Every generation that has walked the earth was not able to imagine or comprehend what tomorrow would bring. This inability to see the future leaves many with the unspoken idea that their moment in history and what they see in their day to day life is the maximum level of advancement and understanding that humanity is capable of.
By JG Vibes
April 6, 2013
Obviously generations of people have been proven wrong because we continue to advance in both understanding and capability, yet it is still rare for someone to imagine anything other than the world they know.
With this kind of mentality, which most of the world has come to embrace, there is a sense of intense nostalgia for an era that they were not alive to see, but one that has been idealized by older generations in the stores that have been handed down through the ages. This makes politics a very messy business, because when things go wrong, as they always do, people don’t know where to look for a comparison for their situation so they are left to dwell on the image of the “good ol days” that has been painted in their mind since childhood.
I’m sure that every culture has their own golden age that is looked to as a model for the current civilization. In America there is the farce of the founding fathers and the myth of limited constitutional government. It is deeply ingrained in the culture that, sure things may screwed up now, but once upon a time in this place called the United States of America there were these heroic and selfless aristocrats called the founding fathers who ran things, and everyone loved them, and everyone was happy, and everyone was free and prosperous. This is the cartoonish version of events that plays out in our history books and the cultural myths that are so present in our everyday lives, but this nationalistic folklore has nothing to do with reality.
I’m not saying that a lot of Americas founding fathers weren’t brilliant people with a few good ideas here and there. There are some core philosophical principles that they did a great job enshrining, at least in theory, for future generations such as ourselves to carry on. However, many of these people were still quite oppressive both in their personal and political lives. Many of the founding fathers owned slaves, and were extremely racist, classist and sexist. They were also not as popular in their own times as the history books describe either. The politicians of the past, even in early America were just as unpopular as todays politicians and the founding fathers were no different.
There were constant rebellions among the general population in the generation surrounding the declaration of independence because people rightly saw their local colonial government just as oppressive as the British Empire. These rebellions were often met with brutal force by the aristocrats who are idealized in American history books as the nation’s founding fathers. Nonetheless people still took up arms and risked their lives fighting against the government because their standard of living was so low, like we saw in the Whisky rebellion against George Washington.
It is true that people living during this time were probably significantly more free than your average person today, and they had to deal with fairly little government intervention in comparison to us, this was still a pretty rough time a place to live and the political structure was still responsible for an extremely low standard of living among the general population. With that being the case I think it’s safe to say that this period in history may not be the best time to look back at as a golden age that needs to be replicated politically.
The story of our history has been one of a constant but slow progression towards a more free society. Slowly but surely, one by one, generation by generation we shed the insane and irrational ideas that held our ancestors captive. When approached from this angle it seems counterproductive to reach into the past to find a path toward a free society, when one never existed in the past, at least in recorded history anyway. There are plenty of lessons that can be learned from studying history, but when it comes to solving today’s difficult world problems, looking into the past for primitive solutions just isn’t going to work.
One of the great mysteries of the world is the repetitious cycle of history and how our species continues to make the same mistakes over and over again. This cycle probably has many different causes, but this cultural myth of the golden age is without a doubt a contributor. Thousands of years ago republics and democracies were seen as the ideal ways to organize society, but time showed that these systems of government bred corruption just as any system of coercive social control naturally does. This corruption resulted in an economic and cultural collapse that was spread out across the whole civilized world and lasted many generations.
With the democratic and republican systems of government a proven failure our ancient ancestors had an opportunity to create a free society in its ashes. Unfortunately this did not happen because people’s minds were still trapped in the paradigm of domination, so while they may have escaped the physical restraints that were imposed on them by their local coercive regime they did philosophically overcome the ideas which allowed these local regimes to act as they did. Putting an end to tyranny isn’t accomplished by just overthrowing a tyrant. Likewise there is no treaty that can be signed to prevent other tyrants from rising in their place. When violence and oppression is being carried out a mass scale it is only able go on so long as the general population is conned into believing that whatever is taking place is a good thing. However, when the specific violent acts that are being carried out are proven as immoral and socially unacceptable it will be impossible for tyrants to convince anyone to take part in their madness. This is what I mean by “philosophically overcoming” ideas instead of just switching tyrants or pushing papers around.
