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Farewell to Modernism

On Human Devolution in the Twenty-First Century

by Rajani Kanth (Author)
Monographs XXXII, 308 Pages
Series: American University Studies, Volume 225

Summary

Farewell to Modernism: On Human Devolution in the Twenty-First Century is an original, pathbreaking, revolutionary, and totalizing critique of received Modernist ideas, including Modernist Utopianism. In that vein, it unseats virtually every dearly held myth of EuroModernist discourse. It offers a new episteme based on our true ontic nature – our anthropic species-being – as an offset and correction to all brands of EuroModernist idylls, be they of Left or Right, that have repeatedly brought the world to the brink of annihilation. In sum, this book argues that neither philosophy nor social science are tenable without a true, realist anthropology of the human species that sets limits to both political idealism and social engineering.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface: Change
  • Foreword by Dr. Amit Goswami
  • Introduction: Challenging Eurocentrism: 45 Theses
  • Part I In Crisis
  • 1 Today
  • 2 The Root Cause
  • 3 Crisis, Disaster, Catastrophe: Up the Down Escalator
  • 4 Anatomy of a Crisis
  • Part II The Economy
  • 5 Where We Are
  • 6 More Endgames
  • 7 Free Markets
  • 8 Les Folies Tragiques: The Droll Schoolgirl’s Guide to the World as It Is Today
  • 9 The Bail-In
  • 10 On Economics
  • 11 On Capitalism (and Latter-day Debacles)
  • 12 On Singaporeanisation: Or, Some Bitter Fruits of Globalization
  • Part III The State of Being
  • 13 Anthropic Dualism: A Tale of Two (Sub)-Species—A Comment on ‘La Condition Humaine’
  • 14 Querying the Cosmos
  • 15 The (Sub)Human Condition
  • 16 Nostalgia, for the Future
  • 17 A God That Failed?
  • 18 The Knowledge Game
  • 19 Toward Non-Centrism
  • 20 The Bell of Atri
  • Part IV Decline
  • 21 Rites of Passage
  • 22 The Last Train
  • 23 A World on the Wane: The Wherefore and the Why
  • 24 Endgame?
  • 25 The Eclipse
  • Part V Modernism
  • 26 On Civilization
  • 27 On Philosophy
  • 28 Beyond Late Modernism
  • 29 A Farewell
  • 30 Rethinking ‘Democracy’
  • 31 East and West
  • 32 And There Was Blight: Summary Notes on the European Saga
  • 33 By Ideals Alone?
  • 34 A Summing Up
  • Part VI Futures
  • 35 The Future?
  • 36 The Final Hour
  • 37 Everything, Reconsidered
  • 38 The Cosmos
  • 39 The Day After
  • Part VII Eurocentrism
  • 40 Eurocentrism 101: A Primer
  • 41 Toward Dissolution
  • 42 Eurocentrism and EuroModernism
  • 43 Racism: A Personal Discursus
  • 44 Explaining a Critique: (Euro)Modernism: Delusions, Debacles, and Defaults
  • 45 Ancient Vedic Wisdom: Key Concepts
  • Postface: Beyond Eurocentrism: The Next Frontier
  • Bibliography
  • Index

← x | xi →

 

Acknowledgments

This Work is unlike any other that I have scribed across a long innings: it sums up, at times (of necessity) repetitively, all the recalcitrant ideas I have come up with, across decades of solitary, but due, contemplation of the verities.

I think I do offer, as such, within a transcendent critique, a new vista, a new way of conceiving the ‘human dilemma’: maybe even a new ‘paradigm,’ and cosmology. It is up to Others, of course: readers, critics, et al., to confirm/reject this claim.

On the intellectual front, I wish to thank the eminent Dr. Amit Goswami, Quantum Physicist extraordinaire and celebrity, whose work helped me understand, early on, as much as a lay person can, some of the nuances of the natural, extra-social world—without which many chapters in this book could not have been conceived, or written.

I also owe thanks to Professor Immanuel Wallerstein, of Yale Sociology—whose ‘Modern World System’ I had considered to be the best commentary on the subject, in my student days—who very graciously supplied a blurb for the Book, at very short notice, despite his own preoccupations.

I must also acknowledge, in all gratefulness, Harvard Professors Steve Caton and Gary Urton (the Chair of the Dept.), and the Dept. of Anthropology at Harvard, for their steady support of my scholarly endeavors over the past two years. ← xi | xii →

I also acknowledge the Dept. of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, India—circa 1968–1970, under the Chairship of the eminent (late) Professor M.N. Srinivas—which gave me the only formal education I have ever chosen to take seriously, and benefited from, anywhere.

