Structured For Magnificence

This episode of the Parallel Society podcast explains something that’s tremendously simple and is great news for us, but is at the same time deeply radical, going against the structure of the world we live in. And that’s a simple phrase: We are structured for magnificence.

This episode of the Parallel Society podcast explains something that’s tremendously simple and is great news for us, but is at the same time deeply radical, going against the structure of the world we live in. And that’s a simple phrase: We are structured for magnificence.

This concept offends people, of course, but however off-putting this little phrase may seem, it is true. And it opens a door to a magnificent future.

And we can demonstrate that mankind is structured for morality.

 

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We Have No Idea How Good We Can Get

I can still remember the first time someone told me that they believed in the Calvinist doctrine of “the depravity of man.” It shocked me. To complain about human behavior I very well understood; there’s plenty of bad behavior in the world. But to flatly call the human species depraved… hopelessly unredeemable… that was, and remains, obscene to me.

The sad truth, however, is that the modern West swims in a sea of Calvinism. The corporate bullhorns feed everyone they can a steady diet of the bad, ugly, and if possible the bloody. Under their influence, we would believe that all is darkness, that truth is illusion, that the human path is ever-downward, and that all professions of goodness are scams.

In other words, the minds of millions of people (billions, probably), are continually pushed to imagine that human depravity is a fact. That strategy is terribly effective – there’s no better tool for manipulating humans than fear – but it is no less than obscene and evil.

And it’s false. Humans are amazing creatures, and very often kind, gracious and loving creatures.

The Real Revolutionaries

I’ve used this passage from G.K. Chesterton’s The Defendant before, but it’s so important that I could use it once a month and feel fine about it:

Every one of the great revolutionists, from Isaiah to Shelly, have been optimists. They have been indignant, not about the badness of existence, but about the slowness of men in realizing its goodness.

The popular image of a revolutionary is of someone railing against the rulers of their place and leading a mob against them to bring in a new political regime. Notwithstanding the ridiculous notion of politics saving us from politics, this has always been a fantasy. It’s very dramatic of course, which is why it remains, but in real life it simply doesn’t happen((It’s probably worth adding that the American Revolution wasn’t a revolution per se. Rather, it was a new society, on a new continent, that grew in a condition of “salutary neglect,” after which the Crown attempted to drag it into submission. The Americans of 1776 fought to be left alone rather than to bring down the Crown.)).

The real revolution, certainly in our time, is not to bring anything down, but simply to realize that we’ve outgrown a dark and manipulative public order, and that it’s fit for no more than to be tossed aside, like the worn-out clothing of our youth.

Real revolutionaries don’t want to take over an outmoded and abusive status quo, but to transcend it… to leave it behind and build better things. Behind such a belief, as Chesterton noted, will stand a realization of the goodness of existence.

How Good Can We Get?

Consider the millions of hours… billions of hours… wasted every year fighting the mostly-imaginary evils pumped through television, radio and social media. Then, please, consider that the problems so terrifyingly portrayed are seldom really solved.

So, what if we spent that time (and energy and money) to improve ourselves instead?

How silly is it to spend our time and treasure fighting within a system that can never allow its problems to be solved – if the system solved them it would have no reason to exist – when we are quite able to improve ourselves instead?

Consider, please: We have no real idea of how good we can get, because we’ve never seriously focused on making ourselves better.

Or, said differently: Instead of endlessly imagining human evil, what if we started imagining human greatness? One is just as possible as the other. So why shouldn’t we take the bright path instead of the permanently dark path that’s proven not to work?

And I will add that the progress we have seen in the world… science, medicine and the like… has mainly come from people who imagined better ways, better things,  and better lives.

This, then, is the radical and revolutionary belief that stands before us: That mankind is far better than we’ve imagined… that human life can be satisfying and rewarding… that we are capable of being far more than we’ve imagined. All we have to do is to lift up our eyes and start trying.

* * * * *

TheBreakingDawn

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.

  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.

  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.

  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

  • Get it at Amazon or on Kindle.

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The Foolishness of a Consumer Society

Foolishness

Do custom-embroidered powder room towels actually make your life better?

If you think so, and if you’re not of the very few who care about towels as an art form, you’re getting your kicks from other people being impressed by you. You’re buying the approval of others… and you’re all being foolish together.

Quality food makes your life better. A reliable car makes your life better. Good medicine makes your life better. Olive spoons do not.

Sadly, much of the Western world, and America especially, has become addicted to status symbols. This has been going on for generations now. When I was a boy people joked about “keeping up with the Joneses,” but the joke was funny only because it was true.

This is an addiction. Yes, it is a cultured addiction – you can barely escape the promotion of it in the modern world – but it’s an addiction nonetheless.

How This Happened

This is what I’ve been told by men considerably older than myself:

World War I was a major turning point for American business. A large number of businessmen got rich at that time, selling all sorts of war materials to the Allies: uniforms, shovels, saddles, guns, ammunition, even horses.

Many people will not remember this, but the US didn’t enter the war until 1917; it had begun in 1914. But American businessmen were enjoying record sales the whole time.

After the war ended in late 1918, things began winding down (winding down a war takes time). They didn’t return to normal quickly, because of a horrendous flu epidemic in 1918 through 1920, which killed millions and not just the very young or old. Still, the plague eventually wound down, leaving businessmen to cope with seriously declining numbers.

It was at that point, my older friends informed me, that big business decided they had to do something about this and get people to buy more stuff than they’d been buying previously: to squeeze more consumption from the same people. And they embarked upon this course with vigor.

Perhaps no public statement on this subject was clearer than one from Paul Mazur, a senior partner at Lehman Brothers, writing in the Harvard Business Review in 1927:

We must shift America from a needs, to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.

As is evident from the America of our time, this worked. A huge percentage of things people buy will be sold for pennies on the dollar at their eventual estate sales. They are bought in the hope of imparting some kind of self-esteem, status, or envy, not because they actually improve life.

Now, while I’m picking on things like embroidered towels and olive spoons, we must also acknowledge that a very few people will care about such things for art’s sake… and that’s fine… it is not foolish. But let’s also be honest and admit that such people are few and far between.

Scientific Manipulation

In fairness to American and Western populations, we should add that this change was accomplished with scientific manipulation, which was arising at just this time. One of the major drivers of this was a man named Edward Bernays, who was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He made a lot of money teaching giant corporations to manipulate the public. Here are two quotes from him:

If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.

Physical loneliness is a real terror to the gregarious animal, and that association with the herd causes a feeling of security. In man this fear of loneliness creates a desire for identification with the herd in matters of opinion.

There was a concentrated effort to manipulate the minds of millions, to frighten them and to herd them on behalf of the political and financial classes. This was problem enough in the days when people received their news from newspapers, but it was supercharged by television.

So…

Those of us of the West have lived all our lives inside a web of manufactured discontent. We are told to elect political candidates because their opponent is horrible and because things are bad. We are told that we must buy new houses or vacations or a hundred other things, because other people have them and we’ll look bad in comparison. Or that the boy or girl we’re interested in won’t agree to marry us unless we look a certain way, buy a certain ring, or drive a certain type of car. And so on, in hundreds of variations.

All of this is based on the assumption that we are in a deficit position – that the advertised product will somehow fill our deficit.

The fake world – as shown on TV and Facebook – features an endless struggle for empty acquisition and status symbols.

It is foolish to slave away in the service of giant corporations. If we wish to be sensible, we should labor for things that actually make our lives better. And if something is manipulatively advertised, we shouldn’t buy it.

Live for you, not for them.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

TheBreakingDawn

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com