Continuity Movement was an early attempt at expressing an eternal fusion between radical traditionalism and information theory, and was hosted at continuity.us from 2005-2012.
We live in fractured times. There are many parts to what we must do, but no belief to unify them. Continuity Movement is a secular values system that unifies politics, society and spirituality around the unending process of life itself.
Our values originate in the process of nature both here on earth and in the cosmos as a whole. Things are born, and all things die, but the process continues everlasting. With reverence for this whole, we create values that balance human needs with our position in the cosmos.
Continuity Movement is not left, nor is it right. It is not political, nor is it religious. It is not violent, nor is it pacifistic. It does not define itself as a separate part of the whole. It is not future, nor is it past. Continuity Movement is all things working in harmony.
The first challenge facing any animal is to balance its autonomy with its environment, in a process known as adaptation. Much as a child must form an identity separate from its parents but still learn from them, for any self-aware species this becomes the primary means of understanding the world, in definitions of self and whole. When a species has become by its own technology self-sufficient, the struggle becomes an internal duplicate of this division, and the individuals involved struggle to avoid becoming self-referential and thus, losing sight of reality as a continuous whole.
In the modern age, humans have mastered dominion over the means of survival, but have lost the goal of adaptation, thus exist in a world of their own definition which is separated from the process of the whole. This manifests itself in seemingly irreconciliable splits between body and mind, subjective and objective perspectives, and individual and world. Without a forward goal, such as “establish civilization and survive,” humans have become lost in a world created of their own thought and separated from the whole.
Continuity movement believes that if we look toward the ongoing process of the whole, instead of its discrete parts as known in our minds, we can overcome this lack of meaning and create a civilization which lacks the problems of solipsism of our own: unstated but pervasive fear of death, destruction of our natural environment, and lives spent in unfulfilling tasks with little connection (or time for) the things most meaningful to us, which are families, friends and personal achievement. No political or social agenda can make this change, since it must come from within, and as the goal of spirituality is to bond individual to world, it is here that change must occur.
Every aspect of modern life mirrors this division. In politics, there is a “left” which has an emotion of inclusiveness which runs out of control, and a “right” which responds with rigid absolutes in a reactionary fashion; neither has succeeded, over several centuries, of finding an intelligent agenda or satisfying its people. This same division occurs in spirituality and social issues. It is the result of individual humans feeling alienated from the world, distrusting it, and thus seeing themselves as (passively) at war with the world as whole, fighting for their own space and autonomy.
In this light, the divisions between mind/body and subjective/objective become more than taxonomic; they become moral absolutes which, interpreted in either an excess of emotion or rigid force, are enforced upon the world by humans, reversing their original function as being an interpretation of the workings of the world. At this point, humans become a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the world in their heads does not match external reality, yet is acted upon as if it does, causing humanity as a whole to respond to the illusion and not the fact.
Our societies claim a “progressive” agenda, but in both personal development and development of civilization, this agenda consists of an ongoing war against the world and, lacking understanding of how it works, continual alienation from it and retreat into illusion. When illusion exists in the mind and is not matched by the external world, what results is this process of forcing it upon the world and justifying its inaccuracies in terms of human constructs like right and wrong, fostering an enduring neurotic state of mind among human beings.
It is simpler, and more accurate, to note that we are parts of the world, and not separate from it, but that we have autonomy and can make choices about how we craft our world. We do not have to obey absolutes written in a single word of religion, book of law or socioeconomic convention, but can observe our natural surroundings to ascertain the means of the cosmos, and then apply them to ourselves. This requires that we cease trying to create our own isolated worlds within the world as whole, supported by our social and spiritual illusions, but that we embrace the world as a whole with ourselves as a component of it.
The opposite of this view is selfishness, where one is so afraid and hateful of the world that one is unwilling to accept that it can be a meta-good, composed of both “good” and “evil” as necessary parts to achieve its balance, and it leads to internal divisions within civilization which, shattering its consensus on what the goal of the collective must be, cause it to fragment and thus collapse from within. Regardless of what predator – disease, climate change or invaders – finally eats the corpse, the civilization has died from the disease of alienation against the world resulting in irreconciliable internal division.
