The Last Revolution (Part 15a)
Don't worry, we didn't miss twelwe chapters. It's only that “Zeitgeist” chapter is longest in the book, and could be of exceptional interest, so we give it in two installments and before its order. Is The Zeitgeist Movement really a path to human future, or is it a path to future “humanity”? What really hides behind the attempt to “secure freedom through technology”?
Ljubodrag Simonovic: The Last Revolution
- Life-creating mind against destructive mindlessness
- The nature of Marx’s critique of capitalism
- Marx’s conception of nature
- Capitalist exploitation of soil
- Marx and capitalist globalism
- The cosmic dimension of man
- “Alienation” and destruction
- Destruction of the body
- Capitalist nihilism
- Productive forces
- Dialectics and history
- The integration of people into capitalism
- Technique as myth: Zeitgeist fascism (Part 15a) •|• Technique as myth: Zeitgeist fascism (Part 15b)
- Contemporary bourgeois thought
- Politics as a fraud
- Contemporary critique of capitalism
- Bourgeoisie and proletariat
- October revolution
- Contemporary socialist revolution
- Revolutionary violence
- Vision of a future
The Last Revolution -- Chapter Fifteen A
Technique as myth: Zeitgeist fascism
(Translated from Serbian by Vesna Todorović/Petrović)
The Zeitgeist Movement is one of the most aggressive mondialistic movements in the contemporary world. It is allegedly based on a critique of capitalism and aspirations to make a new world. In fact, it is a scientological sect based on a quasi-religious myth about the omnipotence of science and technology, which is one of the most fatal myths created by the ideologues of capitalism. The critique of capitalism lacks a humanistic, that is, a historical, social and visionary dimension. Zeitgeist does not advocate a new historical beginning. It rather discards history and does away with man as a historical being. It does not differentiate between history and the past and reduces the past to the source of evil to be done away with. Zeitgeist abolishes the dialectics of history and the dialectic mind, which offer man a possibility to come out from the darkness of the past into the light of history. By abolishing the historicity of human society, the cultural and libertarian heritage of mankind is also being abolished, and without it there is no possibility for humanistic self-reflexion and, consequently, no way to the future. A man without historical self-consciousness is a headless man; people without history are people without a future. At the same time, without a historicity of society there is no historicity of nature, which means that without a dialectical development of society, there is no dialectical development of nature.
The Zeitgeist project of the future is a political project par excellence. It is based on the fact that capitalism alienated science and technology from the people and that these forces have become the property of the scientific and technocratic “elites” who govern the destiny of people and “design” the future. Instead of being the creator of his own world, man has become the instrument of a technocratic “elite” for realizing the idea of a future that is the product of a dehumanized technocratic imagination. “Making plans” for the future replaces a critical analysis of capitalism and the political struggle of the oppressed working people. The future is not a product of the conscious engagement of citizens as political beings capable of creating a humane world; it is the product of a political single-mindedness disguised as “science”, which acquires an “objective” and thus a super-human dimension. The Zeitgeist project of the future presupposes the existence of a political center of power which determines and directs social development, and this also involves determination of an undisputable value horizon. The authoritarian constitution of Zeitgeist is a symbolic expression of the untouchability and immutability of the basic principles on which the plan for the future is based. Zeitgeist abolishes the possibility of creating alternative worlds and thus the possibility of a future that is the result of man's free choice and creative practice. Designing the future is reduced to its being given. Zeitgeist abolishes man as a creative being capable of creating his own world and reduces him to an instrument with which the “elite” of scientists, led by the modern “Messiah” (Jacque Fresco), “creates a future” in which an artificial man will live in an artificial (denaturalized and dehumanized) world. In this “project”, people are reduced to an army of atomized idiots who are supposed to follow a “vision” and carry out the directives of “The Leader”. It is a typical sectarian movement based on the cult of personality. “The Leader” is the exclusive and undisputed owner of the “truth”. Zeitgeist's design for the future is a form in which a capitalistically degenerated visionary consciousness appears based on the same principle as are both religion and the Hollywood film industry: a creation of illusory worlds replaces the political struggle of the oppressed for a humane world. Zeitgeist is one of the ways in which capitalism degenerates man's strivings to create his own world with a humanistic visionary imagination. Instead of a humanistic vision of the future, a technocratically based vision is being offered, which reduces the world to a scientifically based and technically perfected concentration camp. It is, actually, an artificial world, based on technical devices, a technocratic mind and a technocratic practice. A capitalistically degenerated man would be closed in a world that has become a technical cage without an exit.
