Saturday, July 2, 2016

Peter Turchin— A Radical Proposal After Brexit: End the European Union and Begin Destructive Creation

The overall trend over the last 10,000 years has been for humans evolving to cooperate in ever larger societies—from living in farming villages of a few hundred people to nation-states of today and even supra-national formations like the EU. But cooperation is fragile. We know from studying history that cooperation tends to go up and down in cycles. Currently, and according to all the indicators, both the United States and the European Union are in a downward, disintegrative, phase of the cooperation cycle.
There are several interlocking reasons why the EU, in particular, has entered the disintegrative phase. Let’s discuss them in turn.…
This development is, in large part, a result of the spread of the corrosive ideology of neoliberalism from the US to Europe. As the European elites adopted the neoliberal views en masse, it changed their attitudes and behaviors in several ways. 
First, neoliberalism freed them to pursue self-serving policies, such as reducing corporate taxes…
Second, the reference group for European elites became other wealth- and power-holders in Berlin, London, and Washington, not their own populations.…
In addition to the spread of neoliberalism, which, as I stated above, is an ideology corrosive of cooperation, different EU members found it difficult to cooperate with each other, because they did not share a well-defined common identity. Additionally, different groups evolve different institutions that promote cooperation. This is why, as the political scientist Robert Putnam found, ethnically diverse groups find it more difficult to cooperate. It’s a coordination problem.…
You cannot build an identity and a common set of institutions in one fell swoop. The rapid expansion of the European Union far beyond the area where Europeanness was born (the Carolingian Empire) was, in my opinion, a big mistake. Positive social change is gradual and slow; it’s breaking apart that can occur quite rapidly.
But breaking apart is also an important aspect of social evolution. When social formations become dysfunctional they must be somehow swept away and be replaced with more cooperative formations. After all, that’s how free market economics works. Unprofitable firms go belly up, and more efficient ones grab their market share. Joseph Schumpeter called this “creative destruction.” For reasons I explain in Ultrasociety I prefer to reverse the order, “destructive creation”.…
A Radical Proposal After Brexit: End the European Union and Begin Destructive Creation
Peter Turchin | Professor of Biology and Anthropology in the University of Connecticut and Vice President of the Evolution Institute


jrbarch said...

# This comment parses some thoughts on Turchin’s observation on the EU below, about a month’s worth, so I promise not to take up any more bandwidth for awhile.

“You cannot build an identity and a common set of institutions in one fell swoop”. [Turchin]

Human nature
The atom out of which a society is built is the human being. A human being has a nature: - physical, emotional, mental; and a heart (am using this word to indicate the noblest constitutional aspect in man). Desire is the engine that drives them all. IMHO, the fortunes of the World Game and all aspects of human existence, rise and fall on the vast under(and over)currents of human nature. No matter the ideologies we formulate and struggle wit, to put into practice, the civilisation and empire we build, they are transient waves on an ocean of human and environmental nature; and at this stage in our evolutionary career, human social expression will rise and collapse; cycle as always, under human forces. Billions and billions of human beings have come and gone on the earth to prove this point. Time and human nature has us in its grasp (although we pretend otherwise).

We carry within us creativity and destruction, ignorance and knowledge, darkness and light, kindness and cruelty, direction and confusion. Our nature is dual and we battle with it. For me, the world is a mess because it mirrors us, faithfully. We do not fully understand our nature, or fully grasp opportunity evolved; nor do we have the right tools and training to fully utilise our natural creativity, build and destroy humanely towards the general welfare of humankind, without doing an enormous amount of harm along the way. There is no Project Humanity in our minds; or we recognise it only partially, through the lens of evolutionary biology; our psychological nature being the youngest of our sciences. Man is both a physical being, and a psychological being. If human nature is an ocean, waves tumble upon waves, and cross currents surge against each other, vying for a little space; for some, supremacy and control: - we have little time to consider the ocean itself, or what we can do to pacify this ocean, or what peace in itself may accomplish. I do not think it is controllable, except one by one we gain control of our own little drop in the ocean; the rest is built best from consent. We think peace is impossible. As in the individual, so too in the Nation. We understand only very generally, whither our evolution, progression, and best interests lie; and despite all of the X-perts in the world, all of the theories, and all of the control freaks, we have no clue how to get there. We are the blind, leading the blind, sailing on the ocean of our own nature and at its mercy. It’s the simple reason why from Governments to NATO down to individuals, screw up all over the world. Hope is our shield. Only the arrogant and fools, who unfortunately own most of the world’s media, would have you believe otherwise (because of ‘profit’).

