INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
Un foro independiente para una discusión crítica de la filosofía integral de Ken Wilber
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The Spirit of Politics
This short article presents a triple, tri-unitatirian, or trinitarian nature. "All three in one". It is at the same time an article of opinion, political and literary criticism. It borrows its title from a recently published book by the world-known cataloninan-indian philosopher Raimon Panikkar ("The Spirit of Politics", Peninsula Publishers, Spain, 1999). This outstanding mind and spirit, who is already in his eighties and fluently writes, and has published, many books and articles in eight different languages, now advances the concept of "the metapolitical". This idea leads the discussion of a new and pioneering literary contribution of one of the cutting-edge leaders of the "high culture and spirit" of both western and eastern civilizations.
Professor Panikkar tell us in his new book that only from the high spirit of the "metapolitical" realm external reality, even the world-wide phenomenon of terrorism, can be properly understood. He stresses that both these and all other conflictive issues of the end of the XX century can not be truly approached and properly grasped from the level of consciousness of the present-day political system, much less from the realm of sociopolitical violence or from the self-closed outlook of terrorism itself. The "metapolitical" thus becomes a search for synthesis in a, perhaps, eclectic way of interpretation that, in the first place, does not rule out a transcendental aspect to the outside realm of an immanent world of reality. Most bluntly and "radically" the author cites the definition of Jacques Ellul for modern politics as "the place of the demoniac". His opinion of the world at the end of this century and millennium is that "the present world situation has no future". However, at the evolving and mature level of the metapolitical "politics are transformed from the art or science of managing and handling external reality to living the plenitude of any human being".
Panikkar also emphasizes the need to study human nature in depth as the main basis and fundamental principle of political activity. In this vein, he thinks that the sense of our human identity can not rest any more, at least exclusively, on the rationalistic type of reason. Any true alternative to this limited view has to be looked for from a completely different and higher stage of consciousness and evolution, both from the humanistic and spiritual perspectives. Only this approach will be able to "open new windows", to see reality through different glasses in order to create brand new perspectives. The modern and deep crisis of western civilization is interpreted not as social, political or economical in nature, but its true essence belongs to the cultural and spiritual realms. So, Raimon Panikkar insists that "politics can not be the supreme neither the only instrument to achieve peace". It his opinion "the present system lead us to death, but without it we also die". The conclusion is that "only a transformation, a radical metanoia, can lead us again in the right path". To this potential change the author calls "the necessary radical conversion", one that may lead to a new and trans-historical vision of the vital whole.
About modern-day professional politicians Panikkar tell us that they are condemned to a sharp, babilonic-like, language that is almost exclusively based in self-interest and partiality, so lacks of all roundness and credibility, as a kind of para-taoistic way of thinking. In his opinion, and after analyzing the results, the System is radically interpreted as "a total metastasis". About the average modern human being he tell us that, he or she, is enslaved by the imperial dominion of bureaucracy, a monster that tries to control everything. About modern reason (rationalism, or rationalistic reason) that is used to manipulate and legalize both open and subtle ways of violence, and that it should be disarmed. About technology and technocracy that has already became a new form of neo-totalitarism, the same applying to the rules imposed by the neo-liberal trend, a strong criticism that can also be found in some of writings of the catholic Pope. He defines the latter tendency as a kind of economical genocide - "economicide" - that has "overwhelmed and abolished spirit, and after conquering it has led us to the present ecological, cultural, political and spiritual catastrophe". About bureaucrats in power this book tell us that they usually are inaccessible to true dialogue, also that also Lao Tzu said "sometime ago". This can be interpreted as a variant of a passive-aggressive syndrome imposed by the modern adoration of the all-successful individualistic ego. About the system it simple adds that "it does not work".
About State-nations "The Spirit of Politics" shows that they identify themselves with an ideology that is always ominous to the rest of cultures, mostly the indigenous peoples of the world, but also with any others marginal peoples that have a different concept of reality. The result is that any conflictive situation place local cultures living in hard dire straits. In the opinion of Panikkar "to consecrate the concept of State is one of the greatest sacrileges that have been committed in the political ordering of the world". While he adds that "the non-state indigenous nation is an organism that comes from the people". Finally, he concludes, "all states feel threatened when they think that they can not control a particular cultural realm". He thus challenges the rest of us to find new, more adequate and peaceful ways of relating nations and states.
