Originally published in Cosmonaut.
We live in an epoch that is morally and intellectually mediocre. The State simply exists as a machine that administers commercial and interest groups under a squalid scheme of rule of law and private property. Being a “good politician” today means being the most effective at winning elections, and in this mercenary society where money and moral manipulation move everything, a politician that “wins elections” inevitably ends up being a virtueless person. Sometimes, this mercenary aspect of politicians is not only evident in their thirst for power and their capacity for lying, for saying what certain interest groups want to hear, but also in their stomach for violence. Many of these individuals are willing to carpet bomb entire cities simply to win the next election. The labyrinthine nature of this coordinating machine prevents common people from accessing it. Only those who are animated by mercenary purposes end up acquiring the positioning to navigate and capture the State.
The question of the “good life” does not exist in political discourse, for the political limelight is a concatenation of micro-discussions about business and demographic interests, and when a general idea is invoked, in place of flourishing as a collective activity, a spurious and violent universality is summoned, such as nationalism or rule of law.
This environment corrupts even the most virtuous of activists. For in order to mobilize against this infernal machinery, it is necessary to package actions into discrete interests that can be absorbed by the State. One may focus on climate change, trade unions, or police brutality, but the question of the “good life” is not the ultimate root of these themes. This is not because activists do not have vision, but because the fragmentary realities of the State and this society conspire against a conception of the interrelation of the Universe.
Science has demonstrated the ancient intuitions of the Taoists that the Universe is made of fluxes and potentialities, and that each one of us contains the whole World within. A human being is affected by electric, nuclear, and gravitational fields that are emitted by creatures and other entities in its surroundings; for example, the light of a star that has extinguished millions of years ago can affect our destiny today. Isn’t this causal nexus evident when clairvoyants inform their civilizations of the misfortunes reflected in the heavens?
The problem of climate change demonstrates this reality in the most intense and brutal manner, since the cumulus of interpenetrations between economic activity, the atmosphere, life, and the sun attacks us with the whole force of the Real: the mortal blow delivered against us by the assemblage of the living, the inert, and the economic.
The necessary social change that will bring flourishing and liberty is linked to being able to act in such a manner so that we can comprehend the World as it is, a totality of interrelated processes rather than the logical atoms that the Anglo-Saxon intellectuals pretend we are. This capacity to act in tandem with the consciousness of cosmic order (disorder) needs to be based in honesty and transparency, for only on the basis of democratic relations can such a movement self-comprehend itself as what it really is: a community of creatures connected between themselves and the Universe, but at the same time each creature (human or non-human) is a being capable of creating itself on the basis of the whole World contained in its heart-mind (xin).1 Once this community acquires this understanding, they will be able to act in coordination with the nature of the Universe, the latter an interwoven nexus of Mind, Matter, Liberty, and Causality. If the links that unite the creatures in this movement are turbid and corrupted, and the members cannot relate to each other in an honest and egalitarian manner, then the community will not be able to process the Universe (including themselves) in a sufficiently optimal manner to be able to act on the basis of the true structure of Being.
We will call the community born in this Modern Era that wishes to respond to the question of the “good life” on the basis of an understanding of the organic Universe, the Party. The Party prefigures the potential polis where the corporeal and mental bipolarity of Being is accepted, and where the capacity for self-creation of each creature in the Universe is recognized, in other words, the Party affirms the True Science. Doesn’t an electron act with a free creativity when it chooses a position or velocity in an indeterminate manner given the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics? The Party also acknowledges that the actual and past Universe is contained within the heart-minds (xin) of the partisans. Sometimes the idea contained in this Party is referred to as socialism, communism, or democratic republicanism. Furthermore, we recognize that the principal enemy of the Party is the Union between capitalists and technocrats that treat the human being as a simple individual separated from the Universe, conceiving of the human as only an automatic machine. Furthermore, that Falsity does not recognize the interrelation and self-creativity of all the beings in the World, and that is why it treats the planet like a mere warehouse of demographics, energy, commodities, and business interests that need to be administered by a reduced elite of industry captains and politicians. Falsity recognizes these latter beings as philosopher-kings.