We do not understand that it is consciousness itself, which needs to unfold. Another name for consciousness is awareness. Consciousness is the light and the human persona the luminaire. The human persona is an expression of the quality of the light that shines within, and the quality of the persona conditions the light shone. They are symbiotic, and the new psychology will explore their relation. A study of genius, creativity, telepathy, spirituality (the heart) and other nascent powers in man would be far more rewarding than the study of aberrations. War is the greatest aberration – the most anti-life, anti-consciousness, anti-everything stupidity there is. It clears away old social expressions that have run their course, but at immense cost, wastage and back pedalling – unnecessary, if only we understood the value of peace, and the value of a human being. We do not understand the true value of human existence.

jrbarch said...

We are not able to establish human Principles and carry them through that would see peace settle among our kind. Peace would be the greatest achievement for mankind, and would set the stage for a deeper understanding and exploration of hidden human potential. We turn our planet into an environmental wasteland, a 24/7 factory and war-zone; and our human lives into unfulfilling robotic pursuits, stuffed with distractions. We are completely numb to the absolute miracle of the human body and the millions of years of evolution it took for Matter to reach such an aggregation of lives. When things get complicated, and you feel like you are missing something, go back to basics.

Consciousness and the sense of self (both of which science is yet to source) is the pole around which human nature dances. This sense of self, the synthesis of human nature, should be the focal point of individual-reflection, and institutional-reflection as Turchin indicates above. The dramatic ‘I’ on the stage of life, travelling for (wo)man just seventy laps around the sun; and what stands behind it, what supports it, holds the key to everything. It is an incredibly short time to come to grips with whom and what you are. Self can be a mixture of individual, familial, clan, tribal, citizen, cultural, national, species, or universal identity (ID). It changes as we change and experience, learn and grow – it persists. Someone should tell the starry-eyed helmsmen of the US, EU, UK, BRICS NATO etc. you cannot form a consensual union or group of any two or more human beings, unless they have a similar sense of ‘ID’ - at any level of mixture or aggregation of constitution (not that these helmsmen would listen since they by their own nature and ‘I’, do everything by force, trickery, and hypnotism). The relation between the mind (emotion, concepts, ideology, conditioning, and experience) and its essential and synthesised individual or aggregated ID needs to be explored and documented. Eventually, it will be known as ‘day-dreaming’, redefined. But groups are groups first of all by feeling; by consent, and a common recognition of an underlying solidarity, a shared desire and direction – which can survive the onslaught of all sorts of ideology or differences in the ‘I’. It is quite natural that warring European nations would decide peace is a better option. The desire for peace comes from the beautiful depths of human nature, and can carry many waves on its surface. In Europe, after the horror and devastation of WWII, the people desired peace and union; and got instead elitism, a straight jacket, and a continuous beating. In Australia it is much simpler: - settled Australians and our longer term Aboriginal brothers remain who we are, despite the shuffling of the political parties at the top and the economics they impose on us. There is a genuine desire for reconciliation between the two ‘I’s, held back by the elites who deign to share wealth, but more essentially operate under the delusion of class. Two ID’s want to be compatible and inclusive; the third exceptional.