Much as this afflicts civilization, it also attacks the human, who in a neurotic state is unable to make decisions or be satisfied with any state in life, thus there is a constant hyper-inflated striving for wealth, power and material goods; this results in the creation of mass waste, the destruction of natural environments, and the spiritual emptiness of the individual. Individuals who feel hollow and as if life is meaningless tend to commit destructive acts and to, however passively, snipe at their neighbors and increase misery, because nothing pleases the miserable except to say “it cannot be otherwise, for all are miserable.”
Humanity will either overcome this abyss of division and alienation, or be destroyed; Continuity Movement believes this state can be overcome by seeing the world as a continuous process of which we are part, and by taking our part in it and doing it well, instead of aiming for selfish ends, we can not only end our hollowness but create a greater civilization and in it, more spiritually satisfied individuals.
Book of the Begin
Consider that existence did not need to occur. There is no rule in logic that says that a universe must exist, or a galaxy, or a planet or, on it, sentient individuals. These have come about because no matter how unconscious it is, there is a tendency of what we now as “reality” to create an environment sustained by the interaction of its internal parts. Those parts include us.
Imagine a new cosmos starting, aware only of itself. Time and space have not yet formed, but soon are created: time, which allows iterations of situation to occur sequentially, is followed by space, a similar concept, in which more than one situation can exist, and they can interact. This process continues until there is also matter, then planets, and finally, life. The new cosmos is no longer such a lonely place.
At some point after this, some of the life forms on this planet develop consciousness. As one can imagine, their imediate task would be to balance their own ability for independent action with their origins and dependence on the whole of nature, including the cosmos that formed them; from this seed all spiritual and philosophical thought arises. For most species, all things in the cosmos are associated with a single basic syllable meaning “to give,” such as “God,” and thus are conveniently expressed in discourse.
Over time, this god-concept breaks down from an explanation of existence to a prescription for existence, because the original consensus that life is excellent has been lost through the onset of civilization and, several generations after it, the emergence of people for whom a time without civilization is inconceivable. To them, success in life is achieved by manipulating other people to do things in a specific way, and thus it helps to have an Absolute law to which to refer, in the form “God wants you to.” Because both before and after death there is only the will of the cosmos, God is soon elected to be a force that mediates death, and if one does the will of God, one becomes eternal.
This is no longer God as nature, but God as social force, and brings all corruption of spirituality, which can no longer be something that connects the species in question to their world, but something that divides them from it, and an order they impose upon it. God is now the arbitrator of reality, and from it requests are made; this replaces the heroic spirit of the civilization builders, who saw God as an order within which they created, and would not have supposed to ask from God what God freely gives.
Acknowledging existence as a gift, in that it did not need to occur, nor asks from us any inherent allegiance except to survival, it makes little sense to expect God to rule over existence and to separate it into divisions such that we can ask for good, and request to avoid the bad. Existence is a whole, and when we view God as the foundation of this existence and not something contrary to it, we are able to see the incomparable genius of this cosmos and appreciate the benevolence of the existence of life itself. When this is forgotten, we look for a God to protect us who is in a form like ours, presupposing we need a protector against the world, and thus in our new enmity toward the cosmos we lose a sense of wonder and reverence for it.
Individuals and civilizations alike go through this beginning, which like all childhoods culminates in facing adult life and the full weight of truth; if we turn our backs from truth, and appeal to a God separate from existence itself, it may be seen as an error that can be corrected through time, experience, and a gentleness toward ourselves through which we achieve a forgiving and loving nature toward the world as whole. Until we undertake this experience, however, we have not accepted reality as a whole, and will some degree be alienated from it, looking for God in the wrong form to save us – from ourselves.
Book of One
Of all the learning on earth, which separates disciplines from study of all, and gives us specialized views of the world that explain its mechanisms, there is no greater learning that this: for every situation that exists, it has a dual character composed of destruction and creation, but also an origin in the mechanism which unites all mechanisms into the same cosmos, as they are of the same essence.
We might divide our world into two layers, the abstract and the physical. The abstract includes thoughts and that which can only be expressed in thought, such as structure or function, and the physical is what can be touched. Some spiritual traditions choose to hybridize the two, and create an abstraction with attributes of the physical, such as an absolute God, Word or Law.
