Thus Spake Phil and an Evil Log

A slow night at the martial arts club last night — lots of no-shows.  So  Charles and I decided to shoot a video of us playing with our log.  If you don’t have a big log or a partner to work out with, I suggest you borrow an un-split section of cord-wood from a friend or neighbor’s wood pile and enjoy a solo log workout.  I’m not even going to try to sanitize what I just said for you dirty-minded folks.  It’s fitness people.  Focus!

Anyway, here’s the workout.  And after that, a little mind expansion, courtesy of my online pal Phil.

Thus Spake Phil†

The other day Phil Stanfield and I had a pleasant exchange that really set my wheels turning.  Spark to tinder and poof.  The thing Phil said that I found mind-expanding was,

“Just as feudalism passed and capitalism rose from it, so will socialism rise from capitalism. Not to please me or provoke those who reject it but because, as the mystic Hegel argued and which Marx absorbed into materialism, contingency is the appearance of necessity and the only (theoretical) absolute is change.”

My internal satellites hooked up to the soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the bleeps and bloops of NASA telemetry.  Associations were made, leaps and connections were established.

There was trouble when trade guilds began to erode the power of feudalistic lords, trouble when revolutionaries set about dismantling monarchies, and so forth.  The old guard wants to hang on to the old ways.  In the face of change they circle the wagons, enforce the borders, crack down, shore up, hold tighter.  But it never works.  The old guard may have some small wins, but over all, the tide is in favor of progressives.

We no longer argue about whether or not we should go back to being ruled by priest-kings and pharaohs.  There is no Emperor Party.  We’ve moved on.  And so I suspect Phil may be on to something — that at some point in the future we’ll think it absurd to consider going back to unchecked capitalism.

As William Irwin Thompson pointed out in his amazing book The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light* much of the conflict we are experiencing the world today has to do with the fact that humans are increasingly aligning themselves in what Thompson calls “noetic polities” instead of in geographically contiguous city-states.  Thanks to advances in travel and communications, the internet, and social media, we can no longer assume that our neighbors hold identical economic, religious, political, and social views (if we ever could).

Governments trying to enforce homogeneity on non-homogeneous groups of people are doomed to fail.  How can we expect everyone in my locality — much less my state or country — to adhere to the same restrictive laws, respect the same rights and freedoms, desire the same socioeconomic safety net, and so on?  We really can’t.

Our future holds some interesting developments.

I expect governments will adapt to this new environment and begin to reflect changing attitudes.  At the same time, those people unwilling to accept a more free, social and accepting world will likely drive more frequent acts of terror — but I expect them to be smaller and less lethal as we go forward.  The world has been getting less and less violent over time, and I don’t expect that to stop (if you don’t believe me, read this).   The social media revolution, and the ever-increasing degree of transparency of our personal lives, I believe will result in the inability of large groups to pull off anything really horrendous. The good news is that the same innovations will make it increasingly difficult for governments to pull the wool over our eyes.

In time people will realize that it’s no skin off their nose when someone else wants to smoke pot, marry someone of the same sex, have an abortion, engage in free sex, have six wives, walk around wearing a burqa, or what-have-you.  They will also realize that we’re all breathing the same air and baking in the same increasingly hot climate.  We’re all going to have to accept population caps and restrictions on growth.

The genie isn’t going back in the bottle.  Dinosaurs, czars, and mass slavery aren’t returning to the earth, and we aren’t going back to living as serfs in the thrall of knights and lords.  Evolution has been winning for the last couple of billion years or so, and I don’t see the tide reversing.  That’s why it’s called evolution.


† This is of course a reference to Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche and to the musical opus Thus Spake Zarathustra by Strauss.  The latter, which is inspired by the former, is on the soundtrack of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey referenced elsewhere in this article.

* Why more people haven’t read this book is a complete mystery to me.  Written in 1981, it is an amazingly prescient work that seems more relevant today than the day it was published.   Some books don’t age well.  This one’s a fine wine.


2 responses to “Thus Spake Phil and an Evil Log

  1. Hi Robert, great workout and thank you very much for the mention. I enjoyed and valued reading your – as always – thoughtful, energetic and positive post. What came across strongly is your comfort with difference and eagerness for change.
    Best wishes, Phil

    • Robert Mitchell

      Thanks Phil! Exchanging thoughts, ideas, information, and fellowship with folks like you is what the web is all about. Best wishes!

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