In this vein, thanks are due to Ms. Michelle Salyga, Acquisitions Editor at Peter Lang, who saw merit in the Work, sooner than others, and also the various PL Editorial advisers led by Ms. Jackie Pavlovic who helped bring the book to publication.

Finally, a heavy debt of gratitude is owed to the ever gracious Dr. Fadhel Kaboub, Associate Professor of Economics, Denison University, and President, Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity (assisted by his student, Logan Smith), without whose kind, patient, logistical support (and personally executed, with excessive toils) I could simply not have gotten the book ready, in timely fashion, for Press, in the format I had wished for it.

We live, unmistakably, in an Age of Quantity, solely owing to EuroModernist inspiration: and I am trying to bring back, in all my work(s), a Calculus of Quality that can help offset that portentous infelicity.

The Critique I offer is a moral, hence, a transcendental one: and, as such, evades the usual run of intra-Modernist ideological struggles (i.e., Left-Right, Capitalist-Socialist, etc.). It is my sincere belief that these ideational binaries are all a thing of the past, as their parent stem European Modernism—or Late Modernism in my patois—dissolves right before us: in these times.

The world is ready now, I think, in the twenty-first century, for such an overarching, and liberating, transcendence.

The Wheel has turned: and there is a new dawning of consciousness, globally, that will sweep away all the varied confusions—errors and omissions—of Euromodernism, in both epistemics and ontology.

The hour is fit, in the portentous year of 2016, to recover, and restore, genuine anthropic values—contra the received legacy of Modernist snares.

The Time has come: and Change is, finally, here.

For myself, it is not quite soon enough.

← xii | xiii →

 

Preface

Change

Change is here. And a lot more than mere regime change. It is far from overt, and defies easy scanning. But it may be as close as just a couple of years, maybe less. In an inevitable, and inexorable, way, a four-century old system of European domination is starting to unravel.

The odd thing is that, like some antic Greek tragedy, it appears to be virtually ‘fated,’ though it is anything but: willful decisions taken at the highest levels have engineered this unfolding devolution. It is said that whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad: it pays to examine this genre of ‘madness,’ in particular to discover its underlying method.

One can rule out hubris, despite its very crude and obvious face on at least the Leader of the Band. Rather, it is the wayward trajectory of the inherent expansionism built into the calculations of present, and prior, leaders.

Empire was to the UK what it is to its eminent successor North Atlantic progeny today. At its root, empire is simply a means of getting something for nothing. In short, it is parasitism—writ large.

For centuries, Britain, via its colonial extractions, was able to live wildly beyond its modest domestic resources. The US practiced this ‘internally’ at first, checked by the very existence of the ‘Mother Country,’ to engage in external adventurism.

Native Americans, and African Slaves, gave it a very similar booty, that enabled it to ‘leap frog’ stages. But such means of ‘primal extractions’ run dry over ← xiii | xiv → a course of time, and need to be supplanted. So, in due course, America ‘stepped out’ and ‘trooped its color,’ globally.

After WWII, the Old and the New hegemon, settled on a New Strategy. In essence, the primary means of this ‘rent-seeking’ control was to be financial.

A ridiculously over-valued pound, together with a global gold-price-cum-interest rate-fixing capability, assured the UK of staying in the game—with the City of London set as a permanent financial hub.

The same status was achieved for the US, via the dollar being denominated as a global ‘reserve’ currency: so it could buy real world assets for scraps of rather unwholesome looking greenbacks. Thus did the old, and the new, hegemon dictate to the largely prostrate world, after WWII.

However, the prostration was not to be permanent: and Others rose, albeit slowly, to economic and political leverage. Germany, Japan, South Korea, first: China, Russia, and India much later, started to gain a small measure of countervailing eco-political resolve.

Now, none of this could have seriously disturbed the Anglo-American ‘ancien regime,’ except for one catastrophic Himalayan default: the Reagan-Thatcher Neo-Lib ‘revolution’ removed the very possibility of rational regulation (even on behalf of the rulers) from Empire.

Henceforth, it would essay blindly, in finance and other fields, pursuing essentially scorched-earth economic policies in all domains. Elementary caution was thrown to the winds, and the system turned into a wild orgy of Casino Capitalism: from the Eighties on, it was—as it is today—catch-as-catch-can.

From then on, workers, the middling classes (!), the poor, the underprivileged, were All consigned to the dustbin: the world belonged, exclusively, to the ‘elect.’ ‘Look Ma,’ they screamed, as these elites roller-coasted, ‘No Rules.’ Such were the likes of both policy makers, and the freshly empowered fly-by-night Pirate-Captains of ruthless Entrepreneurship.

Of course, academic economists, as the designated sycophants/soothsayers of the new regime (their heyday was the Eighties and Nineties: today, they are not ‘needed’ at all and serve absolutely no function, even that of being lackeys) concocted ad hoc ‘theory’ to suit their paymasters. Government lost even a semblance of public responsibility, and ideas like ‘nation,’ ‘society,’ and ‘public welfare,’ ceased to exist, let alone matter.

