Sunday, 21 July 2013

Living In The Present

We all live now, in the present, but we let the past divide us. An inherited economic system, national loyalties and religious traditions divide people against each other. Guilt, regret and resentment divide an individual against himself. Attachment to the past is alienation from the present.

At the moment when we wake each morning, none of us has a nationality or religion. A moment later, we remember that we have been, eg, British and Christian and therefore think that that is what we still are. If memories could be modified during sleep, then we would, after waking up, think that we were instead, eg, Egyptian and Muslim. 

Many people perceive the contradiction between the potential of the present and the legacy of the past but respond in different ways. Political activity addresses social divisions. Spiritual practice addresses psychological divisions. Political activity includes building the revolutionary party. Thus, there is an organization called "the Party" which is not yet a mass revolutionary organization but is trying to become that. Most of the time, the Party is uniquely disliked, even hated, by:

the economic rulers of society;
their managers and administrators;
public opinion - because the ruling ideas are those of the ruling class;
the bureaucratic labour movement which is incorporated into present society and therefore opposes independent working class action;
others on the left who resent any one organization claiming that it is even potentially the one that can lead social transformation;
campaigners on particular issues who resent the Party's generalization from those issues.

Thus, the Party agrees that racism, sexual oppression, war, poverty, pollution and nuclear weapons should be opposed but insists that these are aspects of a single problem that can be solved only by the revolutionary transformation of society.

Since the Party's ideas in fact reflect real conflicts, these ideas can lead social transformation when the majority seeks a genuine alternative but, most of the time, the Party engages with particular struggles and recruits a minority.

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Basic Question

The most basic inner question for every human being is variously formulated in accordance with differing worldviews:

What is our relationship to God?
Can we realise our oneness with all things?
Can we be unalienated and self-realised?
Are we happy with how things are?

These questions refer to states of consciousness. Our consciousness originated as a by-product of natural selection. (Sensitivity, selected, increased until it became sensation which was then selected because pleasure and pain have survival-value.) Thus, consciousness began as, metaphorically, a means to survival but became, literally, an end in itself. Means presuppose ends which presuppose consciousness. Therefore, consciousness cannot be a literal means.

It is not universally recognised that the conditions necessary for self-consciousness include social interaction. Thus, each Jain monk practises asceticism in order to free his discrete, pre-existent, self-sufficient soul from any further incarnations whereas an organisation of revolutionary socialists engages in collective struggles that can potentially free society from class conflict and alienation. Therefore, Jainism and Marxism are antithetical. However, the latter can be synthesised with Buddhist meditation which:

is a middle way between asceticism and hedonism;
is based on the recognition that consciousness is caused by the temporary coming together of disparate elements, not by the eternal existence of individual souls.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Three Old Questions


(i) What is the best way to organize society in the interests of all its members?

(ii) How can individuals understand and control their mental processes and respond more appropriately to each other?

(iii) How do (i) and (ii) connect?


(i) Currently, there are some irreconcilable conflicts of interest. How can society be freed from them? Re-organising society has to involve every member of society, not a programme enforced by a minority. Universal suffrage in Parliamentary elections is a first step but only one step. Collective action has to replace the individual illiteracy of writing an "X".

(ii) Unless we are hermits, all of us interact with other individuals. In addition, if we address (i) with political activity, then we need to respond both to comrades and to opponents, so (ii) is relevant to (i). Personal political interactions can be lethal.

(iii) I think that everyone needs to address both (i) and (ii) and how to relate them.