The Non-Emanationist Model of Society


The Burning Block Vol II No. 8

Ideology is an inefficient means of counteracting violence at best and is, at worst, a socially corrosive means. We can lay a set of facts before us, but the correlative they represent doesn't immediately lend us any notion as to what to do with them or how the situation they represent can even be described. All descriptions of a situation are inherently weighted with moral and ethical calculations which inform what is even allowed to be thought in the first place. Inevitably, an interpretation of facts along this trajectory always sets in and correlatives which would otherwise remain indefinite in number are isolated to a small domain. Whole metaphysical systems are born out of simply rearranging correlatives and universalizing contingent patterns in order to best gauge how to assess situations of the future in such a way that our engagement with them will be of some benefit to us.

Logic is ultimately a crisis of what to do with time itself. There is only a limited amount of time for the thinking agent to discover an answer to his problem, and thus, it is tempting to find something which can be an answer forever, or the closest thing to forever. Thus, rather than seek a cause for an effect, it is much simpler to imagine a cause which one might suppose is true so that one can decide how to feel about the effect afterward. One lets one's need for satisfaction inhibit a true apprehension of the problem facing them.

Discovering first causes shakes us - it is tantamount to an awakening. One is no longer safe to reside on the rock where one sat before because it has moved with a tide one didn't know could change. Reality is often like the ocean in this way. The tide sucks people under. You can try to get revenge on the tide, you can try to keep braving the tide, but you're going to get similar results every time until you can learn to respect its patterns. Likewise, there are many things in the universe outside of our control. We like to think that man is capable of mastering nature and beast, but all his attempts to harness reality see him impotent at best and dead at worst. One reaches maturity when one stops trying to control what is bigger than all of us and which operates on a scale that our small, human eyes can't immediately comprehend without testing rigorously with shrewd caution. 

Ideological superstructures don't say anything about how the world works, they merely reinforce how one wants the world to look. The trick, however, is that they give you the world you want at your own expense. For instance, someone will say 'taxation is theft,' and is then willing to fight the IRS and the state and land themselves in prison or in massive debt on nothing more than principle. Their fight was obviously for some kind of emotional satisfaction with their own moral superiority, unless they're insane and prey to the delusion that they can actually have any kind of personal victory over the state. Otherwise, they never would have worked jobs which agreed to deduct taxes from their checks for the state anyway. Likewise, people might suppose that the land actually belongs to a specific ethnic group because they had it at one time in the past; prey to the delusion that ethnicities are assigned territories at the beginning of time and that there's no such thing as gradual, natural demographic shifts. 

Ideology certainly perpetuates these attitudes, but what generates these attitudes in the first place is that a story of reality has to be told and then believed with utmost conviction. What makes a toxic ideology so potent is that it is usually made up of 90 percent truth. Take Marxism for instance. Marx was correct about a lot of things when he critiqued capital and industry of his day on a functional level, yet he was never going to stop there. There's no power in amoral economic diagnostics. He continued his thought with moral prescriptions and ideas about who was entitled to what in society. In turn, many of his admirers interpreted a further meaning into his words, inflating the idea of revolution when Marx himself never seemed to speak on the subject with total conviction, thus justifying the slaughter of millions of people around the world, all in alignment with an apocalyptic interpretation of justice. 

Similarly, anarchists have told themselves a story in which power itself is the absolute evil, or at least, all formalized power or all unequally deployed power. They refuse to consider that the world just might already be anarchic on a transcendent level and that, upon close examination, there's little to suggest that we don't already live in the kind of society they are describing when they speak of anarchism, or at least a world which was birthed from the kind of world that they are describing. Anarchists want metaphysically what communists want economically. Both believe in a secular fall of man and wish to return to the garden of Eden by killing everyone they consider an enemy. That, or someone who doesn't line up with them ideologically is forever an enemy and scapegoat, as they always remain conveniently between them and the utopia they can never seem to achieve.

Liberalism, conservativism and the democratic republics to which they're both beholden rely on a metastisization of the sense of 'other' in the community. Because everyone is born under these systems with virtually the same role to fulfill save for what one's natural proclivity for competition will allow, there is no sense of conviction concerning self or identity. 

Ideologies are formed precisely to fulfill the function of objective authorities one may appeal to for the purpose of affirming and universalizing one's own desires, fears and complacencies so that one doesn't have to bother with understanding that one is only a small part of the universe and not the whole. Ideology functions in this way as a collective, societal version of the demon which has chased mankind and caused its 'fall,' as it were; the sense of the ego, the importance of the individual self at the expense and destruction of one's surroundings and environment. Instead of telling ourselves stories about our own greatness, somewhere in history we figured out that we could gain more traction and  unleash more of our own inhibitions if we convinced others, not simply of our greatness, but that something or someone else was directly responsible for keeping us from our sense of greatness. 'Come, let's all be cowards together. No one will notice we're running away from something if we all run the same direction.' 

