capitalism populism

The Gods Must Be Crazy: The Rise Of The Primitive Society Of The Future

Modernity in its later phase reads like mankind’s love affair with authority.

Modernity in its later phase reads like mankind’s love affair with authority.
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6 comments on “The Gods Must Be Crazy: The Rise Of The Primitive Society Of The Future

  1. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
    James Madison to the Virginia General Assembly June 1785

  2. You surely know it given your field of interest and research, “Escape from Freedom” by Erich Fromm describes this.

    • Erich Fromm published Escape from Freedom in 1941. His idea has to be considered one of the most accurate predictions in social sciences of all times. It is the sociological equivalent of Marx‘s dialectics between capital and labor — the more freedom man gets, the more frightened and suffocated by it he becomes. But what Fromm could not see from the 1941 perspective was the second sequal of that dialectics — to what extent the reminder of the 20th century and the begining of the 21st turned out to be a referendum on the actual validity and viability of the idea of freedom. And that the emerging result of that referendum is converging towards a unanimous verdict that freedom is an inferior and undesirable „product“ of man‘s struggle that consistently continues to be rejected.

  3. This article is full of interesting ideas, and perhaps some truth. However, it is ultimately a tortured effort to stuff the development of modern society over the last few centuries into an odd-shaped little box.

    Many of us would disagree that the ‘disenchanted’ real life of honey bees, the molecular mechanism of genetic information transfer, the mind of a dolphin or string theory, to name just a few scientific wonders, make life “hollowed and deprived of its richness”, compared to when we could believe in the literal existence of fairies, leprechauns, evil spirits, the machinations of Norse gods and all the other folderol of mythology.

    I remember as a teenager, our youth pastor would tell the tale of a young boy whose father once failed to take him on a promised fishing trip. The long and the short of the tale was that the resentment that the boy felt grew into hatred that turned the now mature man into a mass murderer. As teenagers, we had enough sense to have a good laugh at the pastor’s expense. We realized that he had a grain of truth but not every resentful teen will become a mass murderer if he does not forgive his father for a minor infraction. Similarly, the author is trying to draw a direct connection between the disenchantment of the world by rational thinking and the rise of Donald Trump. So many other factors are in play that this thesis becomes ludicrous when even a few of them are considered.

    • “Odd-shaped box” is an interesting metaphor, although I am not sure about your usage of it. History, and political reality in general, is like a ginger root, an oddly shaped subject, that can be sliced in many different ways. And every once in a while, if the slicing angle is right, some of these slices reveal simple and regular shapes. My way of looking at the problem was exceedingly simple. I had two objects, God and man (which really is one object seen from two different perspectives) and their interaction, enchantment and disenchantment. So, these are four points that define the corners of the most straightforward possible shape — a rectangle (or a square). And than i looked at different modes of this interaction in modernity, i.e. different ways this simple shape can be fitted into an odd-shaped box of social history. This, to me looks like an upside down version of your description.

      Your second paragraph: “Many of us would disagree that the ‘disenchanted’ real life …”. Yes, very many, indeed. But, in the country where 60% of people believe in angels (literally), there is a growing number of those who beg to differ, and they are sick and tired of being ashamed of their ignorance. I mean, try explaining this to some of the crowd at a Trump rally that the ultimate poetry of God’s creation is a possibility that all particles and gauge fields — everything in this and other universes, can be explain as a result of space-time fluctuation and compactification in higher dimensional space (the basic premise of string theory). If I didn’t know better, I would say that, if you wanted a proof of God’s existence, look no further than the beauty of science. Yet the cosmogonies that educated people toy with are all inordinately complex and to comprehend them requires an immense stock of knowledge, and a habit of thought. But the cosmogony of Genesis is so simple that even an average Trump supporter can understand it. To these ignorant folks it offers the irresistible reasonableness of nonsensical.

      Lastly, it would be an act of extreme ignorance (that I would never commit) to explain any collective mode of such a highly complex system as society in terms of one-dimensional causality chain as would be implied by explaining Trump’s political victory with any single factor like religion or re-enchantment etc. (If anything, Trump alone, is better explained by the US taxation system and developments in algorithmic trading (yes, precisely those), than anything else. )Right wing populism is a consequence of many forces and political struggles. By enumerating them wouldn’t help us understand the things better. Instead, the starting point would be to separates them into systematic, secular and idiosyncratic etc. That leads to many interesting conclusions (which I elaborated in numerous posts before).

      However, explaining Trump was not the point of the blog at all. He is not a cause, but a consequence of deeper and more general social trends. The question is more universal: What is it about our society and about us that creates a fertile ground for such historical baffoons to enter the political scene time and again despite all the empirical evidence that argues against it?

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