The Crisis of Sociopolitical Paradigms
A survey of socio-cultural and political reform movements, after the European Renaissance, shows that these attempts were not really working for life as a whole. Of course their insufficiencies did not create a special problem because even before the renaissance there had been many reform movements, which were inadequate and unsuccessful.
The actual problem was a different one. The bourgeois revolution had matured and was clearly beginning to decay as a social movement. Evidence of that decay was the growing crisis of concepts in the twentieth century. In literature this crisis manifested through themes of insoluble emotional conflicts and growing distortions of those very emotional and cultural formations, which were the product of bourgeois revolution and social formation. Along with growing economic progress one could also see growing political conflicts. There was increasing political instability which was not confined to any one particular country and for a short period of time but became a general phenomenon. It was a clear indication that in the context of unfolding human life, the bourgeois political system was no longer as stable as it was in the nineteenth century.
In addition, it was now possible to see scientific knowledge growing at an increasing pace, and its applications being used largely in specific economic or military areas and not society, and culture. There was an increasing divorce between growing human knowledge (especially in the Sciences) and culture (including social issues). Sociology and Anthropology were attempting to bridge that gap through carrying out a ‘scientific’ study of socio-cultural reality with the help of tools like field research methods (statistical and the sample survey methods). But one could see that these ‘empirical’ methods were only able to scratch the surface of the human socio-cultural condition and problems. They were being used for micro research into the manifest behavioral social and cultural aspects, and issues but not for analyzing and reexamining fundamental concepts about the individual and social existence of man. Which is why over time we found them to be increasingly unreliable and in fact not producing the desired results of providing man with a comprehensive scientific understanding of society and culture.
By the latter half of twentieth century one could see some radical changes taking place in the objective and general situation of mankind compared to its past. In earlier times there were occasional bursts of knowledge increment in some places; sometimes in china, at other times in India and then in Europe, or in America. But afterwards there would be a long time of intellectual quiet during which there would be no great increase in knowledge in terms of any significant scientific discoveries or inventions. So this determined the pace of history.
After 1970 it became clear that new scientific tools of inquiry, and inventions/ discoveries based upon them, had reached a point of development where this would no longer be so. Since scientific and technological knowledge had become a perennial torrent fed from the glaciers and no longer seasonal, hence one could not expect its progression to become static or even slow down. There were not going to be any gaps in history now.
The increasing knowledge fund had already started invading new areas, previously beyond the reach of man. For example, areas related to macro space, micro areas within biological cells and atoms, and then in computing and communication technologies. Thus, apart from the crisis of concepts (mentioned earlier) in the beginning of the twentieth century, there was now an additional problem; the crisis of this avalanche of knowledge. Due to which one could foresee practical problems of the bourgeois civilization continuing to multiply at the cultural, political and economic levels. The kind of competition this new knowledge process was going to unleash would be one the bourgeois economy would not be able to cope with. So there will not be the crisis of surplus value, or impoverishment of the market but of an explosive competition continuing to intensify in new ways. Thus, we were actually standing at this threshold of historical change. A natural response to this was to try and become intelligent about this whole process in order to intelligently make the transition to a post-bourgeois civilization.
The Inapplicability of Past Methods and Need for New Tools
On this note one could see why past approaches towards reform movements were not sufficient. They were based upon a criticism of existing society either from a moral or a humanist standpoint. It was the nature of criticism of a society and the problem solving tools used for it which determined the kind of solution or alternative these approaches were going to seek. But in the contemporary human situation, those tools (coming from a moral or humanist plane) were not applicable because the problem was clearly not just of another reformed political structure but of transition to a post-bourgeois civilization (mentioned above), which would require a more intelligent comprehensive change spearheaded by new tools.
A very important reason for the inapplicability of pre-existing tools in recent times has been the drastic impact of expanding knowledge on the means of production for producing material goods and wealth. The hitherto economic history of man has been one of inventing new devices or things for individual use and consumption, but not being able to produce enough of them. There was always a shortage of goods and inventions, whether it was wheat, building a house, clothing, education, medicine, transport, energy, etc. Today, due to this new and different knowledge process contemporary man was going to acquire the ability to produce material goods in abundance— more than his required needs and desires. His knowledge was no longer going to be primarily about inventing new goods but new methods of production, which were going to be immensely more productive. Moreover he would not just have an unprecedented ability to produce more goods but to produce them at a lesser cost. This would not only change the entire nature of the economic problem of society but also the hitherto economic scene and consequently lives of individuals. Up to now man’s entire life was shaped by the fact of not having enough goods, and now it would be shaped by the reality of abundance (achieved at a negligible cost).
This change would in turn require an enormous transformation in culture. The whole mindset of man has hitherto been shaped by two facts; how to make do with insufficient goods, and how to get more through a vis-à-vis struggle with other individuals or groups. The new economic reality would make that entire culture irrelevant. But the problem is, man would still be living with his existing (old) culture produced by an earlier completely different situation and reality. So he would not know how to make the transition from his existing embedded culture to a new one; a new way of thinking, feeling and behaving, which today he can neither see nor fully describe. Thus, man in a new economic reality will have to face this cultural problem.
The political and social power structures, institutions and laws based upon the existing economic reality and culture will try to prevent the required change due to their own respective inertias, whereas man would be required by the logic of life to change them. And there would be no theory or understanding of this change; the past understandings and models would not work.
There will be another feature of this situation; it will not be the problem of a particular class but of mankind as a whole. The transition to another culture and new economic and political institutions is not going to be driven by a class. Because the division of society into classes clearly belongs to a mode of production and distribution, which logically required classes to come into being. But when the principal means of production would be knowledge and not land, or capital, and the primary problem of production would not be securing it militarily then it will no longer remain the problem of a class (like the bourgeoisie) leading the process of change, but become a general problem of mankind.