Some words on Falsity. Falsity is the nexus of historical forces that conspire to organize a society that pretends humanity is separated within itself and from the rest of the Universe. Falsity engages in this conspiracy while it preaches a false materialism that is often referred to as “scientism”. Here lies the paradox: scientific fact understands the interpenetration of the universe (fields, nonlinearities, systems, etc.), but Falsity, basing itself in “scientism” preaches atomism and reductionism (individualism, biologically reductive explanations of race and gender, univariate linear correlations, etc.)
The material structure of this Falsity can be felt in the forests converted into plots, in the transfiguration of communal discourse into technocratic administration, and artisanal labor transformed into offices and levers. However, the total profundity of this Falsity cannot be grasped in a couple of sentences, for it reaches the ontological heart of this infernal reality.
A way to land the airplane of metaphysics on the land of corporeal Being is to historicize Falsity. One of the axes of this perspective is the historical record of the Party in its confrontation against Falsity. We shall focus only on the Western manifestations of the Party. This focus will form an incomplete history, for the Party belongs to the whole World. However, Falsity as Separation probably emerged first in the West, and therefore, a Western history will make some of the primordial structures of Separation intelligible. The Party today exists only as a potentiality, but it has been an actual occasion during various periods of Modernity, confronting Falsity.
The central sprouting of Falsity that has given coherence to its other manifestations was the enclosing of the commons: the traumatic proletarianization of the European peasantry, and the parcellation of the communal resources (e.g. forests, lands) into liquid rectangular plots that could be sold and bought. This False aspect emerged first in the 17th century in England, only to contaminate all corners of the planet in the ensuing centuries. On this occasion the plans that outline how Falsity will come to dominate are made manifest: Evil will turn the World into an altar perpetually flooded with blood, where all creatures will be sacrificed for the formation of rectangular plots and liquid treasures that will be accumulated and exchanged.
In the 19th century in Europe, this sacrificial altar began to be populated by monstrous machines that devoured proletarians: those factories that emitted fumes from their chimneys. The wheels and gears grew as they consumed the flesh and bones of human beings (Marx). Entire forests were destroyed to feed these machines with lumber, ethnic groups were displaced and exterminated to convert what was once the home of creatures into polygons of wheat.
The Eternal Return (Nietzsche) actualizes entities from the past within Separation, for historical objects are embedded in the substance of the present. For example, Separation unearthed Roman legalism from thousands of years in the past. Roman Legalism with its iron rules and private property structure the foundations of Modernity. These Roman laws, which were used to displace creatures (e.g. Gauls) and produce plots and booty for the Empire two thousand years ago, emerge in early Modernity as a catastrophic thunder.
This Roman Falsity emerged in Modernity against first the European peasants: the latter were unrooted from the land and converted into atomized and salaried entities, and their lands turned into rectangular plots that could be bought and sold. Once these methods of Separation were perfected in Europe, the same technique of Separation was used to transform the homes of human and non-human creatures in the Americas, Africa, and Asia into storages of treasures and slaves.
In this historical outline, we can see the False principles of Separation and understand the subsequent cataclysms of the West. Furthermore, with this outline, we can also comprehend the Party that emerges to oppose this Falsity. One of the actualizations of the Party flourishes in the second half of the 19th century, with Marx as its principal theorist. The Party did not only emerge to combat the Enemies of the Partisans (the bourgeois state with its soldiers, police, factories, and False intellectuals) but also attempted to form the community that prefigures the solution to the problem of Separation. In Germany, the activists of this Party began to refer each other as comrades, reflecting the desire to acquire the Unity of the Ancient Polis (filtered through the French Revolution). They created reading and sports clubs and formed trade unions: they tried to collect the fragments of peasant ruin in order to weave the proletariat into a prefigured community, into a polis. We also know that the evolution of this Party was mutilated by Falsity: by sexism, racism, and even a jingoism that would end up destroying the Party in the First World War. However, we can say that within this movement there was a Party that searched for an answer to the question of the “good life”.
