High Modernism

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Robert Hanna and Otto Paans:

"The high-modernist mechanistic worldview, postulating endless scientific, technological, and capitalist progress, locked firmly in place since the early decades of the 20th century (Hanna and Paans, 2020), has made, and continues to make, any authentic existential, moral, and socio-political progress for humankind exceptionally difficult if not downright impossible:

- [High modernism] is best conceived as a strong, one might even say muscle-bound, version of the self-confidence about scientific and technicalprogress, the expansion of production, the growing satisfaction of humanneeds, the mastery of nature (including human nature), and, above all, the rational design of social order commensurate with the scientificunderstanding of natural laws. (Scott, 1998: p. 4)

The high modernist mechanistic worldview, with its precursors in 17th and 18th century deism and deterministic physics, epitomized by the universe-as-clockwork thought-shaper (Riskin, 2018), and in 19th century Darwinism and materialism, epitomized by the human-animal-as-steam-engine thought-shaper (Huxley, 2002),fully matured and was explicitly framed during the early decades of the 20th century, via relativity physics, quantum mechanics, and above all via the theory of the Turing machine and its operations, epitomized by the universe-and-human-animal-as-digital-computers thought-shaper (Turing, 1936/1937, 1950; Hanna, 2022:esp. section 0.1). Since the end of World War II, moreover, this high modernist mechanistic worldview has been massively influential, in effect becoming the ultimate hegemonic ideological narrative, by promising an eternal world enabled by engineering. (Paans 2018). It has thereby also induced a profound and widespread existential-spiritual Angst about reductive nihilism, to which the mid-20th century Existentialists passionately responded with a heady antidote of meaning-creating affirmation (Camus, 1955, 1956). Nevertheless, without any serious neo-Existentialist pushback in sight since the 1950s, this profound and widespread existential-spiritual Angst has returned again with a vengeance during the early decades of the 21st century (Dammbeck, 2003; Burkeman, 2021; Hanna, 2022:esp. section 0.0). Aggravated by the prospect of widespread ecological degradation, disastrous climate change, increasingly oppressive consumer culture, and the rise of autocratic, neofascist governments, these development shave resulted in what we call the politics of fragmentation (Paans, 2020). This fragmentation, encoded in an all-pervasive sociocultural system of mechanical, constrictive thought-shapers and their corresponding shaped thoughts, and then writ large as an endemic set of perniciously false beliefs in contemporary destructive, deforming neoliberal coercive authoritarian nation-States and other State-like social institutions, effectively functions as a system of what we call ultimate nocebos .

By a nocebo, we mean anything X, the mere belief in which causes people to be morally worse, or worse off, than they would have been without having that belief in X (see also Bregman, 2020: pp. 8-9, 17, 37, 134, 228, 249, 258, 270,and 395); and by an ultimate nocebo, we mean a nocebo that’s built axiomatically into the very idea of some social institution that’s also all-encompassing and all-pervasive for those who belong to it, tightly bordered, highly regimented, and virtually inescapable, thereby shaping the minds and lives of all, most, or at least a great many people who belong to that social institution, in such a way as to be morally worse, or worse off, than they would have been without having that belief (Hanna, 2021b). This system of ultimate nocebos, in turn, is rooted in the thought-shaping templates of early modern Hobbesian classical liberal coercive authoritarian nation-States, and advanced capitalist neoliberal social institutions, since the end of monarchic absolutism and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, through the 19th and 20th centuries, especially since the end of World War II, and through the first two decades of the 21st century, right up to 6am this morning (Hanna, 2021c). All of them most urgently need to be radically devolved and creatively reshaped into organic, generative thought-shapers and into sustainable forms of human community and new social institutions that are radically more dignitarian, ecologically enactive, and above all more conducive to the livable future of Earth and humankind."