The US collapsed as a moral force, as a template of even mundane success: it scrapes the very bottom of the barrel now, in every significant societal index one can ← xiv | xv → think of—reviewed globally. If there existed a ‘third world,’ it might lay strong claim to be its leader, by right. So, it was more a case of ‘Look ma, No brains.’

Me first, and the devil take the hindmost—neither a novel, nor a complicated formula—became the Mantra du Jour. And then, predictable events happened: to call them ‘crises’ is a bit gratuitous since they were exactly the sorts of situations that the New Overseers expected, and oft engineered.

The Era of Taxpayer Capitalism, and Free Marketeers had begun. They could derail the locomotive (accent on the ‘loco’), again and again, in a frenzy of reckless profiteering, only to have it all covered, paid for, by their stooges in Govt. It promised to be a permanent joy ride.

However, the Neo-libs had not fully anticipated another, darker, brooding force that now showed its menacingly poisonous fangs. After the (enforced) capitulation of the Soviet Union—arguably amongst the most egregiously irresponsible acts of state policy in modern history—the Neo-Cons took over much of the conduct of politics. The entire world had to be made safe, now, for the new Anglo-Am Empire.

So, added to the toxic whirlwind of financial derivatives that swept the globe, were the rippling shock waves of the on-going depredations of militarism: regime changes, coups, civil wars, false flag events, and such.

It is this strong, but immature, force that becomes the last straw; and delivers, unwittingly, the coup de grace. Neo-Lib economics and Neo-Con politics, left to one or the other, might have naturally expired when out of stream—without earth-shaking consequences. But, in combination, they are become the engulfing tsunami that bring All Issues to an ineluctable head.

Under the latter’s auspices, West Asia and Afghanistan, now Ukraine, Russia, and even China, are all sought to be brought under Western ‘containment.’ Yet, paradoxically, all this is being sought by a largely bankrupt, fragmenting, crumbling, system running mainly on gambles, printing presses, credit creation, borrowed funds—and explosives. It is an incendiary combination. Would-be empires, one would think, need to be made of sterner stuff. So: is this to be seen as tragedy, or farce? Either way, the Game is on, in deadly earnest.

The EU, for now, is performing its allotted task of being a dutiful wagtail: but for how long? There, too, the chasm between Govt. and the people is widening (Greece is only the thin end of the wedge). Apparently, you can’t fool everyone, all the time.

On the autre hand, the BRICS, and Others—by no means a weightless grouping—are being forced, defensively, to form their own, protective enclaves. So, the global Stage is well set. ← xv | xvi →

Of course Darth Vader, Inc., can press the big button: and end it for All—including their own ilk. But, somehow, that doesn’t seem to quite stack up. There is a natural shrewdness to the human species that may intervene, in the last instance!, to pre-empt that final act of reckless hubris. If so, the Path is clear.

We will wake, after some necessary jitters, to a New World of Ex-Hegemons—and ordinary nations, engaged yet again in the ordinary business of life, as they had been, for centuries: until the onset of the Great European Interruption that, in hindsight, gives even the (so-called) ‘Dark Ages’ a bad name.

A multi-polar world: fancy that! little wonder that Europe/America, with centuries of skimming off the surplus of the globe, cannot accommodate itself to the idea. But they will need to.

Will Capitalism survive? Of course, but of a very different species: a capitalism, itself only one layer of a ‘mixed’ platter of concurrent modes of production, held to responsibility by its various stakeholders.

There may also be no need for a ‘reserve’ currency (which is merely a requisite of empire), just an accounting one. Indeed, ‘world orders,’ with all their top-heavy paraphernalia of multilateral agency, will be a thing of the past. And thus the most pernicious ‘caste system’ of human history will dissolve.

The prospect is far from uninviting. Of course, it is far, very far, from Lennon’s millenarian hopes expressed in the lyrics of ‘Imagine.’ It will be a humdrum world of lowered expectations, but with better distribution of resources, a far higher priority than the heedless, enforced ‘growth’ of the last century (that has threatened to shut down processes of nature vital to our survival, aside from exacting blood from the new serf/slaves of the ‘globalized’ world). But humdrum, in an anthropic world, is about as close as we can ever hope to get to an earthly ‘paradise,’ given the proclivities of the ‘paradigm of masculinity’ I often refer to in my writings.

So, alas, the First, individual, ‘self-made,’ Trillionaire (other than the Ye Olde banking oligarchies, such as the Rothschilds, that have been within that charmed circle for a while) may never come to pass. The Few will still, unfortunately, do better than the many: one of those implacable historical facts of life—but not at all on the preposterous scale that is extant now.