About the future "The Spirit of Politics" foretells that is threatening with total bankruptcy. The author daringly advances that "if the present-day civilization does not radically change the world will not survive another fifty years". About the problem of terrorism we are told that it can only be understood from "the metapolitical approach". This is probably true since nothing can be properly and truly understood from either its own level or the level it originated from. Panikkar stands for the concept of "bio-region" as "cosmo-region", a cultural and unitarian myth associated to the concept of the ancestral wisdom of the indigenous peoples of the world. However, he warn us against a great danger: the paradox that arises when tribally collective and brotherhood-minded indigenous people stubbornly try to constitute a new nation-state, since this is an artificial and monocultural concept that attempts to gobble all diversity, with the result that multiculturalism is destroyed. This paradox usually activates the always-present danger and descending path of totalitarian monoculturalism that, inevitably so, will end in a regressive, marxist and collective cosmovision of human life. Thus, any nation that tries to become a state "is sentenced to lose its own identity and independence as a nation, and this kind of transformation often ends up in tragedy". Panikkar openly shows an utter despise of both marxism and neo-liberal individualism to finish his essay by strongly criticizing the fact that nowadays all culture, science and politics are subjected to materialism and economics.
The need is posed to find a new unifying myth to conform a great human project that is not founded on power or strength. Within this myth rests "the metapolitical", which also teaches that without deeply changing in an ascending fashion our vision of human life and the world, so going beyond and above the views offered by the reductionism of modern scientism, the present-day crisis will not have a chance to be overcome. Such a change of mind should lead towards "an integral ecosophy", which is considered essential for the future and the survival of mankind. As a worldcentric political project R. Panikkar advocates for the recognition of nations-people instead of nations-state, as a kind of pluridimensional social hologram, at the same time blaming the artificial nature of state borders and frontiers for the crumbling of the modern concept of State. It is not a fixing up and "recapping" of society what is needed, but something deeper and more radical: the self-actualization of a new civilization, and at the same time of a less materialistic world. This statement he does not consider to carry a utopic dream but an attitude that would place most human values outside the direct reach and power of money.
About the life of the different societies the outstanding eastern-western philosopher tell us that it can not be maintained by the use of power, since all "social contract" has to be freely chosen. Upon this principle rests the self-determination of all the indigenous peoples of the world, a right that does not necessarily implies further demands of secessionism of already constituted states. So a middle way is defended, an adualistic pathway, the only one that allows a creative and postpatriarcal understanding and interrelationship among the oppressing and the oppressed, the rich and the poor, modernism and ancestralism, states and indigenous nations, logos and mythos. Patriarchal and matriarchal, extreme hierarchy and heterarchy would synthesize in a new "son-like", all-encompassing fratriarcal myth. The result would be a "fraternal and hybrid culture of the spirit", leaving behind subduing patriarchalisms or homogenizing matriarchalisms. Furthermore, the possibility is raised that civilization might be resting upon dualistic and completely mistaken conceptualizations.
The new political conception seems to acquire the characteristic of being of a hermeneutic nature. This root/radical "metapolitical" approach demands a depth that, perhaps, and at least at the beginning, can be only accessible to a new kind of politician, the politician-mythologist or "polimythologist". At this Hermes-like and/or hermetic position, that somehow remains of the old platonic "philosopher-kings", lies true wisdom as well as the elevated spirit that can be reached and at the present stage of evolution. The metapolitical perspective should be able to convey a new way of being and a fresh attitude able to dwell in between the most distant edges of consciousness, so becoming the healing suture of the fracture existing among them.
