illustrated a few useful points of History to keep in mind: that savagery is normal, even easy, for human beings, that power over others is naturally tempting for people to seek after and to excuse using in order to maximize their political and personal security. And maybe most important of all, that neither primitive grass skirts, fashionable tweed jackets, nor their accompanying technology (or lack thereof) are reliable indicators of whether or not the people wearing those clothes are savages themselves.
We also left off noting that it would be the simplest and the most natural thing in the world to be socialized into such a society - unless you happen to experience the interference of something which somehow helps to dispel that society's illusions, rather than being drawn in to them. What that is and how to magnify it is a question that's worth asking, continually, because doing so is what leads you to steady Progress, upwards and outwards from the societal baseline. But examining that, for the most part, will have to wait for a later post; not that we won't see hints and flashes of it here and there, but as important as that certain something is, we've still got to get a clearer picture of what it is that we hope to make real progress away
from. Because if you don't have a clear idea of what regressive movement would be, we're all too easily tempted to pursue what unknowingly cannot
lead to real progress, and so confusing motion itself with making real Progress, and History is replete with this tragic trajectory, we become Pro-Regressive instead.
A worthwhile distinction to make is that while savagery is the historic norm for humanity, being natural, has almost nothing to do with whether it is Right or Good. And if you'll continue to question appearances, you find that the features with which a society naturally flatters itself with, being 'Modern'; having technological skills, material wealth, and a wide web of cultural habits and stylized dress; you'll find that they are not only not
, in and of themselves, marks of real progress, but more often than not they are the means of suppressing
worthwhile change and avoiding real
progress, dressing their natural savagery up in more appealing clothes. The widespread acceptance of the significance of appearances ( from race to technology to fashion) and unquestionably meaningful and distinctive, is a sign that most people are unaware of or unconcerned about the differing directions that Progress and Regress would lead them in.
The problem of Materialism isn't in pursuing stuff, but in becoming stuff
The features of the societal baseline worth taking note of are not those features that seem so very different on their surfaces - remember from the last post that despite what appearances might lead you to expect, the anthropologist's academic brethren behaved every bit as savagely as the Yanomamö did. And so as with other appearances, from war paint to web pages, they are but variations and elaborations on the eternal theme of getting, protecting, and in one way or another, becoming
, stuff - the fruits of power. And by 'stuff' I do not mean Money, or 'Property', but the mental action of reducing them to possessions; so that these very different things are easily mistaken for being one and the same. The problem of materialism isn't the quest for more material goods - antibiotics and Smart Phones can be fantastic things to have, improve on, and get more of - but the process of seeing ourselves and our ideals
as little more than materials that we desire more of for utility, gain, attaining pleasures and overcoming obstacles, is
. The truth is that reducing our goals to these won't differentiate them from of the goals of any other savage in any way other than that of fashion.
The action of seeing people and values as but materials for your goals, is the materialist inversion, and is a most common and time honored societal norm, and key to redirecting movement towards the societal baseline, rather than away from it, and when you seem to see all change reduced to appearances, it's a trick you'll willingly perform upon yourself - a judo flip of the soul.