Will the 21st Century Invent a New Way of Living?
by Iskander Valitov
Originally appeared at RIA Novosti
The hegemon’s failures and weaknesses are obvious
The US has failed to achieve a majority of its geopolitical objectives. It failed to reduce the Russian economy to tatters; Assad is holding up; no one takes seriously the idea of Russia leaving Syria, nor could the US get Russia to deploy troops in Ukraine, or drive a wedge between Turkey and Russia. Britain ignored the American President’s orders not to vote for Brexit. Several years of negotiations on the Transatlantic Partnership have failed.
Barack Obama was also uncomfortable during the recent G20 summit in China. If one adds to this a gigantic un-payable debt the divide among American elites on US strategy, his standing is unenviable, as other challenges arise. Russia and China draw closer faster. The Collective Security Treaty Organization grows stronger, BRICS is organizing its international institutions.
There are more people ready to rebel, and the US does not always find the strength to punish them.
A change of structure or a change of master?
What exactly is going on? Should the US yield the place of world ruler to someone else? For example, to China-Russia condominium? Is this possible without a major war? Clearly, there is a serious risk for the planet.
Or should we deal with problems at another level? Perhaps a tectonic shift of the world order itself? The ruler would not change, but the centuries-old structure of society would. What kind of process is under way? What are we leaving behind and where are we going? What position should we take with our allies?
Today no one has a clear answer regarding the future world order, but the question is being intensely discussed. In will probably be arrived at empirically, but a lot will depend on how accurately we can conceptualize it.
Fundamental social relations
I believe the world has come to an important historical moment. The fundamental top-dog/underdog equation is being questioned. Until now, capitalism and democracy were accepted, but it is becoming clear that the question of who receives what part of profit is determined not by the “invisible hand of the market”, but rather by the dominant group’s rules of the “free” market.
Top dog/underdog relations originate in an environment with limited resources. They organize society, stop the war of all against all and allow for the reproduction of the social whole. Everyone wins: those who dominate and those who are subordinate.
This social organization allows for robbing less organized and weaker neighbors. Whether the distribution of goods is fair or not is a secondary question. It’s important that the whole survive, ending the chaos.
In that world, wars are inevitable. Everyone competes, wins and loses. Those are the rules.
Under conditions of universal abundance and free access to goods, top dog/ underdog relations could not appear because they would not be functional. There is no reason for subordination if all goods are available and access to them is free.
But top-dog/underdog relations have their own inertia, in which dominance itself becomes a value, shaping institutions, hierarchies and even psychological reality.
In topdog/underdog relations, abundance and free access to goods are anathema. They require access to scarce goods to be available in exchange for subordination and loyalty, i.e. only for “law-abiding” citizens.
People dominate and subordinate voluntarily and knowingly, still too close to wild nature and its hierarchies. Social relations successfully assimilate a person’s biological substrate with its instincts.
These relations are also rooted on a spiritual level. The Heavenly Kingdom is built on subordination and worship. We and the angels submit ourselves to God not only voluntarily, but also with love, as top-dog/underdog relations are reproduced.
Prospects for a top-dog/underdog world
We should not say that a world based on this relationship has no future. It’s quite clear today that it has, regardless of who the hegemon is.
We support the established order because it allows us to survive in a hostile, competitive environment. If someone allows us to hope that we can improve our position within this matrix, we be doubly loyal to it.
Many things change when the game of “king of the hill” ends in victory: There is no one to steal from, no one to resist.
Managers understand this. Top-dog/underdog relations transform into total control, including of thoughts and emotions. The next generation of control technologies is built on the dehumanization of the individual, killing his ability to reflect.
The direction of technological development is also clear. First of all, tracking of private communications, medical and drug dependency will be developed. Research into new physical principles leading to the discovery of new sources of energy will be shut down and outlawed. Ways to maintain your own health, including self-healing, will be made inaccessible.
Is there an alternative to the top-dog/underdog world? If key players do not try to enslave each other, do not complete, do not fight, then what kind of consciousness would they have and what kind of strategic problems would they solve instead of pursuing dominance?
We need to create abundance instead of deficits to neutralize the fundamental basis for reproducing top-dog/underdog relations.
Once we had a thesis on the need to build the material and technical basis of communism, while social practice at the time was heading in an opposite direction. I think it is still relevant today. To enter the new world we need unlimited basic resources, first of all energy.
We need to move to club-like relations instead of hierarchies. We need venues for negotiation, platforms for joint planning instead of organs of monopolistic leadership and control.
If until now world history was about narrowing evolutionary possibilities, closing entire lines of development, a tendency toward uniformity, standardization, now a reverse process should take place: a widening of evolutionary diversity. The number of members in the world concert should start growing. We should not compete, but build. Cultural/historical creativity should become the main work in progress.
The world has come to a point where we need to decide between two opposing trends. One aims to eliminate autonomy and freedom of movement of individuals, communities and entire countries. The other trend aims to defend evolutionary lines and privacy; it implies the right to individual change as well as to self-preservation.
The first way is the way to decrease vitality, ignoring the movement of life manifesting itself through evolution and creation. The second is to increase vitality and achieve abundance and true independence from each other.