At the fall of the Roman Empire the paradigm was not changed, there was no philosophical advancement. In fact there was actually a regression to long term feudalism, perhaps because everyone was frightened into clinging to the past instead of creating a better a future. This is just one prominent example that relates to today’s political climate but there are examples everywhere throughout history which show how humanity seems to make the same mistakes over and over again by embracing the same bad ideas.
Today we find ourselves in another time of great change, where the established powers are on shaky ground and the general population is starting to realize that the way of life that has been hoisted upon them is unsustainable and that a new path is necessary. This happens regularly every few generations, but unfortunately every single time there has been a revolution or social upheaval the worldview has remained the same and the cycle was never broken.
The worldview has remained the same because for many centuries the dismal state of civilization has been largely ignored by those who have had to live through it. The pain, depression and confusion that can come from admitting the twisted nature of our day to day existence has been far too much for most people to cope with, so throughout history people have created extremely complex justifications and rationalizations for the violence and insanity that was taking place around them. This is how our species has gotten to where it is today, with numerous brutal empires stretching across the entire globe, to the point where there is no longer anywhere to escape to. With the general population in a constant state of denial for many generations, the people and organizations that controlled the worlds land and resources have been able to consolidate their power with minimal resistance. This is a process that has been taking place since the dawn of civilization, from the times of human sacrifice and divine rule.
People oftentimes make the mistake of thinking that the revolution started right at the moment when they found out about it. In reality the battle between freedom and enslavement has been raging for centuries, and has played out like a relay race where each generation passes the mission along to the next. The only problem is that those on the side of freedom have not had the ability to participate in this process. For the better part of history the general population was illiterate and poorly educated, making it that much more difficult to immortalize their side of the story and their ideas for future generations.
Meanwhile, those who sought to enslave humanity were very familiar with planning beyond their own time, as it often took many generations to complete large projects, such as palaces, bridges and monuments. Military conquests were known to take several generations as well. The ruling class has always been accustomed to long term plans and goals that outlasted their own lifetimes. Sadly, with most of humanity living a survival based existence for the better part of history, it has been hard for people to see past their next meal, so looking into future lifetimes was probably not very common.
Although, at least in the past there was some sort of concern for the world that was being left behind for the unborn, even though there was still widespread confusion and indoctrination. Nowadays with the extremely sophisticated mental conditioning made possible through the media and government schools, people have been trained to live as if they were the last generation on earth. On top of that people continue to pass along the mentality of their oppressors onto their children as their ancestors had onto them. Luckily, thanks to the widespread decentralization of information that has been made possible by the internet, there are more people than ever who are starting to question the society that they were born into.
This is definitely a great victory in the struggle for freedom, but unfortunately many people become depressed and discouraged when coming to the reality of their existence. A world of peace and rationality seems like such a total stretch of the imagination because it is drastically different from what we experience today, but that doesn’t mean that this world is impossible.
Every generation there are many drastic paradigm shifts that radically alter the way that people interact with each other, and for the most part all throughout human history these shifts have contributed to a slow upward progression towards a more peaceful world. Unfortunately tragedies like mass murder, slavery and subjugation do still take place, but they are getting harder and harder to justify because our species is in the process of evolving beyond the type of mentalities that trigger this kind of behavior.
When approached from this perspective it becomes obvious that freedom and peace is inevitable for our species. That does not mean that you should just sit back and wait for it to happen, because the more people who get involved and put their intellect and energy towards outgrowing the violent social systems that we were all born into, the faster it will actually happen.
By noting that the struggle we are facing is a multigenerational one, I am in no way saying that our generation can’t make great progress in our lifetime and lay a solid foundation for a free society while we are here on earth. I am simply making the point that although it may seem like this moment in time is the climax of the human story, every person who is alive right now was born into an age old revolution that will eventually be passed onto future generations to carry on. That’s how things really are when you think about the big picture. This doesn’t just apply to parents and their children, anyone who has the potential to develop and share an idea has the potential to help lay the foundation for the first free society that ever existed.
Read more articles by this author HERE.
J.G. Vibes is the author of an 87 chapter counter-culture textbook called Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance, a staff writer, reporter for dev-test.intellihub.com and Executive Producer of the Bob Tuskin Radio Show. You can keep up with his work, which includes free podcasts, free e-books & free audiobooks at his website www.aotmr.com