I put on my cultural imperialist, racist and reactionary progressive hat, in order to talk about why nobody can seem to resist our toxic way of life.

  In so doing we touch on memetics, guns, germs and steel, the myth of the noble primitive, and how the monoculture is exterminating a whole new round of vulnerable people, and why it might be a good thing.

 podcast page here


It’s a good thing I don’t do this to make friends…


7 thoughts on “The Mosaic Effect:season 2,episode 4: choose your poison

  1. How do you think that this idea of a progressively expanding monoculture and it’s materialist values relates to the idea of a degeneration of society? That is, a degeneration in (what I understand to be) the traditionalist sense, that we’re moving away from the transmitted values, handed down from generation to generation, and seemingly, moving away from a transcendentally grounded set of values? So, you might say, that in a sense, we’re moving away from Steiner’s Christ down towards Ahriman–towards as you’ve said in your Augoedies , a value-set grounded in the 5 senses, rather than anything else.

    I suppose to look at it one way, you could say that the real predominant factor recently has been the electric speed of current media, combined (certainly in the west) with a shift in a Hegelian dialectic, from the thesis of Abrahamic religions to the anti-thesis of materialism. Bringing it back to what you were saying, it seems to be the case that as culture becomes more and more boiled down, it starts to tend more towards the lowest common denominator, as I suppose, the scales we have with the structures we have can’t really seem to handle anything more ornate or complex.

    With apologies for rambling in someone else’s garden, I’d welcome your thoughts on this.

  2. well, I think its clear that a lot of what is called tradition is rooted in a particular time and place, and when you start to have the speed changes and context changes of modernity, you’re bound to lose that. but the esoteric transcendental core of the ‘transmission’ just has to change form. I doubt that we, as a whole, are less grounded than we’ve ever been. we’re just grounded in a whole mess of different ways, all right up next to each other, in physical and media space.

    this is part of the point of this podcast, is that ‘traditional’ peoples are not neccisarily more spiritual, or more transcendental, per se, they just have the benefit of a tighter knit, more conformist group, which reinforces a consistant set of values, which obviously has it’s benefits, but was always going to be fragile, when imposed from outside. people who define their own values and generate their expression autonomously, have always been rare. it’s just getting to be that more and more, if you don’t do that, then there isn’t anything else. all the formerly stable structures are breaking down.

  3. This reminds me something Ken Wilber wrote about Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, where he discusses his feelings about the end of the movie, when the Europeans arrive just in time to save the hero from being sacrificed. Wilber makes the point that, even with the knowledge of what Cortez and his people were going to do, he still felt a sense of relief at the coming of a more developed culture into this tribal, sacrificial-based culture.

    Leaving aside Wilder’s celebrity obsession, as well as the whole-sale slaughter that this more devloped group brought upon the natives, I think the point here is similar to what you’re saying. The monoculture has absorbed many other cultures, and this makes it stronger than any smaller culture, no matter how much more unique or spiritual the smaller culture might be. The monoculture is bigger, it knows more (has stronger memes), and contains more possibilities than any of the smaller, less connected cultures. This is the draw of the monoculture, why almost everyone seems happy to adopt it over older, more traditional beliefs. It is, for all it’s failings, simply the better option.

    And perhaps the shallowness of our monoculture is something that can be compared to salt rocks thrown into a pond, with spirituality being salt and water being the culture/knowledge. People in a smaller pond quickly saturate the water, coming to a higher concentration of interconnectedness simply because there are less connections available to be made. But when you have a vast monoculture, filled with people who are, on average, just as spiritual than they were before they were “dropped into” the culture, you end up with a much less saturated solution, just because of the larger potential available.

    If I see any way out of this, it is to stop letting spirituality be something that happens to us, and to start making it something we consciously create…

  4. Yeah, I just started checking out ran’s site again recently. I’m pleased and fascinated to see the development of his thought over time. it has become quite rich, and nuanced. I’m glad to see he’s rejected the shrill genocidal primitivists.

  5. Your podcast hit the proverbial nail on the head in regards to the West’s obsession with other people’s higher capacity for spirituality. See the rise of “spiritual tourism”, especially in South America. In a sense it is the attraction to something many of us lack or perhaps only perceive we lack. If you forgive me using the term, it is the good old romanticized idea of the “noble savage”. But you’re right, give an indigenous person the chance to accumulate “stuff” or simply have a higher standard of living and most won’t turn it down. If it ensures well-being for your family, why wouldn’t you?

    So here’s an incredibly self-aggrandizing concept: What if one (and by “one” I mean “I”) argued that the Western society we live in, with all its accouterments may be acting as a sort of inoculation. Sure, a whole bunch of people are going to get caught up in the game or fall ill to the weakened virus if you will. But some will see through the charade, usually after being briefly involved in it, and will continue to seek meaning or fulfillment elsewhere. In sum, is it not better to realize the limitation of material world through experience then to not have experienced it at all?

    To argue against myself: There are many traditions (Chan and Zen come to mind) that realized the limitations of the purely material world, without any interaction with the “monoculture”. These ideas can be found in most forms of spirituality and religion around the globe. Perhaps the encounter with the monoculture is an extreme wake-up call.

  6. I think historically, that’s been pretty much the pattern. you only build up a tolerance through exposure. haven’t been too many instances of enlightened restraint in human history, yo.

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