Are there any alternatives to the present-day situation?, the author asks. Any solution and answer begins by the creation of a "dialogical dialogue", even as a multilogical and pluridimensional one leading to mutual inter-fecundation of the different cultural logics and partial vital attitudes. In order to justify this, the whole truth is always considered as pluralistic in nature. It is also time, so it is said, to overcome that endless competition among at least two, but it would not matter if they would be a million, monocultural and sentimental monologues. So far, its only true interaction has been to face each other and fight among them in order to overcome the other as the only possible way to cling to power over external reality. "One should be within the System without belonging to the System; to be in the world without belonging to the world", Panikkar adds in a neo-testamentarian discourse. This means working creatively from the edge, from the limit, in a peaceful collaboration towards what he calls "the necessary radical transformation". The rest of reality is dualistic, partial, incomplete, lacking that necessary roundness and togetherness that a taoist sage would ask us for. Because of all this, the real world can not escape from its lack of honesty, keeps swimming in a river of lies, oozes selfishness and ignorance all over the world, turns round and round in a whirlwind towards nobody-knows-where. We are thus advised to fly away from it all, while staying committed to change, improvement and true progress, not allowing ourselves to be caught either in "the marxist trap" or "the neoliberal trap".
The only true alternative has already become "an enterprise of the spirit", this being interpreted as the necessary organ of transcendence of the deep present-day crisis. "There is not alternative within the system", Panikkar realizes that such possibility would represent "like a suicide" for the system itself. It is then followed that the system is not self-transcending because it lacks the necessary transpolitical foundation stone and spiritual fulcrum. The myth of the system, "that at the same time that an objective state of things is a subjective state of consciousness", no matter how exhausted, closed and folded upon itself it can be, does not accept to be challenged and it would not tolerate any "outside" alternative. "The myth has sunk deeply (...) and the patches and superficial reforms attempted only achieve a lingering of the agony, but do not offer any real solution (...). The first thing to do is to change the structure of thought, now atrophic, this is, our whole attitude towards reality and from its deepest possible roots", an idea that had already been previously forwarded by Krishnamurti himself. Now the nature of the problem has become "human-anthropologic, namely, of a religious nature".
The true alternative is to recognize that the other, the different, even the enemy, has the right to exist, that "otherness" that the system always tends to ignore. What it is urgently needed is a mutual cultural interfecundation, a way of learning to emphatically listen to all non-dominant cultures, inviting them to manifest themselves through their own natures and subjective identities. At the same time, a new kind of human being that has learned to overcome haughtiness, fear, ignorance, privileges and despise requests to be born. We, all and each one of us, need "a process of spiritual emancipation of the System". However, we have to accept that "without a brand new perspective and attitude of consciousness not a single true and real change can be introduced". This is deemed secondary to the fact that "the change in superficial structures can never reach the hearth of the matter". Still, the great danger is "to bestow the entire monopoly of reality to the neo-illustrated reason and its claims".
The other big problem is to allow ourselves to hate anybody, because "we always become the very same thing that we hate". A pathway finally leading to global conciliation and understanding is chosen as the only directionality foreseen that can ease up all ups and downs and depolarize all extremes. Panikkar proposes, and strongly stands for, a human solution for human problems and a cultural solution for cultural problems. To this it could be added that we could also search for a spiritual solution for the spiritual problem/s of modern man, following the title of one of Carl Jung's main contributions. The salvation, we are told, the deliverance, should be universal. In order to do so everything should be thought all over again from a brand new outlook, also "overcoming the concept of state as the only basis of the political existence of humankind". Men should to a certain point at least, be able to leave behind "the concept and obsession of total self-rule and sovereignty for a relative and humanitarian one". We can aim to "a confederacy of nations and peoples of the world (...) replevying the right of nations without the need of becoming nation-states".
This pioneering and "little-big book" ends up by saying that "truth and true life can never be found within the boundary lines of politics", a thought that was previously manifested far back by Goethe, Herman Hesse and Einstein himself, among others. Finally, the forever young Panikkar launch a strong criticism against "the frivolity and superficiality of modern journalism, which is in the antipodes of a deep and authentic day-to-day living". For him, journalism also represents "the opium of thought, true action and life itself". Att the same time, he warns how "postmodernism rushes headlong towards its own bankruptcy, dragging mankind along with it". On the contrary, "in the metapolitical the political project finds its own soul". The time has arrived "to heal the wound of the dualistic separation and fragmentation", a worldwide enterprise. "Only the mystics will survive the world" is the half-apocalyptic, half-hopeful, final shout. It is still worth keep waiting for Godo.