The ideologues of Zeitgeist discard one of the most important legacies of the French Enlightenment and classical German philosophy: the idea of the world’s being made reasonable by man as an emancipatory reasonable being. Zeitgeist follows one of the basic intentions of capitalistically degenerated science: to do away with metaphysics, philosophy, man’s poetical being, spirit, evaluative judgement, the erotic, as well as critical and visionary reason. Zeitgeist is a manifestation of a capitalistically degenerated mind. It does not differentiate between intelligence and reason and reduces reason to an instrumentalized ratio free from “evaluative prejudices” and the pursuit of truth. Instead of a dialectic and, on that basis, a visionary reason, a reductionist scientistic reason, with a mechanical nature, is imposed. At the same time, Zeitgeist is based on technocratic mysticism with an instrumental character. This mysticism is not an expression of the mystery of life based on fear of natural elements, it is rather an instrument for mystification of the ruling power, based on curbed natural forces. The basic role of Zeitgeist is to “mediate” between world and man by destroying, through tecnological mysticism, a reasonable relation of man to the world and his critical and visionary consciousness. Mystification of the existing world and destruction of reason are two sides of the Zeitgeist doctrine. The Zeitgeist ideology is one of the manifestations of destructive capitalist irrationalism. It is a precursor to the final death of homo sapiens.
Zeitgeist does not depart from the existing world as a positive but as a negative basis relative to which it develops its idea of the future starting from an idealized technical world. The problem is that the existing world also contains culture, critical consciousness, political movements that strive toward a new world, as well as emancipatory legacies offering a possibility to step out of that world. Zeitgeist primarily attacks the emancipatory heritage of the Enlightenment, the guiding ideas of the French Bourgeois Revolution, as well as the democratic rights and institutions established in the most developed capitalist countries in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Zeitgeist universal methodological principle is the following: to mutilate emancipatory possibilities of progress and use them to combat people's libertarian struggle. The “prediction” of the future becomes its “creation” through the destruction of the emancipatory heritage of mankind which opens the possiblity of stepping out of the technical world. Zeitgeist offers a “future” that is in the sphere of a capitalistically produced time and space with a mechanical nature. The strivings to achieve the unity of technocratic reason and reality are reduced to submitting people to the totalitarian will of the ruling technocratic “elite”. The Zeitgeist gnoseology does not rely on the authority of science, but on the authority of the ruling power, which uses science as an exclusive political tool in combating the emancipatory potentials of civil society. Scientifically based “objectivism” becomes a mask for a political (class) voluntarism expressed in the maxim auctoritas, non veritas facit legem. “Truth” becomes the product of an instrumentalized reason and is deprived of a libertarian, moral and aesthetic dimensions. In this context, sociology is reduced to Comte's “social physics” (physique sociale), and the latter is reduced to politics as a dehumanized ruling technique. Ultimately, Zeitgeist seeks to bring every segment of life under control of the ruling (self)will and to abolish all those spheres that could restrict it.
In Plato’s conception of the state, philosophers, as the most reasonable people, are the rulers. The same idea is maintained in the Christian tradition, French Enlightenment and classical German philosophy. Reasonable people should rule since it is reasonable mind that leads man to the truth. Zeitgeist discards the idea of truth based on evaluative (humanistic) criteria and creates the myth of an “objective” scientific truth deprived of evaluative judgement. Truth is not within man, it is given by a scientific model of the world’s creation and has a technocratic character. Truth is not reached through reasonable thinking based on a confrontation of opinions, it is given by the undisputed positivist scientific mind. All questions and answers are contained in the central computer, which is literally the “brain” of mankind programmed and supplied with information by a self-proclaimed technocratic “elite”. “Social engineers”, who follow “The Leader”, are those who, guided by the “scientific mind”, determine what is important and what people need. It is an overt technocratic voluntarism: the world is ruled by rulers from the shadows, who hide behind computers and who do not bear any responsibility for their projects. Since the work of computers is based on scientific exactness, it can “understand” only that information with a quantitative dimension and not the “information” with an emotional, erotic, moral, philosophical, artistic, spiritual or poetic nature. In order to address the computer, man must first discard his humanity. The Zeitgeist system of education does not seek to create reasonable people, but strives for a technical mind, which means, not those who will pursue truth, but those who will seek to “solve problems” within the existing world that cannot be questioned. It would generate the “most intelligent people”, those capable of manipulating technology and ruling people, and not those with critical minds, who strive to realize new worlds. The Zeitgeist system of education is based on a “scientific truth” and it has no history and therefore no future. Hence its most important task is to prevent the development of the dialectic mind and, thus, man’s libertarian and visionary consciousness. According to Schiller, “education through art is education for art”. The Zeitgeist education is a way of mutilating people as artistic beings and educating them for a world based on technocratic functionality and efficiency.
