Introduction to a “Big Picture” View that Might Help Human Civilization Survive

A Mission:

Over the past decade, I’ve posted almost a thousand essays here on Daily Kos. Almost all of them have dealt with the crisis in American politics unfolding in our times, often going into the detailed particulars of America’s ongoing political battle. (A battle as stark as any in our history, boiling down increasingly blatantly to a battle between Democracy and Fascism.)

These articles have been pitched at a level of what we see happening around us day-after-day, and over the course of the past generation.

In the series I’m beginning now, I am offering something of a very different kind, and of a very different scope. It’s about the larger human drama, which has unfolded over millennia. But it also helps to bring our own piece of that drama — the effort of a Fascistic force to overthrow American Democracy — into clearer relief.

In a series titled “A BETTER HUMAN STORY,” I’m going to offer an “integrative vision” of the human story, a way of understanding what has happened to our species and of the nature of the challenges we must meet if human civilization is to survive for the long haul.

This BETTER HUMAN STORY shows how much of what has happened over the last 10,000 years was an inevitable consequence of our species — uniquely among all the species on this planet — taking the unprecedented step onto the path of civilization.

This BETTER HUMAN STORY puts some vital matters into an importantly different light. “Vital matters” like

  • How we understand what kind of creatures we humans are.
  • How we understand why our history has been as troubled as it has been. And
  • How we understand the essential task we’re required to achieve as the civilization-creating creatures.
  • How we understand the present American (and global) battle between Democracy and Fascism.

“Importantly different” because – and this has been my conviction since I saw the first big piece of this “integrative vision” a half century ago — this understanding could have a beneficial impact on the human future.

(I realize that claim of “beneficial impact” on so large-scale an outcome sounds implausible, and therefore grandiose. And to those who are understandably skeptical, I ask only this: Please don’t come to any conclusion about the validity of that claim without first checking it out.)

In any event, that claimed potential “beneficial impact” depends on this way of understanding the Human Story becoming widespread enough in the thinking of our civilization to influence people’s choices in the decades and generations to come.

For one thing, this BETTER HUMAN STORY clarifies WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST in our efforts to create a more humane and viable civilization. It clarifies the nature — and modus operandi — of the forces that inevitably were unleashed when our species took a step unprecedented in the whole 3.5 billion year history of Life-on-Earth: embarking on the path of Civilization.

(“Civilization” can best be defined as “those societies created by a creature that has extricated itself from the niche in which it evolved by inventing its own way of life.” It was that “extrication” from the biologically evolved order that made this juncture in our species’ history a Fateful Step.)

This Big Picture view of the forces that inevitably arise with civilization also clarifies the Central Challenge that any civilization-creating creature would inevitably face):

To order its civilization well enough – and soon enough – for that civilization to avoid self-destruction.

My gut feeling is that it is roughly a toss-up whether humankind will get its act together in time to prevent our story ending in some self-inflicted catastrophe. And if it is anything close to a toss-up, even a small beneficial impact could make an important difference.

And this BETTER HUMAN STORY can some beneficial impact also because it pretty well proves that

Any creature, on any planet, anywhere in the cosmos — regardless of its inherent nature — that steps onto the path of Civilization will inevitably get caught up in a social evolutionary process as tormented and traumatic as ours has been.

That alone — if it were widely understood — could have a beneficial impact, because it tells us:

The ugliness we see in human history is not human nature writ large.

And that, in turn, means that

We are better creatures than we have thought ourselves to be.

A HUMAN STORY that’s “BETTER” not only because it gives us higher expectations of ourselves that we can live up to, but also because it gives us a clearer understanding of how to fight the battle we need to win for our venture into civilization to succeed.

This is why I am driven– driven to offer this series to anyone here who would want to take in such an understanding, if indeed it delivered such goods.

If it would matter to you to find such an integrative understanding of the human story, I hope you will check out the series to come.

Useful for America’s Present Political War (Between Democracy and Fascism):

Some might think that, in our national emergency, it would be foolish to spend time on a Big Picture of the HUMAN STORY so broad in scope. We are required, they might reasonably maintain, to focus purely on the immediate political battle.

The problem with that way of thinking is that one will be more effective in that immediate political battle if one understands WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST, and this Big Picture BETTER HUMAN STORY contributes substantially to such understanding.

It was this integrative framework for understanding the forces at work in the human world that enabled me to perceive – back in the 90s, and then more fully and urgently starting in 2004 – the destructive force that was hijacking Conservative America.

Over those years, I continually tried to raise the alarm to the Liberal world. But for years, for the most part, the Liberal/Democratic side did not perceive the emerging threat, and failed to rouse itself to defeat it. Finally, when Trump and the Trump Party became so blatant a wrecking ball, the sense of alarm became more widespread in Liberal America. Finally, it became visible to a great many that what had taken over the right was something extraordinary in the history of American parties: “a coherent force that consistently makes things worse.”

“A coherent force that consistently makes the human world worse” is what I propose as the definition of “Evil.” Whether we call it by that name, or another, that kind of “coherent force is WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST.

In this series, I will demonstrate such a “coherent force” has long been at the heart of the human drama, and that the way it operates in the human world is so similar to what religious traditions have called “Evil” that it is entirely reasonable — and usefully clarifying — to call that force by that name, despite the word being so fraught.

But whatever name it is given, we will fight this immediate political battle better the better we understand the nature and modus operandi of this force.

In this series, I’ll present how this coherence can be discerned in the workings of the world, through the network of causes and effects.

But once in a while that “coherent force” can make itself still more perceptible by — more or less completely — taking over one of the “actors” on the human stage.

That has happened in our times as never before in American history (the Slave Power of the mid-19th century being the closest previous example) with one of America’s two major political parties. (This series will explore this extraordinary phenomenon in an upcoming essay, “What’s Revealed by the “Pure Case” of the Consistently Destructive Actor.”)

Seeing WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST is important. There’s a saying in baseball, “You can’t hit what you can’t see.”

Had the Liberal World understood the battle sooner, this Fascist Force could have been successfully confronted and driven back into the woodwork early on in the process — when it was smaller and weaker — before it had gained such complete control of the Republican Party.

To those focused on defeating this dangerous thing the Republican Party has become, I suggest that checking out this series as like warriors attending War College, potentially useful for political warriors on the side of Democracy.

Understanding the nature of the battle — having an accurate and reasonably comprehensive map of the battlefield — remains an essential part of a good strategy for fighting and defeating this Force of Fascism.

 Coming Attractions:

With the survival both of American democracy and of human civilization itself now visibly threatened, there is an urgency about recognizing the nature of the forces at work in the human world.

The coming series is my best effort at contributing to that understanding. I claim that I can compellingly establish the basic validity of all those foregoing points. And if you are someone who would want to know such things – if they were true – please keep your eye out for pieces with “A BETTER HUMAN STORY” in the title.

(The first piece, with the subtitle “The Fateful Step,” will appear here in a week.)

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