the same thing, which has been identified by some, as the “Faustian Urge of Western Man” his relentless striving for power, after power, to open the way to felicity. If the West’s ambiguous gifts to mankind include this, then along with our confidence and self-centeredness, we shall have passed to the rest of the world a bias towards self-destruction. John Roberts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton is best known for his single-volume, ‘History of the World’. In addition his 1985 thirteen part TV series, ‘The Triumph of the West’.
“What are the moral values, basic beliefs, and world outlook, which lie behind all that we see on television, hear on radio, and read in the popular press? All we can detect is a number of assumptions not logically connected, the power of science and the dominating necessity of satisfying physical needs, especially sexual desires, the duty to be tolerant, complete indifference as to any purpose in the universe: science has destroyed metaphysics. There is nothing to do but to enjoy oneself, with as little trouble to others as possible. It is inconceivable that this philosophy could infuse or sustain a civilization for more than a very short time!” R P C Hanson, Professor Emeritus, Manchester University.
I think Roberts is right (1) and Hanson (2) wrong. History abounds with examples of really sick societies lasting for hundreds of years, but we do not wish to know about them, as it makes us feel uncomfortable. January 1989.
A couple of notes:
“There are millions of Muslims who wanted something more : they wanted freedom from us“! And, Albert Camus, “It is true that we cannot ‘escape History’, since we are in it up to our necks. But one may propose to fight within History to preserve from History that part of man which is not its proper province . . . Modern nations are driven by powerful forces along the roads of power and domination . . . They hardly need our help and, for the moment, they laugh at attempts to hinder them. They will, then, continue. But I will ask only this simple question: what if these forces wind up in a dead end, what if that logic of History on which so many now rely turns out to be a will o’ the wisp?”
World War Three ‘The War On Terror’ – Where will be the peoples of the Middle East be in the future, ’within’ their own – particular – complicated, and dreadfully muddled ’History’? Is the long or short road to a massive ‘World War Three’ just about to start?
T. S. Eliot. 1946. “Justice itself tends to be corrupted by political passion; and that meddling in other people’s affairs which formerly conducted by the most discreet intrigue is now openly advocated under the name of intervention. Nations which once shrank from condemning the most flagitious violations of human rights in Germany, are now exhorted to interfere in other ‘countries’ government – and always in the name of peace and concord. Respect for the culture, the pattern of life, of other people . . . is respect for History; and by History we set no great store.”
“Fragile families in the UK face a shortage of emotional support and friendship as much as a lack of material support, says a think tank” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8399636.stm Afghanistan, maybe, Daddy was right – The Radical Solution – spend Trident Missile money on sex and philosophy shops (combined with leisure facilities and centers, free-ish restaurants, so on…) firstly in deprived areas, for all deprived people in England, UK, GB! Notes for a Lecture on Philosophy. Trident Missiles; pornography; sex shops. 100 million or more: terrifying deaths! http://luckyme0.spaces.live.com/Blog/cns!A18BF3FCC5E126A2!2400.entry