Groups can be temporarily held together by physical energy (football match), or emotion (hatred of ISIS for the West), or ideology (Democracy) or combination - but all are subject to Time and human nature. Groups held together by these plus a developed and similar sense of ID are longer lasting, and more tolerant to dynamic expressions of physical energy, emotion, and the mind. This is, in my view, because when these stabilise, the field is prepared for the seed of the fourth and truly unifying constitutional factor of man, to begin to manifest itself – Love, or the heart, which ushers in a ‘feeling of inclusion and solidarity’ and much more; a new addition, a new aspect to awareness of Self. It is as though a veil is lifted over the landscape of human nature, and the world is seen anew. The nascent, creative, power of Love becomes tangible, evident. Its power to harness mind, emotion, and physicality becomes evident. Everything still exists, but is seen in a new light.

jrbarch said...

We learn, slowly, to love and respect ourselves as individuals, and treat ourselves with kindness and consideration, respect – because we see within ourselves (really, within humanity) something of worth. Then we extend this to family members; and more widely to groups, our Nation and finally, all of humanity and creation. Once again because Love is the most significant aspect of human nature. Love combined with Intelligence brings us Wisdom, and wisdom is always simple. Wisdom combined with the Will begets Action, and qualifies it. Love is the unifying factor because it leads straight back to the Self, and the Self, once we discover it, is in everybody. It stands behind all of the ‘I’s and is the pillar on which human nature, and ultimately all of existence is supported. Inclusion is basic to one side of human nature and spirals up, just as separation is basic to the other side and spirals down. Life is all about choosing. We do not understand group psychology because we do not understand human nature or individual psychology. The essential medium of any functional group is Love: - not concepts, nationality, mind or the ‘I’. You will not get along with your brother or sister without it. But when the darker side of our human nature is embraced, the ‘I’ is the magnetic and radiatory repository around which separative concepts gather, entangled with emotional hatreds, and physical violence erupts. The ‘I’s becomes hardened in relation to one another and hardened to the heart. Hope is lost.

The human being is eclipsed by a Cause, and crushed; used as rolling logs to launch the war canoes while his skin is stretched over the drums. These dramas occur in a tiny little cranial volume of around 1500cc and it is hard to imagine how so much trouble emerges from such a bounded organic space. In nature there are no countries, no lines partition the continents, no coloured blocs mark territory, no flags - just people. Human beings!

“Man is essentially devoted (to the point of fanaticism) to whatever may be the goal of his life's attention. This goal may be to achieve discipleship, or to raise a family, or to get money, or to achieve popularity, or any other objective to which he consecrates his time and energy; but whatever it may be, to it he devotes all that he is or has. Man also is essentially and inherently a producer of law and order, though this quality is only just beginning to make its presence felt. This is because mankind is, at last, becoming mentally centered and hence we have in the world at this time the many and varied attempts to straighten out affairs along business, national, economic, social and other lines, to produce some system and order, and to bring about the rearranging of all energies with the objective (unrealized consciously as yet) of inaugurating the New Age. Owing, however, to defective mental control and to an almost universal ignorance as to the laws of thought, and in addition, to a profound lack of knowledge as to man's own nature, man works blindly. The ideals sensed are not correctly interpreted by the mind nor applied in such a way that they are of general and appropriate application. Hence the confusion and the chaotic experimentation going on, and hence also the imposition of personal authority to enforce an individual's idea of the ideal”. [A Tibetan Abbott]

The Self absorbs everything around it, like a sponge, and tries to understand and order it, yet remains inexplicably, itself. It identifies with everything in nature, is self-conscious, but does not really know itself. It knows of no mirror in which it can see itself, until it learns the techniques of self-knowledge. It carries within it a certain quality, and notices different and similar qualities in others (sevenfold in analysis). It is light because it brings understanding (and an inner light in substance once revealed); and vibration because it is a centre of energy, possessive of potential.

jrbarch said...

