Saturday, February 21, 2009
Gaia Shibboleth 7: The Shibboleth of Gaia
Religion and the Shibboleth of Life
Throughout the religious tradition, is a strategic finesse that God takes a position absolute, in dominant defiance of intellect and nature alike. God is assumed to be both the creator of the universe and in the end of days, judge, jury and executioner, not only of potentially morally corrupt human beings, but the entire natural order.
Intellect is claimed to be wanting because it is finite and fallible like all human consciousness and nature has been corrupted by the lust and greed and incipient violence that accompanied the Fall. Associated with the demonization of nature is a demonization of sexuality and the natural aspects of human mammalian biology as manifestations of these corrupt lustful polluting tendencies in the corrupt flesh caught in the mortal coil of death and ultimate decay.
This position absolute is a strategic bluff which in its apocalyptic end-game becomes a tragedy of the commons for all religious believers, for humanity as a whole and for the continuity of the diversity of life on Earth.
Religious believers, spanning the major religions, including Christianity and Islam, are fully prepared to torch the diversity of life and eagerly wait the Day of Resurrection, seeking positions of responsibility in places like nuclear launch silos where they sit prepared to press the red button, the moment one president or another releases the codes, blowing themselves and other innocent people to smithereens as in 9-11 and other suicide bombings, or dealing into an end-of-days finesse for dominance by nuclear stealth, invoking the coming of the Mahdi, in nuclear ambitious Iran.
Thus it is the Gaia shibboleth, closing the circle of the scorched earth triage that is the acid test of the outcome which each of the three monotheistic religions lead to, and with them, the holy warfare of the Bhagavad Gita, and for all its composure, aspects of Buddhism as well. Each of these religious paradigms are mere dew on the lawn of evolutionary time, and their shibboleth is not rapture, or victory of Jesus, or the Mahdi, but the survival of life on Earth, in a closing circle of coexistence, both of human cultures, and of humanity with the living species, upon which we depend for our own survival, and economic and physical health.
Despite appearing ancient and absolute, like modern technology, apocalyptic religions are transient modern structures with inherent fragility that, they can only survive while human society retains its cultural integration. Being infectious social processes by evangelism and social control, just as a virus is infectious, their survival depends ultimately on the survival of their host. If their message is to bring about, genocidal warfare, rapture of the late planet Earth, and the destruction of all life, they are likewise doomed to their own ultimate extinction by their own fervent folly.
The War on Terror: Clash of the Civilizations
The 'war on terror', which became a signature of the Bush administration, was precipitated by the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center by Islamic fundamentalists from al-Qaeda - 'the base', a militant Sunni Muslim group led by Osama Bin Laden with the aim of re-establishing a world caliphate. Bush in turn used the notion of Christian holy war - "This crusade, this war on terror is going to take a while".
While Barack Obama has changed the emphasis from Iraq, and its misadventure on false claims of weapons of mass destruction, to Afghanistan, where the Taliban are newly resurgent, the battle ground has merely again gained its focus, while at the same moment the Taliban in Pakistan have blown up all the girls schools in Swat and are negotiating a cease fire in which their version of Sharia is said to be being implemented, including keeping the girls school closed.
Of course the militancy of Muslim fundamentalists is stoked by the Israel-Palestine conflict, but this itself is both a manifestation of apocalyptic expectations, both on the part of secular Zionists and religious Orthodox Jews, linked to Christian apocalyptic expectations as well which cements the support of Israel in the USA electorate to an extent which results in a high degree of political alignment.
But this belies a deeper issue which is the world agenda of Islam as a religion claiming to institute the rule of God in a monolith of Islamic state, Sharia law and Islam scripture (Quran and assorted Hadith) as the foundation of human society. This claim combined with conservative social views in which women are veiled, chaperoned and reproductively controlled and repressed from social, educational, career and reproductive choices based on a reiteration of 6th century Arab tribal law which places resurgent Islam in head-on conflict with the democratic secular West where it is not just licentious pornography, but a new paradigm of women's freedom of choice and expression that is seen as a threat to Muslim sexual control.
The problem with all these views is that, without exception, they involve dominion over nature, inherited from Genesis 1 and later episodes such as Noah's flood, as recounted in the last chapter.
These roots of dominion over nature, combined with the inherently patriarchal nature of Western capitalism, whose individual competitiveness, right to make a fortune, winner-take-all venture capital exploitation and boom and bust economics are a reflection of spermatogenic resource-risk based wild oat sewing reproductive strategy and not the survival of whole ecosystems.
The only solution to this battle for religious world supremacy is coexistence in a surviving biosphere, not scorched earth tumult in the belief that one religion or another, Shia Mahdi, Sunni World Caliphate, Christian Kingdon of the Lord, or Zionist rule of the Elect will have its final seal of approval in the annihilation of biological life in the Ray of Resurrection. It is thus the Gaia shibboleth and not Christ or the Mahdi that is the grim reaper of human hubris and the will to dominance over the living diversity of the planet and it is the Gaia shibboleth, not weapons or national, or religious interests, that is our test of survival and coexistence in the closing circle of human mutual acceptance, and it is the Gaia shibboleth that holds the key to the ultimate resolution of intractable problems central to this condition, such as Israel and Palestine.