I do not want to elaborate on the history of the workers’ movement in the 20th century, which was undoubtedly part of the Party’s history. This history has already been told too many times. However, I want to say a couple of words on what was the peak of Separation, the concentration of Evil and Falsity in its most pure form: National Socialism. This subject is important beyond academic curiosity, for it echoes in our collective consciousness as socialists since one of the obsessions of National Socialism was to annihilate the Party materially and spiritually. This obsession was part of the same assemblage that contained antisemitism, imperialism and white supremacy, for these three processes cannot be separated: they all emerge from the same malevolent root of Separation. Furthermore, National Socialism not only stands within the consciousness of Western Civilization as the Great Evil but also as a latent possibility, for our World-Spirit shares the same primal matter of Separation as National Socialism. Today, National Socialism is treated as a particularity of mid 20th century Germany, a singular horror. However, National Socialism was merely an occasion of acute Separation that lay within the heart-mind of Western Civilization, and that involved a practice which had been refined since the beginnings of Modernity (with the return of the Roman Armored Monster).
National Socialism not only united in annihilation and bloodbath all the primary processes of this accursed civilization, but it is also crystalized in our material structures, and therefore, it is an immanent process of this civilization. The future could reactivate this crystalized part in our material code, and mutate it into an even more monstrous process.
The first thing to note is that there are three principal ideas that define National Socialism: antisemitism, hatred for the Party, and imperial obsession for territorial expansion. The first instance is known by the average middle schooler, but the latter two are rarely elucidated in a clear manner. National Socialism, when it emerged on the streets of the 1920s, was a combat machine specialized in attacking and killing members of the workers’ movement: this machinery manifested in the famous brown shirts. When the Nazis took power, socialists and communists were among the more prominent victims of torture, extermination, and imprisonment. Hitler’s obsession against the communists was so profound, his ontological hatred so obsessive, that he waged a war of extermination against the Soviet Union, for this state represented to Hitler one of the greatest expressions of the Party (even if, in reality, the Soviet Union was also infected by the Lie of Separation). The Nazis hated the Party because the latter represented the immanence of all the humans and the World: the materialism that left all humans on the same existential plane, shoulder to shoulder, in the same continuity with atoms. In opposition, Nazi transcendentalism imposed a vertical order where whites were the “most human”, and hence, had the divine right (that they cloaked in pseudo-scientific blather) of dominating the Earth and all its beings, since the Whites were closer to the infinite heavens while the rest of the entities were chained to ground. The acquisition of absolute power was the White’s destiny.
This False ontology of the Whites as infinite beings destined to be imperial sovereigns of Earth, and the perception of a Party as the force that represents the immanent humans and the finite Universe, brings us to the subject of antisemitism. Like we said, the Nazis used transcendental theology masked as science, where a scientific-secular God imposed a “natural” order from outside. This vertical and Separated order, where humans were parcelled into nations/races and structured into a line that emerged from the ground toward the heavens, would undoubtedly contain an ontology of an enemy. This enemy is defined as the one that opposes this natural law. The Party was an enemy to this False order, for it preached that all humans are an assemblage of particles, and therefore there was no transcendental order that hierarchized them. However, the Jew, who since the medieval era has been seen as the Other of Christendom, emerged in the Modern Falsity as the Other of natural law. Natural law, rooted in blood and soil, the infinite, and vertical orders, saw the Jew as an exemplar of immanent processes of modernity. The Jew was spuriously associated with the lack of nations, financial crisis, and the other finite, modern, and material aspects that destabilized the False order of secular, modern Christians.2
However, this concept of the Jew cannot be separated from imperialism and the racial-imperial order, for this secular theology has abandoned the transcendental God only in form but not content, incorporating the Jew into the racial ontology of the Nazis. In other words, the same society that divides humans into Aryans, Blacks, and Slavs, ordering them vertically, subsumes the Jew into this order. This theology where the Earth and its creatures are made to be dominated by the Aryans, subsumes the rest of this parcelled humanity (such as Jews, Slavs, and Indigenous peoples) into a destiny in an evil racial utopia, this destiny being displacement, enslavement, and finally, annihilation. We must reiterate that this racial order was not invented by the Nazis, that the pro-empire liberals that expanded their destructive machinery in India and America had designed this spurious order, as evidenced by the hagiographic references of Hitler to the Amerindian genocide and the colonization of India. The concentration camps and the planned genocide were already in the material memory of the Europeans.3 National Socialism is simply the methods that were previously applied in America and India but mixed with the technocratic rationality of late modernity. Churchill, that imperialist and defender of white supremacy, was only separated from Hitler by the thickness of a paper. This ontological kinship was first recognized by Hitler since, before the war, he expected Great Britain to unite with him under a banner of white supremacy and hatred for Bolshevism.
