Time, Revolution, and the Healing of History (3.17.10)
Our ideological adversaries are not living in reality. Indeed, that is what makes them our adversaries. People who don't live in reality necessarily become frustrated, resentful, and aggressive, especially toward those who do live in reality. They think that by attacking reality and those who live in it, they can somehow transform their unreality into reality, but of course it never works. Reality always has the last word.
Mead writes that everyone in the Anglo-American world, whether secular or religious, is within the Abrahamic tradition, which is one of the things that sets us apart from unsuccessful cultures. Abrahamic religion "holds that history has a shape and a purpose: a beginning, a middle, and an end." In the Abrahamic tradition, history is "the name for a period in the human story in which certain problems need to be solved. History in this sense is not synonomous with the full term of human existence. History is a period and a process through which humanity solves (or is given a solution to) certain sets of problems before moving on to the next and higher stage in its existence."
Abrahamic ideologies "largely see the human story as consisting of three stages: prehistory, history, and posthistory." Seen in this context, history "is not just the passage of time" -- indeed, Abrahamic peoples are intrinsically "historical" and never really see time in this meaningless way. Rather, history involves "the accomplishment of a task. Something is wrong with the world; the world has been wounded. History is the process by which what is wrong is set right, what is broken mended. History may look chaotic and meaningless, but everything that happens is ultimately part of the healing process..."
Now, the main difference between Abrahamic religion and Abrahamic atheism or materialism is that the latter regards the former as just a stage on the way to the atheist's superior "post human" knowledge and insight, while the religionist would regard the atheist as existing at a sort of right angle to the stream of historical development, paddling around in an irrelevant little self-created eddy. He is like a drop critiquing the ocean and imagining himself superior to it. But the atheist cannot help thinking that existence and history have a purpose, thus the fervent attempts to evangelize their posthuman (in reality infrahuman) faith.
In the words of Schuon, such a person regards his own "extrinsic explanations as essential factors of truth," objectifying what is only subjective and dragging truth "down into the depths into which it has itself fallen." The whole enterprise is absurd, since "one cannot enclose the universe within 'human subjectivity' while at the same time allowing for a point of view beyond this subjectivity..." Man is either a fragment of the Absolute or he is nothing.
We can all agree that something is wrong with the world. In the absence of time, we could never set it right, so history is indeed an opportunity to mend what is broken and participate in what Jews call tikkun olam, the "repair" or "perfecting" of the world. In Raccoon parlance we refer to this ultimate Adventure of Consciousness as "Cosmotheosis," or the divinization of the lower world, which can only be accomplished through human beings, since only we have the freedom to do so (i.e., vertical freedom of movement). In other words, we are the "lens" through which the white light of the Absolute deigns to undergo the adventure of color, each of which is a fragment of the pure Light. If we could not suffer pain, falsehood, and color, we could not suffer pleasure, Truth, and Light. This is why human existence is such a guilty pleasure.
Mead writes that secular modernism "is the youngest member of the family of Abraham." With the exception of a personal God, it "faithfully reproduces the most important pieces of the Abrahamic paradigm," and believes that its version of the faith will prevail in the end. Secularists still "adopt the core structure of the Abrahamic idea of history to tell their own stories of the world." (Mead goes into considerably more detail in defense of this thesis, but to a Raccoon it is soph-evident.)
The other "master narrative" of our time is the sudden flowering of human potential of the last several centuries. As Mead writes, "nothing in humanity's past prepared it for change this dramatic in so many fields over such an extended period of time." Because we are a relatively young species and exist within the heart of this ongoing explosion, it is difficult for us to see it.
But don't worry -- Petey sees it just fine. He would disagree with Mead as to when the noospheric explosion (i.e., psychogenesis) commenced, situating it instead about 35-40,000 years ago, when merely genetic proto-humans suddenly and inexplicably began exhibiting distinct signs of humanness, such as the fully realized artistic images on the underground cave walls of Europe. While the explosion continued afterwards, we couldn't see it because it was happening so slowly, just as we can't see the Big Bang happening, even though we're right here in the center of this rapidly expanding cosmos.
What happened with modernity is that we became aware of the exploding noosphere, since time suddenly "sped up," but mainly in the Anglo-American world. With the arrival of free market capitalism, for the first time "history became a real presence in human lives" (Mead). For example, the Muslim world is still stagnating back in that earlier time, so that to them, we are aliens from the future bearing weird and often threatening gifts such as computers, airplanes, and antibiotics. While they eagerly accept most of these gifts -- i.e., bin Laden is never far from his computer or dialysis machine -- they would like to pull the future back into the past, when none of these gifts existed, but still keep the gifts. Thus, they are not just premodern, but pre-ironic.
As for the left, they simply want to pull us all into a weird future which cannot exist except in the form of a projection of fantasy. They are post-ironic.
Mead writes that "Marx is to progressivism what Thomas Aquinas is to Catholicism," in that he explicated "the fullest and most systematic expression" of the secular leftist myth that still animates them today, even (or perhaps especially) if only unconsciously. Again, it shares the deep structure of Abrahamic religion, including a romantic "garden of innocence" (i.e., the classless society of early humans), the fall into oppression, exploitation, and class warfare, Marx's revelation of the true laws of history, and the culmination of "the establishment of a higher, final way of life that fully meets human goals and needs," i.e., the triumph of the working class. Thus, Marx didn't so much turn Hegel as Abraham on his head.
But having turned Abraham on his head, leftists also turned Brahman upside down, i.e., the Cosmic Tree. Its roots were now down below, mayared in matter. Having literally transplanted the tree of life into sterile soil, they accomplished a feat of clay, eliminating all the O-lumination in one fallen swoop, subverting That which makes man Man, and embracing the fantasy that they could build a new and improved reality "from the bottom up," absurdly beginning with matter. They could force their vision on a recalcitrant mankind in the same way one can mold matter. But in order to do this most effectively, a large and coercive state was required to do the molding and speed history along toward utopia. Needless to say, there is a big difference between pushing time and being pulled or lured by the eschaton.
Mead writes that "Americans have a hard time realizing this, but they need to." That is, we are faced with the eternal choice of the Glorious Revolution and its descendent, the American Revolution; or the French Revolution, and all its misshapen descendants. Our cosmic duty, as it were, is to preserve the radical spiritual revolution of America's founding seers, as we heal the wounds and wound the heels that history has made.