by Mike Meyer
We are struggling with fragmentation. We are familiar with things being blown apart. In fact that is a human preference. People will come from miles around to watch a building being blown down.
As kids we tend to play with building things, stacking blocks, or mud houses in order to reach the moment when we knock it down or smash what we’ve built to pieces. I can remember the delicious but guilty pleasure of working for an hour or two to build a mud fort by a puddle of water behind the barn and smashing it with a toy bulldozer. War! A basic human pleasure.
We get older and the destructive pleasure gets bigger. Organized acts of destruction that are recreation. With luck the destruction doesn’t get out of hand or create too much collateral damage and we can laugh about it with our friends. But there is guilt there and, as we grow older, those memories become troublesome and so forgotten.
Much of our literature is based on stories of these acts of recreational destruction that aren’t lucky. An urge is acted upon in the midst of the destructive release that causes larger damage or greater injury than we anticipated.
It wasn’t meant to hurt anyone or anything that couldn’t easily be replaced or just apologized for with a minor offering. I’ve got a candy bar you can have. I’ll buy you a beer and we’ll laugh about it.
We have the memories of those times that we went too far or went along with someone else going too far and suddenly realize that this isn’t going to go away. The internal price is high and, maybe, the external price is going to hurt us, our family, and others. Our lives are shaped by these things or even by their absence. A different price to pay much later. I never risked anything. I wanted to but didn’t? Maybe I can fix that now?
This is a part of our nature. The slow ascent to maturity as a species has been marked by the abandonment of gratuitous violence in reality while violence has grown in our virtual worlds. But this is a slow process and there is a significant percentage of our population that just hasn’t made the change from brutal reality to virtual alternatives.
The primal emotion of destruction
We’re suddenly faced with the increasingly violent reaction of those people in our most heavily virtualized societies. They refuse to give up the option to smash something or someone. They still avoid, usually, doing this in person as it is too dangerous but smashing families and “others” is important and too much to give up particularly if someone offers to do it for them.
The shouters and opportunists are always there for this population to give them the excuse to smash without risking themselves. This doesn’t normally work unless the system is well along in failure and the caused of anger and exploitation have been allowed, in fact, encouraged to build. But this is far too dangerous now.
This is a reality that must be given up if we are too survive. But the critical need for this is not understood by that significant minority. The tragedy is that we know this desire to smash and destroy must be given up by choice. It is too deep an urge and too fundamental to our nature, I think, to be removed by force. The realization of the irony of needing to force the removal of force and destruction as a primal entertainment is the demarcation between the problem population remnant and the majority.
What do we do?
This is the nature of the resurgent fascism that is crippling post industrial societies at a critical historical nexus. It is the desire to build and then smash with the building culminating in a climax of controlled destruction. Not everything or everyone is to be smashed. At least we have come that far. But it is a reversion to tribal and feudal forms. Ours versus theirs but ours must be kept clean and removed from what is to be destroyed.
We know all the rituals and forms, the secret oaths, and the magic words that justify the release of force. We watch the rituals being performed mindlessly as they must be mindless to give the needed satisfaction. This is primal and emotional. Only fast thinking and reaction, no slow thinking and abstraction. Symbols are what is needed. There is no logic and no meaning beyond emotional release now and in the future. That release must be maintained.
Security is always the excuse. The tools to smash must always be kept to hand. The option to denounce, hate, and punish those who are not us is critical for these people. This makes no sense. It is the juvenile desire for gratuitous destruction. The American military empire is funded endlessly yet uses for it must be found.
These people are often religious but the religions they recognize are, themselves, remnants of tribal mythology built on exclusivity and divine destruction. There is no spiritual acceptance of anyone but their own kind and in racial purity.
Obviously this is not rational. The model of the resurgent fascist leader is emotional and arbitrary. The followers need to be told what to smash. That is what defines their world. Nothing else really matters. There are no policies but only excuses layered with ritual to justify holding the right to destroy people, societies, families, and creative cultures. Culture is a violent word to fascists, it must be killed. To smash a culture and those who create is the ultimate release of orgasmic violence.
Giving up our toys
This is a juvenile compulsion. People and societies grow out of this but some will always remain and others may revert. That is a form of social pathology to which we are prone. Controlling this cannot be left to time and maturity because it now blocks our response to the climate crisis that may be our end.
If we had time we could simply wait and work to remove the conditions that exacerbate the need to destroy. That is the traditional role of politics in modern society. We have come to accept this as the nature of representative governments. Slowly it changes and the slowness and allowance of group urges to revisit previous forms of social motivation and earlier mistakes that lead to disaster are the learning process of youth, ontogeny and phylogeny.
This is the focus in America now as presidential candidates are still acting as if there is time to let the lost population learn their lesson. But it is already too late. The majority is repulsed by gratuitous violence both emotional and threatened and is learning that the time is very limited. That has only begun to dawn.
How much time can we allow? How many reversions to feudal emotional demands for destructive release? The damage to the planetary environment and to groups arbitrarily denounced for selfish pleasure is plainly irresponsible. A rational society cannot be based in continuous violence as its preferred entertainment and its administration must be coldly rational now.
The rise of the modern world, led by American for the last seventy years, forced rapid change but went beyond accepting to worshiping institutional destruction. The creativity of destruction in capitalism fed the juvenile urge for gratuitous violent release. At the same time the worship of raw greed and ambition, made sacred by massive wealth, has made massive wealth the justification for constant emotional reaction and juvenile destruction.
But now we need to grow up. Those that haven’t learned maturity can be forgiven for being angry because they have been exploited. But they allowed their own exploitation and are being told they can smash others to get their release. And that is no longer allowable or possible if we are to survive on this planet.
With a possible thirty year deadline on climate disasters reaching a level that could trigger social collapse, we have no time to indulge juvenile urges for emotional violent satisfaction. These must be refocused on positive action to achieve economic sustainability and environmental neutrality for a projected nine to ten billion person population. All of this while threatened by drought, storm, sea level, loss of arable land, and the mass movement of millions as their home lands disappear.
Either we achieve an equitable planetary asset distribution to prevent anger and greed with a carbon neutral economy or we will be reduced by climate disasters to a remnant population and our dreams of reaching beyond this one planet will be gone. This will become more easily understood as the steadily increasing climate extremes and resulting human and general biosphere disasters make the future without massive change visible.
But time is a very cruel lover. We must offer all the time we have and that may not be enough. There is no escape because we gave the keys to fortune without really understanding what that meant. Now we know but there is no time for those who refuse to learn.
Our childhood is over.