In National Socialism, then, we see Separation and Falsity in their most acute manifestation. The material Separation between human and human, human and creature, human and universe, and finally Subject and Object, culminate in an explosion of a magnitude never before beheld by Earth.
The Party opposes this calamitous Separation that created National Socialism with the immanent interpenetration of all entities in the Cosmos.
The Eternal Return uses the material memory of the Roman Empire, with its legalism, great estates, large concentration of slaves, and imperial methods of extermination in order to structure Falsity within Modernity. The legal structure of private property was intimately connected with the imperial dynamic of Rome, for the legal concept of “empty thing” (res nullus) denoted the rules and conditions where a citizen could transform land into property by virtue of it being “unoccupied”. This Roman assemblage was catapulted into actuality through the Eternal Return, and it became involved in the massacres, conquests, and misfortunes of Modernity.
However, within our material memory, in the past that serves as primary substance of actuality, there are fragments of Being. In the same way we used the history of classical civilizations to unearth the Roman armored monster (Falsity), we can feel Being itself in the Greek legacy. This palpation produces the example of the democratic polis. The democratic polis, as a historical example of the apprehension of Being, helps us prefigure the structure of the potential Party. The content of the democratic polis can be analyzed from the ontological level to the political.
At the political level, Ellen Meiksins Wood4 has described how the polis enters into the prefiguration of the Party. According to Wood, Athens should not be understood as only a slave society, where free people based their own liberty in its negation within slaves. The Athenian democracy was a democracy of free producers, such as peasants and artisans. Finley argues that it was through class struggle that the peasantry was able to gain its liberty and citizenship rights and constrain the power of the landlords. This class struggle structured the State in a peculiar manner where the poor could leverage their citizenship in their favor. For example, according to Wood, the Greek landlords could only own small plots of land, and they could never acquire the great concentration of land and slaves that the Roman aristocracy could since the democratic structures of Athens prevented such concentration. This configuration birthed one of the most peculiar states in the West, one that was not used to extract surplus from the Athenian peasants. In other words, the slaves that existed were domestic, urban, or worked in mines, and the self-reproduction of society was in the hands of a free peasantry.
This freedom led to the famous direct democracy of the Athenian polis. The central legislative-executive body was the assembly and many of the officials were assigned either by vote or lot. This social structure was described by Plato in his Protagoras dialogue, where the reality of cobblers becoming judges is discussed openly.
This political aspect of the polis is famous and has been an inspiration for revolutionaries throughout history. However, the political aspect can only be understood in its totality not only as a formal political process but as a mode of life rooted in a correct ontology that palpated some of the surfaces of Being. This mode of life palpated Being by attempting to answer the question of what is the “good life’.
What makes this mode of life so special? Macintyre tries to answer this question by asking himself what makes it possible for the Athenians to raise the issue of the good life, in contrast to the present incoherence of that issue. MacIntyre finds the uniqueness of this mode of life in the self-consciousness of the internal interrelation of its entities (a consciousness that palpates Being), in contrast with the false self-consciousness of entities as discrete and separated. He refers to this self-consciousness as “practice”. MacIntyre describes Greek politics as a practice where the participants search for the practice’s internal goods.
Chess is a good exemplar of a practice with internal goods. The most excellent internal good of chess is victory within the game, and such a victory can only be acquired by following the rules of the game in an honorable manner. Of course, there are external goods that the victorious player can benefit from, such as fame and wealth. However, it is sensible to say that the majority of people that initially practice chess do not engage in it to enrich themselves, but rather out of love of the practice. To foment the excellence of the practice it is necessary to demand certain virtues from the players. For example, it is necessary that players are honest, and that the arbiters of the game are just, so that they apply the rules impartially. This is where virtues such as honesty, justice, and courage become necessary qualities to acquire excellence in all practices.