To change directions, the story needs to change. Rather than tell ourselves stories and myths which simply affirm our prejudices which have been established by us not questioning our self-destructive and socially corrosive habits, we need to tell ourselves stories and myths about how to win big; so big, in fact, that there's no competition. No more talk of revolution, of 'going after' (killing) corrupt bankers and bureaucrats. No more stories about how everyone is stealing from us and that things aren't competitive enough. Even if these sentiments are based on very real problems, it is foolish to think that there is one big event coming which will change everything around. 

There is nothing coming.

There won't be justice on a mass scale. 

There will be no war to end all wars. 

There is no president, no king, no activist or freedom fighter or revolutionary who is going to 'make things right.'

No one will catch all the pedarests, steal and send all the nukes to space, bring all soldiers back home or return all wages to the gainfully employed.

There will also not be a nuclear war to wipe everyone out, in case you were banking on that. I'm afraid the human virus won't be that easy to kill off...

Believing in all of these things is either a suicide fantasy or a respective utopian fantasy, depending on your particular view. The sad but quiet, awfully quiet truth is that there is no other potential world. The present world before you is certainly built on the pillars of the past, but even those pillars crumble as collective memory constantly reconfigures to generate the conditions for its survival. The future cuts us all down. The only honest assessment of the future is the one which is ever friendly toward and courting death. The awakening that comes with accepting the tide, accepting death - accepting the numerous natural processes and forces which humiliate us - is a cancelation of the emanationist prison we've built around ourselves.

The emanationist view is not only an obstinately linear view of reality, but it is a moral linearity built on rhetoric and self delusion. We place concepts in space and time that don't register with moment to moment exerpience. For instance, we think of ourselves as individual units with a definite sense of self, and yet, absolutely everything we do has an effect or causes a reaction, just as everything that happens to us incites a reaction in us. We are connected and inherently tangled up with the world in this way; constantly reminded that we are merely a part of it, even if we feel our own part more than the others and more often.

But this is precisely where the emanation comes in... Conceptually, we make the mistake of thinking that certain effects, certain objects in the world, are more important in their relationship with reality than they actually are, and thus we interpret everything in alignment with this diagnosis. In order to break free from this, one has to recognize that one's experience does not emanate from or move toward a single object, but is the product of a whole contingent set of patterns about which we must learn even as the conditions change around us. This constant change and the willingness on the part of the agent to embrace it, not allowing a single object or concept to make subordinate experience itself, can be likened to 'detachment' in many eastern religions. The ability to see the whole of experienced phenomena with an eye turned only toward the essential, objective nature of reality rather than toward an object or the concept of an object which was never meant to be appropriated by the subject as part of its essential experience, can be likened to an 'awakening.' 

By not objectifying our bad habits as emanation points of some truth conviniently kept at a distance in a world which cannot be tested, we start to look at the world in a more friendly way. Resentment drops. You stop trying to change people. You stop believing in the folly of revolutions, of necessary wars, necessary evils, savior presidents and savior political parties or life-changing diets. Most importantly, you stop trying to fight life. You 'possess Tao' or you are 'called to God's irresistible will,' as it were... Events no longer come with preordained prescriptions, but rather, events, things, conversations, moves, choices, blunders, romances, mistakes, joys, parties, actions and emotions all have their essential characters which one accepts in full as part of a bigger movement. 

It then becomes possible to see that things can change at the micro-level. This is the only real revolution - the small one, though it feels a lot bigger, because instead of changing the whole world, your whole world has changed. From here, it is possible for mimeses to take place, or simply for circumstances around you to be influenced benevolently or pragmatically as needed. One may learn to overpower lions and be victorious for the year, but to learn to overpower a dragon by learning when he falls asleep will win you the century. Caution, wisdom and curiosity are as important as strength, courage and honor. To win in life, one should take up the posture of victory in each moment. Let evil and corruption go to the devil on its own, as it was already headed that direction, and let none of it perturb you. Practice silence, exile and cunning, as well as joy, playfulness and innocence.

The non-emanationist model of reality ultimately cancels the space between potential and action. All potentials are fulfilled in the moment one simultaneously accepts what moves and what doesn't, and suddenly, everything which before appeared to be standing still has fallen away.