The Pocket History of England - Provisional Conclusions
Of course, time moves on, and we begin delicately to discover that all these distinctions are meaningless.
Peasants, Barons, Lackeys. We are all the same. Every Baron knows, to himself, that he is nothing but a Lackey in Baron's clothes. Every Lackey knows, to himself, that he is living a lie; that he is using socio-economic constructs to improve his faint-hearted impression of himself.
And every Peasant, we know, has the true capacity, if given the slightest chance, to walk the face of the earth in dignity; to claim a minimum rightful share of the material world in order to share in getting on with the problems we all face with regard to the indifference of the cosmos.
We discover, or re-discover, that every one of us knows, internally, that there are no differences. We re-discover that the entire business of creating differences and believing in them is an offshoot of very primitive behaviour; the sort of behaviour, in fact, that we've always assumed we left behind in the caves.
The whole pretence, for which people have to suffer and die, is nothing but an hysterical response to not knowing what the fuck is going on; to not having the slightest idea of where we fit into the universe and what we're supposed to be doing.
All of the pretences are social constructions upon which those of us who should have known better have come to rely.
Those of us who should have known better are those of us who've had the time and the space, the 'leisure' if you like, to contemplate these things. Those of us who haven't had to toil ourselves senseless just to stay alive. Those of us who have actually spent large parts of our lives supposedly absorbing formal information. Those of us who are unimaginably free of the constraints and responsibilities and agonies of survival on a day to day basis.
But in our anxiety not to lose the social constructions around us, not to lose the 'status' we've deluded ourselves into thinking that we deserve, we fail to face up to the overpowering fact that we don't know, any better than any other human, why we're here on this planet in this reality.
In primitive societies, all kinds of elaborate understandings were constructed about why what was taking place was taking place. As we look back or down upon them, we are amused. But how much more do we know. We still haven't even really scratched the surface of understanding even the scale of the problem let alone come anywhere near an understanding of the nature of the solution.
Every member of every society that ever was believed that the dominant truths of the day were the ultimate truths. We now assume that what none of our ancestors ever knew about "reality" is that it's full of molecules and atoms whizzing around. And that light shines through it, bouncing off it, this way and that, at 186,000 miles per second.
How quaint they were not to know this. How clever we are to know it. But what we 'know' is so ephemeral. It changes so fast. Today, some of us can see that. And seeing that is perhaps the real measure of how far from our ancestors we may have come.
But most of us turn our backs on this uncomfortable, this disorienting aspect of knowledge. Instead, we concentrate on the primitive task of assembling social constructs. We busy ourselves ordering our immediate environments and doing so usually in terms of short-sighted, short-term material self-interest.
And perhaps some of that's OK. A little bit of displacement activity can help to get over the main horrific anxiety. But, like the primitives, we over-involve ourselves in the busy-ness. We become so totally immersed in the displacement activity that we forget not only what we're displacing, but also the very fact that we're displacing it.
In the old days, in the dark nights, the elders used to tell the youngers the reasons for everything, to soothe the fears of the youngers and thereby, in a sense, their own. But the elders knew they were making it up. They knew that nobody knows. But after a few generations of making and believing, the "truth" emerges; solid with the years; steeped in tradition; cured by time and secured by repetition.
Nowadays, we still do the same thing. We believe all this rubbish from our, admittedly younger, elders. And then, as we become elders, we catch ourselves passing it on, just as if we knew it was the truth.
So, where does this leave us.
Clearly, it is our various insecurities and self-indulgences which are inhibiting our collective application to the main task - the task of assembling human knowledge.
A certain amount of self-indulgence cannot be avoided. It is even, perhaps, important in maintaining our balance as we confront this disturbingly impossible task. But some degrees of self-indulgence are obviously affecting our application more seriously than others.
For example, many of us are desperately struggling to keep from dying; to keep fed; to keep heat in our bodies and the bodies of our children.
Many of us are thus distracted from the main task. The fact that we are thus distracted is directly attributable to the indulgences of the economically advantaged who, by virtue of their "ownership" of unnecessary quantities of land, goods, and houses, create unnecessary stresses on our collective economy which could otherwise be providing these to all our members at a minimum level of pain and struggle for all.
This minimum level could assure that more of us have more time with which to deal with the main task.
Dealing with self-indulgence in the economically advantaged does seem to require some determination, and, yes, some force. Clearly, they're not going to let go of their own free will. History has shown us very very few examples of this.
For one thing, they're rigid with fright. Their whitened knuckles grip their material possessions and economic advantages in a state of unthinking near-hysteria. But it must be understood that the cost of their self-indulgence is too much for the rest of us to bear any longer.
The rest of us want to get on with the vast problem of assembling human knowledge. We want do this before human knowledge destroys itself.
But as we apply ourselves to the task, we come, consistently, up against the brick walls of economic constraint. We come up against arguments of "profitability" as though somehow a divine message had got through that all human endeavour must make money. We come up against cynical hypocrisy as we recognise that the very arguments about "profitability" are coming from the economically advantaged who have long since sewn up all the avenues to profit known to man in their own short term self-interest.
If there was a saving grace; if these people were themselves using their economic advantage to the advantage of our collective struggle with ignorance; if they were applying a superior intelligence one might expect to be arising out of this economic advantage, there might be an argument for saying, "OK, keep up the good work. We'll mark time until you've got some news for us."
But the evidence is completely to the contrary. All we are seeing is the proliferation of more and more magnificent examples of human greed, arrogance, and self-indulgence.
And besides, history has shown us, time and time and time again, that when you give people economic advantage over others, they start playing power games; they start trying to manipulate the lives of the economically disadvantaged.
The intelligent among us know there's no excuse for it. We know we have to try to sort out these economic disparities.
We know that time is running out. We know that in many corners of the globe the last conflagration has already begun.
We know that the time for pretending it's not happening is passed.
So, let's not waste any more time. Let's just get on with it, shall we....?
© 2011 Deacon Martin