Friday, December 23, 2011

Replacing Karl Marx's view of History ---The theory of Historical Differentiation

 File:Karl Marx.jpg

Is history just chaos? Does it have any rules or direction? Now that communism has collapsed and capitalism has suffered a major catastrophe where are we to go? Are things going to get better for humanity?  Are the negative features of modern culture going to get worse? Can we learn something from the past?

This is a very confusing age, there is no about that. So many things are happening all at once. The speed and complexity of events is mind numbing. Is there a perspective that can help us unravel all of these crazy things? Yes, there is: Going back to the Beginning. Here is a starting point that gives a thread to follow. This thread shows us how this modern world developed, and therefore tells us how to fix the modern world.

An important phenomenon is happening right now in Asia. Two peoples are at war today in a very interesting and symbolic conflict — Afghanistan and America, a very tribal culture vs. the most advanced culture on the planet, one culture near the beginning, one very far away. This raises some very interesting questions about history. This event too points us back to the beginning.

We can study and create a theory of history. Without one we will not know where to go from here. History then will not evolve, it will not progress, it will just become reruns of old shows.

Karl Marx gave us a thesis of human development, it failed. There is really no other sweeping account of our racial trek, unless you want to consider the view that modern culture, in particular, modern American culture is the end result of history and the future of history. And most of us know this can’t be right, though we must agree elements of the future are indeed manifested in America.

Karl Marx gave us a perspective on history focusing on class struggle. It was called “historical materialism”. Here is offered a very different thesis that is based on the principle of “differentiation”. In the cosmos all things differentiate over time, they become more diverse, more individual, more particular over time. This is a long-term process in the world too; call it “historical differentiation”.

In this view, class struggle is incorporated as one type of “differentiation” though it is modified here. The general notion addresses not only classes but all forms of inequality — gender, race and more. The thesis also appends the class issue with problems in the formation of individuality. It addresses the rise of social institutions, the rise of complexity in society, and the war of institutions. It addresses the consequent war of minds within the brain. It addresses the appearance of false ideologies and delusions like consumerism and more. Historical differentiation accepts certain of Marx’s ideas but finds itself at odds with many more, including the Marxist strategy of centralization, statism, materialism and more. Marx prematurely summed up a thesis that led on a road against differentiation, difference, individuality and creativity.

What is the fundamental theme of history? It is the same as the whole cosmos! It is differentiation — the creation of difference, individuality, particularity, complexity.  Humans are no different than over living organisms or inanimate things. This force produces galaxies, planets, living things, Humans, Human minds and Human society.

This differentiation must begin somewhere. For the cosmos it begins, at least as far we can trace it now, in the Subsume of a singularity and then the “big bang”. A Subsume is an origin point where all things are fused and confused, and all future things exist in potential. At some point, there was an Earth Subsume for nascent life, though we don’t know yet what it was and when, but it “elaborated” outward into many species and an ecosystem. Then Human Subsumes appeared in evolution too. For the purposes here concerning modern history, we begin in another Subsume — that of the tribal village long before the rise of “civilization”.

The village splits into parts, differentiation causes this. Class groups arise at a certain point, classes of all sorts, inequality appears. Institutions arise — church, economy, government, science and technology, education, art, theatre etc. Affluence, specialization and organization propel this process. As elites grow wealthy and powerful they take over the direction of the former tribe. City states evolve, the beginnings of empires appear.

The extended family decays and the nuclear family appears. The once friendly community becomes a hostile camp. Women become second class citizens.

Individuality arises as people become more aware of their unique identity and inner powers. A new level of moral conscience appears. Efforts to understand and manage our complex minds appear.

In addition, individuals are disconnected from the new state; they are now alienated and alone. They either accept the new situation or they band together into new religions of both individuality and connection or they rebel. People now seek individual freedom, freedom of religion, freedom of speech. A citizen now has an individual soul, a personal conscience.

The mind also differentiates; where all was once fused, now a split begins. Experience, knowledge, techniques and sciences develop these new sub-minds of logic-science vs. spirit vs. subconscious vs. the mind of doing vs. emotions vs. wisdom vs. creativity etc. All once mixed in a whole mind, all interconnected, now this is shattered; people choose which house to live in and champion it.

