Early man lived as the Mimpi do today. We know this partly from archeological analysis of building design, the structure and decoration of early tombs and burial sites, the form of early art, the content of middens (waste heaps), analysis of early myths and by study of those communities that, until recently, were least affected by the world that came later. Mainly, however, I know this from self-knowledge - from what my self is, and what my self is not.
The self of early man was not, as it is for most people today, a constant and fixed presence, chugging away in restless want and worry, but a tool - like a hammer or a computer. When the thinking-feeling self was not needed man put it back on the shelf and sank back into childlike immediacy; a thoughtless, and yet highly conscious experience of gentle delight.
For tens of thousands of years man’s self remained in the background of his direct immediate and miraculous experience, but very slowly self began to grow in power. Over time - about twenty thousand years - man began to think more, plan more, believe more and hope more, until, sometime around twelve thousand years ago, a time came - a tipping point - when self started to take control; meaning that man lost power over his self.
Whem man lost the ability to stop thinking, to let go of craving and to surrender to the mysterious moment, the momentum of thinking and feeling - of time and space and separateness - took charge of his awareness, and he began to think and feel that he was his self; a separate object in a world of separate objects. He began to lose his me-less intimacy with a fundamentally mysterious reality and start to experience what was happening as fundamentally describable; divided into past and future, here and there, you and me.
As soon as man felt and thought he was a self, he became afraid of non-self; of death, loss, silence and selfless love; and this led to superstition. Previously he had experienced phenomena as godlike. Every object that he turned his attention to was alive with its own character, mysterious and weirdly intelligent. But when he became afraid of non-self he began to appeal to the gods - for fortune and protection - creating new divine personalities in his own desperate image.
As he projected his hopes and fears upon his gods, they became violent and justifying of violence, and as his hopes and fears became more projectively conceptual, so his gods became more projectively masculine.
Conceptualisation (i.e. language) stopped becoming a servant of reality and reality instead had to be altered to fit man’s ideas about it, leading to excessive planning, worry about the future and hope for better things.
Somehow the tool of the subjective self had taken over.
The first groups to succumb completely to self were the Semites from the Fertile Crescent and the Aryans from southern Russia. These groups were the first to gain independence from nature through pillage and through the division of labour that expanding farm-based communities afforded priestly elites.
The Aryans and Semites spread north into Europe, west into Africa and east into Asia, taking with them their stratified class-bound society, their notions of a conceptually knowable reality and their abstract, and distant, male God.
Their subjugation of earlier people can be found in myths which, the world over, represented a male god defeating a female goddess, usually a serpent: Zeus defeated Typhon, Indra defeated Vritra and Jahweh defeated the snake, establishing in Greece, India and the Levant societies similar to each other, but absolutely different from those that preceded them.
But the older view of reality was never completely crushed by Aryan-Semite groups. It resurfaced in the India of the Upanishads, in the esoteric and mystic traditions of the near East, in isolated pockets of “paganism” (the original meaning of Pagani was “country folk”) and, everywhere, in the source of all genuine knowledge; the genuinely independent individual - the most famous being Lao Tze, the Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth; all of whom turned away from the class-structure of their respective societies and away from the self-based view on which it was based.
But nothing could halt the growth of self. As the subjective tool of the self grew, it created objective tools to extend its reach further. These objective tools were, like the subjective self, material - The spear and the horse extended the reach of body - visceral - myth, music and art extended the reach of feeling - energetic - fire and farming extended power - and mental - literacy, numeracy and complex ideas of institutional organisation - extended the reach of mind.
Eventually objective tools, like the subjective self before it, reached a tipping point. Just as man’s subjective self had reached a moment when it began to take control, and to demand more time and attention than it provided, so his objective tools reached a stage in their development beyond which they began to demand more energy and attention than they provided. The objective tools then ceased serving the individual and began to subordinate him.
History is the story of groups of selves, called societies, fighting to expand and defend their subjective selves and their objective tools. Indeed society itself - a means of organising large groups of people - was a tool that soon got out of control.
The most powerful societies, called empires or civilisations, were Babylon, Ur, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, Russia, Holland, Spain, France, Britain, the US and, in our time, an international state-corporate alliance policed by the US.
Each empire followed a roughly similar trajectory of growth, decline, and assimilation as their ability to use their objective tools grew, peaked and, finally, got out of hand.
Initially, as a society forms, it is possible for tools to be exclusively controlled by an upper (priestly or royal) class, but as the society expands its tools become more complex until they can no longer be controlled, only managed - by the managerial, or middle, class.
Managed societies, run by isolated subjective selves, are necessarily threatened by the freely perceiving, unpredictable and generous individual. If a society grows beyond a certain size institutions begin to appear to manage the threat out of individuals and direct their energy and attention along socially acceptable lines.
Such institutions include mental homes, hospitals, prisons, schools and corporations; all of which existed in rudimentary forms in societies past but, as the world began to unite into a single, global, organisational structure, these institutions appeared together and began to link up into what was called the monoculture.
A single set of organisational techniques spans all monocultural institutions of individual-management: Eliminate personal knowledge, eliminate points of comparison, place taboos on cross-disciplinary and unthinkable ideas (such as love and death), excessively specialise, separate people from each other, idealise the mind, youth and individualism, occupy the mind, centralise or control knowledge and make it secret, redefine happiness to mean consumption of what is provided, place profit above all other considerations and treat both-and paradoxical living experience as nothing but a set of either-or thinkable mechanisms which are defined and defended by professional thinkers, or academics.
