Monday, December 4, 2017

Peter Dorman — The Great Awokening

I beg to differ with the usually astute Peter Dorman on this one. I also differ with Marx on it.

Peter Dorman takes the liberal position that politics, which is concerned with power, is determinative. Marx posits that it is the economic and financial infrastructure that is determinative.

Against such views, traditionalism holds that consciousness is determinative.

While everyone agrees that change is complex and its quality, direction, and speed depends on many factors, some see certain factors are more determinative than others.

That is to say, all these views and there are others, too, are partially correct and therefore are relevant.

From the point of view of the "consciousness first" position, the question really can be reduced to the interplay of "consciousness" in so far as it determines the mindset of a group and culture and institutions that manifest the systemic structure and functioning of a group.

While culture and institutions certainly influence the systemic structure and functioning of groups, cultures and institutions are themselves manifestations of mindsets, both individual and collective. Thus, the "great person" (usually "great man") theory is partially true, and so is the social construction theory.

Humans are both shaped by their environment and also shape it. Unlike other highly intelligent animals, humans can and do shape events and environments consciously and intentionally based on "human capital," e.g., knowledge, skill, creativity, reflexivity, ability to cooperate, etc.

"Human capital" can also be managed consciously and intentionally. It can improve, or remain relatively constant over an extended period, or degrade. While "consciousness" is an impossible metric to measure directly, at least at present, it's effects can be measured in terms of individual and social characteristics and contributions.

Traditionalisms are now warning that humanity requires a "spiritual awakening" or "spiritual renewal" in order to meet the emerging challenges brought along with seizing extraordinary opportunities made possible by scientific discovery and technological innovation.

Traditionalisms warn that we are getting ahead of ourselves in the ability to control the genie we have let out of the bottle, and now we need to step back and reassess what we are facing rather than lurching headlong into dangerous territory. 

The growing possibility of nuclear conflict, geographical and demographic changes resulting from global warming, and the threat of epidemic are stark realities, while increasing social dysfunctioning that implies widespread individual dysfunctioning is becoming pervasive and homelessness is being normalized.

These are not only social, political and economic problems and challenges but they are also indicative of a spiritual malaise and a growing disconnect from the holistic unfolding of human potential. One-sided development calls forth a dialectical response in reaction. Herbert Marcuse addressed this back in the Sixties in his One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Beacon, 1964)

Perennial wisdom provides guidelines, but knowledge in the book stays in the book until it is owned in consciousness and acted on. Humans are capable of visualizing an ideal but they must act on it to progressively actualize their ideal.

Achieving ideal society is not necessarily utopian. It involves progressively increasing positivity and decreasing negativity. Everyone also already seek to do this for themselves and their near and dear, although they differ in what constitutes positive and negative.

Expansion of collective consciousness requires transcending individualism and tribalism in the direction of apprehending the universal and acting in terms of it rather than narrow self-interest or the interest of one's limited in-group. 

This requires going against an evolutionary trait that encourages self-interest and favoring one's in-group. However, the history of humanity is the story of growing universality, and indeed, it can be equated with becoming "truly human."

How does a "spiritual awakening" start? It starts with individuals. Get out of your head and into your heart.

The Great Awokening
Peter Dorman | Professor of Political Economy, The Evergreen State College


jrbarch said...


Power, Love, Intelligence, are aspects of consciousness (being). They demonstrate in the persona as harmlessness, universality; effort towards the greater good. They create an expansion, elevation, harmony, and unity in human consciousness.

Their absence demonstrates as selfishness: - selfish control, hate, ignorance, which does exactly the opposite.

We choose the path we walk.

According to the evolution of the being is the use of the instrument of the being - the human persona ('I', mind, emotions, animal body). Selfishness is the nursery of infant being.

Selfishness seeks the 'light of experience'; kindness seeks the 'light of understanding'.

When all is said and done, we are here on this earth to discover the self. The rest is just a play born out of our conscious (or unconscious) state.

Ciao Tom ! :-)

Tom Hickey said...


Ryan Harris said...

I'm reading through the big name Chinese philosophers now... currently on Mohism. What drives me crazy is the fingerprints of the giant philosophers are everywhere in China today. Just as the European thinkers shaped culture in the West. Some universal common themes but also very different ways of skinning a cat.

Tom Hickey said...

Right, the West doesn't appreciate this, but it is the bedrock of Chinese civilization.

Even President Xi has thrown in the towel on pure Marxism-Leninism and rehabilitated Kongzi (Confucius).

Mao's main background influence was Taoism, while Cho En-lai's was Confucianism.

Confucianism is the basis of Mandarinism, which is the traditional system of government onto which China grafted Marxism-Leninism. It's basis is ritualized hierarchical authoritarian technocracy.

Taoism is egalitarian and emphases naturalness. It is in a sense the dialectical opposite of Confucianism in this respect, but both are based on the the Chinese concept of Tao, which functions similarly to the Western conception of God. Tao (way) is impersonal however, while Tien (heaven) is personal.

