Okay. Just so everybody realizes that the perspective I held in the two EUREKA posts —
— is not my usual one, let me say here that I am in no way arguing for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez totally radical socialist ideas to get anywhere. They’d better NOT get anywhere, because anybody who has their thinking cap on knows that government control of everything — no matter how benign, “green,” and/or filled with so-called “shared abundance” are the stated intentions — is exactly what we DON’T want! Socialism/Communism, taken to extremes, takes away individual freedom to be who we uniquely are, to express ourselves, make our own mistakes, and to learn from them.
On the other hand, nor am I all in favor of Trump’s version of what he called in his SOTU speech, “Greatness,” which unfortunately, is limited by his own perspective on the good life — excessively capitalist in substance, excessively materialistic in values, and if his own Mar-A-Lago life-style is a model, then so triumphantly imperial as to make me throw up! Trump wants to give freedom back to the American people, to get big government off our backs, to end the endless warmongering abroad —and all that is admirable. But his massively industrialized vision of the future is, at least to me, horrifying in its failure to take into account of both the needs of the natural world under our feet, and individual needs for “work” that ennobles us, that fulfills our own divine purpose, rather than turns us into factory slaves (no matter how well paid) in jobs better done by robots.
Any job that can be done by a robot, a robot should do it!
All of which is why I’ve said, several times in the past, that I wish Donald Trump would walk barefoot in the forest on mushrooms. That the sensuous experience of the natural world percolating up through the soles of his feet might just help bring him down to Earth. Down to this Earth, the one that demonstrates its magnificent, interconnected complexity of species supporting each other in aliveness, not the “earth” he’d likely view as “private property” for Big Industry.
And more generally, it seems to me, and this, frankly, is something I say over and over again here in Green Acres Village, that both Socialism (communism) and Capitalism are awful, taken to extremes, which they always tend to do, once one of them beats the other one to a pulp. These polar opposites, like all polar opposites, need to be both appreciated, and continuously balanced and rebalanced. And the only way we can do that is to simultaneously hold both in mind at once!
Why is this so difficult? Because we are trained, from childhood on, to be “logical,” that is to take arguments to conclusions (proofs) based on rules that flow from assumptions. The assumptions themselves cannot be proved; rather, they sit there, suspended in air.
And always, in logic, whenever we come up against a “contradiction,” (i.e., opposing assumptions) we must back off. Figure out where we went wrong, and try again. Thus, we can see contradictions as nodes, their combination framing the spherical world-view in which we are embedded, without our realizing it.
I remember (forgive me if you’ve heard this story before), the professor in a formal logic course talking about contradiction. I raised my hand, asked “But . . . but what’s wrong with contradiction?” I was embarrassed to be asking such a question. Nobody else in the class wondered about it, only me. What was wrong with me?
But the way he just stood there, his face growing redder and redder, as he looked at me, and finally burst out: “Because from a contradiction, anything follows. ANYTHING!” That caught my attention: the emotional investment he had in not allowing for contradiction.
I presume you are aware that if we are logical, then supposedly, we don’t need to be emotional. We don’t have to force our way at all, but can just reason with others as to what is true or false, what is allowed and not allowed. All according to certain “logical” rules, following from certain assumptions, and leading to certain conclusions.
Contradictions are invisible nodes in the spherical world-view that has most of us held within its limiting embrace. We don’t dare allow in contradictions, lest we fall off the world and into empty space. No wonder the professor got emotional!
Instead, I like to work creatively with contradictions. For example, in Green Acres Village, we are always working with the contradiction between individualism and community. The first, taken to extremes, and in a world of scarcity, ends up in the dog-eat-dog competition of Capitalism; the second taken to extremes, in a world of scarcity, ends up in a shared soup of sameness, a cult, or socialism, communism. Both extremes must be avoided; only their continually rebalancing combination is life-enhancing and can yield a world of abundance.
As Whitman once famously put it: “Do I contradict myself? Well then I contradict myself! I am large I contain multitudes.”
Exactly, let’s take this “opposition” between individualism and community and look at how it operates inside each individual. This little Village, for example contains a multitude of individuals, each of us with our own specialized needs for aloneness and togetherness. Me? I’m about 70% on the aloneness end; another might be 85% on the togetherness end. Both as individuals and as a group, we are continuously working out these constantly shifting alliances between the two extremes of one polarity.
As Niels Bohr once put it: “The opposite of one great truth is another great truth.”
In other words, contradictions are paradoxes. Both are true! But always true? It depends. It depends on the situation. And the situation keeps changing.
This is the larger paradoxical truth that we try to live here. Could it be scaled up to society in general? Could something in between Capitalism and Socialism, not as a formal structure, but as a continuously rebalancing process of increasing complexity and aliveness, be possible? I don’t know. Perhaps not. Which may be why we need to decentralize dramatically down, to our localities: first, inside the self (there are many conflicting/paradoxical needs inside each of us); next, inside the household (balancing one person’s greater need for community with another’s greater need for privacy); next inside the village, the neighborhood, the town, the region, etc.
So my EUREKA moment needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Just like everything else. Let’s not get too identified with our current ideas, because like all rivers, they are continuously flowing to the sea.