by Antonio Dias
In recent decades, American politics has been dominated, at least rhetorically, by a battle over the size of government. But that is not what the next few decades of our politics will be about. With the frontiers of the state roughly fixed, the issues that will define our major debates will concern the complexity of government, rather than its sheer scope.
With that complexity has also come incoherence.
Complexity is not complication piled on top of complication.
Clarity is not simplicity.
Incoherence is not what happens when we fail to simplify complexity.
Incoherence lies at the core of these confusions. These confusions at the core of why all our attempts to fix things fall apart. Teles’ analysis has many cogent points. But in the end it comes back around to another “Kludge.” As he calls the mess we now have governing our lives. A kludge because the desire to use insights into coherence and complexity as short-cuts within the same series of expectations that led us to this present condition is incoherent.
Not to pick on Mr. Teles, This attitude spoils so much of System Theory and nullifies the efforts of a wide range of reformers. These insights are lost when we attempt to use them to plug holes in an underlying world-view that is fundamentally incoherent. This is why we cannot expect anything useful to come from those committed to a limited rationalism. These initiatives send us rushing back into a way of thinking that leads us into one nightmare of reason after another.
We hold ourselves to these dead-ends with our insistence on defining human nature in ways that assume it is fixed. that it can only exist as we happen to find it. As we happen to project upon our perceptions of what we find, using ideological rationalizations to justify our imposed limitations.
Futility is something more than an opportunity to show our steadfast allegiance to incoherent ways of behaving.
Clarity is available. If we can abandon our demand for certainty….
Our vision of governance is incoherent to its core.
Based on the assumption that control is essential, we create political bodies to carry out a function of control. We populate these bodies with characters who generate persona intended to carve majorities away from unity by amplifying schisms within the greater body of society. Another clear example of projecting the unexamined and reaping the result as Fate. A deep sedimentation of layers of projections; of fears and angers, slights and justifications for lashing out; built up over thousands of years and worshiped as precedent.
Situations evolve continuously. They are difficult to perceive coherently since perception itself is incomplete and prone to confusion as it is layered with projections then taken as fact. This demands of any successful entity – success meaning the ability to continue to exist – that they remain attentive to every possible entry into every scrap of clarity, every contact with coherence it is possible to find. At its foundations this demands an attitude of dissensus. We can never know that “our” way is correct. Or that through some unknown, unforeseeable circumstance those we cannot agree with may have found something of value we do not yet recognize. On top of this is the need to maintain a working familiarity, a comfort, with uncertainty; recognizing that certainty is a trap and an illusion.
Our concepts of governance, whether internal or aimed outward at society at large, reject and forcefully repulse these inferences and reject their implications, beginning with a steadfast refusal – in the face of exponentially increasing evidence – to accept that the only way control can “work” is by killing what we insist on controlling.
Creatures are adaptable. Resilience is a trait of anything that persists. These capacities are not in themselves virtuous. The way we have embraced destruction as an ethos, contrary to all that is fundamental to life itself, is a sign of just how powerful these forces can be. Even when the result clearly leads to catastrophe, to enormity.
Persistence within patterns inimical to their hosts is fed by confusion. So long as we continue to project an illusion that our ways “must work!” We maintain our selves off-balance. Within the stresses of confusion, doubling down appears to be the only alternative. We have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that humans are capable of taking this over any brink.
Caught in these traps we turn to the illusion of salvation by whatever means. Always transposed in time and place from here and now to nowhere and beyond. This boosts our flayed spirits. It has so often been just what was needed to take us over that edge. The only thing that’s changed now is that we can take most everything else on this Earth with us. Murder/suicide.
But it’s incoherent.
Any entry of this realization into our awareness can begin to shatter the prison of our illusions.
Follow any thread. Take politics….
How can we be surprised that organizing society around bodies perpetuating and proliferating methods of control only lead us anywhere but from bad to worse?
Can we see beyond our glee at the failure of those elements we disagree with – out of predilection fired by and whipped into a frenzy of hatred and fear by those who are most deeply “invested” in the illusion of control?
No one has a monopoly on coherence.