The third major influence on Chinese civilization is Buddhism. Chinese Ch'an Buddism (Japanese Zen) are similar to philosophical Taoism.'

Confucianism and Buddhism both have a strong ethical aspect. Taoism emphases naturalness that is not codified.

Since the Communist Revolution, Marxism-Leninism was added to the mix. This is what socialism "with Chinese characteristics" means.

Just as Greek thought, Roman law and organization, Judaeo-Christianity and modern science are integrated into Western civilization, Confucianism; so too, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism are so tightly integrated into Chinese civilization and culture that most Chinese don't notice them any more than Westerners notice the aspects that gave rise to Western civilization and culture.

However, these seminal influence result in very different cultures that have difficulty in understanding each other and are in some ways incompatible. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

This is also the case with other cultures and civilizations. The world is still adjusting to the the close meeting and cross-influence of East and West.

Actually the major intersectionality is among Western, Orthodox (Byzantine), Islamic, Chinese and Indian civilizations. Understanding the basics of each is therefore necessary to appreciate the dialectic that is now in progress. There is also another influence, the indigenous, that is rising, too.

Of course, this is not homogenous. Just as Western civilization is shaped by Christianity, which involves a dialectic between Catholicism and Protestantism; so too, Iranian, Arabian, and Egyptian civilization are different component of Islamic civilization. Orthodox, Indian and Chinese civilization reflect similar differences.

Noah Way said...

Funny thing about science, it's finally beginning to discover what Buddhists have know for millennia - that everything is connected. Go figure.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Economists’ rude awakening
Comment on Peter Dorman on ‘The Great Awokening’

There are TWO economixes: political economics and theoretical economics. The main differences are: (i) The goal of political economics is to successfully push an agenda, the goal of theoretical economics is to successfully explain how the actual economy works. (ii) In political economics anything goes; in theoretical economics, the scientific standards of material and formal consistency are observed.

Economics claims to be a science but is NOT. Theoretical economics (= science) had been hijacked from the very beginning by political economists (= agenda pushers). Political economics has produced NOTHING of scientific value in the last 200+ years.

From Adam Smith/Karl Marx up to the “Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel” economists claim that their economic policy guidance has ― in contrast to those of politicians, cranks, demagogues, preachers, snake-oil sellers, agitators, impostors, etcetera ― scientific foundations.

Fact is that there is NO greater embarrassment in the history of modern science than economics. The four main approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism ― are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent, and all got the foundational concept of the subject matter ― profit ― wrong. What we actually have is the pluralism of provably false theories.

Both orthodox and heterodox economics is scientifically unacceptable. Because of this, economics has nothing to offer in the way of a well-founded advice: “In order to tell the politicians and practitioners something about causes and best means, the economist needs the true theory or else he has not much more to offer than educated common sense or his personal opinion.” (Stigum)

Fact is that economics has by now degenerated to pure political agenda pushing. A short visit of the econoblogosphere suffices to realize that economic content has virtually evaporated:
• Tolerance And Terrorism In Saudi Arabia#2
• John Davidson’s Bad Faith Defense of General Kelly#3
• If we treat plutocracy as democracy, democracy dies#4
• Republican Class Warfare: The Next Generation#5

Since the founding fathers, economists violate the principle of the separation of science and politics. Economics is what Feynman famously called a cargo cult science.#6

Economics is currently completing its career from failed science to fake science to political fraud.#7 It is time now to expel economists officially from the sciences. The first step is to abolish the fake economics Nobel.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Why is economics such a scientific embarrassment?

#2 EconoSpeak

#3 Uneasy Money

#4 mainly macro

#5 Economist’s View

#6 What is so great about cargo cult science? or, How economists learned to stop worrying about failure

#7 For details see cross-references Political economics

Six said...

Egmont sayeth:

“the goal of theoretical economics is to successfully explain how the actual economy works”

One of Egmont’s many fatal flaws. Numbers can never explain “how the actual economy works”. They can just give one numerical description after the fact. You need the wordy part of economics to attempt to do the explaining part.

AXEC / E.K-H said...


You say “Numbers can never explain ‘how the actual economy works’. They can just give one numerical description after the fact. You need the wordy part of economics to attempt to do the explaining part.”

On Wikipedia MMT gives this formula for the interdependence of sectoral balances, G − T = S − I − NX, and a verbal description and then draws some economic policy conclusions.#1

The sectoral balances formula is provably false. Because of this, the “wordy part” of MMT is vacuous blather and the economic policy proposals, e.g. a pony for every American, are just silly sales talk.#2

Followers of MMT, of course, do not understand the balances formula but only the pony story. For political purposes the “wordy part” is sufficient.

Economics claims to be a science, and Mitchell, Tcherneva, Wray, Kelton, Fullwiler, Forstater, Kaboub, Tymoigne etcetera claim to do science. They are NOT. MMT is a proto-scientific sitcom and a pseudo-social spoof.#3

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Wikipedia, Modern Monetary Theory

#2 For the full-spectrum refutation see cross-references MMT

#3 Austerity: Who takes the little man for a ride?