According to Macintyre, politics for the Greeks was a practice. The practice of the polis was structured around the question of the “good life”. The response to that question is found in the excellence of practicing politics in the context of a community of free and self-governing citizens. But all these components of practice, such as the intelligibility of the good life and excellency can only be comprehended as interpenetrated aspects of a mode of life, and cannot be separated analytically. This impossibility of analyticity is not only contained in arguments but is also within the qualities of the human being, for this being cannot persist as an individual atom, and therefore the modern doctrines that see ethical options as a function of individual autonomy, such as Kantianism or emotivism, produce an incoherent and self-deceiving life. Without the formation of a practice, politics degenerates into mercenarism, for the individuals seek external goods such as fame and power. This mercenary mode of life defines contemporary politics.
The defendants of contemporary liberalism will argue that the State cannot and should not respond to the question of the “good life”, for the answer to this inquiry is different for each individual. However, for Macintyre, this is a deception, and this argument forms part of the mercenary nature of liberalism. At the end of the day, the individuals, even the socially atomized individuals of today, still inquire about the nature of the good “life”, and outside the polis, the answers to these questions end up being incompatible: for example, those who are in favor of abortion contradict those who are not, and the State ends up violating the supposed neutrality of its position (generally for purely mercenary reasons, such as politicians wanting to win elections). In a few words, for Macintyre Greek politics are characterized by a practice that penetrates different beings of the polis, and this network of signification formed the structure where the question of the good government and good life is rendered possible. Embedded in this context, philosophers such as Aristotle could create rational arguments for the purpose of human life, for this scientific rationality was embedded in a mode of life that made the argument intelligible.
If we consider Plato’s Republic as a faithful description of the typical philosophical conversations that appeared in ancient Athens, the lack of controversy around the axiomatic assumptions that are uttered becomes impressive. For example, Socrates and his interlocutors assume with frequency the existence of functions and teleologies for objects and creatures, inclusively entities that have no creator, such as human beings, animals, body parts, etc. By telos I mean that, analogously to the purpose of a hammer being to hammer excellently, for the ancient Greek, the ear has the purpose of hearing excellently, and humans the purpose of the excellent life. These ideas are controversial in a contemporary philosophical discussion, but in antiquity they are as basic as lunar cycles. What is most impressive is that on the basis of these assumptions, the characters of these dialogues elaborate a rational and scientific discourse on subjects such as justice and the good, subjects that today are considered completely incompatible with science. In the lessons of Aristotle, one can see this scientific attitude on the issues of morality in his incisive and cold prose.
The principal condition that generates the intelligibility for a “science of the good” is interpenetration. For example, a hammer has a purpose only in the context of a world full of workshops and tools, where an interpenetration between the hammer, the human that hammers (such as a carpenter) and the other equipment (such as nails and tables). Therefore, the intelligibility of the question of the good life, which would be the purpose of the human being, only exists when the interpenetration within a community, and between the community and the Universe, are comprehended. But this understanding is not merely a speculative-intellectual activity, for comprehension only emerges when one lives in a manner where the interpenetration becomes evident. For example, due to the fact that Western societies are slaves to the Falsity of Separation, it is impossible for them to ask the question of the good life. Socrates in the Republic implies this point, where Justice and the Good can only be understood in light of the interwovenness: in reply to the indagations of Glaucon about injustice, Socrates is compelled to describe a city-in-speech, where the interwovenness between humans is made explicit, in order to elucidate the Good in a manner that would be impossible in a context with only a single soul. Finally, the civic context of post-Socratic philosophy, the one of democratic Athens, invokes tantalizing questions. The Republic and the Nicomachean Ethics did not emerge in an oligarchy such as Sparta, but in Athens, one of the most democratic societies of Western antiquity. Here we receive another hint on the nature of the community that asks the question of the Good, and this is the democratic republic. Such a polis is the only community-form that is sufficiently self-conscious of interpenetration to elaborate on the Good Life.