Despite its discarding of history, Zeitgeist is based on ideas with a historical nature. It is founded in the philosophy of Francis Bacon, the predecessor of modern science and positivism; in the “social physics” of Auguste Compte, the founder of sociology; in the political philosophy of Frédéric le Play; as well as in the maxim of Hippolyte Taine: Taisons-nous, obeissons, vivons dans la science! (“Let us be quiet, let us submit, let us live in science!“), which can be proclaimed the “categorical imperative” of the Zeitgeist movement. If we compare the Zeitgeist doctrine with Bacon’s philosophy, we shall see that their common point is a discarding of spiritual authority as a criterion for the correctness of thinking and acting. According to Bacon, the purpose of science is not the creation of the spiritual, but of material wealth. It is not spirituality, but technique – as the capability for conquering nature in order to exploit it – which is the most authentic expression of man’s power and the basis for the “improvement of mankind”. Instead of pursuing truth and developing reason, it is dominated by the pursuit of knowledge, which enables the development of man’s productivistic (technical) powers in order to conquer nature. It is already in Bacon that we meet the idea of a “world civilisation”, as well as the idea that the use of science can enable man to “use his right to nature”. Bacon’s “New Science” does not only serve to increase man’s knowledge of nature, but to offer him the possibility to conquer it and thus create a better life. Bacon aspires to a “Great Instauration”, where technique is reduced to a modernized magic by which the “nature of things” is used for the development of man’s powers. In his interpretation of Bacon, Mihailo Marković, one of the most important representatives of the Yugoslavian praxis philosophy, points out Bacon’s view of nature: “The road to knowledge is, first of all, the freeing of spirit from all prejudices and fixed prejudgements (Bacon calls them ‘idols’), and then, subservient observation of nature, always with deep respect for what it has to teach us. Nature can be loved only if we listen to it first. (…) Nature should be discovered by inductive observation. Man should become its ‘servant and interpretor’, but only in order eventually to conquer nature for his own purposes. Hence people should stop fighting one another and should unite their efforts against the common enemy – unconquered nature.” In order to understand the true meaning of Bacon’s thought, we should bear in mind when it originated – when man developed his active and materialistic powers, which enabled him to get rid of religious dogmatism and natural determinism. In the modern world, technology is not the expression of the development of man’s powers and a possibility for man’s liberation from natural determinism; it is rather a means for destroying both nature and man. Instead of being libertarian, technology has become an oppressive and destructive power. The Zeitgeist project of the future is based on that. Zeitgeist does not seek to use technology in order to help the development of human powers, but in order to enable the establishment of totalitarian control over people. The Zeitgeist‘s combat with capitalism is, in fact, a combat waged against man as a libertarian being and against nature as a life-creating whole.
In Bacon, science does not have a social-critical and humanistic-visionary dimension. It has only a practical-productivistic dimension. It is not a means for liberating man from a class order and creating a humanistic vision of the future based on the development of relations between human beings, man’s creative being and his cultivation of nature; it is rather reduced to the means for conquering nature in order to satisfy man’s materialistic needs, to which social practice is also submitted. In Novum Organum, Bacon holds that we should get acquainted with the causes of phenomena and occurrences in order adequately to increase man’s power over nature. That principle will become one of the basic political principles of Compte’s “social physics”. Science becomes the means for studying social reality in order to preserve the ruling order in a timely and efficient manner. This is the true meaning of the maxim savoir pour prevoir, prevoir pour agir (“know in order to predict, predict in order to act”), which is the chief directive for scientists, who are reduced to “social engineers” in their relation to society and the future. Turning science from the means of conquering nature into the means for conquering people – this is the essence of Compte’s “social physics” and the supreme political principle of Zeitgeist: the cognitive-productivistic power of man becomes the power of manipulating people – which is concentrated in the hands of the technocratic “elite”. Science and technique, as the means for conquering natural laws, become the means for technocracy to do away with the emancipatory heritage of mankind and human powers and to submit society to the laws of the technical world.
In spite of the fact that it deprives science of the possibility of being a critical theory of society, Bacon sees in science a way of developing man’s powers relative to the ruling (aristocratic) order, whose power is based in a (religious) dogma, which prevents the development of man's creative and productivistic powers. Thus, science based on facts and inductive thinking becomes the means for eliminating prejudices which prevent man from increasing the certanty of his survival and from stepping out of the existing world. Bacon's scientific mind appears as a possibility for reviving man's creative powers, which are capable of overcoming the existing world. Bacon seeks to create a new world corresponding to a “new philosophy”, which he sees as an “Active Science”. Its “true and lawful aim is nothing else but to enrich man's life with new discoveries and powers” (Marković). In this context, Bacon's vision of the future elaborated in his work New Atlantis acquires a new dimension. The imagined island of “Bensalem” (“Land of Peace“), which is Bacon's vision of a future world, is “free from all pollution or foulness” and as such is “the virgin of the world”.
