Friday, August 25, 2006

the clash of civilisations

Throughout, the myth of modernity has buried the reality of what it truly brings and portends and constitutes. Always taking the initiative, with its prioritisation of the superficial, of the immediate, and bringing along with it always the material cost borne by the majority of people, those who suffer its material effects, and the existential cost borne by all, those who create and those who suffer its material effects. It has always represented an unimpeachable, incontournible goal in itself and for itself and on its own terms. In the way that it always conceals the bargain made, and the loss included, and asserts and justifies and hegemonises itself on the basis purely of its sole structuring and constituting characteristic - i.e. that of newness, as well as related characteristics of taking the initiative, and conquering, and asserting itself - it is self-fulfilling, self-announcing, self-justifying and self-enforcing. To the extent it successfully establishes hegemony, materially and in minds, it then disallows the existence of alternative and competing modes or organising principles, the existence of which are reviled and distanciated from, and blamed and scapegoated for the inherent contradictions within the movement, with atavistic alacrity and assiduity.

In performing this manoeuvre the myth of modernity (or its promulgators or vectors) doesn't realise (or prefers not to admit) that the existence of alternative and competing modes is unavoidable and natural, as the "modernity" "vehicle" is intersecting with human and social contexts which are, not less modern in that they are less technologically, materially or socially advanced (whatever the latter in particular means; the former also rely on some assumptions which need to be explained first - is advance which makes inutility into utility genuinely advance? these modes constitute differences and alternatives and even oppositions to this particular "modernity" because historically they are not of it); but which simply form the external context to its discrete moving entity; they are not of that entity, and they constitute by their presence, and by the visible human effects of modernity's irruption into them, a moral reference which is no longer present within that entity (all moral references having been subordinated to and coopted to material progress and geopolitical subjugation - the imperative of geopolitical subjugation, itself, enabled by material progress, and informed by the feeling of civilisational virility which the material progress brings with it) ---- so, the accusations which these contexts constitute by their mere presence, the fact that they include or enact a human social response, which performs a bringing to light and a condemnation of modernity's material actions and impacts, which are implicit (in the parallax view of the irruption) if not explicit - although they are very often explicit too - in the context must be, for the enterprise to survive, psychologically on the part of those who are carrying it out, attacked and maligned. To clarify, it's not modernity of which we speak, as a movement incarnating qualities which are modern, but Western colonial and imperial civilisation, powered by ahistorical ideologies of technopositivism and eurocentricism - which calls itself modernity (and latterly freedom and democracy).

The effects of the progress of this modernity, the chaos and cost it wreaks along its path, have to be absorbed and explained by its ideology; using notions such as a civilising mission; manifest destiny; and more latterly creative destruction, deterritorialisation (replacing what must be by implication a reactionary clinging to notions of continuity of culture and traditions), the mission of replacing arcane religio-fascist ideologies with the new modern civilised democratic freedom-loving ones. The hysteria with which these notions are invoked (and the defensive keenness with which they are accepted, by many people who travel the vehicle, as we who are citizens in the Centre all do) is surely an internal reflection of the knowledge of the bald materialism, and the cruel reality, which they are offered to provide a fig-leaf covering for; acknowledgement of which would reverse the entire balance of moral goodness which is cleaved to so assiduously. In this the manoeuvre is analogous to that which can occur on the individual level - where the knowledge of our own dark side within us is assiduously denied and repressed - which Jung lamented. Recognition of the existence of that dark self and its potential within us all means that when we experience it within ourselves, it can be accommodated within our framework of self-knowledge, and there is no need for it to launch us on a path of hysterical denial, which, precisely to the extent that denial then materialises in our actions, often creates an incarnation of it in the figure of the Other, who becomes the scapegoat for these feelings; leading to an outcome precisely enacting the very dark forces themselves; and leading to a vicious cycle of hurting the other in order to absolve ourselves.

So, to recap: it's the collapse of the moral order, along with the contradictory fact that a moral order is nevertheless cleaved to, and the idea that it must be preserved, the desire to preserve it, and the fact that the motion of the modernity vehicle irrupting into its contexts must create a situation in which the immorality of that motion is revealed, precisely in the visible effects on the people of the context, and perhaps reflected in their responses, which mean that, in denial and in order to preserve the psychological basis of the mission (to do otherwise would be to accept its pure and banal materialism), the blame must be transferred, projected and thrown onto what becomes the Other, the repository for blame, who comes to incarnate to their view the reflection of the protagonists' own malevolence; and the knowledge that in their actions they are themselves responsible for the unbearable, disorientating collapse of their own moral order, whether in its religious derivation, which is a matter of stated and disputable confession, or in its social aspect, which is altogether more immutable and therefore holding greater psychological power and must be denied more deeply.

So the modernity myth effaces, for its own purposes, and to its own self-fulfilling ends, history and content - and in this way it is an analogy of a similar motion working on the individual level, where each day and each moment we accept anew the pact of capitalism, not understanding what it constitutes, not understanding what cost is being paid, materially by others, and by ourselves and all existentially; always accepting it because it is strong and present and its surface is bright and it guarantees us what we had yesterday (until it doesn't and then capitalism will be carried forward by other human vectors). So the true division in the world today, the true clash of civilisations is drawn along the same lines as it always has been, since the division of labour and of society into hierarchies - between those who are willing to accept the pact (guided by a misunderstanding) and those who see it for what it is and attempt to constitute an opposition within and of themselves, drawing on a context which is not superficial, but is timeless and centred in the individual qua social being. This isn't a demarcation between those who are morally "good and bad", rather it's between those who accept the logic of the vehicle, its self-ordering internal moral system, which doesn't admit of, and in denial reviles its contexts, who misunderstand and misapply their socially natural senses of virtue, and diligence, and adherence to continuing and reproducing the social fabric they have benign experience of (not having experienced, or, again, having misunderstood and misassigned blame or fault for, their experiences of the contextual exterior effects of the vehicle), and those who do not; in practise many more of us fall into the former camp, (if helplessly, reluctantly) materially, if not ideologically. But this is the law of motion. If only there were a way to convey that it is the vehicle (to the extent this is useful - there are many other analogies) which irrupts and causes effects which seem unimaginable to those who travel safely aboard; and for us to accept that the visible contradictions are parallax effects caused by the motion of the vehicle, rather than by characteristics of the people the vehicle is riding roughshod over them, as if these latter constituted a legitimate pretext for it to do so.

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