In order to understand this interconnection within the polis, it is necessary to understand how the Greeks intuited their own relationship with the Universe, and only in that way can we begin to resolve the puzzle of the question of the Good Life. According to the ancient Greeks, the same method of deducing the truths of the natural sciences can be applied to investigate ethical truths, and therefore, the distinction between what is and what ought to be collapses. For the Greeks, the same laws that regulate the Universe also regulate the human being. The divine fire, the logos that orders the cosmos is the same logos that orders the human soul. An exemplar of this attitude is the ancient Stoics.
The Stoics5 discovered immanence, in other words, the different aspects of the Universe were not stratified in a hierarchy but were interwoven. For the Stoics, the Universe is composed of two increated principles (archai). The first one is inert matter. The second is pneuma, the sacred fire that animates the otherwise inert matter, and it is identified with reason. God is associated with the pneuma as the eternal Reason. God is a vital fire, the sperm that contains the first principles, the seed from whence the Universe flourishes. God is a corporeal and organic entity that spreads outwardly, penetrating and animating matter, and as an organism, it flourishes, reproduces, and withers, concatenating the Universe in a series of word-cycles. The Eternal Return is identified by the Stoics, in the same way it was identified by Nietzche thousands of years later: past occasions of the world-cycles have the potentiality of actualizing in the present: the global warming that terminated with the last glacial period, the imperialism and private property of the Romans, the extinction events that annihilate species in an instant, and the holocaust of the indigenous of America actualized in Auschwitz.
The divine fire is the immanent substance that gives form to otherwise inanimate objects, that makes plants blossom, and that forms the soul of animals and the reasoning of human-animals. Finally, the fire contains the Universal in its expansive movement and the Particular in its contractive motion. In other words, the immanent substance of God folds and moulds itself into the differences and granularity that we see in the Universe, that idea that the Eternal Return implemented in the brain of Spinoza.
It is important to understand that the pneuma is a substance of elastic, corporeal, and mobile properties, and not something that transcends this world. The human being is structured by this substance, and therefore the same fire that animates its actions is the same divine light that makes plants blossom and that supports the firmness of planets. However, this fire takes the shape of reason in the human being, and this defines human nature.
This is the context where the question of the Good life develops for the Stoics. The question of the Good life can only be answered not only when the human being is understood as inhabiting a polis, but at the same time, where God, the divine fire, penetrates all human beings and embeds them in the same divine network alongside the trees and planets, while at the same time constitutes all these entities. The Stoics saw the good life as living in accordance to this nature, and did not make a distinction between what is and what ought.
This recognition of the qualities of immanence and interpenetration as fundamental aspects of the Universe, and at the same time, the context that must be recognized and lived in accordance with in order to uncover the Good, are not contributions unique to the Greeks. Historical materialism recognizes that similar modes of life can emerge in different spatial and temporal coordinates (exemplifying eternal return): for example, it’s probable that certain pre-Columbian communities in the modern-day Americas approximated themselves to the democratic polis, where these peoples recognized the immanence between them and the Universe. This can be seen in the democratic communities that emerged in North America, such as those that grouped themselves around the famous Haudenosaunee confederation. Some of these federations maintained a sacred fire in their capitals, where representatives of different peoples swore to keep their word before the spirits. It may be that the Eternal Return transformed the pneuma of the stoics into the sacred fire that animated these peoples, or vice versa.
However, the Greeks were also affected by Separation to the point that their palpation of Being was fatally constrained. Politically, this was evident in the existence of a slavery predicated on democratic citizenship, and in the complete abjection of women. The mortal malaises of that society were reflected in the metaphysics of their Universe: even if they recognized the interpenetration of the Universe, and some (like the Stoics) had inclusively discovered immanence, their Universe was carceral, lacking freedom. The divine fire, the seed, or God, was subject to iron laws. In spite of the discovery by some Greek philosophers of the freedom immanent in matter, such as that of Epicurus and his famous “swerve”, the latter a process where a particle that moved in a straight line could suddenly change its trajectory, the Universe of ancient Greeks was a deterministic one. Whitehead6 7speculates that this deterministic Universe was correlated with the tragical temperament of the Greeks, that culture that invented the modern tragedy: the perspective that the misfortunes of humans were produced by a necessary and pitiless destiny. Furthermore, Whitehead argued that the mechanistic (and False) Universe of the Enlightenment was rooted in this Greek attitude, an attitude they inherited from the Church’s schoolmen in a dissected and mutated form.
