Now, more than ever, the phrase “I’m just trying to survive this” is being used all around the world, whatever your situation is. Maybe the past can help enlighten us, because to no one’s surprise, this isn’t the first time these things unfold. Which begs the question: Do we live most of our life in survival mode?
How do you even start living when the world we live in is absurd?
In previous episodes, guests shared how they willingly won the battle for their life, against mental and physical killers
It might be a stretch but it’s difficult to deny how even on a microscopic level, their stories of resilience and quite frankly stubbornness, invite you to question how, whatever we’re going through, it feels like more than ever, we’re on survival mode…
Never mind living, how do we even survive in a world that is is absurd?
Listen to the podcast episode on It’s Miles Again.
The State of Nature and The Social Contract Theory
During the Enlightenment, philosophers were contemplated on modern society. Thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Lock and Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought about the relationship between humans and our world -our society.
They claimed that primitive societies lived in a State of Nature: a living condition without morality, law, or any government, except for one authority that governs human behavior: the one where one’s survival is indebted to a “stronger” person’s. In it’s most pure form, the relationship between a mother and her child. In this situation, they claimed that because each person fends pretty much for themselves, people act based on selfish necessities.
The debate whether men are inherently good or evil was already on the table: they all agreed that Man with a capital M, are born equal, but Hobbes believed that humans were pre-disposed to selfish self-preservation behavior, while Locke believed that humans were reasonable and tolerant.
They all believed that at any given point, one person will always break the Law of Nature by pursuing his interest at the expense of the next person’s. Rousseau said that with this constant threat to our survival, we live this paradox of competition with others, while being dependent on them at the same time. Every person was a threat to each other’s individual’s survival and freedom.
Hobbes stated because we had selfish tendencies without clear superiority we were naturally in a state of conflict. This was what he called “a war for all, against all”.
In other words, an eye for a fucking eye. It’s kind of like the law of the jungle, but add the intricacies of human psyche, behavior and intelligence. High School, teenage hormones, but on a greater scale.
According to these philosophers, who by the way were fundamental to Europe’s political philosophy and ultimately, America’s independence, as self-proclaimed superior intellectual beings, humans were therefore forced to create a society wherein arrangements would be made to ensure that humans were to live free and as equals.
The first ever encyclopaedia written by Diderot opens with:
“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they.”
Some meta shit, no one seems to understand well enough to act on today.
Society was therefore bound by The Social Contract, a theory that presupposes that humans come together to create a civil society and abandon their individual claims for the possibility of co-existing within a system that is meant to ensure individual freedom.
In simpler terms, we collectively gave up our selfish agendas at the favor of the general will of the people. Because we are the people (one unit), we will, as one unit, defend these rights, freedoms, obligations we put in place.
What came first, an absurd world or an anomic society?
Now fast forward to a few centuries later. Hello new millennia. We’re still not flying cars. In fact, we’re barely flying at all because 2020 happened.
Durkheim theorized this concept called Anomie: a societal condition defined by the breakdown of moral values, standards, or guidance for people to follow.
It happens when society goes through significant changes that highlight discrepancies between ideological theories and values agreed on by the people and the actual plight of every day living.
So obviously 2020 isn’t the first time this happened. This happened and continues to happen a lot more often then we think, the fancy term just isn’t in our everyday vocabulary
Anomie leads to people feeling alienated and disconnected from their society and lack a sense of belonging.
This often happens in school, on a petty level. It also happens on more global scale, that led to a couple of world wars, on a less petty level.
In other words, periods of anomie, are shitty, unstable periods that are full of conflict and chaos because social norms and values are either missing or not enough, leading to the complete disappearance of that sense of stability that once kept the status quo.
Add a little global health pandemic, a few widespread protests and riots, and yep, Hi 2020.
So if what made sense or what seemed “correct…” before is no longer valid? What is the meaning of everything? What is the purpose of authority? What is my purpose as but a little speck in the entire ecosystem?
Well we can look to existential nihilists who view the world as void of any rules, morals and codes… except for the rules we make up ourselves that justify our actions.
Sounds kind of like a more emo version of The State of Nature, right?
Nietzche creates the persona of the Übermensh: a literal super man who is in fact, the person who has overcome the fear of losing meaning, and decided the course of his own life without relying on outside influences. I’d argue that in this context, previous guests in this series are indeed.. Über.
By this definition, does that mean that the übermensh are anarchists?
The root word of anarchy is greek, ‘anarkos’ which literally means without a chief. Similar to nihilists, they reject anyone else’s limits. On a political plane, this means any institution or morality that doesn’t align with one’s free will is to be criticizes and rejected.
Anarchists pretty much said fuck you to the social contract theory. Or perhaps their ideology was born as a response to the actual practice of the social contract compared to its theory?
It’s like a chicken or egg type of question if we look at it through the lens of the world’s current situation
Anarchy has a lot of contradictions, the first one being that they reject authority by asserting their own…
Of course, not everything is binary, or simple as black and white. Because everything is relative, especially today with everyone being just too damn woke and sensitive, we need to consider moral relativism.
Moral relativism pretty much brings everything I said back to baseline by claiming that moral judgements are only true or false relative to a particular vantage point.
The usual and frustrating… “well, it depends”.
To be continued next week!
This article originally appeared on itsmilesagain.com.
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Be brave, be kind.