A TRC exclusive, by Christoper Weller
Inspired by the address from Chief Oren Lyons to the UN,
about the seventh generation
1. A deductive scheme of formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion;
2. A subtle, specious, or crafty argument;
3. Reasoning from the general to the specific; deduction.
The world is at the brink of collapse, and those around us seem unaware of the pending doom on the horizon. They play out the story of civilization even in its final chapter. Their very lives are at stake and the survival of the human species, yet they make no effort to stray from the path of self-destruction. Some have called this a “death urge” at play, where, as Freud mused, the human mind has an equal drive toward death as it does for an Eros to live, to survive. It is this “death instinct,” so says Freud and his contemporaries, that is kept in check by the dominant culture, civilization – as if the superego is inherently aggressive and violent, and it is only the “civilized” way of life that controls this innate drive.
Freud, and his followers and contemporaries, surely were, and still are, a product of civilization itself, trapped in this sacred bubble of interpretation of the world – a perspective that is failing, along with what created it – civilization itself. But, we can at least agree that what keeps the human mind in check when dealing with the forces of change are the cultural norms, mores, and taboos enlisted by civilization, and it is no wonder the death urge in society is seemingly continuing to strengthen as the pillars of industrial civilization begin to crumble at our feet. This may be indeed why, to those of us in the Transition Culture, the rest of humanity seems deranged into this silent, subconscious drive toward self-destruction.
What is included in these cultural norms that the proponents of the “death urge” postulate from, is the perception of what the values of the culture entail. In the culture of civilization, the element that supposedly keeps the death urge at bay is how it interprets what it means to live. This is fully represented in how the dominant culture expresses its values. What is found is that the values of civilization take on a totally different meaning than what a living, thinking species such as the human should adapt to at all. And, with the dominant culture in charge of our fate today, the values of consumption, acquisition, competition, and greed drive our desires toward a state of living that we are told is the best there is or ever will be. We are fed the lies of what value means, and we believe them.
However, as anyone with an inkling of cultural anthropology would be aware of, what one values in the process of life and living is relative to any culture, whether “civilized” or indigenous. And, what society is experiencing today is that the “values” defined by the dominant culture – the values of Globalization, Capitalism, Consumerism, Infinite Growth-Based Economics, various religions, and etc. – are beginning to collapse. They are destroying our world, our planet, our ability to survive, and our souls. They have steered us in the direction of death itself.
Thus, many of us are faced with the paradoxical dilemma best expressed by the mantra:
“To value change or change our values.”
This can form a puzzling thought, equal in perplexity to its derived mantra – are we in need of a “value change for survival?”
Trapped in the captivity of our “civilized” thought, we can indeed struggle with this dilemma, and it will seem as an unsolvable paradox. But, we can certainly agree that the longer we puzzle over the solution, the closer we come to oblivion, and it’s time that someone try to solve this beleaguering riddle.
The first step in this deduction is to realize that values evolve, whether the dominant culture can admit it or not – and, like evolution, cultural norms, mores, taboos, and etc. must “work” to exist. Such as with biological evolution, if traits do not “work,” such as the traits of an organism, they won’t exist for very long, and certainly won’t be around for us to study. Even if we try to contemplate a trait that could exist, in our formulations of our ideas, it must “work” to exist in rational thought.
Most of us in the Transition Culture are aware that the dominant “values” of today are not working. And to survive at all, they too must “evolve.” Thus, we can conclude that:
”to evolve“ = ”to change“
Therefore, it is obvious that the dominant values must change. But change to what?
What “traits” of values must be carried over through the Great Transition and what must be thrown out for survival, keeping in mind that “survival” really means “it works” (for at least a certain period of time until symbiosis is lost, the environment changes, or carrying capacity of the ecosystem is surpassed). So, it can also be concluded that:
“survival” = “it works”
Contrary to the Darwinists & Neo-Darwinist evolutionary biologists, along with the contemporary “religion” known as “genetic determinism,” the idea of “survival of the fittest,” the “selfish gene” hypothesis of Richard Dawkins and company, or any other of the derived “competition-for-survival” models, growing evidence is showing that these ideas are not congruent with the true nature or broad function of evolution and species survival. Evidence points more often to a symbiotic relationship of life with other life and the environment, rather than a competition, “selfish genes,” or determinism.
What has been found is that the primary force which “determines” survival, change, or if the species “works” is symbiosis of the species with its surroundings. This includes other species, the physical environment, or even “endosymbiotic” relationships; where species have a relationship with other species living and surviving, changing and evolving together inside other species or inside the cells of those species. There are indeed moments in the evolutionary process of what Steven J. Gould called “punctuated equilibria,” but the moment this “equilibrium” is achieved, symbiosis takes over once again, throughout the remainder of the extent of the existence of the species on this planet.
Thus, we can conclude that if values must “change” for our survival, they must change using this model that true evolution follows – But why? It is because we can now conclude that:
This is because for us to survive, means for us to live. And, living involves changing, which means evolving. And, to evolve means to have symbiosis. To have symbiosis means it works.
Symbiosis, both inner and outer, is the key to this – not competition, not selfishness, not conquering, not overwhelming, not overrunning, not self-destruction. These are “values” of the dominant culture that is destroying our world. It is part of the psychopathic nature of this old, dying, self-destructive culture that is collapsing now, and taking everything else with it.
It is no wonder why these values are readily adopted and accepted to be a part of our so-called “modern” understanding of the evolution of life. It is because they support the delusions, lies, and faith in the dominant culture. It even supports the “death urge” that has been derived from our thinkers and why this drive towards self-extinction continues to propagate the subconscious of the human mind today.
