Monday, December 1, 2014

AKA Modernity : the era of parsimonious plenticide , 1875-1965

The art of denial is not a new 21st century thing.

Denying human caused climate disaster, denying the Holocaust, Stalin's crimes, the existence of rape culture --- they are all but a few of the sub-sets of one way 'to deal' with 'overwhelming' dynamic complexity.

While to most of us , choice is good and more choice is better, many of us direct our entire existence around dealing with feelings of being overwhelmed by plentitude.

Why they feel so excessively this way (because we all feel overwhelmed by plentitude at times) is a mystery.

It may be due to a combination of unique body chemistry that handles stress badly and their parents (with similar body chemistry) being obsessed with dirt and order.

One of the most satisfying intellectual ways for them to deal with 'overwhelming' plentitude is to deny its very existence.

Its real - substantive - existence.

'Oh yes, the surface complexity is there all right - we shan't deny that.'

'But most of it is rubbish, useless, worthless, dirty, dangerous - and to claim that all of it is valuable is a form of false consciousness.'

'Once you properly separate out what is valuable, worthy , clean and stable and discard - eliminate/liquidate - the rest , life becomes much simpler and happier.'

Or so the plenticidial modernists claimed.

Modernity then was a great era for classification & then binning.

To its proponents, parsimonious plenticide was the best intellectual way to deal with the abundant scientific evidence that reality was much much more complex, older, wider, deeper than anyone had ever previously thought.

This fact was materially thrust in their faces every day by the effects of co-current globalization cum modernization - seemingly the planet and all its beings were daily arriving at the customs and immigration gates of their country.

So : normal vs deviant , normal vs degenerated, normal vs deformed, normal vs unfit , normal vs dirty - on and on the classifying and destruction went.

No gene pool was ever shallow enough for them - any and every gene pool could always do with a little more draining.

The surface rubbish was complex but the solution wasn't : a little quick painless culling by some super heroes (and super nations) dressed up in capes and tights and it would all be resolved.

One might think evolution and progress as having been invented expressly to allow a moral mechanism for killing off one's new neighbours with a clear conscience.

Yes the world is a plentitude , but of mostly also rans and a few winners and the also rans will be quietly liquidated after the results of the marathon have been announced.

Reductionism as parsimonious plenticide

In the physical sciences , reductionism was the parsimonious plenticide equivalent : claiming all reality could be reduced to the reliable and predictable assembling and re-assembling of a handful of atoms of a handful of elements , all obeying a handful of  knowable, simple, eternal and universal laws.

For this was the great age of Erector and Meccano sets - vividly expressing how parents and grandparents thought their young should view the world.

But Modernity's big problem would not go away - because reality is really and truly complex and dynamic - and everything science has discovered since 1875 renders this more not less so.

In our new era of global commensality we (most of we , anyhow) see the interconnectedness of everything on Earth : many ,many things and events all interacting with each other is some direct, some distantly indirect ways.

But many of us don't, still in denial that the era of modernity was wrong or that it has ended.

And this attitude is fueling - petro fueling - the destruction of this planet.

For on all of the world's Wall Streets, the Alpha Male 'Masters of the Universe' lead the way in denying that we can't really master the universe ....

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