Given more study, our belief might include recognizing the abstract as part of the physical world, as it exists only in thought, or alternatively, as the ancient Indians did, characterizing all of reality as thought, with the individual as a thinker in the thoughts of a larger mind. Either of these methods keeps the world whole; when wefragment a singular world into two, an external world of physicality and an internal world of perceptions, there is no longer any belief in process or consistency, and we are locked within ourselves as the confines of ou reality.
This becomes despair-oriented, as a philosophy, because the individual is mortal and fallible, and if there is not a larger whole in which to believe, the individual is left with only self-satiation, which has no meaning except comfort, and there is nothing to strive for, nothing left to create, and no cause to respect and love the world, thus we turn on it and cover it with concrete and plastic, as if the seeming immortality of those substances could compensate for our own declining hours.
It is better to see the process, and place the individual in it, than to alienate oneself from the continuity of existence. When given a part in the whole, the individual can define achievement according to its own terms and reach fulfillment by finding meaning in creation and in living that role as best possible, thus getting as much from life as can be done. To separate oneself from the process is to become a lonely world that dies with the individual, thus there is nothing worth sacrificing or fighting for, and a loss of both passion and reverence for life.
Our world is composed of our thoughts; we never experience what it is to be outside of the individual, but only representations of it as transferred by our senses and ideas. As the world is a mind in itself, we are like a thread of ideas within it, and at some point the mind moves on and we are forgotten, but the mind continues, and the same energy of thinking that gave us life continues to give life, both to other individuals and to the whole. To know and exhalt this life-force is to escape the bounds of the individual.
In this mode of thought, we are able to not escape suffering, nor to accept it into our hearts as a value, but to see that it has a reason for existing, which is the continuing process of the whole, and thus to realize that suffering while negative to us is necessary, and from it come good things from which we also benefit. Someone else had to die before we were born; something dies when we eat, and when we breathe, but that things die is not important, but that the process of life continues.
When one confronts suffering in life, there are several paths of thought that can explain it:
(a) one can numb oneself to suffering, at the cost of being also numb to joy;
(b) one can see suffering as the reason for life, and either embrace it or embrace avoiding it, at the cost of being unable to think outside of suffering;
(c) one can see suffering as necessary for the whole, and both detest suffer and celebrate joy, because the individual is one part of the whole and its suffering does not mean the whole, the source of life itself, suffers.
The fatalistic religions popular in declining societies favor the first two options, as these provide an Absolute view of suffering and a way to confine it to a mental space where it does not seem to touch the rest of life; however, by expending the most energy on the negative, what is achieved is a world centered around suffering. To take the third option demands a force of will and of self-discipline, but enables us to experience life to its fullest, and to determine to make our suffering meaningful by achievement. Since one suffers and dies regardless, it is better to give that suffering and death a reason by having it occur in the process of striving for greater strength, learning or character; for this we should be thankful for suffering.
Whether or not it seems diseased, varying with each era and the events that transpire in our civilization, the world always needs re-creators, who can take what is and destroy the useless while nurturing the stronger, thus ensuring that the day after today will be filled with brighter, healthier things. One can only achieve this worldview by understanding that suffering is part of the process of life, like day follows night, and birth follows death; suffering is a means to an end, and only we as a part of life that is an agent of creativity can imagine and work to create that end. This is the role of autonomous life in nature.
Another way to see this is that if there is good, and then bad, there is also a meta-good: both good and bad serve together as a continuing system by which we survive, which is the ultimate good. Since most of life involves boring and mundane tasks, it is no stretch of the imagine to group the tedium of suffering and inanity of death with those other meaningless things, and thus to focus on the meaningful, namely the good things that we can create and thus fulfill our role on earth. That which is good is that which adapts to our world and enhances it, thus it is essential to the meta-good as well as good in itself.
To understand this is to visualize the mechanism that unites all mechanisms, and to realize that mechanisms are but means, and the ongoing process of the uniting mechanism is our goal; we enhance its function by living, striving, and getting better, even if this does not occur in our personal lifetimes. However, we as individuals enjoy life, and nothing can be more fulfilling to an individual than that enjoyment continue, even if not personal enjoyment; to escape the self in this form is to escape the sting of death, although nothing escapes its inevitability.