Therefore, how these “values” evolve will also be tainted with what we as a species “want” or “choose” them to be. And, it is the dominant culture, the culture of civilization that has deluded itself into believing that it can control the evolution of values – through laws that will always be broken, through economic systems that attempt to separate themselves from the natural world, to its religious institutions attempting to separate the nature of human beings from the natural world. In the end, as it is accelerating in our world now, “choice” in values doesn’t necessarily mean “it works” and certainly doesn’t guarantee symbiosis.
But, if we take an objective stance on this part of the paradox, the question becomes:
Do we “choose” to change our values, as has always been done, yet has failed in one way or another throughout the history of civilization, or do we allow for the change to occur “naturally,” as evolution commands?
And, in addition, this begs the question: Do we have enough time to allow change to come “naturally,” when, ultimately, it is survival that is at stake?
Thus, how will we define “value” if left to be interpreted by the dying, psychopathic, dominant culture? How can we even suggest to use what the dominant culture has taught us all since birth to answer this question? Especially, when it is the dominant culture that doesn’t even define “value” in the sense of survival at all! It is a culture held captive to the “death urge,” where its ultimate value means “no survival at all,” and thus, its primary values don’t “work” anymore. The primary “value” is to dominate the world, consuming the planet until there is nothing left to consume.
Thus, the mantra from above, and the paradox that it entails, which we are puzzling over here, can be solved only by taking either of these two routes: We either allow evolution to decide if our “values” continue to be allowed to exist, or we choose to change them now, by force.
We have concluded that if “survival” means “life”, and to live means “it works,” and for it to work means “symbiosis,” then the question becomes not whether you “value change” or you must “change your values,” but rather: Do you see survival itself as valuable?
If so, then there is not a need to change one’s values, because valuing survival is valuing change! This is because, as concluded above, “change” is equal to “survival,” and how all life must survive, and hence, “works” on this planet.
Then it all comes down to: Why would anyone in their right mind not value survival unless they were psychopathic and sick? This could only mean that there is something driving their thinking, driving their life that is equally psychopathic, sick, suicidal, self-destructive, and etc. – something that is the complete antithesis of life itself! From this we can conclude that:
“sickness” = “disease” and “disease” = eventual “destruction/death” and “destruction/death” = “not surviving” and “not surviving” = “not life”
And this is what is driving the human condition today. The root of what drives it all is a culture of “not valuing survival,” and it is no wonder that the death urge is increasingly exposing itself in the process of civilization as the dominant culture self-destructs.
As the deduction of the mantra continues, we come to the root of what drives the dominant culture’s idea of “values,” or better, “not valuing survival.” This can be explained by the difference between “growth” and “development.”
This is what has become the deciding factor of what drives the dominant culture’s understanding of “survival”– an understanding based on a “growth model” rather than on a “development” model. And, somewhere along the way, the meaning of these two terms were twisted and perverted.
To review from what we’ve concluded thus far:
“survival” = “to evolve” = “symbiosis” = “to live” = “it works” = “to change”
And, now deducing further we include that:
Along with the “change” that takes place with all life and non-life on this planet, there is also “development” that takes place. Life forms all have a period of growth, but the internal “clock” of growth slows down, and eventually stops this process. Even the human is not immune from the limits of growth. We mostly stop growing by the time we reach adulthood, yet we continue to develop as a human being indefinitely, from that time forward. Our societies and cultures reflect this phenomenon as well. Our cultures evolve and mature, and most have gone through a “growth phase” that eventually ends. As with any species, as mentioned above, the culture reaches a limit of growth and change, then it acquires a symbiosis with its environment, whether that be the physical environment or its presence amongst other cultures. The geological properties of the Earth itself, follow a growth and change pattern, then will settle down into a state of homeostasis and symbiosis.
Thus, “growth” in reality merely relates to the physical, temporary property of a species, and with culture as well – it is a “property” of growth to be exact. And, after the growth phase, no more is development a primary factor to the life process than with humanity. Development of the human mind is what sets us apart from all other life. Our development produces all the elements of human culture. Our development is responsible for the presence of wisdom. And, it is what wisdom that we acquire through our development that will determine whether we survive or not.
If the human mind focuses on its development, and how development is an integral part of life and existence on this planet, then we are more in tune with what it means to survive, to “work.” Then, what is the resistance to develop? Or, more exact then, what is the resistance to survive?
All that is left that doesn’t fit into the equation of the “values of survival” is how we define growth. It is how we have defined growth and how it has been chosen by our society and redefined as the delusion of the age. And it is this definition, a false understanding of growth that has led us on the path that ignores the meaning of survival, life, symbiosis, change, development, and how it all works.
Through this chain of reasoning, we can deduce that our values for survival are part of living already. We develop whether we try to ignore it or not. Our values change and evolve whether we like it or not. Life and culture evolve, whether we choose to hold on to them or not. We are not in control of the levers of life. All of these are entirely innate and exist in us. What has held them back from being set free are the delusions of the dominant culture relating to how it defines growth. It tells us that for us to develop, we must grow; for us to survive, we must grow; for us to change, we must grow, for us to “work,” we must grow. It has created a false sense of value. It is responsible for releasing, harboring, and encouraging the death urge upon the human psyche.
Thus, there is no choice to “value change” or “change our values.” The only choice is to destroy what keeps us from believing we have no other choice – that which has made us believe that the only choice is to continue to grow beyond what the rules of Nature, mentioned above, can allow.
We are rapidly passing the “fork in the road,” where we have the opportunity to abandon the false values of the culture that is leading us to our deaths. There are real values that we once had when we were part of this planet, not pretending we were masters of it – they were the true values of survival.