And the Subsume mind that is the guardian of the whole is ridiculed and tossed aside. It is replaced with a kind of logical mind that does not see wholes only parts, only distinct and separate things, but never a big connected whole. Today this mind reigns and suppresses the rest of our neurology.

Old tribal perspectives are gone.  Economics that was supposed to help the whole tribe has vanished, classes separate themselves and get rich. Education that was supposed to be about life has been replaced by new curriculums. Communication once two-way and direct is replaced by one way communication from a distant bureaucrat or godlike king.

Many more events also occur -- mythology that united the tribe is replaced with religions of elites and power. Spirit, the mindset that arises from connection to community, to Nature, to the origin of all things is replaced with a new “spirit” of worship and wealth and control.

Work once a varied activity that reflected varied needs is now for the purpose of enrichment of others or self. Consumption once limited by other social needs and natural limits now has no bounds.

A high priest replaces the old shaman; religion is removed from community and daily issues of life. Feelings of tribal brotherhood are gone. Intimate connection to Nature is gone. Ancestor religion is gone; no more connection to your family, immortality is redefined. The dreamtime is gone.

New ideologies arise, new religions, emperor worship; in modern times comes consumerism and philosophies of self absorption.

After the tribe, war is everywhere. The war of individuals, war of social classes, institutional war, mental war, and ideologies justifying this war, all appear together. And the fundamental war that is often not addressed, the war between Human and nature which also is a form of bad differentiation where the Human evolves great powers and differentiates himself from the ecosystem and environment, and thinks he is master and controller of planet Earth.

All this happens because of differentiation. But this is a very bad kind of differentiation, not a good kind. This process leads to break up, alienation, conflict, exploitation, manipulation and elitism.

This is a NEGATIVE DIFFERENTIATION which leads to warfare or chaos or subversion or control. Negative differentiation comes in various forms: one type is simply chaos and cultural warfare; another type expresses the suppression of all other social groups and institutions by a singular, primary elite; a third form might be called "shell culture" – this is where an elite professes to uphold democratic values, that is, true differentiation, but only does so superficially.

POSITIVE DIFFERENTIATION has yet to come, this is a self aware and self managed mindset which understands the historical process, anticipates potential problems, and manages a transition into a differentiated whole or new “village” – more complex but still connected. Positive differentiation supports free differentiation and the whole and merges the two into a differentiated or diverse whole.

Negative differentiation leads to some groups abusing other groups or the majority, the “people”. Or it leads to neglect of some groups or most groups by elite and controlling people. This process began thousands of years ago. It first produced city states all over the planet. In the West, this process has been most extreme and most advanced. But by “advanced ” it is not necessarily meant “healthy”.

This breakup of the original tribal Subsume did not have to happen; it did so because we were ignorant of the process and its consequences.

There was simply a lack of awareness of what was happening. These new events and behaviors have not been seen before; tribal lore, history and wise ones had no way of understanding or responding effectively to the new developments. In fact, it is only recently in Human history that the process is comprehensible. For tens of thousands of years the tribe and its mentality of the whole reigned.

Dissemblers and schemers appear, they know what they are doing, but they know too that they must hide their intentions. And be aware that the schemer has a great advantage over the moral person, for the moral individual is trusting and unsuspecting, while the schemer cannot be trusted for a minute. The schemer is no genius, this has nothing to do with any brilliant intelligence, it is simply the dastardly evil of it. No one suspects, for they have not seen this before. Who could have imagined the dissembling, double-mind of the new order? No one behaved this way before -- village members are lambs going to the slaughter.

Negative differentiation also led to trends of group think and statism...and then reactions to it. Some used the new differentiation to get into power; others used the old to stay in power. History became highly complicated with so many differing cultures and values and social systems. There is so much variety even amongst those who oppose variety and difference!

One thing which we can be sure of is that there are very few examples of true positive differentiation in history.

“Negative differentiation” or “negative elaboration” has dominated for some time. It brought chaos, strife, elites, statism and more. Yes, good things have happened too within all of this. Evolution and differentiation continued in these hostile conditions. Discoveries, inventions, industry and sciences, but much of this came as a super-focus or even obsession — because some ideology, class or institution ruled and promoted its biased view of the world and one Human need against all other.