In the same sense, when we consider that we are mortal beings subject to the will of the external, and that we cannot control our fate, we tend to separate the world into body and mind. Under body we group our own physical form, whose fate is controlled by external things, and thus also with it we group external forces and the world outside the body; under mind we place our thoughts and emotions and personality and will and spirit. We can thus explain all things in the cosmos as body or mind.
We are thus afforded several choices:
(a) see only body, and discount our inner world;
(b) see only mind, and ignore the importance of the external world and its sustenance of us;
(c) see the whole as a process, with our bodies being the means by which our minds can exist, and entirely part of the whole and inseparable from it.
The simplest way of living is to follow the first option, and to be pleased at better food, or sexual or intoxicating gratification, but this is empty since we deny our thoughts and feelings and thus become servants of something that is, in itself, not fulfilling. Food is dead things and the seeds of plants; sex is a mechanical impulse that brings brief pleasure but does not change our degree of pleasure in life as a whole; intoxication passes, and then we are more depressed since an artifical state of heightened pleasure is gone, leaving us lonely and more sensitive to pain. Only the third way is enduring, in that we are able to assign reasons for our body and mind to the same creative force, and thus to appreciate it as our source and destination, our means and our goal.
When this is realized, we are able to see death and suffering for what they are and as nothing more: they sustain the ongoing cycle of life. Further, we are able to appreciate that cycle of life, and thus not withdraw from it as if a member of a fatalistic religion, but to realize how we can sustain and enhance this cycle of life and thus fulfill ourselves, since we enjoy being alive and thus wish to sustain that joy, even if not had by us personally. Another way to see this is that the joy is not ours, and does not originate within us, but is an emotion that any thinking being will have upon seeing the whole and realizing how good it indeed is.
Crossing the threshold of the fear of death in this method frees us from unnatural fear at the prospect of death, and allows us to build our efforts around life; we have realized already that our lives pass quickly, and that we are not eternal, but that the reality from which we originated is eternal, and by acting for it we assert all that we have found joyful and meaningful in life. We are thus simultaneously addressing our lives as individuals, and our lives as part of the whole, and therefore are no longer in confusion, divided as self-against-world.
We can view this process by this thought: much as treating a symptom does not cure the disease, eternal life would not cure us of a need for meaning in life; death is external to us, and no amount of controlling it can replace our need for an inner motivation toward joy and beauty. Much as all situations have a dual character composed of destruction and creation, but also a continuous process which unites those two distinct mechanisms into a whole, we have ceased looking at the mechanism and begun to contemplate the origin. From this we are able to understand that we are not divided from the whole, but that all our enjoyment originates within it, and thus in oneness as agents of its perpetuation, we live for ourselves and cease cowering in fear of death and suffering.
Book of God
For the lone hunter, god was resonant in the sun on the snow. The snow, which both would kill with its chill and, if shaped in a shelter, save a man and his family from the frigid winds racing over the northern part of the world. The sun, which would emerge from the grey prison of clouds and heat the earth, feeding the plants that fed the animals he hunted.
Like the syllable his descendants would create, Aum, god was an elemental vocable for all that he could see, touch, and not express. Probably originally the term meant something more along the lines of a nonsense syllable, something spat in frustration at trying to put into symbols all of what was, is being, and will be.
The cave people of middle Europe had among them many who had survived the long trek and over time become adapted to the verdant land with grim winters, but when the lone breakaway tribe left for the north, they encountered an unforgiving winter: if personified, it was sadistic. Bitter cold, deprivation of food and comfort, and death coming without warning were part of it as much as the nurturing warmth of fire and the unreserved beauty of the forest.
At this point, the concept of God became real, because they needed a reason to explain why there was both feast and famine, birth and death, warmth and cold, and how there could be a world of inner strength which sustained through harder times and encouraged joy at success. At that moment, they left behind the concept of the mother-ape, who from her perch in the trees guided the tribe to food, and began to see God in the snow; God in the change of seasons; God in the flight of an arrow toward prey.
