An Emergent Cosmopolis
Three basic insights over the course of the June 28, 2017 meeting:
Our analytical/evaluative approach to understanding these Gramscian memes is grounded in the schematic’s four strata that in the whiteboard are titled The Human Condition. Generally speaking, this schematic poses and answers four distinct questions:
All the six elements of our investigation follow this scheme but in greater detail. Special importance is given to the operations and hand-offs operative at the reflective level of the human good.
Memes reside in the individual, but they are modified at the collective cultural level. In a sense, each meme represents the equivalent of a single species in any given ecosystem. Each has a probability of emerging and once in play a probability of continuing into the future. Following this analogy, we can anticipate that there are three sets of factors associated with these probabilities: the internal coherence of the meme as a “thought/belief”, the conditions of the collective appropriation of what there is to be known, and the foundational stance of each individual so exposed to an incoming meme. The point is that such attack memes as represented by this set of eight Gramscian memes requires an environment that supports and enhances each member of the set. Given that these can only represent counter positions, they can only exist when conditions are broken or breaking down. For example, the first meme “There is no truth, only agendas” can only exist if the individual and the culture are alienated from God—atheism and a secular society, mutually reinforcing positions.
So we ask ourselves: under what conditions will these memes flourish and under what conditions are they likely to disappear?
Memes are the equivalent of common sense proverbs in that they act as additional insights into the situation at hand that allows the individual to operate efficiently and effectively within that cultural matrix. They fail utterly when transposed to other realms of meaning, say that of theory, philosophy, or theology. For example, the meme “There is no truth” is a contradiction in terms, for if it is true then the statement cannot be true and if the statement is false than there is truth to be found. But this is not a problem for common sense intelligence. As Lonergan notes:
The scientific generalization aims to offer a premise from which correct deductions can be drawn. But the generalizations issued by common sense are not meant to be premised for deductions. Rather they would communicate pointers that ordinarily it is well to bear in mind. Proverbs are older far than principles, and like rules of grammar they do not lose their validity because of their numerous exceptions. For they aim to express, not the scientist’s rounded set of insights that either holds in every instance or in none at all, but the incomplete set of insights which is called upon in every concrete instance but became proximately relevant only after a good look around has resulted in the needed additional insights. Look before you leap! (Insight, 1992, p. 199.)
The core elements supporting or contesting any given meme or mutually reinforcing meme set reside in the individual’s foundational stance and his or her associated appreciation of value, i.e., discernment. But no matter how closed any state of the good of order can be, there is always one fundamental dialectical issue at play: good vs. evil. In this conflict within each individual and because of this within each culture there are two generative principles that each person can draw upon to create themselves. On the side of the good lies the Divine Mystery’s love of life itself, expressed in such commandments as “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Here mystery and awe bring a certain humility and obedience to a transcendental reality to human actions, leading to intellectual, moral, and religious conversion. The opposing generative principle in very much anti-life and rather that humility is grounded in the drive to dominate. This is achieved through description and lies that may at first seem very pleasing but soon reveal their hollow soul.
There are two things that one needs to keep in mind. The first is that each individual is faced with a clear choice to follow one or the other of the generative principles—but not both, for an individual cannot have two masters. If the individual choses to dominate those around him or her, to in effect play god as master of all they survey, then such Gramscian memes may find a ready home in which to live. One would expect this meme set to support any drive for power for its own sake, namely to dominate others as they will.
The second point is that any consideration of the existing state of the good of order, the “spirit of an age”, needs to take into account the interplay of both positions, both generative principles, as they emerge in social and political life. The Divine Mystery “resists” the opposition by reversing the evil that the anti-life fraction supports, while the “satanic” generative principle constantly tests and probes each individual for ways to usurp the power and authority of the Divine. As long as mortal life remains, this conflict is in play.
Educational Projects: Dialectical Exercises: Gramscian Meme #1
May 5, 2017
Gramscian Meme #1: There is no truth, only competing agendas.
(Why is it important to understand Gramscian memes? Adopting such "truths" leaves a culture vulnerable to a hostile take-over such as the practice of Da'wa and Tiqiyya on the part of radical Islamists. Da'wa refers to the wide range of mechanisms used by such radicals to advance their goal of imposing Islamic law -- Sharia -- on society, a practice that involves converting non-Muslims to political Islam while instilling Islamists views on existing Muslims. Tiqiyya is the obligation to lie to non-Muslims in order to protect the faith and spread the practice of Sharia.)
All that follows is not meant to be definitive but only explorative. It suggests an approach to understanding much of what is going on in the world in the context of an historical consciousness that is aware of underlying cultural influences evolving out the rationalization and/or justification of power on the part of individuals and groups over the span of human history. Such intellectual support has opportunity costs, some of which are outlined below.
Entering the reality of such a common sense group is carried out in four steps:
The statement “There is no truth, only competing agendas” is a political decision to use this statement as a weapon in a class war that is intended to disarm one’s opponent by reframing the search for truth as an example of social and political oppression. It is a political act in the sense that it puts something out there in the world. Furthermore, its very elimination of a higher moral authority like God means that the only source of data derives from the brain’s preoccupation with scarcity, loss, and death—something that conditions human understanding, judging, and deciding. This circle of sublation/conditioning reinforcement contains no elements of the kind of cognitive dissonance the springs into being once a single moral authority is removed from the universe.
There exist opportunity costs. Certain possibilities for development are curtailed, and an emergent Cosmopolis is one of them. The destruction of the good of order diminishes the steady stream of goods upon which any society depends, thus eliminating the middle class and spreading poverty. At this point . . .