Escaping the iron cage of hopelessness | Desultory Heroics


“Is it any wonder that so many people feel trapped on an endless merry-go-round that contradicts their felt experience and their hopes for a better world? They look around and see a mad world of war and lies and science run amok. The physical scientists tell them that everything started with a bang and will end with a bang or a whimper of one sort or another and that’s how it goes since when did people so puny think they were anything but specks in a vast cosmos of meaningless gas that will devour them in a few billion years, give or take a year or so. The psych folks tell them they are the products of their brain chemicals and neurotransmitters and must submit “freely” to chemical treatment if they know what’s good for them and want to be happy. The social scientists insist that all knowledge is socially conditioned and relative and therefore everything they think and feel is also relative and so they are lost souls forever wandering in a world of relativity where true wisdom is impossible and the difference between right and wrong is a relative choice that has no basis in any “reality.” And of course the power elites and media play with their minds in endless games of mind control as they insist the only real truth comes through screens that they control. Mind and body warped, so many people stumble through their days like the living dead in search of some exit from their pain and confusion.

Or to say it differently. Science—both physical and social—has resulted in the systemization of doubt and the embrace of the relativity of thought and knowledge…”

Escaping the iron cage of hopelessness

By Edward Curtin

Source: Intrepid Report

“Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved”—Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

“In this frightful round of unchecked means, nobody knows any longer where they are going, purposes are forgotten, and ends are overtaken. Human beings have set off at astronomically high speeds toward nowhere.”—Jacques Ellul, Presence in the Modern World

In a previous article, I argued that those who think science can solve our major social problems—in particular, world destruction with nuclear weapons and the poisoning of the earth’s ecology and atmosphere—were delusional and in the grip of the myth of science and technology. These problems were created by science when it became untethered from any sense of limits in its embrace of instrumental rationality. Once it became wedded to usefulness and the efficiency of technical means, it lost its original aim: the search for truth. (Obviously this doesn’t include all scientists.) In embracing means as ends, it produced an endless loop of means justifying means that has resulted in what Weber called an “iron cage.” Concomitantly, the ideology of pure objectivity and impartial innocence was joined to elite state power and the capitalist profit motive where it was supported and instantaneously and completely applied to technical applications, including nuclear, biological, chemical and “conventional” weapons; bio-engineering; GMO foods and people; eugenics and cloning; and chemical/oil production, etc. It is indisputable that if our planet is incinerated or slowly destroyed through toxic pollution that modern science with its Faustian “prohibition to prohibit” will stand indicted, if anyone is left to make the case.

Albert Camus warned us long ago:

And even though we do it in diverse ways, we extol one thing and one alone: a future world in which reason will reign supreme. In our madness, we push back the eternal limits, and at once dark Furies swoop down upon us to destroy. Nemesis, goddess of moderation, not of vengeance, is watching. She chastises, ruthlessly, all those who go beyond the limit.

Ostensibly rational, the illogical logic of modern science has resulted in a mystifying double-bind that denies human freedom and leads to widespread despair and hopelessness. Many people feel trapped by this deterministic ethos, while others fail to see that the cause of our problems can’t be their solutions.

In this essay, I will explore the possibility of a path out of the seeming impossibility of escaping the cul-de-sac of our spiritually disinherited and disenchanted condition…

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