Self-made institutions necessarily destroy, restrict or criminalise non-self. Anything which cannot be controlled, which is wild, dark, innocent, silent, natural or irrationally generous is a threat to institutions, just as it is to the selves that unconsciously created them, and must be attacked or resisted.
Self-made modern institutions defend themselves against non-self in the same way that self-directed individuals do, but on a vast scale. Darkness is eradicated with street lights, silence is cut out with continual music and chat, the wilderness is excluded through construction, the immense threat of children is dealt with by vibically corrupting them and making them inaccessible, spontaneity is outlawed by groupthink, generosity is outlawed by professionalism, and that which all these things have in common - death - is shifted out of sight with laws that prevent dead bodies being seen or handled, with the dying being isolated and ignored, and with all talk of death being indirect.
The same reflexive unconscious addictions and self-in-charge impulses eventually spread around the world, creating the final society; a complete global representation of the self-informed psyche of the men who had built it; immune to direct experience, free creation, blended spontaneity and apt intelligence; all of which were impossible to officially perceive. The individual had finally become redundant.
By the beginning of the twenty first century, everywhere had become nowhere. Business practices, building design, dress styles, urban planning, airports, cars, roads, newspapers, factories, farms, and schools became, apart from superficial formal variations, the same. Even animals and plants, under the influence of the self-in-charge society, became uniform.
This was the beginning of the end.
THE END OF HISTORY
A look at civilisations before they fall shows they share many amongst a common set of features:
Increasing confusion over the meaning of words; frustration over the inability to express value; highly indoctrinated education systems; proliferation of elite-only schools; degradation of water supply, public transport, local power and public benefits; withering of local ownership, law and custom; concentration of power and expertise in cities; proliferation of services; flowering of sects, religions, nationalism, narcissism and self-abuse; control of press by authority; apathy towards sentiments cheapened by cliché; disregard for the unquantifiable; huge levels of debt; the treatment of money as if it were real; rampant speculation; enshrinement in law of inequality; fixation on form and image; confusion of insanity with criminality; meaningless or unknown laws; reduction in opportunity to create collective beauty; a burgeoning of state gambling, hero-worship, sex and pomp; a sense that time is speeding up; a creeping sense of redundancy and a subtle sense of world-dread; of this all being wrong. These problems are seen by the intelligentsia as separate, disconnected from each other and from the spoiled and increasingly distant natural context around it.
The first global society was the first to exhibit all of these symptoms on an unprecedented scale.
By 2011 the final society was about to crash. Fish stocks had fallen 90% and were about to collapse, 80% of world rain forests had gone and the rest had only thirty years left. The permafrost around the ice-caps was melting, the tipping point of Greenland ice-sheet was about to be reached and the world’s ecosystems were all about to fall apart. Exponential international inequality was reaching an economic tipping point and the debt-based inflationary economy was on the brink of collapse.
But in addition to these catastrophic natural and economic tipping points, society was reaching a revolutionary tipping point. The middle class was becoming sufficiently impoverished to make challenge to the social order (and radicalisation of the poor) a more survival-beneficial strategy than continued grudging acceptance. This same moment occurred before the English, French, Russian and Spanish revolutions and was reached on a world-wide scale in the first half of the twenty-first century, which saw a rapid decline into unprecedented chaos.
Changing weather patterns, over-production, floods and collapsing ecosystems led to a sharp decline of crop yields. This combined with scarcity of oil and led to a massive increase in prices. Weaker businesses folded and poverty spread, leading to fear and desperation, which led to a huge increase in theft, violent crime, drug-addiction and related symptoms of social breakdown. This in turn led to a drastic reduction in civil liberties (such as state-corporate control of the internet) and consequent criminalisation of vast sectors of society, which formed themselves into groups; ranging from freely associating individuals attempting to restore conviviality to their lives, to groupthink cliques, fundamentalist cults and violent gangs.
The largest, richest and most powerful of these groups - though riven with internal conflict and comprised of mutually antagonistic interests - made no fundamental distinction between alternative forms of association began to come down upon any kind of threat with staggering violence. Anyone attempting to gain independence from the final society - whether nihilists, nationalists, religious fundamentalists, radicals, free-thinkers or mystics, were mercilessly punished.
This precipitated war and civil unrest on an unprecedented scale, which combined with economic, environmental and social collapse to create an extraordinary state of global suffering; conflict, poverty, violence and chaos. As the distractions of conspicuous and fetishistic consumption were removed beyond the ambit of the middle class, the tidal wave of suffering and horror that had existed under the surface of modern life became grotesquely manifest.
Chaos went off the scale when a series of ‘world-shocks’ punctured man’s unconscious belief in the normality and solidity of his environment - and shuddering hysterical uncertainty roared in.
The world became a living nightmare, and there was no hiding place. The media - the collective imagination of the self-in-charge - coalesced into a grotesque omni-story, indistinguishable from a daily life of near permanent horror.
Everything broke down, everywhere was battleground, and many became as lizards, as the awesome enormity of the pain that everyone had carried around, for millennia, became apparent and unavoidable.
This was not “bad luck”. It is not bad luck that pain appears, it is not bad luck that it unconsciously grows behind the self-in-charge and the objective tool-in-charge world, and it is not bad luck that this pain eventually, and inevitably, reaches a level of intensity that cannot be ignored...
And then came reality.
The story continues - parts 2, 3 and 4 - and the arrival of the good news (the placing of this story in recognisable myth) is given, along with loads of recognisably surreal diagrams and a guide to how tools get out of control and further tips on their mastery here.