Thursday, March 12, 2009

Condorcet and the Heathen Potential

The philosophy of the Enlightenment thinker Condorcet, whose tremendous optimism shines out from the late 18th and early 19th century like a predecessor of the great Gene Roddenberry, suggests that if we are to ever overcome Gullveig, the forces of greed, envy, and misery, we must do so intentionally, deliberately, with knowledge, and systematically eliminate those causes which aggravate her effects. We may not ever be able to eliminate her effects upon the individual, but those causes which exaggerate her influence, which allow her unobstructed access to both individuals and to systematic relations between individuals must be stopped up and changed across the board.

The great hope he offers is that we have a chance against Gullveig, if we systematically apply the principles of wisdom, and apply ourselves to the learning of wisdom. This is the battle between Odin, who searches for wisdom, and Utgard-Loki, Surt, who asserts ignorance, prejudice, enchantment, lies, deceit, illusion. It's the power of wisdom over the power of illusion, and if we systematically apply wisdom, and keep learning, and use wisdom to root out prejudice, and find better ways of working with nature, then we can root out the main mechanisms through which Gullveig is able to affect human beings, especially since working with nature, a method favored by indigenous peoples but abandoned in civilization up to the advent of permaculture, allows for balanced, ecological prosperity that undoes the hands of poverty and divisive inequality so often associated with and productive of Gullveig's greed.

Of course, she works hand in hand with Loki, who we must also reckon, who we can understand as the spreader of prejudice, lies, illusion, deceit, and tricking people by appealing to the strife within them rather than to the balanced moderation which would allow them to co-create the Golden Age. If we can learn from the myths, and not allow the Loki within us to kill the Baldur within us, not allow that part of us which is subject to deceit, illusion, prejudice, strife, and slander, to get stirred up and move against the part of us that represents balance and moderation, and which is therefore capable of creating and maintaining the Golden Age. If we allow the part of ourselves which is strong and protective and heroic (Hodur) to also be in line with the part of us that is merciful and forgiving (Baldur), and not to turn against that, then we have a chance.

Each of these myths are messages, alchemical messages about what we can do individually and societally to overcome the miseries of war and class inequality that stem out of greed. It's no mistake that greed, anxiety, and fear is the mother of the wolf, the wolves of war. When deceit and greed combine, we find the wolf of war, we find the tentacles of the serpent of restriction and venom, and even dis-ease finds its way into the mix. We may not ever be able to fully eradicate Gullveig , who is born again and again, but we can exile her from our provinces, so that she's not invited in, so that she's not invited in to dance amongst us, and play her mind-tricks on us. There will always be those who will be more or less subject to her, but if we can create a strong web of oaths, we can create a guard, a yard, a protective fence against her influences.

Thus, Condorcet, the Enlightenment philosopher, and the Norse myths, are completely reconciliable, even though a prejudiced conservatism which often overtakes Asatru might seem otherwise, attaching itself to the prejudices of militarism and conservatism that conserves prejudice rather than reason. But ultimately, Odin represents wisdom and enlightenment, and not prejudice. One must always ask what one is conserving and whether it is worth conserving. Prejudice is not ; the fruits of reason and contemplation, which are wisdom, are.

We cannot allow the strictures and structures of Viking society to limit the possibilities of what we can realize now through the Gods' guidance. They were limited by their time and the progress made so far, and by their fighting against regressive forces from progressing further along, but the Gods continually guide us onward in an evolutionary imperative that we can follow, and that we are mandated to follow and extend as far as the development of our faculties can be concerned.

Condorcet felt that the development of human faculties was one of the greatest hopes for the future of human kind. Other things that were really necessary for his vision to come true was not just the progress of human sciences with their ability to produce more with less, and more efficiently, which of course to a large degree has come about, but more importantly, what has been neglected, which has been the devotion of reason to the eradication of the principles of authority, aristocracy, and superstition, three prejudices which shackle down the mind. The mind cannot work freely under these prejudices, and without the mind working freely, Condorcet's program cannot work, because prejudice will allow greed and inequality to work their way back into society.

But Condorcet also felt that the development of the moral faculties was one of the most neglected areas of education and study. He felt that this could be extended by what we might call the development of empathy, an extension of empathy through engaging the human mind in an imagination of the effects of its actions upon others.

Now we might find the kernal of this idea in the Teutonic idea -- which also exists in other contexts -- of the doomsday, the appeal to the imagination that there will be a day when all of the effects of one's actions on others and on the world will be tallied up and given report, and given a final judgement. It is not to the punishments or rewards thereof that this imagination is useful, but to the daily contemplation of how one's actions may impact others, and what kind of effect that has on the world, how it helps to co-create the world : the imagination of how the Gods will evaluate, with all of their insight, and with the Weaver right there, to be able to point to the Loom of Fate and how things have become interwoven. Of course, we will never know that fully until such time as that day of reckoning, but as a motif, the imagination of it helps us to develop that sense of considering the effects of our actions upon others and upon the world --- that very development of moral faculties which Condorcet felt was critical to the progress of human improvement.

So the more that we are developing our empathy and freeing our reason from the prejudices of authority, superstition, and aristocracy, and also bringing about the full development of the free market, not in the sense that it has hitherto been talked about in the Reagan years, but more as Benjamin Tucker and in the present, Kevin Carson, have developed : a non-monopolistic, non-usuristic development of the free market, allowing common development and industry to improve, the more we are bringing to full blossom those gifts the Gods gave us in the beginning of time ; and it is a certainty that the Gods will not allow us to live in the full frith and prosperity our potential allows until we have nurtured and reared that potential into its greatest actuality. Then, what we now call utopia, may be the commonest currency.


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