Arnold Toynbee (1889 – 1975), a thinker heavily influenced by Spengler, contended that the essential entity that constitutes world history is not a region, an ethnic people or a nation, but a civilization, and he maintained that each civilization passes through five stages: genesis, growth, breakdown, disintegration, and dissolution (death).
Islam, with the Arab Spring, has entered its breakdown phase. It will suffer an increasing identity clash as its old, tired ways conflict more and more with modernity, and it will split into traditionalists and modernisers and a great schism will develop, as happened between Catholicism and Protestantism, and into the gap will flow a rationalist Enlightenment that will eventually kill Islam (just as rationalism has already dealt a fatal blow to Judaeo-Christianity, but the zombie refuses to die for the time being).
The West has also broken down (as the current financial crisis continues to prove) and could disintegrate rapidly. In fact, the sooner it dissolves, the better. There’s no point in prolonging the agony. Capitalism danced on the grave of Communism in 1989 and now it too has died just a few decades later. Communism collapsed with astounding speed, and the same thing could easily happen to capitalism.
The genesis of a new culture lies in the human response to some profound change in the natural or social environment, requiring an urgent adaptation. We can imagine that our rival human species – Neanderthal Man – died out because he failed to adapt at a critical juncture. We did adapt and we prospered. Neanderthal Man didn’t and suffered a long, lingering death. That’s the pitiless lesson from history to all of us. We could literally become extinct if we don’t find the right adaptation. For humanity, only one adaptation is possible – we must leave behind the ignorant, superstitious, faith-driven, irrationalist Mythos-based past and embrace a rationalist, knowledge-based Logos future. If we don’t, we’re finished. Our extinction is certain.
The Four Riders of the Apocalypse are circling us: global warming and increasingly extreme weather conditions, continual famines and droughts, overpopulation, shortage of drinking water, failure of capitalism, increasing personal expectations, serious possibility of deadly global pandemics in an interlinked, overcrowded world.
Praying to God won’t save anyone. Mythos won’t save us. It’s Logos or death.
A creative, committed minority fosters the new culture and it can grow rapidly. However, when their original creative impetus fades, decay sets in. The original creative minority becomes an uncreative, dogmatic “establishment”, upholding the old ways. A priest caste and a “noble” caste (the rich) run the civilization in their own interests, in the form of privileged minorities dominating the weak, submissive majority.
They create a “universal State” where their paradigm is present everywhere and everyone is programmed to obey the paradigm, and this is usually accompanied by an extremist religion (such as Judaism, Christianity or Islam) and a “universal Church” that actively seeks to destroy all outsiders, freethinkers, heretics, blasphemers and infidels that challenge the orthodoxy and thus cows everyone else (the common herd, the sheeple).
Yet it’s precisely because a paradigm becomes so fanatically entrenched that its demise is rendered inevitable. It can’t adapt, can’t respond to new facts. It’s so deeply dug in, it can’t get out again. As soon as the Catholic Church refused to accept the evidence furnished by Galileo’s telescopes and preferred the scriptural position that the sun revolves around the earth, it was finished. The Catholic Church is a prime example of a great institution that becomes more and more irrelevant and powerless with every passing year. It has almost no positive influence in the world. Few people listen to it or obey it. Billions pay lip service, but don’t authentically believe. Catholicism is a twitching corpse, with post-mortem gas emerging from its orifices, giving the illusion that it’s still moving. Can anyone imagine a Catholic Church 1,000 years from now? Yet, because it built its foundations so deep, it remains standing. Nevertheless, it’s already an irrelevance. No forward-thinking person would ever say to himself, “Hey, I had better join the Catholic Church!”
How can Catholicism reinvent itself? It can’t. Hence it has no future. That’s true of all rigid paradigms. Only dialectical paradigms – paradigms in which change and becoming are inbuilt – can adapt to new information. Had the Catholic Church been dialectical, it would have accepted Galileo’s evidence. It was anti-dialectical and didn’t.
Catholicism is now the kingdom of night. It will never see the dawn. It’s all over. And it’s all over too for Judaism, Protestantism and Islam. They are all “dead men walking”. This is the planet of the living dead.
Excerpt from HyperHumanity
Artwork by Doug Van Houten