Power, state and capital: the axis is arrogance


It is one thing to domesticate and another to dominate. In order to survive, reproduce and develop, mankind has domesticated nature while at the same time nature has domesticated mankind. It was a reciprocal phenomenon, a process of coevolution.

Domesticating implies knowing, exploring, questioning and dialoguing with what is domesticated. He wears delicacy. On the other hand, the one who dominates imposes, crushes, suppresses, submerges and exploits. Of the 300,000 years, the epoch of the human species, it was only about 4,000 years ago that the domestication impulse prevailed. Then it began to be replaced by an unprecedented desire for domination.

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Hierarchical societies have emerged and the domination of each other and nature has become normal. Parasitic and predatory elites appear who exploit the work of humans and nature. Today, we have reached the peak of this situation with the arrival of industry, science, technology, capitalism and fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas, uranium). Today we are experiencing the results.

As stated above, the progressive domestication of nature has also domesticated the human species, that is, civilized the species in social terms: humanizing it. As the scale and power of domestication increased, human groups learned to work collectively through cooperation, consensus and agreement, tolerance and solidarity, knowledge and memory.

This culture has been annulled by industrial modernity and its cognitive, economic and technological devices. Overwhelmed with amnesia, the modern era has ended up imposing the mandate of its vision of the world: the domination of the human over the natural and the masculine over the feminine.

We are living in a new era of barbarism. The paradox is overwhelming: despite the advances and achievements of the modern world, its main flaw, its cardinal sin, is the pathological desire to dominate, its obsession with power.

And this obsession marks both state and capital, party and market, government and business. The famous Czech philosopher Karel Kosik, who lived both the communist and the capitalist era, said in his book Antediluvian reflections (Itaca, 2012):

“The system of real socialism which failed in Central and Eastern Europe worked by convincing that the superior reason of society was personified and embodied by the Party, which therefore had the monopoly and inalienable right to direct, order and regulate everything: to economics, politics and culture to the scientific and the military … At the same time, the market today assumes a monopoly position and refuses to consider that something distinct, different, can be at its peak and even less above. The market is a mortal danger for culture ”.

As we argued in a previous article, only social or citizen power can limit and negate the double threat that for thousands of years has subsumed human beings. Today we can identify at the individual level what bureaucrats and bourgeois alike adopt as pathological behaviors. Modernity masks a state of barbarism which defends competition, greed, individualism, ambition and the insatiable desire for power. This barbarism is present both among those who govern by the state (whatever the ideology) and among those who run businesses and corporations. This is why complicity or collusion between rulers and capitalists was so easy in the neoliberal phase.

The world is fed up with corruption and theft, as evidenced by the growing number of events such as failed governments, the excessive growth of monopolies and fortunes, social inequalities and ecological destruction. This situation arises from the loss of a civilizing evolution founded precisely on values ​​opposed to those of modern industrial society. Arrogance is the trait that guides modern people, and it contrasts with humility, which affirms a very valuable attribute: compassion, or the ability to forgive and be forgiven.

We need to visualize and build a postmodern world that identifies arrogance as evil to be overcome and replaces it with an ethic of humility and compassion. This is also the ethic adopted by citizens who acquire a conscience (see my book Civilizations, 2019). Today, anyone can identify arrogance in the public official, in the employer, in the most modest employee, in the parent or in the colleague. It will be a question of resuming the cultural process abandoned by a civilization which represents barely 0.1% of human history. It is a question of confronting on the psychological level the contradiction which feeds, maintains and increases the formidable social and environmental crisis which threatens us today.

This article was translated by Jane K. Brundage. It was originally published in Spanish in La Jornada and is republished here with permission.

Teaser photo credit: Aerial view of El Paso, Texas, (top and left) and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, (bottom and right). The brightly lit border is clearly visible as it divides the two cities at night. The dark section on the left is where the border crosses Mount Cristo Rey, an unfenced rugged area. By Mwilliams151 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index. php? curid = 31194012


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