The lone hunter lived in a cave and shivered through cold nights, fought hungry beasts prowling for anything warm to nourish themselves, and gathered what he could of wood for fire, moss for insulation, berries, roots and nuts for sustenance. He trusted in the world enough to expect spring after winter, and to know that the harvest season ended with the onslaught of brutal cold. Yet while it could kill him in an instant, it kept him alive, and time and again provided if he had the wit to take advantage.
For example, the bear that crossed his path two weeks ago, clearly exhausted and near the end of its days, then looked at him, clear-eyed, as the spear took flight. Its fat and meat fed them all, and he wore its hide against the cold; its great skull watched over the entrance to their cave, a symbol of ferocity and their ability to conquer it, as if a warning against all that would do harm there. God was in its eyes.
In the small stream that ran between two branches of the cave, miraculously not fouled like the water of the deeper cave ponds, there was God; it gave them drink when the ice storms were too intense to go outside. God was the small tree that despite the absence of heat, the lack of light and the rage of wind, had turquoise berries standing out against the snow, so at the end of a long hunger spell there was something, at least, to keep them going.
To keep going – to not give up, and lie down where the snow would soon cover him and the warmth that comes from cold near the end would carry him away. To get up every day and go into the tempest of the world to find firewood, food and water. To find a way to live with a woman, so that he might have children – he trusted that like the seasons, this keeping going would someday be a springtime for his people, for their effort at survival in this barren place.
God was in it all. And did God leave the world? God can be forgotten when there are no days of hunting in long shadows and ice to remind us of why we strive. We can fail to see God in the beauty of life continuing despite its harsh winters and hungry nights, and in how those excesses urge us to higher achievements. When we see life as great, God can be seen in the world, but if we lose respect and love for life as a whole, the night is endless dark with no spring.
Before there were words, there was thankfulness. The hunter pauses, and looks over the snow-covered valley, a giant expanse with smoke coming from a tiny cave at the far end. Small, but it is there, and in it is life. A new child with his bright eyes and strong eyebrows. Meat over smouldering wood. It is real, and it drives him forward, for the hunt, for the new day. Winter brings spring. Aum. Prey brings strength. Fire brings warmth. God is great. For existence I fight. Spring is coming; dawn is breaking. God is great.
Jim Morrison used to have a routine where he would take as many substances as his body could handle, then get up in front of an audience and throw himself as close to a shamanistic state as he could achieve, and he would begin ranting, using as his anchor rhythm the line, “You cannot petition the Lord through prayer.” His goal was not to be areligious, because of all people in rock, Morrison was one of the most religious, but his point was this: divinity is not something that comes down to answer human pleas. Divinity is something that you access, as a state of mind within yourself, and then use to formulate long term plans and ideas.
I have no shame in admitting that I pray almost daily. There is no getting down on one’s needs, and there is no single God to whom I appeal. It is not in sadness that I do this, or in fear, but in joy. I don’t go to a church. I walk to the nearest patch of trees and I exhalt their spirit, I feel their strength, and as much as I can achieve, I share the feeling of life with them. It is both meditation, and prayer, and it does not involve humility on my part, nor theirs. They do not even have to be aware of my presence, nor would I want them to do so. However, it is the form of aesthetic contemplation that Schopenhauer found as being a manifestation of pure Will itself; it is understanding the order of the cosmos, realizing that I am an agent of it, and vowing on my grave and forefathers to act it out in the only meaningful sense of honor: to do what is right in the universe so that all growth is ascendant, or moving toward enhanced states of harmonious order.
Oddly, one should be sober for such prayer, as it will take your entire soul and indeed, transform it, but as that soul came from the same cosmos thus life-force that produced the trees, it will not change anything, but rather develop it and give it reason to see its own strength, and to make its own value choices. While some petition gods they hope will help them, or pray for a new cow or a better parking space, the way those who are not superstitious pray is to find comradeship among the gods and among the task gods and men share. After all, if the cosmos is one thing – which by all appearances and the continuity of structure among it, it is – humans and gods and trees alike are its agents, being formed of its structure and design and conducting its activity. The far-east philosophies see this activity as a source of frustration, because cleaning the dishes and finding a way to feed yourself and other tasks of life are ultimately tedious, but to look at the whole of the cosmos is to look at the long-term, and from this, to peer directly into the meaning behind such activity in a way that one transcends the boredom and stupefactive repetition of maintaining life. Christianity, as a bridge between these extremes, views life as terrible and immoral and thus suggests that the only salvation comes through making an order of God on Earth, but this order is distinct from an existing order, being based entirely in the concept of the equality of human souls. To my mind, whatever divinity inhabits the earth does not care for individuals as much as individual experience, and thus openly endorses the evolutionary practice of letting the weaker die out so the survivors, in the future, are stronger and thus have better lives.