Mutually Assured Destruction: The Burning Nuclear Issue
The birth of nuclear weapons came out of the Second World War, after Hitler began an abortive quest for nuclear weapons, but was guided very substantially by the reaction of prominent Jewish scientists to the Holocaust. It is striking that, following Oppenheimer's lead of naming the site of the first nuclear test "Trinity," Weisskopf and William Laurence - both Jews - saw in the Bomb the glory of Christ. Three weeks later, the pilot of Enola Gay, Paul Tibbets, requested God's blessing upon the Bomb that would initiate the citizens of Hiroshima into the darkest consequences of this ecstatic presence. "Be with those who brave the heights of Thy heaven intoned the chaplain, "and carry the battle to our enemies"
The mutually destruction scenario began with the Cold War between the Communist and Capitalist worlds, from which there still remains a vast overhanging risk of accidental first strike cataclysm, and some 15 times overkill of existing weaponry, only marginally scaled down from a peak level of 40 times.
However the looming nuclear doomsday has increasingly become an issue with apocalyptic religious dimensions between the Muslim World and the West.
The US itself has proven, both at Hiroshima, and in the use of depleted uranium weapons, that it is prepared to commit nuclear genocide if it perceives it to be in the national (or world) interest.
Israel, in the midst of continuing conflicts on several fronts, possess 200 nuclear warheads in the Sampson option of pulling the pillars down on the whole Middle East should it suffer a nuclear attack.
Iran, which professes end-of-days ambitions in the Shi'ite Mahdi is moving to enrich uranium on a course of strategic bluff which is aimed at neutralizing the nuclear advantage of the licentious West with a view to achieving an end-of-days supremacy of the Shi'ite Islamic faith.
And not least, Pakistan, which has already developed nuclear weapons in the midst of an ongoing conflict with nuclear India has allowed its nuclear technology to spread outside its borders to Iran and North Korea and at the same time is assailed by a fundamentalist civil war by the Taliban whose affiliations with al-Qaeda's ambitions for holy war on the West could result in these weapons falling into the hands of genocidal terrorists and either being used for a dirty bomb, for a preemptive stike on Israel or to threaten the West in the manner of 9-11.
Boom and Bust: Economic Recession
Despite its basis in electoral democracy, many characteristics of Western capitalism, derive from a patriarchal idea of dominion over nature that emerges from European Christian culture of the middle ages and its transition to the utopian agenda of science as a way of bringing about paradise in the aftermath of the age of enlightenment of the 18th Century.
Many undesirable characteristics of the manifest instabilities and inequitability of venture capitalism arise from its institutions and working assumptions arising from a combination of patriarchal dominance and the religious notion of dominion over nature, which has allowed men to both take advantage of exploiting nature unhindered by the eventual consequences and to do so in a winner-take-all manner. This has led to Western society becoming polarized between a relatively soulless reductionistic Newtonian secular scientific description, and a faith-based patriarchal religious paradigm still thinking in terms of revealed religion and the after life. Missing in the centre is a constructive understanding of how to bring about a sustainable condition of paradise for the benefit of all.
The free market is likened to a process of survival of the fittest in a false analogy with natural selection, which ignores the fact that corporation do not have a conserved genetic blueprint which ensures their evolutionary niche is one which is consistent with their own survival and the survival of the increasingly world society they are in, and by contrast company law provides only for the processes of line-management of the executive and a fragmented democracy of a board accountable only to shareholders, and not to the welfare of its workers or the consumer who buys their products. Companies can thus manifestly exploit natural resources and then either wind themselves up or convert their acquired capital to a new line of business altogether. The analogy is also false because it assumes a higher degree of outright competition than happens in natural ecosystems, where symbiosis and coexistence of predator and host stabilizes the populations of both.
The capitalist free market shows a variety of features consistent with male (spermatogenic) reproductive investment at the expense of female investment more attuned to parenting and the survival of the spread of her offspring over time. The short term nature of economic strategies is consistent with male investment in the current offspring contrasting with the females need to spread over a longer term. The accrual of vast fortunes is also consistent with the male resource-bearing reproductive strategy and the hypergamic ability of resource-bearing males to sire disproportionate numbers of offspring. In no way does one find in natural ecosystems individuals gathering such disparate amounts of natural resources such as food and territory except in harem forming mammals.
The imaginary exponential trend of endless economic growth with no natural cyclic activity is likewise an expression of the male reproductive strategy and results in endless boom and bust cycles causing severe social disruption and human casualties. At the same time these processes lead to sever resource depletion during boom cycles without any investment in the longer term strategies characteristic of female mammals, so that bust cycles correspond also to phases of resource depletion accentuating the severity of the hard-landing. The male reproductive strategy also involves a significant component of lethal risk - better to fertilize the queen whose sons will become princes and die than to have no children at all - so an unmitigated male reproductive strategy applied to society or dominating its processes leads to a continuing risk of lethal jeopardy.