The ancient Greeks were not like us at all though we like to pretend they were. In China and the East the negative differentiation did not go so far. One can argue that other cultures went in the extreme direction of the religious or imperial. And this is true but the West has outdone them in sheer excess.

In the beginning in the West an embryonic culture of self-aware differentiation arose. Its elements were combined -- merchant capitalism, the protestant religion of the individual, science, new art, frugality and work.

It gathered great support from the masses and came to power. At first this culture seemed to stand for a genuine differentiation of individuality, free thought, democracy, free economics and more.

Other cultures, at different times, showed potential for forming an embryonic collection of new behaviors. In other parts of the world, there were periods where such an embryonic culture of differentiation might have arisen but because of various factors and events it did not. In each case the new kind of culture would have been very unique and different from the Western model.

When the new forces came to power in the West, a reversal took place. Once in power, fresh groups took over, both political and economic. The stated values of the new order were then subverted over time.

A shell culture emerged which superficially stood for the great new values but underneath acted for their limitation. The shell system is run by shell people, these are dissembling minds, shell minds that say one thing publically, yet do another.

But the shell mind does not fool those who really look, for we can know the tree by its fruit. And its fruit is physical and economic suffering, and also includes the psychological pain that follows from their notion of “happiness” for the mainstream.

We begin to see big paradoxes and contradictions in modern culture -- economic freedom but really little economic freedom, individuality but without real choices, support of diversity but not really. And so on.

So historically speaking, negative differentiation has come to a transitional phase where it says one thing and does another. This creates a conflict in society of dreams and desires, and we are getting close to a break out. It stands for positive differentiation on the outside, but works for negative differentiation on the inside.

In Europe there was the rise of science, technology and capitalism. England was most advanced in this process however its cousin, America, outdid it. The USA is the most advanced in this kind of destructive elaboration about money, extreme individuality, alienation, consumerism, culture and mind wars, technology obsession and blindness to the environment.  America has pioneered its unique form of negative differentiation with a sophisticated shell. At the same time, in the USA are seeds of an escape from this law of history, from this negative process into a healthy differentiation, though it will not be easy.

The USA beat its competitor the Soviet Union and won. And we must note something about Russia: The socialist revolution in Russia took place precisely because of a proximity to the tribe. Russia was not Western Europe, workers came from communal villages; they spontaneously created the Soviets, the worker’s councils, for self-administration.

Eventually, communism of course undermined the Soviets but the point is that communism was a reaction to history, not history itself. Communism arose as an antidote, partly seeing the process, mostly ignorant of so much more of the process. It did not recognize the whole process about evolving individuality, all realms of the mind, all forms of elitism and inequality, the diversity of all institutions. Thus communism opposed all differentiation, freedom, creativity and direct democracy.

When communism represented class struggle as a real issue, it made headway. And when it supported the liberation of colonies from imperialism, it grew in the third world. For a time it was the great hope, it was “revolutionary”. And for those a little critical, the class issue would lead to resolving other issues...but this did not happen, hope was lost.

In Marx’s immense thesis everything seemed to be addressed, so people assumed it would change everything. And it did, but not in good way. Terrible abuse and neglect happened in communism, though its original idealistic intentions were to escape this horrible historical progression. But it made the general mistake of opposing history and thus sidelined itself.

Marx’s thesis while correct on class struggle was wrong on many other issues. In the first phase of the rise of Western differentiation, we have capitalist and worker alike in the same movement, libertarian and common person. In second phase this movement naturally breaks up, as the workers and radical libertarians move toward a new ideology: Socialism.

Enter Karl Marx, who systematically critiques the entire culture and its historical process and critiques even the critics, his fellow socialists, he brings the extreme of ‘Communism”. Marx takes a stand against individuality for collectivism, poses materialism against religion, redefines a Human being as a material entity whose only want is work, jettisons personal morality for class morality, which is no morality at all. He advocates centralism and the state over the free actions of private civil society.

Marx aligns himself in a thorough one-to-one way against all the ideals of the early phase of capitalist culture. Thus Marx ended up with a severe thesis of history. This was his “scientific socialism”.