True, other than the BRICS, right now, not too many are involved, at least overtly, in such a hopeful narrative. But that will change. For once, the old, hackneyed saw of ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’ will be patently wrong.

It’s almost enough to make one an optimist, despite the stupefying mayhem of our times.

← xvi | xvii →

 

Foreword

The book you are holding in your hand Farewell to Modernism is a very important book. I will emphasize in this foreword only one of the reasons that I think is the most compelling. I am sure as you read it you will discover many other reasons to consider it important. You know there is a new physics (new? Ha! It has been around for almost a hundred years!) called quantum physics that is supposed to have replaced Newtonian physics. You may also know that the message of this new physics is integrative—among other things it integrates science and spirituality which is the basis of religions. But have you wondered why this message is having difficulties in getting traction? I have; I am one of a substantial number of maverick scientists who keep trying to effect a paradigm shift in our entire worldview due to the paradigm shift in physics.

In view of the polarization we see today between science and religion, an integrated worldview would make sense, wouldn’t it? Perhaps the idea of integration is all theory, no back up by experimental data? No, that is not the case. Quantum physics says unambiguously that there are two domains of reality: the first is a domain of potentiality where all objects are instantly interconnected waves of possibility; this instant interconnection is called nonlocality—signal-less communication; the second domain is our familiar space and time; it is the domain of actuality where there indeed are independent separate objects only able to ← xvii | xviii → communicate through signals going locally through space taking time unless they are “entangled when the nonlocal communication channel opens up. And this nonlocal instant interconnection has been verified by myriad experimental data both for the micro and for the macrocosm.

Why is this so important? What does oneness remind you of? It is the ancient mystical/religious message, no? Underneath our separateness, we are interconnected One. Some of you are enthralled by the message; it seems to agree what you intuit anyway. Sociological data says that maybe even as much as 20% of Westerners are like you. But the rest of Western society, the 80%, and importantly, among this 80% are most of the professionals especially scientists, either neglect the message or actively resist it. Oneness is an Eastern thing, it is Eastern mysticism, they say for one thing. Perhaps the data at the macrolevel is not as convincing as it should be for another! I have addressed this last concern in all my books and it is not based on facts. But let’s take up this East-West thing.

A young philosopher (sociologist) named Rajani Kanth was appointed assistant professor at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi at age 21. He was of course thrilled; but the challenge was to find a research program to keep himself busy and make his mark. The problem that fascinated him was the supposed rift between Eastern and Western modus of thinking and living immortalized (?) by those famous lines of British poet Kipling: East is East and West is West/And the twain shall never meet. Is there such rift and what exactly is the basis of the rift? young Rajani asked himself.

The answers he found are revealing. Socioculturally, Easterners are community oriented; they live in a joint family, they are expressive of how they feel, family is more important to them than external achievements, etc., etc. Kanth calls this mentality huddle mentality, heat-seeking, mammal-like. Westerners on the other hand (especially more recently) take pride in their individuality, in being independent separate objects “free” to accomplish anything. This is reflected in the economics of capitalism which the West discovered and now is almost exclusively followed by everyone. In capitalism, if both producers and consumers alike follow their individual selfish interest then the invisible hands of the free market is assumed to keep the economy going.

How do Westerners today do that, keep themselves to individuality whereas human beings throughout history—East or West—seem to live in social communities? Kanth wondered. The answer is, today they suppress emotions and follow the cold dictate of reason. They are cold-blooded, like reptiles. (If you are a woman reader, you will object. Women are ‘cuddly’ everywhere. Kanth is aware ← xviii | xix → of that but he reminds you of the fact that the Western society has been very male dominated until very recently.)

And then the important question. How did it get this way? The answer of this book is of course the worldview of modernism, but what do you think modernism is? Common sense simply dictates this: be modern, follow science’s two prong approach of theory and experimental verification whenever applicable in preference to the old tradition—religion which is based on revelation, theory and faith. But this is the catch. This simple dictate does not define how modernism was actually practiced by Europeans who brought this worldview to the world.

Details

Pages
XXXII, 308
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433136764
ISBN (PDF)
9781453918999
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433136771
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433134555
Language
English
Publication date
2016 (December)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XXXII, 308 pp.

Biographical notes

Rajani Kanth (Author)

Professor Rajani Kanth is an economist, a philosopher, and a social thinker. His major research interests lie in the fields of political economy, social theory and policy, and women’s issues. Over the course of three-plus decades, he has taught in the areas of anthropology, sociology, political science, history, economics, and philosophy. Currently based at Harvard University, he has served as an advisor to the United Nations in New York and on the faculties of prestigious universities around the world. His most recent book is The Post-Human Society (2015).

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