From India with Modi, to Britain with Brexit, to America with Trump, mob rule by demagogues is sweeping the globe, though the complicit commentariat insists on calling it ‘populism.’
The same regressive movement is growing in France, the birthplace of the so-called Enlightenment, with the real possibility of the far right Marie La Pen becoming president next year.
She has said that if she becomes President of France, she, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin will “make much progress toward world peace.” Translation? Get ready for much more war.
America’s ‘global war on terror,’ ignoring national borders and meting out extrajudicial executions under both Bush and Obama, has destroyed the international order, as deficient as it was.
Rather than treat terrorism as a crime against humanity, the United States took the bait and invaded not only Afghanistan but also, needlessly, Iraq. Rather than authentic humanitarian intervention, France, Britain and America pursued regime change in Libya, and then stood by as atrocities in Syria accumulated beyond the imagining of horror.
With the election of a fascistic leader, the image of America, at home and abroad, has been shattered. Steve Bannon stoked the mob with his Breitbart ‘news’ network; then Donald Trump came along and said, ‘Here, let me lead you.’
President Obama, in his pathetic meeting with Trump in the White House, and pitiable news conference a few days later, says he still believes in American exceptionalism.
His words have a sad, hollow ring to them. And they confirm what a mediocre president he has been, essentially a placeholder between the lesser evil of Bush-Cheney and the greater evil of Donald Trump.
Barack Obama was the last chance the ruling order had to bring about the change (‘hope and transformation’ remember?) that people want.
Now that America has elected the demagogue Trump, Democrats, who seem to be constitutionally weak sisters, are talking about working with him. Confusing the will of the people with mob rule, they are already making collaborationist noises.
The Republicans unfairly adopted a successful obstructionist strategy with President Obama, who was unwilling or unable to go directly to the people to overrule them. And now the Democrats, who rightly and justly should be planning to resist and obstruct Trump, are caving before he’s even inaugurated!
The challenge goes far beyond America however. The Western order—not just neo-liberalism, but the supposed Enlightenment based on reason rather than insight—is history. Indeed the Western mind, founded in ancient Greece (hence the saying in the West, “we’re all Greeks”) is in crisis, and requires a new philosophical foundation.
Regressive, reactionary forces are sweeping the world. Will the mob and their demagogues destroy everything? Or will there be an adequate response, not by political leaders, but by the people of the world?
Certainly we’re just hacking at leaves and twigs if we continue to think primarily in political terms.
We as individuals (the word literally means ‘not divided’), representing humanity as a whole rather than any particular nation, have both the opportunity and the responsibility to pour the foundation for a new, genuinely global order.
But what can we as mere individuals do in the face of the scale of the challenge humanity faces?
Thinking in terms of scale is operating in terms of fear. Scale, like power itself, has become irrelevant.
The crisis facing humankind is the same for the villager in sub-Saharan Africa as it is for the denizen of New York. That gives the individual tremendous capacity to affect things both locally and globally.
Therefore first, do your own spadework. Each one of us is a microcosm of humanity. The division and fragmentation of humankind are the expression of the division and fragmentation within each of us.
Psychological revolution first depends on enough people doing their own spadework—mindful self-knowing, continual questioning, and methodless meditation.
When one truly ends the source of division within, one affects the core of human consciousness to some degree. And when a minority of the world’s people, perhaps only 1%, is self-knowing, a revolution in consciousness will ignite.
Of course timing, which implies general readiness, is crucial. But though the revolution in consciousness hasn’t begun, as many ‘cultural creatives’ in the West believed until Trump was elected, it may be closer than you think. There is nothing like the real and present danger of the collapse of the old order to generate urgency.
What is needed is not a political movement, but a psychological revolution. Set aside beliefs and opinions, and question together with others, with the intent to ignite shared insight.
When people in various places set fire, within themselves, to the dark matter of human consciousness, humankind will change course.
Humanity’s extinction is not a given Stephen Hawking; there will be no other planets for us if we destroy this one.