The false aspects of Ancient Greece, like determinism, slavery, and patriarchy, show that it is not possible to assume that the ancients were closer to Being, which was a fatal mistake Heidegger made. Even without assuming a teleology of history, it is probable that the misfortunes and class struggles that actualized after Antiquity were necessary for the formation of a Party that could fight for the freedom of everyone, and therefore, against Falsity. The Party contains the potentiality of a Just City illuminated by the rays of Being, transcending the Separated Greek example.
For Whitehead, the Greek model of immanence can only be completed when recognizing another fundamental aspect of the Universe: Creativity. Continental philosophers baptized this aspect as Freedom. Yet, for modern Westerners, in as much as Freedom is accepted as ontologically real, it is often only aligned with the Mind, with the material world outside our consciousness being assumed as slave to principles and propositions. The Cartesian philosophers were so mutilated by Separation, that they had to design an ontology of fragmentation, where freedom was caged inside Mind (freedom of will) and the extended matter was subject to a pitiless destiny. For example, Kant argued that freedom was part of that noumenal reality beyond perception, for the phenomenal reality of the sciences was subject to necessary laws: he changed the iron bars for gold bars, but without transforming the carceral nature of Western ontology. Creativity is contained in the interior of the Mind, where liberty inevitably withers and dies. The only hope these Christians had was Death, for only the decay of their corpses was capable of unchaining & releasing their spirits into the heavens, outside this miserable matter-world they considered inert.
However, the incarceration of freedom inside the Mind is one of the Falsities of Separation. There is no evidence, whether philosophical or scientific, that negates freedom as inherent to the Universe, even with simple particles such as electrons or quarks. The modern version of determinism in the Universe was first based on the Cartesian theories of matter, and today in a vulgar interpretation of Newtonian Physics. The contemporary ontologies begin with the arbitrary judgments that our minds can be reduced to inert matter, instead of assuming that mind may be ontologically basic, and interwoven with matter. In other words, there is no reason to not assume that mental processes are immanent to the Universe: an attribute interwoven with the corporeal, where the mental does not only penetrate the consciousness of humans but is also inherent to such a simple entity as an electron. This does not mean that the mental processes of an electron are as complicated as ours, but that the assumption of ex nihilo actualization of human mentality is arbitrary and not based on empirical evidence. Even the most modern version of this determinism, that sees Mind as the complex emergence of matter is rooted in ex nihilo, since even when the phrase ex nihilo is replaced by “complex emergence” the division between Mind and Matter is still assumed, albeit in a more confusing manner.
Inclusively in the formal methods of physics indeterminism is inherent. For example, in quantum objects, it is impossible to exactly predict position and velocity given that Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle makes quantum physics fundamentally probabilistic. In other words, an electron does not behave as a billiard ball but can choose between possible futures, even if all these futures are rooted in its past. Even in the macroscopic context, the majority of the systems are chaotic, or in other words, they are so sensitive to their initial conditions that their future cannot be computed. In general, a more complex system than that of two particles that interact is chaotic (for example, a system made of two planets and a star). Therefore, the combination of chaos and quantum physics leads to a Universe that is fundamentally undetermined, for the quantum effects that make the positions of electrons and quarks undetermined propagate to the macroscopic level of animals and planets due to the extreme sensibility of initial conditions.
For Whitehead, causality should not be understood as something necessary, as a process that should be deduced from first principles. Instead, causality is a judgment process where entities decide, based on their past, the manner in which they will actualize. In other words, an electron judges how to actualize itself in the future based on the interpenetrations of all entities in the universe, and although this judgment has an element of non-determination, it is not a process that is totally unconstrained and free and must be partly a function of the occasion of the past. The ontological method of Whitehead is fundamentally that of empathy, instead of assuming that non-human entities, like slugs, the stars or the climatic system, are fundamentally different from us, it’s more fruitful to expand the concept of our experience into the interior lives of these entities. By doing so, many of the tensions of modern philosophy, such as subject-object, mind-matter, and religion-science, are resolved.