Accordingly, it makes little sense to think one would petition the Lord in prayer, as everything any Lord could grant is already here, and dependent upon the action of the individual in adaptation to nature itself. We are in the driver’s seat, and we are in control here; if we act in harmony with the methods of nature, we will achieve results that are well-adapted to our world, and thus a long-term success, even if we incur total personal loss as a result. That personal loss is inconsequential compared with achieving the goal. Thus why would one pray?
I can only answer in personal metaphor: I go to the trees because of all things on earth, they are the most focused on their goal, which is the sun. They grow and thrive regardless of suffering, hardship, personal death or despair, and for that reason are more eternal in countenance than human beings. Their action asserts personal growth in the context of the whole, and they are content to live by the laws of nature, in which some trees will die so that the forest is healthy. Their focus is on the sun, on growing, and on getting stronger with every generation. This kind of spirituality is eternal. By all means, pray – but never confuse cosmic prayer with getting down on your knees and begging.
(For Jason, who understood)
Once you start looking past immediate symptoms at causes, noting that symptoms do not occur of their own accord and, if widely recognized as “bad,” require some kind of motivating force visibly disconnected from the end result, it becomes apparent that the major factor of humanity’s assault on nature is its tendency to put price tags on everything. A patch of ground where one hundred thousand species have coexisted in natural balance since the last ice age is no longer a living, breathing, existential thing, but a piece of real estate, and anyone – regardless of intent or character – who comes along with the right sum of little tokens can purchase it and do whatever they want to it.
In theory, this is freedom. The capitalist states uphold this practice as a virtue, claiming that because someone can rise from dire poverty through hard work at a bureaucratic job or selling tedious little products to small minds, they have the right to develop land as they see fit. This represents everyone but the forest, of course, which cannot fit into an office and will not go get some job pushing paper, so it is assumed that it is less than sentient; unfeeling; a completely submissive state of material which can be run through machines and shaped into profit centers from which we can empower other people with wealth. That is, in the view of the capitalist state, “progress” as it is in theory enhancing human lives and of course, if the forest cared, it would speak up, or vote, or protest, or something.
Communist states are no better, as they make the old mistake of assuming that the inverse of something is its opposite, when what they need to do to achieve not-thing is to reverse its founding assumption. Under Communism, upholding not-money is so important that the forest must submit to the will of the state, which naturally is busy creating an economy and breeding future warriors against capitalism, so the effect is the same, as is the motivating force: it is trying to compete in the world of money with not-money, but ultimately not-money must conform to the same ideals and eventually, is absorbed by money because money, as a simplest lowest common denominator, is a more vicious competitor. (These states are also alike in that like all modern orders, they aim to replace lawless nature, in which death can occur any minute, with a human order in which death only occurs when fiscally convenient.)
Both of these states are in the grip of a granular absolute, which is a type of pragma, or fragment of theory, which is applied without context or regard for the whole. A simple example would be the old argument that Kant brought up, time and again. “Thou shalt not lie” makes great sense on paper; if everyone obeyed it, immediately, perhaps the world would be a marginally better place. But lying is not the only disease of humanity, so if the S.W.A.T. team comes to your door and says, “We’re looking for your brother, so we can haul him off and shoot him for being the unabomber, is he here?” You look in the back and he’s busy typing a manifesto. In theory, it’s “wrong” to lie, because your brother is there; in practice, you say, “Haven’t seen him for years” and the S.W.A.T. team goes away.
