"History repeats itself": A phrase that is increasingly being uttered. Predictions of inauspicious scenarios unfolding, constantly being reproduced in public discourse. "A period reminiscent of interwar Europe", "a path that inevitably leads to war", "Orwellian conditions of surveillance, manipulation and suppression on the horizon", "a complete ecological catastrophe in store since environmentally detrimental activities of multinationals cannot be thwarted", and so forth.
It is imperative that reality [as an illusion], with self-fulfilling prophecy properties, as a nexus of "autopoietic" noetic structures (i), circumvents yet another repeat of History.
For this to occur, I am afraid that any given socioeconomic reform or transformation will not suffice. What is required is a Complete Metamorphosis. Something entirely new, not susceptible to anterior predispositions, tendencies and forces of habit.
An obstacle to such metamorphosis, is each and every one of us. The cause in a sense, can be attributed to what Native Americans called "wétiko" (ii), a word used to denote a metaphysical "entity", a "thought infecting virus", depriving of vital essence anything in its path. A greedy, cannibalistic virus, which occupies the spirit, rationalizing [often extreme] anti-social behaviour. Whose primary objective is the exploitation and degradation of others, solely for personal gain, and which over the course of time destroys everyone, including its "host".
Perhaps it is best I make reference to concrete examples, beginning with all those that engage in behaviours and actions with large scale impact. Specifically, the "priesthood" of our current, systemic economic narrative. Intelligent individuals for whom although it is very difficult to believe that they do not know any better, insist upon reproducing the myth of "perpetual" growth. And it is of little significance whether such growth is labeled "green", "sustainable" or anything else that may assign a palatable connotation. The idea of exponential growth within a finite framework (re natural resources) is intuitively, logically and mathematically devoid of merit.
The paradox here is that those who publicly endorse the dogma of [economic] growth, participate behind closed doors in think tanks, NGOs and clubs that have elevated to banner-flag status "steady-state" (i.e. zero-growth) or degrowth economics. After all, it has been close to half a century since the "Club of Rome" published "The Limits to Growth" (iii) which caused and continues to cause deep ruptures within contemporary economic orthodoxy.
What is precisely at play then? What is it with this persistent attempt to sustain a dogma which reality negates on a daily basis? By way of cynical interpretation, and by taking as a given that sooner or later we will have to transition to a new operating framework if we genuinely desire to ensure a far-extending perpetuation of the species, is it not logical that great pressures be applied by centres of economic power, to complete a cycle of value appropriation from the base to the top before such transition occurs? And from that point onwards, why not simply ... consolidate a neofeudal status quo (iv). After all, in a degrowth setting it will be very difficult for someone to exponentially increase or create a vast fortune, from zero.
The greatest danger however, is that the longer transition to a sustainable framework is deferred through such "extending-and-pretending", the greater the risk of crossing into an irreversible state. In other words, this avaricious, cannibalistic psychopathology is threatening to destroy everything. Hence the need to accelerate Societal Metamorphosis.
The act however, of exclusively assigning blame to given centres of systemic power is nothing more than fallacy. This specific psychopathology has infected everyone since we have been reared into a specific mindset, experiencing and manifesting it day in and day out, most often entirely oblivious of this.
From those who accuse A or B of being sociopathic plutocrats, while they themselves secretly desire to be included among their ranks. From the ...driver that switches to the left lane, ahead of everyone else including the traffic light, proceeding with delay when it turns green, "cannibalizing" the time of all those that would have otherwise made it. From the parent that views their child as an extension of themselves and pressures it into following a specific path, in order to vicariously experience what they themselves failed to actualize. From the person that while tax-evading, desires above anything else that the country remains within the euro, as long as everyone else but them pays the price. And generally every single one of us who one way or the other, directly or indirectly, appropriates the time, vital energy or matter of "others", without counterbalancing reciprocity (v).
For Societal Metamorphosis to occur, which will enable us to avoid the self-destructive, repeating patterns of the past, perhaps what is required is for each and everyone of us to attend more closely to our thinking process (vi) and our behaviour. In order to facilitate a complete mentality overhaul, a shift in consciousness which will extend into practice. This, coupled with a simultaneous recognition of our current deficiencies, primarily emanating from the conviction/delusion that we know everything when in effect, we know very little (vii).
To break free from the illusion that everything can change solely by the volition of a given set of decision makers or, through the intervention of a deus ex machina. Change, in the sense of Societal Metamorphosis, requires the collective activation and mobilization of the intelligence of each and every one of us. Besides, present day challenges by far exceed the problem solving capacity of any given set of experts.
In sum, the question is: Are we truly prepared to change, or is it the "obligation" of everyone else to change, ourselves excluded? Only time will tell. Yet time is a "genius". And whether we want to or not, we all are temporally bound.
Dedicated to Larry/nuet and all those that participated in the email thread entitled"The Great Transition", which inspired this article.
i) Particularly susceptible to indiscernible, subcutaneous "programming" and "automation".
iii) Lest we assign an interpretation of purely conspirational undertones, one must always account for the possibility that a given decision maker or expert, supports the "extend and pretend" mantra solely in an attempt to avoid disrupting the "equilibrium" of a fragile structure, which could otherwise create even greater problems.
iv) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Limits_to_Growth. By extension, it is worthwhile to read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Georgescu-Roegen.
v) Surely the imposition of policies which serve to reproduce misery among millions of people is not equivalent to the minor social "misdemeanours" that each and every one of us more or less engages in. However, the various manifestations of antisocial behaviour in aggregate, serve in a sense to legitimize antisocial behaviours with far-reaching consequences.
vii) "The meta-gnosis of Socrates - 'Eν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα", https://gerasimos-politis.blogspot.gr/2012/02/e.html