Ambition to Change the World, Composing, 25/04/2018

So I’m going to take a quick break from going through Paul Patton today. The note that I want to follow up yesterday’s “Mapping Thought” post with, it has a lot to do with the ontology of virtual multiplicities. And I don’t really have the energy tonight to translate that out of mad crazy technical language.

So I thought I’d post a few thoughts about another project I’m working on, which will help me wrap my head around the shape of what I need to write.

This month, I officially joined the team at Ghubril Ltd, a startup think tank specializing in program evaluation for the global NGO and United Nations sector. We produce regular publications – policy papers and white papers – and sell subscriptions to receive them direct.

Explore the website, which I’ll link here again for the second time, and you’ll see the kind of subject matters we work on. We push progressive policy – we do research on different pathways to create a healthier, stronger, freer human civilization that lives in greater harmony with the ecologies of Earth.

This month, our papers all revolve around climate change and related ecological issues. In a way, I have it very easy this month, because I already wrote a book about all this.

My own paper for this month revolves around how you actually make a sustainable society permanent. It needs a complete transformation of the culture. And the best route there is activism. It’s also the slowest-moving of all the methods you could use.

President Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic embraced by
Richard Nixon, who was Vice-President of the United States at the
time. Trujillo was one of the many brutal dictators the US
government supported as part of anti-communist geopolitical
strategy. He was responsible for brutal repression of dissidents, the
mass murder and ethnic cleansing of Haitians and other black
people from Dominican territory, and on a personal level,
regular sexual assaults against young Dominican women as if
the country's population were his own personal harem.
Trujillo was also a dedicated environmentalist, expanding
protected natural lands in his country and ordering a large-scale
reforestation campaign.
You can use the laws of your country, of course. But that runs into the problem that countries only have jurisdiction over limited amounts of territory. If Canada becomes the greenest* country on Earth, we’re still in a lot of trouble if the United States’ government grows more indifferent to ecological sanity.

* Political and economically.

And law is an inherently coercive tool as well. It encourages resistance, as part of the natural human instinct to rebel – against authority, against some perceived popular consensus. We’re all punks at heart. It’s just the content that varies. It’s why Paul Ryan can love Rage Against the Machine, and listen to the songs as if they’re about him.

The only way to guarantee that a society will change in a particular direction is the transformation of people’s very moralities. What Nietzsche called the transvaluation of values.

Now, I’ve known plenty of Nietzsche scholars in my time. And many philosophers who’ve followed in the tradition that Nietzsche began. But it’s very difficult to find concrete policy prescriptions for the transformation of popular morality. So I feel like I’m standing on my own here.

So where I’m still trying to punch through as a writer of a policy paper here is this. How do you explain the difficulty of activism as a strategy, while also making clear that activism is the only strategy that can be genuinely successful at all?

It means explaining the ontology of society. It’s not that sociological-scale events and bodies are entirely determined by the psychological and individual-scale. That would reduce the social causally to functions of the individual, which won’t work at all.

But the social is constituted through the relationships among individuals, across all the channels that humans use to communicate with each other. There’s a constant feedback loop of influence across the two scales, each individual being a quantum constituting the entire social field in action together.

From another angle, the difference between the social and the individual is epistemic, a matter of knowledge and investigation. The specific scientific techniques that investigate individual-scale events can’t work to investigate social-scale events. Same goes for techniques for social investigation and the individual scale.

So here’s where I stand. The concept that I’m working with is explaining how the individual / psychological functions as the quantum constituent of a social field. Meanwhile, the phase difference from individual to social – from quantum to field – requires different sciences to deal with each.

Which is fine. Now how do I explain this as a matter of policy prescriptions for process models?

I’m writing this at 23.00. I need to sleep on this.

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