Three Taboos

[Recent assay. Image: Nam Jun Paik, ‘Golden Buddha’].

Three Taboos

  • standing in the way of realizing One-World Consciousness

Change is not going to come from inside there. That is not leadership. This is leadership. We say no more blah, blah, blah… No more whatever the fuck they’re doing inside there.

Greta Thunberg at COP 26 Glasgow, November 2021

In this assay I have two general propositions to make based on three premises.

My three premises:  1. What is now needed to save humanity, industrial civilization and a habitable planet is a greater degree of One-World Consciousness and thus One-World action.

2. Both the climate-ecological and pandemic emergencies are painfully teaching us this: we need to realize and act as one totally interdependent human and non-human family on one planet if we are to survive and thrive; no one can be secure and thrive unless all are secure and thrive.

3. All evolution and human history has been leading up to this pivotal culmination point of realization, insight, consciousness. (How many of us can now rise to the occasion and allow this higher level of consciousness which is gradually emerging within us to fully express itself?)

My two propositions: 1. The key obstructions, hindrances, impediments to this full emergence of One-World Consciousness can be summarized as three great taboos that we collectively and individually share. In ascending order of significance, they are (a) the taboo of representative democracy, (b) the taboo of capitalism, and (c) the taboo of the ego

I think it is legitimate to call them taboos because there seems to be a general fear or unwillingness to discuss or even recognize them. Like many strong taboos, they seem to be so closely identified with that they are almost invisible in almost all public and private conversation. Both the climate and pandemic emergency may be changing this, however. Encouragingly, we are already living in a time of the widespread questioning and breakdown of other ancient taboos long considered ‘natural’ and ‘common sense’: the taboos of sexual violence and oppression, of racist violence and oppression. Maybe these three taboos are next in line.  

2. All three taboos are, perhaps like all taboos, rooted in one common human pattern or principle, that of other-directedness, heteronomy or ‘power-over’. Conversely, One-World Consciousness is rooted in a deeper human principle or reality of self-directedness, autonomy or self-nature.

Let’s briefly look at each taboo in turn, moving from the outer to the inner, periphery to centre.

(a) The Taboo of Representative Democracy

This political taboo ignores that representative democracy is not representative, i.e. of the people as they actually are. Women, ethnic minorities, the working class, the poor and less educated, the disabled, are all much underrepresented.

It ignores that election spectacles and political parties are not what constitute democracy. As Athenian democracy knew, elections simply elect a separate political class, an oligarchy, with (even when not corrupt) its own interests of securing status, privilege and power heavily influencing its decision-making. This separate political class and its unelected bureaucracy is often meshed with the unelected economic decision-making oligarchy that hold the real wealth and wield the real power.

It ignores that parliaments do not debate and decide but rubber-stamp party and executive decisions. All parliamentary debates are thus essentially, like elections, merely dramas managed by spin-doctors and performed for the media by usually third-rate actors. Because they know or sense this, large majorities are rightly cynical of all ‘politics’ and politicians and vote through gritted teeth for the ‘lesser evil’ or don’t bother voting at all.   

It ignores that executive decision-making is not transparent but largely secretive, taking place in backrooms closed to the general public but often open to business lobbyists (offices, committees, party rooms etc.)

It ignores that parties even in liberal democracies are not democratic bodies but authoritarian ones in which there must be a plethora of top-down controls on members (caucus discipline, allowed talking-points, PR spin, head-office candidate selections etc.)

In contrast, democracy originally means political self-management, the people themselves making the decisions. To prevent a separate political class from arising and party-domination, this can be done in conventions, juries or assemblies of citizens drawn by lot, mirroring the actual social composition of society, and guided by expert information on complex issues. No longer other-directed, we then realize we are the ‘leaders’ we have been waiting for.

(b) The Taboo of Capitalism

This economic taboo ignores that capitalism, even ‘green capitalism’, is the rule, or power-over, of the economy or Capital over society. It is the tail wagging the dog. (This of course includes authoritarian state capitalism aka ‘socialism’).

It ignores that capitalism is the amoral rule of money, the commodity and quantification over morality, values, qualities. It is the domination of the cold cash nexus and markets over humans and their negotiated and negotiable values.

It ignores that capitalism is inherently expansive, growth-oriented and thus incompatible with any ecological or ethical limits. Capital must increase or die, money must generate more money.

It ignores that capitalism, even ‘green capitalism’, is inherently exploitative of humans and nature because it must constantly seek to cut costs and raise productivity to survive and increase profit margins. Complex humans become a mere ‘labour unit’ in an abstract labour market, complex natural ecosystems become mere abstract ‘resources’ to be quantified, exploited, plundered, destroyed.

It ignores that capitalism is inherently undemocratic because all key investment and production decisions are made by very small, unelected, wealthy oligarchies of managers and owners of capital, not by the people after democratic consideration and debate.

It ignores that economies entirely based on markets and consumerism are inherently undemocratic because they can only respond to those with money, not to human or ecological need.

It ignores that capitalism, even ‘green capitalism’, must undermine democracy because it has an inherent drive to concentrate capital, wealth, and thus power and privilege, among ever smaller numbers of all-powerful people.

Conversely, One-World Consciousness means the radical democratization not only of political but also of economic decision-making so that human and ecological needs can be equitably fulfilled without human exploitation and planetary destruction. Economic self-management or autonomy can also be realized by representative citizens assemblies drawn by lot and by democratic workers councils.

(c) The Taboo of the Ego

This is the psycho-spiritual ‘taboo about knowing who you are’ (Alan Watts). Our almost total identification with our conditioned personality, conceptual self-image or ego blocks our realization of our true, non-conceptual ‘original nature’.

This taboo is the most fundamental root of our obstacles or delusions blocking One-World Consciousness: our mis-identification of ourselves, our sense of ourselves as a separated, isolated ‘I’, a subjective-objective ‘thing’ confronting a separate ‘objective’ world of other things which we have to somehow manage, control, seek power over. This is the psycho-spiritual root drive behind all the brutal power and status games and ‘blah blah blah’ of political and economic power-over of whatever persuasion, right and left.

This is the deepest layer of our other-directedness: our habitual identification with our conditioned personalities, egos, social self-images, internalized others, our constant internal mind-chatter keeping it all going. Most of the time, we don’t use our minds, they use us.

However, stepping back from and seeing through this ego delusion, we see we are both ego and that which can step back and see it. And that is not a conceptual thing that can be stepped back from and named (like ‘me’) but that non-conceptual no-thing which steps back and names (like ‘I’). Having to use words, it may name itself ‘I-am’ or ‘original nature’. It is both empty, autonomous, and inseparable from world and relationship, both within the game and out of it. This ‘I’ is We, One World.  

‘Knowing there is nothing to do, we move from there’ (Gary Snyder).    

~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on November 22, 2021.

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