Communism was for a time a solution and many good people flocked to it. It took time to see where the theoretical problems might be manifested as real social problems. Or whether there were real theoretical problems at all, only perhaps, errors of bias or minor points. Marx’s ideas contained a seed of totalitarianism, but this seed did not germinate until there was severe political struggle, a survival necessity for the activists, and then disciplined parties, and then the real possibility of power.

It is no wonder that communism collapsed. It suppressed Human motivation and freedom. It had no vigor or verve, no élan vital. There was no innovation, no creativity in it Рthings that capitalism had learned to utilize.

And more, communist economics was not economics at all! It was politics masquerading as economics, its prime issue was ownership and control but there was no grasp of economics at all. To understand economics, one had to borrow the evolving science from capitalism, and this was not acceptable at all. To grasp economics, and this is very important, would be to understand that economics is inseparable from markets. And Marx opposed markets, and markets are the essential expression of economic differentiation. Markets express a special type of diversity -- competition, entrance and exit, innovation, direct economic control.

Economics is actually a very complex affair that cannot be contained in the oversimplified dialectics of socialist economics, of party control, and its 5 year plan for the workers whose "only want in life is to work". Healthy economics is ultimately about diversity and differentiation.

Thus, communism had no economic theory and thus no real economy; what it substituted was bureaucracy and command, politics for economics. And so it could not compete with capitalism on this playing field. Only on the playing field of global revolution did communism have a chance. But when these insurgencies ran their course, the true weakness of Marxism became clear. Without a diversity of firms, without competition, innovation, mass participation and mass motivation, socialism could not work. So with all its faults, capitalism was far stronger and it won or, at least, outlasted tubercular communism. Communism failed though it seemed for a moment it may have succeeded.

When the 3rd world exploded with revolution driving the US to the ropes in the 60s and 70s, it looked like capitalism was near its final eulogy. But eventually communism failed because it stood against the force of Human history, it opposed all differentiation, it took a stand against the very fundamental process of the cosmos, thus it only had a 74 year reign, miserable, blaming and impoverished as it was.

Communism fell. America was able to push further recklessly down its road; in 17 years America accomplished in 2008 a breakdown. The locomotive of the great train of history went off the tracks. Now nothing makes sense anymore, communism did not work, capitalism does not work. We are stuck in two boxes of history needing to break out toward a creative horizon.

Offered here is another way of looking at history — a history of differentiation and elaboration that did not have to be, but occurred because of ignorance, innocence, dissemblers, power and wealth.

Where are we then in this long Human evolution? In the USA, the program should be to accept individuality as a historical process, but promote healthy individuality and limit alienation and selfishness. Individuality should be appended with social activism, compassion and caring, and building new institutions. Principles and ideals are key — when your new world does not exist, you need ideas first to drive you to create it. The tribal person did not need ideals of community because the connection was there, they lived it every day. In our period, a heavy idealism is called for precisely because the world of these ideals is not here yet, and we must grip onto those ideals lest we fall into the amnesia and apathy of the mainstream.

Social institutions, principally, business and the economy should not be allowed to control or destroy other institutions like education, government, healthcare and more. Democracy should include a diversity of institutions that should work together. And direct democracy in government is the only solution to prevent politicians from serving their own narrow interests.

We should promote equality and help the victims of poverty. Negative psychologies and ideologies that come from consumerism and entertainment should be abandoned. And we should change the way we use our brains, we must use all our brains, and learn how to manage our complex minds and emotions. This is something that marketing and politics does not want because its aim is manipulation of our neurology.

The shell culture must be ended, its mentality of hypocrisy and contradiction. And all its strange dualities must be eradicated – for example, extreme individuality vs. group think. Shell minds have created a culture of vast complexity and self contradiction. But beneath the shell game we can see the core values and drives.

The general themes of historical differentiation are balance, connection and the whole. Complexity is good, individualization is good, creative development of new things is good, technological advance is good. As long as we stay connected, in balance, and as wholes, this is all very good. We cannot stop evolution and creativity, and we should not try. These are fundamental forces in the cosmos, in Nature, in Humans, in society, in our minds. But there are consequences and vigilance is needed.

Post-communist cultures are in a very different situation from the West. Communist nations come from a culture of undifferentiation, that is, a culture that stressed centralization and imitation and group think.