“This is Right!”
“This is true!”
These are only signs of an insistence to defend an illusion of certainty. Coherence is not found in either demand leading us to believe we are justified in carrying out violence. Perpetuating incoherence. Bringing forth destruction on ever more massive scales.
Everything has a latency. Inertia and momentum carry things beyond where they continue to cohere. Even now the remnants of poor old comet Ison continue to careen through space along its path as though it were still whole.
We are nearing the limits of the latency of many of the forces and habits of nature that have nurtured and maintained life. This is true not only of the imbalance in biomass we have brought about as we replace the living fabric of evolved life with a prison/factory. It is true of any remnant of our own capacities for creative response to break through the enormity of our incoherence.
I’ve come to see this as why our cultural expressions have been in such a long decline and why we are arriving at a point where none of our institutions provide any of the results we expect from them.
They were only useful in-so-far as they were imperfect at carrying out their purported functions. They only allowed the irrepressibility of life to shine through so long as they were unable to do what they were intended to do. Their inefficiency at fulfilling fantasies of control allowed what were then perceived as the “benefits of control” to leak through.
Now? Not so much.
Just as any living system can take tremendous abuse and still appear healthy – to a point. We find Peak Latency has arrived. A time when so little that is irrepressible is left, and the forces of control have proliferated with their monsters of reason so far, that we risk closing any possible continuation of anything besides our spiral into destruction.
Dip into politics at any level, at any point, with this perspective in mind.
Our “Lawmakers are failing to – fill-in-the-blank!”
Every bit of this is clotted in incoherence. “Lawmakers” are charged with perpetuating their roles, keeping themselves in positions of “power.” Their “work” is to assemble and adjust a tottering scaffolding of compulsions and rewards to channel behavior into stereotypical ruts.
So long as there was room for life to burst through this could provide us with a fairly plausible illusion that “good intentions” brought about “positive results.” That was life leaking through, not the result of a system of control and its apparatus doing what it was intended to do. It was always working as such attempts invariably do, eroding the capacity of life to persist in the face of increasing destruction. Incoherence coupled with force. Force fueled over the last few centuries not only by subjugating the lives of those existing on Earth at the time, but supplementing this violence with the force generated by fossilized sunlight found and exploited in easy abundance and with increasing vehemence. Adding slaves-in-a-barrel to the traditional kind.
At this point we have many on the brink of realizing our institutions are failing. That what we get is nothing like what we think we are after.
We persist in thinking the problem is not enough control. The “wrong” people have all the power!
We are eager to jump to the conclusions that are most likely to maintain our sense of certainty.
“When my side wins!”
Really? Really? Do we still believe that?
This has also led, beyond latency to a situation where there is a Power/Intelligence Gap.
Those who have begun to see the futility of the old ways have either left or are actively banished from power. The latency of power structures then leaves ever more capacity to destroy in ever more incompetent, broken, dis-eased hands.
This makes complete sense. As those who could see through the illusions of power abandon its pursuit, there is room for the pathetic to take their place. They are the only ones left who still believe. Playing at re-living a grand Republic while riding the Colossus of Empire.
The point at which the greatest mischief happens is as an Empire careens along, to all appearances as if it were to last another thousand years. This is when immense, real power finds itself in imbecilic hands with increasing regularity.
We haven’t quite had our Caligula. Though we have probably had our Nero, fiddling as New Orleans drowned. Or, as the Gulf of Mexico dies.
Dealing with the consequences of what happens while these fools are behind the wheel of a machine with such destructive power is not the same as thinking we are going to accomplish anything worthwhile by taking it away from them and giving it to a fool closer to our liking.
This is the case all the way down the line. There is no political entity that has rejected the futility of power. And everyone that continues to support accumulating power in the face of the disasters this mania has unleashed is on a fool’s errand.
This isn’t a call to “Do the right thing!”
Look around you if you are still in the midst of power. Who do you see? Will you be the final fool?
None of the trappings of power will “save you.” Whatever power you think you control will turn on you. Your mercenaries are no more honor-bound to protect you than any Praetorian Guard….
This is what clarity looks like.