These initiatives are often supported by intellectual property rights and patents that give the registrant unilateral rights to exploit what are often not entirely individual inventions but part of the commons of humanity's heritage. This applies particularly to modern forms of genetic patenting where attempts are made to acquire sole intellectual property rights over genomes and species which are part of our natural endowment. Such patenting, like the terminator gene which renderes proprietary seeds naturally infertile after the first planting and genetically modified products such as round-up soya and ready and Bt corn and cotton benefit the control of the companies concerned over their own associated chemical products (e.g. roundup's chemical glyphosate), or compromise the effectiveness of natural processes such as the utility of B. thuringiensis in organic pest control through resistance caused by massive use in GM crops.
The traditional conflict between left and right in adversarial party democracies is a patriarchal degeneracy of sexual complementarity. Democracy was invented by Greek warlord defending their civic estates from external aggression. The two-party system, particularly in patriarchal first past the post winner take all mode is a model of male reproductive combat - locking horns. MMP systems attempt to alleviate this resulting in a greater need for coalition formation in government. The traditional left represents a welfare state degeneracy of an overall female reproductive investment strategy neutered of its sexual basis both in the communistic and socialistic manifestations, which tens to lead to nepotistic government by male cliques.
The natural remedy to economic instability and the damage done to economic and social welfare by boom and bust cycles is to apply the Gaia shibboleth to all company law and economic thinking and regulatory procedures and to the political basis of the electoral process, so that free societies can survive in evolutionary time rather than appearing and disappearing by processes of expansion, degeneracy, decline and becoming eventual victims of social conquest.
Resource Depletion, Climate Crisis and the Rape of the Planet
The world is currently depending on non-renewable energy sources, namely oil and coal for its energy economy, causing runaway increases in global warming abrupt to catastrophic and potentially irreversible climate change. Given the venture capital paradigm of quick immediate gains, disproportionately little research has gone into sustainable forms of energy consistent with transport needs, with big business hanging fire until oil prices reach a level where immediate profits can be made on a short term investment basis on renewable technologies which should last a lifetime, leading to a hard landing for human society both in terms of the havoc caused by rising oceans increased storm and hurricane damage and the economic crises caused by this key failure of forward thinking.
At the same time natural ecosystems are being damaged by habitat destruction caused by exploitation of all available land for commercial and development purposes, which in combination with the wholesale release of invasive species, abrupt climate change and outright removal of wild species by overfishing, stripping of rare plants fish reptiles and other species for urban collectors is resulting in the sixth great mass extinction of the diversity of life, caused not by natural or astronomical catastrophe such as asteroid strike but by humanity ourselves.
This mass extinction will cause profoundly long-term consequences for the future of humanity and for life on the planet. It took about 32 million years for the diversity of life to recover from the extinction of the dinosaurs, although it did give the mammals a chance to become dominant. Humanity is likely to become the first species to become extinct in any similar event because our societies have become so fragile to major calamity.
Several other mechanisms, from destabilizing of the vast methane hydrates under the cooler oceans, through additional heating of the planet caused by loss of the white reflecting polar snow caps, effects of rapid ocean rise on land cities, societies economies and ecosystems to wildfires and the destabilization of tropical forest ecologies could lead to a whiplash tipping point in which the natural viability of the planet for the human species and thus our survival prospects and long-term quality of life become significantly diminished. At the same time people who claim to be scietists are misleading the general population and abetting further exploitation by major industries by falsely alleging global warming isn't happening, or that it is not manmade.
In addition, we are reducing the natural viability of our food, medicinal and commercial species, upon which we depend for our own survival, by mass planting of monoclonal hybrids, GM varieties which are either natural non-viable or liable to contaminate wild genomes, and failure to preserve natural ecosystems supporting the wild germ stock from which our co-dependent species came.
At the same time, advanced technological societies are becoming ever more brittle, dependent on a network of computer technology, massive transport and hugely inefficient distribution processes, which could literally collapse, leaving vast proportions of the human population unable to feed themselves and survive, given even a small scale global catastrophe. As things stand, human society, for all its development, is currently manifestly less robust to global crisis than it was 8,000-10,000 years ago when gatherer-hunters were still dispersed across the planet, the world's ecosystems were still relatively intact and, in the event of a crisis striking one continent ,the populations on other land masses were relatively capable of collecting sufficient food from the wilderness to feed themselves and their offspring.
We thus urgently need to apply the Gaia shibboleth, to create planetary zones where people are still able and experienced enough to survive by subsistence knowledge of their own natural ecosystems, to increase the elasticity and robustness of developed society to survive major natural crisis, to enrich rather than diminish the regenerative capacity of our natural ecosystems to recover from crisis more effectively, and to provide pilot schemes for a Moon colony to protect life against a major astronomical collision with Earth and an underground pilot station to protect life against a radiation disaster from a nearby supernova, as well as ballistic and possibly nuclear means to deflect incoming bodies of moderate size in space, to avoid deep impacts.