Skip to main content

Michel Bauwens on New Age

In other ways, New Age thinking was an heir to utopian socialism. Given the difficulty of changing society in radical ways at the macro level, people began to change their own lives by abandoning blind trust in the mechanistic approaches to the human body that were espoused by Western medicine; and by leaving aside the knowledge-stuffing, rote-learning style of education they were fed in order to treat children as whole persons. These changes have made the world unrecognizable from thirty years ago.

Whatever the negative features of the neoliberal age, many institutions have become more humane, more egalitarian, more respectful, and more attuned to the whole individual. People have changed, institutions have evolved, and many small-scale communal experiments have yielded valuable learning experiences even if they have failed to change the bigger picture. 
At a time when the left was disintegrating and many social gains were undone, New Age thinking provided a banner under which millions of people continued their concrete efforts for personal and social change. Nevertheless, this thinking was also reactionary in its exaggerated rejection of 'cognicentrism' - the Western focus on the thinking mind alone. It went too far in dismissing the role of critical intelligence.

Instead of being integrative it was often regressive, a 'liberation' where selfish desire could reign unchecked. It fell prey to cults, mindless anti-modernism and extremism in the fields of diet and medicine that refused to see anything positive in western science. Spiritually, it had a romantic, rosy-tinted outlook that served to compensate for a life of dreary reality in which hyper-competition was degrading the quality of human relationships.

Finally, being born in an age of hyper-commerce, New Age thinking took on the trappings of the market, and it started functioning in ways akin to market logic. It encouraged people to behave like consumers in picking and choosing what they wanted. It became too focused on the individual and neglected processes of social change. Many of these trappings, which sometimes verged on exploitation by scumbag cults and gurus, were incompatible with authentic spirituality, which must be open-ended and participative, not based on a market model of paid experience.

In pre-modern times, people lived as members of communities with roles that were largely externally defined; in modern times they live as atomized but autonomous self-directing individuals who are bound together through social contracts and institutions. Post-modernity, seen as a critique of neoliberal capitalist structures, sees the individual as increasingly fragmented, and it has developed a strong critique of all the forces that have shown us that we are not nearly as autonomous as we think, including language and power. But this process has also left us stranded as fragmented individuals without much sense of a direction, forever deconstructing realities but rarely reconstructing them with much success. Therefore it is time for something new.

Today, individuals are no longer defined only by their membership in traditional communities or rigid roles. In my world, for example, an increasing number of people see themselves as contributors to open-source software systems like Linux rather than employees of Microsoft or Google. In this context, the key to an integrated self is to construct a rich identity of contributions that stem from active participation in many different communities. No longer New Age or Old Age but building on elements of both, a relational spirituality could form a cornerstone of the contributive societies on which the twenty-first century will be built. - Michel Bauwens

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Paddehoa og plassen min

Kjære plassen min, kvalt du vart, lik ei paddehoe alle paddehannane kasta seg over i dammen om våren.
Dei ville alle bu ved dine grøne enger, då dei tykte det her var so vent og fredeleg. Men dei vørde deg ikkje, og no er du kvalt til daude.
Herr Fossemøllens augnestein stend utan låven sin, her gjeng ikkje lenger dyr og beitar i dine grøne enger. Berre grasklipparar beitar her no.
Dei elska deg til daude, og med deg i grava di tok du den rike
grendearven din.
No stend vi ribba attende.

Venter metankatastrofen oss?

I dag inneholder atmosfæren 5 gigatonn metan. Et estimat anslår at rundt 50 gigatonn metan kan være i ferd med å frigis i Arktis, dvs. en tidobling. Flere tusen gigatonn ligger lagret i den arktiske permafrosten, i den Øst-Sibirske arktiske havhylla alene ligger det 500 - 5000 gigatonn metan.

Metan er ved frigjøring mer enn 150 ganger sterkere som klimagass enn CO2, etter 20 år 86 ganger sterkere i gjennomsnitt, og etter 100 år 23 ganger sterkere. Dette fordi den blir til H2O og CO2.

Mennesket er et produkt av ilden, dette ser nå ut til å bli vår bane. Imens er det søndagsåpne butikker som debatteres, selvsagt en uting og et pådriv for konsumerismen, men allikevel et bevis på menneskets korte tidshorisont.

"Geoengineering" kan ikke hjelpe oss, det er langt mer fornuftig å lagre karbon i jordsmonnet. Det er 5-6 ganger mer karbon i jorda enn i atmosfæren og vegetasjonen sammenlagt. Her kan biokull (terra preta) spille en viktig rolle.

Biokull kan bli i jorda i flere hundre tu…

Den djupe grenda

Underleg er det å vera i fedregrenda, og frykte at den djupe grenda bakom skal ta det siste andedraget. Då har vi berre att den grunne grenda, som er ein illusjon frå Amerika.
I den grunne grenda har plassmålaren vorte ein kulissemålar, for kulisseplassar, lik fototapet med sponplatar bakom.
I den djupe grenda syng ein songane åt fedrane sine. Ein vyrder og aktar dei gamle plassane, lik levande historiemåleri i landskapet. Måla med kraftfulle penslar, av autonomi, krinslaup og retrovasjon.
I den grunne grenda har dei gamle plassane vorte villaparkar. Ein dyrkar ikkje permakultur, men får alle behov dekte utanifrå, gjennom røyr, kablar, bilar og pumpehus.
I den djupe grenda rår stilla, og elden bakom, frå dei som gjekk føre, brenn sterk og klår. Viss denne elden sloknar, rår berre den grunne grenda, og då kjem kulden snikande.