My wife S1gh3org summarized the problem that the freedom of matter poses to humanity in the following manner. We thought we were masters and suzerains of the Earth, but today we face the planet’s vengeance: the climate-system rebels against our spurious sovereignty, and our pretensions of knowledge of this World collapse. Instead of dwelling on the Earth in a manner that allows the trees, the creatures, and the clouds to interweave with us, and opening our heart-minds to the sacred fire, we conceive of ourselves as Minds separated from the rest of the Universe, perceiving the Earth as a simple storage of treasure that must be ransacked and manipulated.
Now that we account for the free nature of matter, we can come back to the question of the democratic republic, unearthed by our Athenian example. What makes the democratic republic the ideal form, outside these empirical examples? The democratic republic organizes itself as a fractal of the Universe itself, and therefore palpates Being. First, the democratic republic exists in a plane of immanence, where there is no hierarchical, transcendental authority that shapes the polis, no Emperor appointed by the Heavens, no technocrat appointed by Expertise. In the Universe, there is no hierarchy of energy nor matter, no special value appointed to the stars or creatures with opposable thumbs. Difference appears from relations, it is not imposed by outer hierarchies. Second, the democratic republic acknowledges the interrelation of human beings. Democratic deliberation can only appear where entities acknowledge their interwovenness in a greater structure, but at the same time acknowledge the differentiation between themselves. The republic, the Just City, should organize itself as a fractal of the Universe itself, where entities are interwoven by fields, even if the entities themselves have a degree of differentiation. Third and finally, the democratic republic acknowledges the freedom of its creatures, which is isomorphic to the freedom of matter.
The Party is the potential community that promises to combat Separation and to create the conditions where the question of the Good can be pronounced, and consequently, resolved. The question of the Good becomes imperative since the form of life that we uncritically maintain is leading us into a mortal collision with the planet, that will not only cause the annihilation of creatures due to droughts, fires, hurricanes, and floods but will also lead to chain reactions that will dislocate economic, social and food systems on which the reproduction of humankind depends. Here is where the destructive part of the planet’s freedom manifests: a stochastic and unpredictable attack against us, the false suzerains of a matter that never accepted to be our slave.
The Party that has actualized itself on various occasions, such as the workers’ movements of the 19th and 20th century, promises to terminate Separation through the prefiguration of the Just City. Prefiguration in the sense that even if the City cannot be actualized immediately, the Party contains the City as a potentiality in the manner it organizes itself. This potentiality is found in the manner in which the Party promises to fight in the name of the Earth and all its creatures against Separation, using all possible means: from activity in the streets and workplaces to the elections and the State itself. In the same way the ancient communities of ancient Greece and pre-Columbian America discovered, and the revolutionaries of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century rediscovered, the Party prefigures the democratic republic, for only a community that is self-conscious of the interpenetration of its members can comprehend the interwovenness between human beings and the Universe. Finally, it is not improper to assume that only human beings that attempt to be free can comprehend the freedom inherent in matter, and therefore, fight for a form of life relating ourselves to the Earth as kin.
- “In early Chinese thought, xin, which refers to the physical heart, is regarded as the site of both cognitive and affective activities. It is translated sometimes as “heart”, sometimes as “mind”, and in recent literature often as “heart/mind” to highlight the different aspects of the activities of xin. Xin can form certain directions, which can take the form of long term goals in life or more specific intentions.” From: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2010/entries/mencius/
- Postone, M. (1980). Anti-Semitism and National Socialism: Notes on the German Reaction to” Holocaust”. New German Critique, (19), 97-115.
- Fritz, S. G. (2011). Ostkrieg: Hitler’s War of Extermination in the East. University Press of Kentucky.
- Wood, E. M. (2015). Peasant-citizen and slave: The foundations of Athenian democracy. Verso Books.
- Baltzly, Dirk, “Stoicism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2019/entries/stoicism/>.
- Whitehead, A. N. (1925). Science and the Modern World Lowell Lectures, 1925.
- Whitehead, A. N., & Sherburne, D. W. (1957). Process and reality (pp. 349-350). New York, NY: Macmillan.