Zeitgeist also departs from the fact that technique can be useful to people and that it can increase the certainty of their survival. However, today it is not just about discarding dogmas and prejudices, but also about doing away with the emancipatory legacy of modern society, as well as a humane future that can be created on its foundation. Zeitgeist seeks to use technique in order completely to submit man to a technical world and a technocratic “elite” who rule that world. In that way, technique becomes a means for the destruction of mankind's emancipatory legacy and emancipatory potential. Zeitgeist deals with the reason stemming from the fact that appealing to reason regularly meant calling man to free himself from everything existing and creating a world suited to the ideals of humanity. In spite of its positivist character, Bacon's science opens the possibility for the development of mankind's emancipatory potentials. By riding the wave of a destructive technical civilization created by capitalism, Zeitgeist's project for the future does not involve only the destruction of mankind's emancipatory potentials, but the destruction of man as a natural being and nature as a life-creating whole as well. This is at the same time the answer to the question of whether the Zeitgeist project for the future helps to prevent the destruction of life on Earth and increase the probability of mankind's survival. Zeitgeist offers a possibility for the survival of nature and mankind by destroying the naturality of nature and the humanity of humans. It follows the basic tendency in the development of capitalism: destroying nature and man by creating a “new world” – technical civilisation and “nature”, as well as “man” suited to that world.
Unlike Bacon, Zeitgeist does not use the inductive method, but departs from a given political conception and in that context selects the facts and gives them meaning, coming to the conclusions that should enable its realization. In addition, Zeitgeist does not use methods that offer the possibility of empirical verification and rational proof, but expresses its stands in the form of peculiar sermons which are meant to penetrate people’s sub-conscious and win them over to its causes “from the depths of their souls”. “The Leader” does not address the public as a scientist, but as a “Messiah”, who must carry out his “holy mission”: to lead society to a technically produced “holy land”. Zeitgeist does not seek to create reasonable people capable of making their own judgments, but sects of loyal followers, who obediently do what they are told to do. Zeitgeist discards yearnings for the truth, dialogue, critique… It does not seek to create a “new mind”, but a new mindlessness, more precisely, a dehumanized and instrumentalized ratio becomes the means for the ruling “elite” to create a mindless world. Zeitgeist does away with man as a self-conscious being and abolishes man’s conscious relation to the world. Since man is fatally subjected to “objective” science, emancipatory consciousness, as does moral consciousness, becomes a burden preventing man from focusing on continued progress. Not the development of a critical and visionary consciousness, but the creation of a blind sectarian consciousness – that is the purpose of the Zeitgeist dogmatism: fanaticism and idiocy are the ultimate results of the Zeitgeist “enligthenment”.
In the Zeitgeist doctrine there is a conflict between progress based on the development of science and striving to establish a technocratically based social order by discarding the emancipatory possibilities of science. Indeed, the development of science means the development of human powers seeking new spaces. It is precisely science which must question the existing state in order to come to new answers, which means that there is no progress without a doubt about the existing state and striving to create (discover) a novum. In addition, the results of the scientific mind do not have limits and they represent the heritage of mankind. The conflict between striving to reduce science to a political means for stopping social development and its emancipatory potentials appears as a conflict between the technical and humanistic minds. Today, man is ever more dramatically facing a capitalistically degenerated science and technique. Instead of becoming the means for liberating man from his dependancy on nature and its cultivation, they have become the means for the destruction of both man and nature. Science does not have an “objective” dimension and cannot by itself be a ruling power. It is only in the context of a humanistic political movement based on mankind’s libertarian and cultural heritage, which means guided by a humanistic vision of the world, that the emancipatory possibilities of science and technique can be realized.
The dominant consciousness in Zeitgeist is an instrumentalized scientific consciousness seeking to eliminate the emancipatory results and potentials of the modern (scientific and philosophical) mind. Zeitgeist follows the original intention of positivist philosophy and seeks to perform a political instrumentalization of the mind. The turning of philosophy into a positivist discipline via science presupposes the turning of science into the technical means for a dehumanized and oppressive politics. The abolishment of philosophy by means of science is possible only when science is cut off from its creative and progressive nature and when it acquires a manipulative (technical-executive) character as an instrument of the ruling class for planning the “future” and making “progress”. Science becomes the means for purifying philosophy of all that offers the possibility of a critical relation to the existing world from the aspect of emancipatory possibilities created in civil society, and from the aspect of an idea of the future which seeks to create a new world. At the same time, Zeitgeist “overcomes” philosophy with science, which has become a technocratic religion, by depriving it of reason and criticism, that is, by depriving it of its essence and thus depriving it of the reason for its existance. “Objective” science represents the end of philosophy.
