Fear, polarisation, disintegration and the void…

I think most people are subconsciously afraid of the disintegration of society as we know it. We are born into these structures, they are all we know and they are deeply interwoven with our ways of thinking, what we believe is possible and impossible, they define what we dream of and strive towards. It is how we live and how we die.

If society, as we know it, fell apart, how would we see ourselves, our role, our purpose?

If the current political. social and financial structures collapsed, how would we react, who would we turn to and what would we believe in?

What if no root-cause analysis or a preoccupation with ‘who is to blame’ can slow down or change the course towards this collapse?

What if disintegration is unavoidable?

What if a great collective existential crisis is upon us (or at least upon those of us living in Europe and Northern America)? What if it is already happening, what if we are in the midst of a mass emotional, psychological and structural breakdown?

If so, what do we need and what do we want? In our individual lives, in our networks, in our communities?

What power do we believe we have?

Who can create what we need and what we want? And how?

As we look in to the unknown and uncertain territories of the future can we engage our imagination, unleash our ability to trust and hope and connect with a sense of faith in humanity and nature?

Standing on the edge of the void, what are the possibilities and what are our personal and collective responsibilities?

Do we believe that breakdowns are the end? The ultimate failure? The beginning of chronic, unavoidable decline?

Or do we believe in the transformational potential of crisis, suffering and death?

Can we move from avoiding, denying and fighting towards acceptance?

And through acceptance towards different ways of being human in this world?

And through different ways of being can we create different societies?

Below is an interview I found interesting. It actually moves beyond ‘sides’ and ‘war’ and into the need for conversations, connection and understanding of the deeper fears and needs that are pulling at us.

I have written out some of what is in there to give a sense of it. Also this article by Paul Kingsnorth explores the same as what is said in the interview.

There is no conspiracy needed to see that the way things are being managed- through technology, through the vaccine as a techno-fix, through authoritarian mandates, through QR codes we have to scan to go to the pub – all of this stuff is taking us to a normalisation of ourselves as acceptable digital members of society.

Paul Kingsnorth

We don’t have the language, the spiritual language or cultural language, to talk about what is going on under the surface. So we just argue about the science. There is something much bigger and much deeper going on.

(…) The virus and our response to it has revealed this great spiritual void…

Paul Kingsnorth

What we are accepting in the name of tackling it is becoming increasingly disturbing.

(…)I’ve seen what seemed to be a reasonable response to the virus turn into quite a scientistic authoritarian system which I am not allowed to question without being called all kinds of terrible names.

Paul Kingsnorth

…the fear of galloping authoritarian control. And the fear more broadly – and I think there is reality in this, very much so – is that the pre-existing trend is towards technological control and monitoring and compliance in society. The use of everything from social media, to smartphone apps, to algorithms, to artificial intelligence is pushing us towards a society – something I call a ‘machine society’ -which is controlled and monitored and everybody is compliant.

So we close down politics and we get medical science to tell us what to do (…) and we obey it. But as it sort of fails (…) As the ‘progress and reason’ attitude visibly fails, a lot of people who have a strong intuitive sense that we need something else, start to turn against it.

Paul Kingsnorth

3 comments

  1. Dear Elisabeth,
    wonderful and deep and valid thoughts as ever. I feel prompted to reply, even if I can’t do it with the same process-oriented reflection. What I am reminded of:
    First, when I was 16 or 17, I dreamt of the apocalypse as a massive earth quake in almost abstract images. Paradoxically, it left me with an undeniable certainty: Life goes on.
    Secondly, some twenty yrs ago, when I felt to be unable to live in accordance with my spiritual values, I came across the 12-step serenity prayer and – replacing G-O-D with the intelligence and love of/in the Universe, I find it a useful guidance to focus on things that need doing – turning in kindness towards a beggar, protesting against inhumane systemic structural issues in the country live in, liaising with others who want to protect nature…
    Thirdly, I remember a discussion at the Uni of Aberystwyth (around 2002) with the late Prof David Held on globalisation. He said, among other things: Multinational capitalist structures have to be balanced by local democracy. I have never forgotten that.
    May these be yard sticks of my life. Best wishes,

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    • Thank you – I find the Serenity prayer one of the most helpful prayers or mantras and I find looking at stars at night or big landscapes or horizons by the ocean a good way to connect with that sense of life beyond human life and that even if humans or this planet cease to exist nature and life will not. I think that’s where my sense of faith really lies.

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