I’ve changed my tune on Ukraine. What made the difference? We live in an us-or-them world in which people are eventually forced to take sides. This is not only true of Ukraine. Even if Ukraine is never anything more than a waiting game there will always be places in the world where conflict is possible and where political leaders feel they must protect their interests. Unfortunately, the last four posts illustrate how this can derail the conversation. The us-or-them world won’t change unless we change it, and if we want to change it we have to continue the conversation.
How does change happen? I’ve begun to think that on a certain level it’s simply a choice. However, before we can choose, the choices must be discovered and described. One of the most basic choices would be peace and prosperity—peace is a choice, not a happy accident. The basis of peace and prosperity is justice. What does justice look like? That remains to be discovered, but we could start by describing what injustice looks like.
Reformers always base their ideas on historical models. The model for our age was constructed from the writings of Plato and Aristotle. Plato’s and Aristotle’s ideas have even influenced the world’s main religions. The first step in investigating our choices would be to question these ideas and the structure of inequality they have created. I’ve argued that the creation of this structure was no mistake; it was deliberate. Yet every reformer accepts it as a basis for society.
That discussion could go on for years, but I’m trying to stay with the idea of choice. As an example I’ll use my theory that inequality begins with the subjugation of women. Even though oppression is personal to the oppressed, on a policy level it is impersonal and utilitarian. The oppression of women is the foundation of a particular social and political organization. This may not be very encouraging, but it could also indicate that the oppression of women is not an unchanging, inescapable fact of human existence. It’s part of a specific cultural construct.
In my opinion it would be a mistake to assume from this that women must change the system single-handedly. I don’t think that’s how it works. While there are plenty of women today who speak out against patriarchy, I suspect that women as a group are no threat to the status quo. What does this say about our culture, or about women…or about change? There have been woman-centered communities in the past. Is human nature different today? How about the female gender? Maybe the world suffers from a lack of female role models and archetypes and we just need a female priesthood and a system of goddess worship. Again, I don’t think so.
My model is Minoa. Some will object to this on grounds that we don’t have enough information about the way the Minoans lived. However we do have archaeological evidence that they prospered for at least 3,000 years, and their city was never fortified. The adjective normally used to describe Minoan civilization is ‘confident’. By the way, those arguing for a return to goddess worship also admit that they know nothing about it. Yet the same people—the ones I’m familiar with are university professors—accept the idea of human sacrifice.
Others might object to my using Minoa as a model because I reject goddess worship. Maybe they remember reading somewhere that Minoa did indeed have goddess worship. This requires more discussion as well, but apparently this belief is due to Jane Ellen Harrison’s influence on the interpretation of Minoan artifacts. I intend to discuss this later also, but I’ll say that although Harrison claimed to be revealing ancient Greek religion, her books are categorized today as Hermetic philosophy. Harrison was a colleague of Charles Darwin. And it is no dark conspiracy that our science is hermetic. It’s descended from the Rosicrucians by way of the Royal Society.
As long as I seem to be making an outline of the conversation, I’ll also mention that Protestant Christianity is heavily influenced by Hermeticism. I once thought that if you found a system with elements of magic and the occult, it must be a pre-Christian, or non-Christian system. That’s not true. Protestantism is indebted to mystical and occult beliefs. In fact, elements of the occult can be found in all religions. The same goes for our form of democracy. For this reason, I would argue that Christianity can’t be excluded from the conversation. In fact, it seems it would be impossible to carry on an American conversation about the past, the present, or the future, without acknowledging the influence of the church.
But I’ve gone off the track again. I wanted to talk about choice. I’ve said that I don’t think justice is imposed single-handedly on a society by oppressed people, or by anyone else for that matter. I think it’s a choice made at a cultural level. It’s possible that theology would have a place in this process, but I’m afraid our theology has become inseperable from utilitarian elements.
In support of the idea that people must choose justice, here is an interesting fact about Minoa. The Minoans were aware that their way of life was coming to an end and they didn’t resist. Maybe they understood that if some members of a society choose to take advantage of others just because they are able to do so, the good times are over and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.