In the past whenever the issue of social change came up on the agenda of any society (in its progression) there was never a problem of leadership because it would come from the class which was in a key position, in terms of capabilities, need for change and the resources available (whether material or human). The motivation for that leadership was clear and defined, because it arose out of an adversarial situation between people. A situation of conflict is the easiest way of producing motivation for leadership because one knows who the enemy is. With our given mental make-up we are used to mobilizing our human capabilities for struggle and leadership from the standpoint of a tangible conflict situation. However now when we are not going to have enemies, but only friends, there arises the problem of a loss of motivation for leadership.
Although we have not yet reached a conflict free state of affairs but one can globally witness the exhaustion of the adversarial motivation for leadership (and otherwise) and its obvious irrationality given the state of our existing knowledge process and its economic fall outs. That is why we are living in a world today, which is more advanced than it has ever been but far more impoverished of leadership (conceptual, political and social) than ever before. Due to this we find no ‘great’ men being produced today.
The above is the context, for the need to produce a new kind of movement for social change. A movement based upon an intelligent understanding of human mental processes and methods of operationalizing that understanding, which would enable contemporary people to intelligently change themselves instead of following mere slogans or manifestos.
Therefore the consistent objective of EM has been to make some new discoveries about our minds, which would enable us to come up with some new methods for changing and reconstructing our existing thinking and given mental make-ups; ideas, feelings, temperament, etc.. And consequently get out of the clutches of what was given to us as our ‘human nature’, which provided very little scope for change. One could superficially change one’s manners or style through exposure to different environments but the basic structure of personality including its intellectual and emotional components and culture, remained the same at a fundamental level.
In the past this mental restructuring has not been attempted on a social scale, so EM envisions this capability (to intelligently reconstruct one’s mental make-up) becoming available to man commonly and generally as a part of his normal education and upbringing. So that he is able to internally change in accordance with the requirements of the unfolding time (instead of being a product of a time past), and thereby cope much better and more creatively with his life. Because in reality our life belongs to the future both on the individual scale and in terms of generations.
i. For all the dimensions of human life. The main thrust of these movements has been man’s material well-being and its nonmaterial corollaries like human freedom and rights, etc. This was the primary area in relation to which the growth of man’s mind took place, especially his intellect, and his other internal areas of emotions and sensitivities got neglected. Hence during the period of these various movements we actually find man going through a phase of lopsided or uneven development.
ii. Throughout history there has been a process of selection of valid and rejection of invalid movements; a process which served a useful purpose of weeding out the immature or insufficient reform movements whereby only the relatively mature ones found a place in history. Here we are specifically referring to religious reform movements in various parts of the world.
iii. Here we are referring to the crisis of concepts at all levels i.e. political, economic, socio-cultural.
iv. The works of writers like Albert Camus, Franz Kafka, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and their other contemporaries.
v. Here we are referring to the two world wars and particularly the cold war and its specific fallouts which are a blatant evidence of this growing political instability and conflicts.
vi. We are not referring here to the numerous, on-going and unintended consequences of technological applications on behavior of individuals and the socio-cultural fabric of contemporary human life but the fact that scientific knowledge was not being used for doing in-depth thinking about the underlying (not the manifest ones) causes of contemporary social problems and for carrying out a deliberate and sustained process of changing individual and socio-cultural formations.
vii. In China, paper was invented around 105 AD (Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper) and moveable type printing technology after a long gap around 1041 (Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press). In Europe the era of inventions properly began with Gutenberg’s printing press around 1450. But from there onward we find long gaps in which either the same inventions were developed or some new inventions were made. The pace of inventions increased after the 17th century and the gaps began to reduce. Of course after the 1960s they have acquired an unstoppable momentum. The existing inventions/technologies become obsolete in a few years and new ones keep coming up.
viii. In addition it was becoming clear that failure of anti-bourgeois reform or revolutionary movements was also not going to save it. The proponents and supporters of the bourgeois civilization were assuming that if the challenge to it from these anti-bourgeois movements fails (and they had justification for expecting them to fail) then they would be safe.
ix. In these approaches the object of reform used to be a changed political or power structure, coupled with a gradual reform in culture or the way of life. Although this was not an intentionally formulated and verified cultural paradigm, but an on-going reform in manners, customs and behavior patterns, more compatible with new modifications in the power structure.
x. Here we would like to share with our readers the following link of a recent video which focuses on this issue: Abundance is our future
xi. An integral part of his so to speak ‘human nature’ or actually his personality, temperament, morality and ethic.
xii. To give a simple example, one can see how the Oil Industrial complex has been obstructing the tapping and developing of alternative energy sources.
xiii. We can see this manifestly in two cases. The motivation for leadership arising from the bourgeoisie coming in conflict with the existing feudal setup and the proletariat in conflict with the bourgeoisie.
xiv. Other than those irrational people who would try to oppose a historical process arising out of the revolution in the nature of the knowledge process and the emergence of a new knowledge process.
xv. One can see the crisis of leadership the world over, whether it’s the advanced countries like the US and Western Europe or the Socialist/Communist countries and last but not least developing countries like Pakistan, other African countries, etc.
xvi. Here we are referring to those statesmen and thinkers, whose integrity, wisdom and capability, managed to inspire huge numbers of people and initiate successful movements of change.
xvii. This is not by design but a logical outcome of the changed economic and social reality of man today.
xviii. It was clear to us that if discovery of methods by which people can change themselves is possible, then it will need to be based upon some new discoveries about the working of human mind.
xix. These have been a product of our history generally, and individually arise from variations upon the templates of our culture and background.