It is positive in relation to that other centre of energy, the human persona, the ‘I’ in its aggregation, which is negative, receptive, and female. When someone walks into a room we feel it, and our basic relation to that person is set. It is self-conscious and group-conscious, and capable, according to the Ageless Wisdom, of universal-consciousness. It has Will, Love, and Intelligence as its aspects; and sentiency, creativity, producing quality. It is harmony, beauty, knowledge, aspiration, order, and coordination, in attribute. It can also suffer from an absence of these. All human failings are an absence. It has been known to be sensitive to events or other selves far away and holds within it hidden powers, higher expressions of the physical senses. As far as the human being is above the ant that moves at its feet, it senses the possibility of consciousness evolved through many times this bridge. It sees, once Self-conscious (as opposed to ‘I’-conscious) Spirit-Matter as opposite poles of the same substance, and knows that in itself, all of the human sciences will one day merge and emerge. Each human being on the face of this earth is absolutely unique. Kabir thought that if all the forests were turned to pens and all the oceans to ink, he could not write enough to describe the beauty of Life, the potential of a human being, and the preciousness of the secret hidden within the human heart. But here on earth, we do not see or value a human being. We do not understand the ebb and flow of human nature.

Devotion is the main characteristic of the domestic animals towards man, and devotees of human personalities, no matter how exalted, should be aware they demonstrate an animal emanation, far better transmuted into a genuine human love of Principles; and this into Self-knowledge, the Self being the emanating source of such Principles. Human devotion is also captured by a culture, or State, a family, or business pursuit. We are all devotees pursuing our chosen religion. Our minds are willing servants of our devotion; our ‘I’ inextricably bound up in the whole. Then we die; as do empires crumble and dissolve. Despite our technology and self-acclaimed sophistication, we do not fathom the meaning and significance of a human life. Devotion needs to be lifted to a genuine love of Truth and existence – as it is. Philosophy is its highest mental expression, but all knowledge is useless, decomposes, unless applied in Life. The heart is Philosophy’s true domain. The heart is also the domain of the Self, and the Self has more answers than the mind questions. Both science and psychology need like Janus, to face both ways, and thankfully this is happening, as is the quest for peace.

What we are looking for, is already within. IMHO, life is about finding it and experiencing it. Human nature seeks its essence and to understand itself. It is the imperfections in our nature, the absence of certain qualities and above all, the absence of real Love, which makes the world the mirror that it is. Our world is on fire, and the burning ground will be crossed. Like a spider, caught up in its own web, man is caught up in the very network that sustains him. He has ceded control to people who never ever should have control over his existence. They are not worthy unless they Serve. The sole authority of a human being is in the heart; the Self. The Self is Sovereign – far above the sovereignty of any nation. The Self unifies all aggregations of ‘I’ and our constitutional bodies. The battle is to win this territory. The struggle to fix everything on the outside (?): – well, taking one look in the world mirror should convince us straight away; it is the human being that needs to be fixed – first. We have tried fixing everything else, again and again and again, for millennia, and things have gotten worse (Einstein defined that as insanity).

jrbarch said...

We have flunked and are flunking badly, and getting worse. We are becoming, sociopathic (a sick society). A psychologist would point out that having a finger on the nuclear trigger is some kind of warped death wish. People do not really want to die; they want to end the pain. Man has investigated the Matter pole but needs to investigate the Spirit pole just as diligently; the Self is the midway point. The doorway to this is the human heart. All spring from the same Absolute Principle. Before the balance can be tipped, the pivot point must be attained (and it is not in the cradle, Russia). Spiralling down has no future. Like the Lotus flower, born in the mud; rising up through troubled murky waters into clear, fresh, beautifully vibrant unpolluted air, opening its petals, its beautiful heart and perfume to an incomparable Sun - there is appreciation and gratitude, there is the consciousness (in its own realm) of a Lotus flower, and a reminder of the sheer joy of being alive; there is a symbol of unlimited potential. For me, this is knowledge: - this heart is in humanity, it is awakening and is our threshold, the destiny of the ‘I’; this is the fulfilment of the long evolution of human nature and group destiny; because we are a part. Peace is the first step. If you want to build an Identity, let it be built with Love. Let all teachers of the Self, throughout human history be understood; let their students pass in peace.

“You cannot build an identity and a common set of institutions in one fell swoop”. [Turchin]