Peoples coming out of communism are then in a very different situation from those in the West. Moving out of a culture that lacks individuality, diversity and creativity is not an easy process. By degrees, by fits and starts, by revolutions and then pauses, the ex-communist moves toward a new culture. It is a long development. When people are ready then one group of issues at a time is tested and understood.

Over time many transformations must occur – in personal code, law, contracts, psychology, religion and the spirit, individual responsibility, democracy, organization and leadership, art and entertainment, freedom of speech and media, multiculturalism, education, the entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and so on.

The West offers some solutions to a post-communist culture. But there will be no blueprints from a sensei teaching its student. Western history and culture is complex and contradictory and just very different. It must be studied but ultimately the East is on its own.

The East will find it is exploring new territory, innovating, being creative. Very importantly, it will have to jettison any kind of dogmatic thinking. Thought methods must be flexible, open, creative, pragmatic and diverse. Further, simultaneous strategies may appear that are contradictory or incongruous to handle a complex problem.

At the same time the West has not solved all of its problems -- either because it has its own difficulties in these fields, or because it pursues the opposite extreme, due to its own peculiar complications and heritage. This is a long process and a staged process for the East, just as the West evolved through definite phases. The West constantly advises the East but the fact is that the West does not understand the culture, values, history and particular problems of these nations.  The West can only partly understand.

These are the lessons of the history of differentiation. For Human beings this process must be conscious. From a tribal Subsume comes elaboration. In our minds we often return to tribal Subsumes, we mourn the loss of the days when we were all one, for the current world vexes us. We seek the “ideal” time or “dreamtime”.

We can mentally go back to the tribal whole. And we can study it as it exists in authentic wholes or remnant parts around the world. The modern nation can go back intellectually and emotionally, it can learn about healthy differentiation and diversity and healthy social wholes.

We should not throw out the great accumulation of knowledge and things that we have acquired; that would be stupid. But we should rearrange our complex world so that we have new organizing principles and new priorities. It is not a matter of destruction or enforced poverty, we want to preserve our gains in knowledge, science, methods, organization, affluence.

However, we should use them in the context of a society that is a whole, that is connected, that is diverse. We are making a trip, we are returning to the Subsume to learn a new behavior. In one sense we are moving in a great circle, returning to the original whole. In another sense we are ascending with our achievements and not letting go of them.

All of this new activity is a highly creative act where new institutions and methods and codes are imagined and produced. And ultimately of course we are recreating ourselves as new citizens of this new world.

The present and the beginning are connected. What happened in the past determined today. At the same time we are bringing the past into the future.

In the advanced nations there is a rising sense of dissatisfaction. Major movements to change are coming.

In the modern world, nations right behind the USA in evolutionary sequence should take pause, make a course correction. The US is most extreme down this road of negative differentiation.

Its people are advanced and suffering, so it is an “advanced suffering” if you will -- a suffering caused by an elite’s version of “happiness” for all.

Post communist countries are on their own path, they cannot use the West as a model; there are too many differences and opposites between the two.

Those peoples further back, not fully in the modern world, are closer to the tribal Subsume; they may be in the best position. They can avoid the suffering that we know as daily life. They may be in the most creative situation while moving toward more individuality they may learn from our mistakes, while we in the modern world have many bad habits to unlearn. They may be able to avoid social alienation, emotional dysfunction, manipulations of marketing and consumerism, and the double-think of shell cultures.

Human beings ultimately have a simple choice, we can express the fundamental force of Human evolution which is differentiation and evolution or we can try to misdirect it or oppress it or warp it.

Marx offered another alternative which was to simply escape from the process of differentiation by opposing all its forms. Communism took a leap from history into a sidetrack and thus history swiftly passed it up.

Marx offered a highly simplistic thesis of class struggle to answer all questions and solve all problems. We now know this is was quite wrong because our social world is much more complex, and the forms of possible oppression are far greater than one item.

But on the other hand, Historical Differentiation does offer a simple explanation of its own. It notes that the many complex issues can be understood by a simple concept: differentiation. The evolution of difference and parts and new buds is the underlying theme of history. And the simple solution to the potential problems that may occur is to link the diversity into a whole, a democratic, flexible whole. And not by means of centralism but by new sophisticated methods that ensure freedom and promote coordination.

Cage Innoye

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