Modern Living

It seems to me that the fundamental assumptions of our systems of economy and sociality are at loggerheads with the most sophisticated science of today.

We are, as a culture, of the opinion that we have struck ideological gold in a sense, that the current model of behavior is, due to unprecedented material output, a favorable and superior state of being to all other systems.

On closer inspection we may notice that the trappings of communism and fascism are also inherent within capitalist democracies, and therefore for us to crow about our enlightened state of being and to feel victorious as communism and fascism collapse to make way for us is, I feel, premature and a little naive.

The failures common to these systems seem to be the idea that we live in a world of things, distinct packets of matter, and that these things have some form of objective or unquestionable worth.

If we examine the idea of a thing, we can see its etymological relation to the word think. Essentially when we describe something as a thing, we are describing the mental process of distilling perception into a unit of thought. We say cup, and assume it is one thing because the thought, “cup”, is experienced as one distinct facet of reality.

This doesn’t seem to be the case. Modern physics inform us that the universe may be best described as a vast, complex network of interrelationships, where there are no hard and fast divisions between what we consider to be objects.

These systems class human beings as things, and in doing so leave us open to being valued not for our human-ness or simply for being, but in terms of what we can produce, how many things we can manipulate and in what way. Under this ontology the human being becomes valuable only as the sum total of his ability to produce material.

This is patently absurd and serves the interest of a minute few at the top of the social pyramid.

All three systems also see as essential to the running of a society the concept of social hierarchy, of one mammal having more power than another in the social sphere generally due to his ability to inflict violence, psychological, existential or physical on the rest of us. This inequality on a base level between members of a social group creates instability in the form of consolidation and protection of ill-gotten power, deceit and violence in the means of acquiring such power, and alienation from one another where there is a disparity in power held.

Whether or not this is difficult to change is really an odd question to try to answer. On the one hand these structures have stood strong for hundreds or thousands of years and seem monolithic and impervious to lasting modification. On the other hand, I have a suspicion that we are coming into an age of dematerialization and exponential advances in the sophistication and complexity of our technology, lifestyles and basic existential content.

The ingression of complexity into our reality may be the dissolving catalyst we need to loosen the calcified patterns of behaviour we are speaking of and bring us forward into bizarre new realms of thought, experience, sensation and emotion where our material troubles seem so trivial as to be discarded on principle and out of necessity.

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2 thoughts on “Modern Living

  1. Interesting thought. On the one hand, it is possible that ‘we are coming into an age of dematerialization and exponential advances in the sophistication and complexity of our technology, lifestyles and basic existential content.’ as you put it so well, on the other with more and more products and ‘necessities’ available, perhaps we are tying ourselves even more to it this wretched system.

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