Monday, November 12, 2012

The Long View

As most everybody knows, the whole Election thing recently happened, with the highly entertaining Professional Sports-like atmosphere pervading the whole spectacle. Immediately following that, more drone strikes occurred and a high-profile sex scandal went public, topping off the whole thing. Also in the news is a new study that was released which says that "Climate Change Is Probably Going To Be Worse Than Any Of Us Expected". This particular piece of news was generally ignored by the public, along with the news of mass violence everywhere, in favor of the usual Bread and Circuses of everyday life.

I find this kind of thing to be totally discouraging for any kind of profound positive widespread social change.

It is in times like this that I see it as being helpful to step back and take a look at the bigger picture, to get a better sense of perspective on the whole thing. Being too fixated on the current state of the world can be a bit stifling, I think. It's best to keep in mind a bit of the context that we all find ourselves in here.

With that being said, let's start at the beginning! Anatomically modern human beings came about around 200,000 years ago. From that time until around 10,000 years ago people have lived together and organized their affairs in basically the kinds of ways that I advocate: anarchistic, based in decentralized small-scale groups, sharing resources, sustainable, tribal, with a high degree of intimacy with each-other as well a strong connection with the natural world around them. So basically, the crazy, extremely radical, totally out-there world that I would like to see has been how humanity has lived throughout most of its history, it has been the norm for human relations. It is only relatively recently that human social life has been so very alienating, aggressive and authoritarian.

With this in mind, let us also remember - human beings have survived dramatic global climate change before. It was a difficult period, the total human population got to be very small, but humanity survived it. If humanity was able to survive that time of drastic global climate change and the resulting inhospitable conditions before, humanity can very well be able to survive it again.

However, even if humanity survives this next round of global climate change, eventually the Earth will be destroyed by the Sun. Who knows what the state of humanity will be like by that time, if there will even be a human race around, or if humanity would have moved on to other places by the time that event occurs. Any number of different random and inane things could have wiped out the human race by the time that occurs.

Recently in the news it was announced that another planet was discovered which could potentially be habitable for life. This means that now about a dozen planets have been confirmed to be possibly habitable, a further 54 candidates have been identified to be looked at further regarding this, and current estimates indicate at least 500 million such planets exist in our Milky Way Galaxy. And outside the Milky Way Galaxy, who knows! This all is to say that other Earth-like planets do exist out there that could potentially hold life that is similar to our own, possibly even similar to human beings.

This then ties in with the ideas of Buddhist cosmology which says that there are worlds upon worlds out there to be discovered and explored. Likewise, there are also Buddhist notions of different epochs throughout history, that everything (including "Buddhism" itself) is created and is likewise eventually destroyed. The idea of Buddhahood is to be both enlightened as well as to bring the means of liberation to a people in a time in which it does not exist. The idea behind being a bodhisattva is to be committed to sticking around until that has been achieved.

I bring up all of this Buddhist stuff because I see it all as informing an outlook on radical social change: the world that we live in right now is simply just one world among many, and it is just one epoch among many. All of it, whatever it is, no matter how entrenched and permanent-seeming it appears to be, it will all go away sometime.

The role of an anarchist revolutionary in all of this then is to spread the understandings and practices of a truly free life, for a truly free world - regardless of where the world is at at the time. There should be no attachments to the free world happening now, or ever. It will happen if, when, and where it will. That is not for us to determine, but the actions that we take to get there are. Like the dedicated bodhisattva, continuing on life after life for the liberation of all sentient beings, so should an anarchist go. There has been and will be global anarchy - if not in this world-epoch, then in another.

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