Money, and not-money by extension, is a similar absolute. It is the only determiner of a situation, but it exists without consideration for the whole, such that if some bright enterprising guy comes along and wants to take your ancestral forest and make it into a McDonald’s or another subdivision, there’s not much you can do about it. After all, he has the money – the right sum for which that patch of ground (and forest, which is counted as timber) – and how can you deny it to him? If you do, you’re blocking his ability to earn money and thus can be sued and are demonized by society as a whole, because you have obstructed his dreams. If you’re as wealthy as all of the rest of society put together, you can save that patch of land, but few people are, especially healthy ones, who tend to view money as a means to an end and thus, when they have enough for their families, put it out of sight and focus on enjoying careers, people, experiences.
One would literally need to be as wealthy as all of society to counter it, because of two factors. The first is the forest, which as an ecosystem composed of interlocking ecosystems, requires more land than humans, which have a singular purpose and replace whatever is on that land with sole human habitation (the handful of species that survive in suburbs, like sparrows and squirrels, are as domesticated as cockroaches: they depend on the human order). The second is humanity, which since it operates by contextless absolutes such as money, will never stop growing, even as resources become scarce; instead, they will simply compete for what is left, in the process consuming all of it and leaving behind cities which can never recreate the forest. They might plant trees, and breed squirrels, but what about the other 99,998 species?
When these arguments are presented in public, the many who suppose themselves witty come up with objections: humanity will regulate itself! Money empowers the impoverished and oppressed! You’d leave us without jobs or the ability to purchase products! These can be recognized as fear of change, since societies have existed using money without having it be a wholly unchecked resource; we could change nothing about money, but simply put some higher preference above it, whether local leaders or a spiritual elite or simply electing Ted Kaczynski president, and all would continue as previous except that unchecked expansion would no longer exist. It’s as simple as saying that price tags only go on some things, and not on others, and that humanity has already consumed more than its fair share of forest, wetlands, prairie, and desert.
Those who object to such things are demonstrating fear, more than anything else, because they trust money more than nature. Money is uncritical, if you have money, and if you don’t, you can easily get it by trading your time in doing simple tasks for that check every two weeks. Money empowers those who are weak, oppresssed, enfeebled, and even deranged, along with the strong. Therefore, to people who fear the end of the money order, it is a “moral good,” since it helps humans. But that’s all it does, and that task is far from the whole goal of a species attempting to surface on this planet. Let money run amok and soon “forest” will be something you find in a special preserve which, like a museum, will be a place for visitors and be tromped by uncountable feet and strewn with candy wrappers.
Some would say this is anti-human, but to this columnist, it appears as something far simpler: maturity. Maturity is recognizing that although you’d eat chocolate for every meal if you could, that’s not a sensible long-term plan for your life. It’s recognizing that while you wish all your friends could just get along, some of them never will, so you have to not seat them next to one another at dinner. It’s knowing that because winter is coming, you have to gather and pile up dead wood so you can have a fire on the days when snow obscures the fallen logs. And so forth. Money is short-term gratification and lack of a plan; we need to establish some higher order above it, and regulate it, before everything that is natural on this earth is replaced by fast food and faceless subdivisions.
There is another reason to create a higher order than money: ourselves. Just as becoming mature makes us stronger people, and the ability to make long-term plans forces us to develop our higher intelligence, creating for ourselves a hierarchy of goals that requires having a plan and a strong set of values in turn creates in us a broader spiritual consciousness. Utilitarian orders, or those in which if most people approve or don’t notice something is considered a social good, such as democracy and money-above-all and thou shalt not lie, do not develop this, and thus turn us into small-minded, distracted, contextless people who cannot appreciate the majestic beauty, complexity and life of a forest. Maybe we are not as different from the order of the forest as we would presume, and this is why in fear we destroy it.
There are two basic methods of measurement; one is quantitative, which involves counting number, and the other is qualitative, which involves assessing degree. In the modern time, the quantitative has become more popular, because it is “objective” in the method of subjective utilitarian measurement: most people in a crowd can agree that there are six potatoes in the basket, while they will inevitably have differing views (or degrees of caring) regarding qualitative aspects of those potatoes. Thus if one wishes to address the crowd, it is better to point out that the new option involves more potatoes rather than better potatoes.