By abolishing evaluative judgement, Zeitgeist abolishes the difference between politics and technology. More precisely, politics becomes the technique for ruling the “masses”, without a humanistic content and guided by the interests of the ruling class and the logic of technocratic efficiency. It is not the antique skill (techne) of ruling that pressupposes virtue (arete), which means a normative (religious) framework as a criterion for appraising the correct conduct. In Zeitgeist, there is no correct conduct, or more precisely, the only correct conduct is that guided by the principle of technocratic efficiency. Politics as a dehumanized technique for ruling becomes a form in which positivist science is realized. The basic interest of a new class is not the acquisition of material wealth by or for its members, but preservation of the ruling order and thus their undisputed power. The basis for acquiring class (self)consciousness is not egoism, which pursues the aquisition of personal wealth, but the ruling position and the consciousness of superiority arising from it. A hierarchical order with a technocratic character brings about a constant reproduction of the “elites” by those who are “most intelligent” and are, consequently, predestined to be “leaders”. The criterion determining the legitimacy of power is given by the very nature of the ruling order. Those who rule are predestined to rule by being in power. A critique of the ruling “elite” is excluded, since the survival of that order is based on its undisputed “intelligence”. The ruling technocratic mechanism is, in fact, only a manifestation of the quasi-religious establishment of the ruling order, while the “superior intelligence of the elite” is but a mask hiding a fanatical authoritarian consciousness.
In order to control man, Zeitgeist cannot rely on his fear of natural forces. In modern times, science is the “victory” of man over natural forces – the basic source of antique mystery and the deification of nature (life). Zeitgeist seeks to deprive men of that heritage by realizing correctly that freeing man from his submission to nature creates a possibility for his liberation from submission to the alienated centers of social power. Zeitgeist does away with the demystifying power of science in order to (ab)use it and thus mystify the ruling spirit of the new order. Science becomes the means for producing a modern technocratic mystery, among other things, in the form of the Venus Project, which would deify the ruling principles of technical civilization and inspire man to be in awe of them. Instead of the antique unity of life and mystery, there is a political manipulation by the technocratic “elite” which tries, by means of science, to cast a veil of “mystery” over the primite (еarthly) power and penetrate people’s consciousness. The Zeitgeist ideology becomes the means for mystifying the world in which man’s creative powers conquered the mystical “superhuman powers”. To prevent man from changing by developing his productive forces and his creative powers, social relations and his submissive position in society, namely, from acquiring self-consciousness as the creator of social goods and the capability of managing social processes – this is one of the most important goals of Zeitgeist. That is why its ideologues so fervently seek to cut the emancipatory (historical) roots of mankind and do away with the self-consciousness of man as a universal creative being of freedom. Zeitgeist devalues the productivistic activism of the working “masses” and turns the result into a means for establishing a new totalitarian power. It is one of the political movements that seek to turn man’s alienated creative power into the instrument for his submission. The “victory” of workers over nature becomes the victory of technocracy over the “working masses”. Man’s liberating powers and his creative practice become an anti-libertarian power: man becomes the victim of the development of his own productivistc (creative) powers. In the Hellenic world, man was the “toy of the gods” (Plato); in the world of Zeitgeist, he becomes the toy of technocracy.
The totalitarian character of the Zeitgeist future society is based on the survival of community being conditioned by efficient functioning of the technical system which, by way of a central computer serving as a “brain”, controls everything. A disturbance in the work of any segment questions the functioning of the entire system. The totalitarian character of the managing system is conditioned by the totalitarian character of the technical mechanism which ensures the functioning and survival of society. This makes “intelligence”, itself, the supreme skill of managing technique, an alienated and controlling power. The ruling “elite” does not have a humane status, but rather is the bearer of the “intelligence” which manages the mechanism providing the survival of society and as such has status similar to that of the priestly caste in ancient civilizations. Since everything is manufactured (including food) and has an artificial character, a perfectly functioning system is of a superior existential significance for the community. Human relations and man’s consciousness are conditioned by the totalitarian character of the devaluation of existence and the managing system based on it. Critical thinking does not only question the authoritarian structure of power, but also the functioning of the mechanism which ensures the survival of society. Free thinking and expression have an anti-existential character.