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Inharmonic Convergence

The current #occupy events, past and present studies have been driving my thoughts on a unified field theory of human relations. A few years back, I was watching a series on lost civilizations wherein the conclusion was that “environmental devastation leads to cultural collapse.” When not attributable to war, significant climate change or overpopulation and overharvesting seems to have been what caused ancient civilizations like the Mayans to have all but vanished. Now I am reading Chris Harman’s A People’s History of the World. Examining lost Bronze Age cultures, Harman adds the outcome of class division as an element in societal collapse:

“The growth in the power and wealth of the ruling class drove the living standards of the mass of people down to the minimum necessary for survival – and sometimes even lower….The ever-greater absorption of resources by the ruling class was accompanied by massive slowdown in the growth of humanity’s ability to control and understand the natural world.”

Stagnation, not invention, was the hallmark of the monopolization and concentration of wealth, which absorbs surplus production rather than reinvesting it. “The advances which did occur … were not made inside the ‘great civilizations,’ but among the ‘barbarian peoples’ on their periphery.” Moreover, Harman contends, the reliance on religion and superstition to cement a ruler’s power actively discouraged scientific advancement. This failure to innovate was only one harbinger of decline as the increasing burden on the poor also exposed the society to the rampages of disease.

Workers lost whenever they were not militant and when they lacked organizational structure to take control of public infrastructure which would allow them equal footing with a ruthless and devious adversary. Respect for constitutionalism, the perceived social contract, invariably meant acquiescing to government coups. Compromise usually came from bourgeois elements that disadvantaged workers and ultimately allowed reactionary forces to take all power back by this divide and conquer strategy.

Sound familiar? It should: you’re living in it.

And yet, the past 100 years have seen more social unrest, more popular uprisings than any before it. Although we now have a “best before” date looming with environmental catastrophe on the horizon, we also have mass communication, a faster learning curve and historical precedent to guide us. Humans transitioned from different economic paradigms in the past and I believe we are on the precipice of the next major one. What it will look like is presently unfathomable, just as our current system would have been to feudal barons and serfs. What hope I glean from the #occupy movement is not an expectation of quick success. It is seeing the conversation, the reimagining, the heterodox cauldron of ideas defying a system which only seeks to absorb and thereby disempower. We are looking at the birth of the next great paradigm shift. Baby steps…


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Nov. 16th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
Brilliant as always. :)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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