Since the quantitative is so useful to our mechanical devices, we have come to rely on it, and around the seventeenth century began applying it to more than machines: we began applying it to humans through bureaucratic government. The concept of measuring life in terms of discrete units goes even further back, perhaps to the moralistic philosophies of the dominant religions of the last millennium, but it reached its birthpoint in governments dedicated to treating us each as beings contained in the same form, whose function could be derived from averages. This means that it is assumed that all individuals can be assumed to have roughly the same values systems, needs, sizes, abilities and inclinations, at least as far as government – and any organizations dependent on it for infrastructure – will see.
This led in turn to a rather peculiar state of affairs among humanity where reality is not something we all see and agree on, but something we refer to books and documents of law to determine. Even more alarmingly, this crept into the spiritual sphere, such that we now defer to God as something outside of the world, and hope to reference him for direction, instead of seeing God as within the world and indeed within us, and thus trusting our intuition. This is the quantitative influence on our thinking, and it can be summarized as applying a single linear, external scale to all measurement, such that we and our preferences and whims have no place in the equation, except as justified by that single linear external scale. In a quantitative system, you cannot say “I like this car because I bought it with money I earned at my first job, thus it is worth more than money to me” – it has a blue book value, and that is all anyone sees in it.
Every person worldwide gets ranked according to this scale, which is usually an assessment of valuation to the mythical “average” person, such that civility, money-making ability and social importance are what is ranked, not something as internal and subjective (and thus dependent on common sense) as inner strength or character. There is no government agency that mails you your ranking; such a thing is evident by what you own, what you talk about, and what you can afford to do. Where you work, who you know. All external, appearance-based characteristics: these are the only things that can be measured “objectively” by quantitative process, because they require no subtlety and everyone in the crowd can appreciate how the rank was derived and predict it themselves.
Disturbingly this system is consistent not only among humans, but in our treatment of nature, worldwide. We see one scale of usefulness, and that is either profit (capitalism) or dogma-goals (communism); we see only one scale of caring, and that is morality, which by its nature aims to preserve human lives and has no care for nature, which it views are barbaric and primitive because cute bunnies are sometimes eaten by less-cute hawks. From this perspective we exclude most natural things, as they do not succumb to our linear scale, and thus are ranked at zero on it. The same treatment is given to anything potentially offensive to anyone within our society; civility proscribes such things. But can you imagine a “civil” philosopher? “I do not mean to offend you, but I believe that your characterization of reality as an absolute dualistic organon is in error.”
Interestingly, the single-linear-scale attribute of modern society accounts for its great paradox: how something that thinks like a crowd can be created from those who place individualism above all other values. When we see the individual as the most important thing in the world, we create rules to protect that individual; these rules do not address specific individuals, but the concept of the individual, and thus are of the single linear scale, one size fits all type described above. In this way, a crowd is created, as when people are treated like average human form factors, they begin to behave like average people, not in the least part because their opinions must be confined to a linear scale, which amounts to options (pre-defined choices) rather than open-ended choices, which are ad hoc defined. The individuals, taken together, form an entity that makes decisions according to its lowest common denominator which, by the nature of individuals, is very low indeed, since people who are individualistic do not have much in common except wanting food, shelter and protection – things that can be misinterpreted in the same absolute way the individual is.
It is a big scale. Some religions blame language; others blame money. Any of its elements can be targetted, whether yes/no, 1/0, good/evil or better/worse, but what is essentially wrong here is that absolute measurement, or the belief that we can objectively assess anything in a utilitarian form, or in simplest form, by quantity. Qualitative measurements require those who can interpret them, and are frightening because they are not obvious to most of the population, thus require trust in a specialized group of people who generation after generation ascertain the meaningings inherent in life and suggest ways to make society adapt more proficiently to them. This is a frightening concept, because it does not embrace the entire crowd, or the form of the individual, but only select individuals. However, the question arises: does every individual need to be a leader of others? Or a spiritual thinker?
The masses are pacified by quantitative measurements. Yet this same device also destroys us and our environment, as it takes on a life of its own within us. It is perhaps then better to say, instead of proclaiming the need for all people to conform to a single scale, that individualism is best served by measuring us each according to where we are proficient, and what we love, and what we choose to value: these are inward traits, and cannot be expressed in quantitative terms. Ultimately, this is more respectful to the individual, and allows an appreciation for the wide variety of humans and animal and plant life, none of which fits a linear scale, and thus can be quantitative.