Benjamin Lay is not to be overlooked.
The issue of elegant theories impinges on the question of history and we can see that much of human history is a portrait of human ugliness and dysethical action. And Marx had to take it upon himse…
A new book argues that many seemingly isolated rebellions are better understood as a single protracted struggle.
The issue of elegant theories impinges on the question of history and we can see that much of human history is a portrait of human ugliness and dysethical action. And Marx had to take it upon himself to point that out in many cases. And that perspective colored his views of historical emergence and that of most leftists. And it can lead to inaccurate portraits of much of history. And it lead to a strain of cynicism all too visible in Stalin who thought nothing of inflicting gross exploitation in the various five year plans, etc…A great opportunity to bring liberation to free labor was thrown away in the name of historical pessimism.
While we can applaud that hard-headed no nonsense perspective it remains true that history which we have shown to work on two levels shows a side that is independent of that record of human failure: the eonic model distinguishes free action and system action, and system action always aims high. Once we sort out world history on the basis of that distinction something remarkable comes to view: the so-called eonic sequence operates at a very high level and never injects the evils that begin to appear in the course of civilization. Perhaps the most spectacular example is that of slavery, a key issue in Marx’s indictment of history. But Marx seems to have succumbed, marxists might challenge this statement, to a kind of cynical view of history where the factor of exploitation had a kind of historical necessity he felt he had to accept. We should be wary of any such conclusion. A closer look shows that slavery is a degeneration.
Thus as a spectacular example, if we look carefully at the eonic model and its histories we note that the macro factor never promotes slavery, so far as we can tell. The cases of Sumer and Egypt must be examined closely at their source, the two transitions, and suggest to a close look that slavery had no ‘eonic amplification’ but that it arose as a factor of free action in their wake such that by the time of classical civilization slavery, especially in the occident, was a dominant factor in civilization. Looking at that history one might become confused into thinking that history is a ruthless nightmare of endless cruelty and suffering/exploitation. A closer looks suggests that this is false and that slavery is a disease of civilization that arose under the factor of free agency. It would be important to look at the case of Sumer near its early stage (ca 3000 or so): slavery was not a dominant social issue, as yet, as the issue of ‘captives of war’, however, introduced a factor that later degenerated into some relation to slavery. And in Egypt we tend to see a horrific portrait of slaves constructing the pyramids when at the start the reality was that they were constructed by patriotic free conscripts who granted a year or so of labor for these projects. The later reality is thus probably misleading. We must be very wary then of the standard portraits of world history. And to the long view we see the way that civilization recovers from the disease of slavery: christianity ambiguously provided a starting point and in the medieval period we see a mutation into something else: the world of the ‘manu code’, classes, peasantries, etc…:hardly a full solution, but at least a progression beyond gross slavery.
The later history of early Greece shows how tricky the issue was/is: by the time of classical antiquity, in the Occident especially, the disease of slavery was almost insurmountable, and yet even so the macro effect injects the ideas of freedom there to gestate and lead finally to new eras of liberation. This distinction of free action and system action is a bit embarrassing for free agency! Note the way the whole game operates on two levels, with very confusing mixtures, greek democracy being an example with its coexistence with slavery. It may be that the case of Sumer shows some resemblance to the case of early Greece where ideas of freedom emerge sudddenly without the full creation of true democracy in the context of slavery.
We clinch the issue by seeing the way that abolition only comes in full force during an eonic transition: that of the rise of modernity, with its emergent theme of freedom and again democracy, followed by the full achievement, more or less, of abolition immediately in in the wake of that transition.
And let us note remarkable irony in the way that socialism, Marx, and the left emerge in the wake of that transition, and the way that figures like Marx try to establish the free foundation of society, and the immediate focus is on a new form of exploitation emerging with the rise of capitalism. We can see then that our claim that the macro factor poses an ideal while free agency struggles in its contradictions and human failings.