Empty Days

Sunday, July 11, 2004



Some notes on religion.

Footnote 30. (Paragraph 184) A further advantage of nature as a counter-ideal to technology is that, in many people, nature inspires the kind of reverence that is associated with religion, so that nature could perhaps be idealized on a religious basis. It is true that in many societies religion has served as a support and justification for the established order, but it is also true that religion has often provided a basis for rebellion. Thus it may be useful to introduce a religious element into the rebellion against technology, the more so because Western society today has no strong religious foundation. Religion, nowadays either is used as cheap and transparent support for narrow, short-sighted selfishness (some conservatives use it this way), or even is cynically exploited to make easy money (by many evangelists), or has degenerated into crude irrationalism (fundamentalist Protestant sects, "cults"), or is simply stagnant (Catholicism, main-line Protestantism). The nearest thing to a strong, widespread, dynamic religion that the West has seen in recent times has been the quasi-religion of leftism, but leftism today is fragmented and has no clear, unified inspiring goal. Thus there is a religious vacuum in our society that could perhaps be filled by a religion focused on nature in opposition to technology. But it would be a mistake to try to concoct artificially a religion to fill this role. Such an invented religion would probably be a failure. Take the "Gaia" religion for example. Do its adherents REALLY believe in it or are they just play-acting? If they are just play-acting their religion will be a flop in the end. It is probably best not to try to introduce religion into the conflict of nature vs. technology unless you REALLY believe in that religion yourself and find that it arouses a deep, strong, genuine response in many other people.
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Quasi-religion, leftism? Well, if by religion we mean something inspiring to believe in, that sure was it - for a short while at least. This is the obvious reason why western communists (that is "leftists") kept adulating Marx and Mao long after it was proven to them clearly and definitively that these shining dreams regularly turn to wholesale nightmare when applied to actual human societies. In fact "leftism" is simply a radical, narrow-minded mutation of general western humanism - and that we can't get away from, we're too deeply civilized for that. Even the Nazis were humanists - just an ugly mutation of western humanism.

What is humanism? In short - the dream of socially organized happiness. In other words, socialism in all its forms. That's it that's all. That it should turn to an open or implicit tyranny every time is no surprise - the pursuit of organized "universal" happiness is purposeless by definition because it's predicated on a wanton illusion.

Pane et circem. How to feed a crowd with 5 breads - we can do it now, 5 farmers are feeding thousands, and life is not worth living.

As to "religion of wild Nature" the only way to inspire any such awe would be to have a lot of people actually living in direct contact with such Nature. Most obviously, this has become a rare and, in western urban societies, privileged position - all land is private and one needs to pay a hefty price to get a spot "wild" enough to get a true sense of what it's all about. Most people are born into tremendous essentially urban comforts, even in rural communities - not many are able or willing to unlearn their habits and fears to deal with real wilderness. It's a huge, improbable feat nowdays.

Leonardo da Vinci in his 16th century was dreaming of flying machines and bicycles - you might ask why he was having such dreams, he was quite closer to "wild nature" than we are today.

Industrial societies are deeply civilized - that is, very remote from nature in all its forms. Can you really undo that? Even "environmental concerns" are somewhat hard to muster up - because 90% of our lives are spent in plastic and imperceptible fumes from plastic.

"Gaia" - you bet.

Today the empty poisoned grounds in and around Cherbobyl look like a fairy-tale - the prestine silence and the sprawling wilderness. Wild horses and wild bores. Vast untouched spaces. Freedom. And it's only because it's off-limits to humans. Those who are not afraid to die still live there.

Ghost towns are a dream. This is the new dream of an over-civilized over-populated society - destruction, emptiness, freedom, and death.





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