The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

And This God Has Granted To Me, That

I shall live to see the destruction of my enemies.

The great joy of watching the American government be humiliated, over and over again, as their empire collapses.

To watch as those they oppressed cease to fear them, as their enemies circle the old brute, nipping at their heels, tearing at them, as they dies innumerable wounds.

This, God has granted to me.

And so too has God granted to me to watch the end of Neoliberalism. “Greed is good” they screamed, as they strip mined the economy, becoming the richest rich in the world’s history, even as they destroyed the basis of their power.

Soon they will be the rich of undeveloping countries; the rich of India in 1950. Scream at China as they will, nothing will change that they sold the golden geese to china for cash on the barrelhead and two generations of epehemeral wealth.

The Europeans, so smug and so sure of themselves after centuries at the top, as they fall back to being the meaningless backwater of Eurasia that is Europe’s normal state. “But we live in a Garden!” they will wail, as the garden fills with wheels and wrecked cars.

Satraps of their own colony, slaves to America, colonialists who killed hundreds of millions then screamed that their enemies were evil, not them, no, they were the good people, the civilized people.

This, God has granted me to see.

And then, all the capitalists, in all the countries, China, America, Japan, Russia, Europe, India: everywhere. “We can grow infinitely! We’ll always substitute! Technology will save us! We should engineer products to for planned obsolesence! Wealth! Power! Infinity! We are geniuses! This is the best time every and we are the smartest smart people to ever smart!”

And it’s all coming down. Seems that infinite growth on a planet which isn’t infinite doesn’t work out. Seems that places to safely store pollution like CO2 and plastics aren’t infinite on a little green and blue planet. Seems like humans aren’t independent of insects and plants and other animals and plankton: that we’re just one life form and if we kill too many of the others that may not work out for us.

God did not grant to me the power or the voice or the gifts necessary to prevent any of this evil.

But God has granted to me to see the end days of my enemies, and if they are my end days as well, still will I enjoy them.

May Bush, and Bill Clinton and Blair and Pelosi and Obama and Biden all live very long lives, with clear minds, that they might see all they created destroyed.

This God has granted to me, to see the destruction of my enemies and the fall of all they built.

I worked to prevent this, with all my might, and failed, as did all of us who fought against these evils. May what is born after be born of good, and learn from the fall of evil.

But still, I will enjoy what God has granted me.

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The US & Nine Other Nations Now Helping Israel Starve Gazans


Clear Talk About History’s Sweep


  1. Stephen

    May Bush, and Bill Clinton and Blair and Pelosi and Obama and Biden all live very long lives, with clear minds, that they might see all they created destroyed

    They get off on the destruction, that’s the problem.
    And they didn’t create anything, they stole it.

  2. StewartM

    Seems like humans are independent of insects and plants and other animals and plankton

    You meant to write “dependent on”, know?

    All I can say is that I wish we all could watch this from a safe distance, but we won’t. Those that will live long safe lives will be perturbed, and some may question their decisions (though I suspect the majority will just get defensive about them) but on the whole, the sad thing is that many who are not to blame, and many who tried to stop this, will not live long, safe, comfortable lives.

    Oh, and there’s this:

    And then, all the capitalists, in all the countries, China, America, Japan, Russia, Europe, India: everywhere. “We can grow infinitely! We’ll always substitute! Technology will save us!

    I find the last sentence ironic as I see capitalism as destructive to scientific and technological progress. Drug companies like Pfizer shut down labs and laid off technical staff; Boeing and other tech companies pushed their most knowledgeable senior employees out the door and built planes far less safe, and so forth. An economic policy that rewards fraud and paper-shuffling more so than the hard work of inventing, constructing, servicing, and maintaining better mousetraps is a society where real technological progress will stagnate.

  3. sbt1942

    I recall seeing a brief editorial video stating something quite clearly: “Life is shit, and it’ll be shittier before it’s better. But don’t kill yourself. If you stay alive, you can witness Trump’s death.”

    As the speaker didn’t mention any other folks – as you have here – I suspect that they were simply pandering to their audience, though I appreciated the message in a more general sense.

  4. bruce wilder

    The reversal of some of the dominant narratives of politics in my youth and middle age is interesting to me, but I find myself remarkably detached. I do not enjoy it. I marvel sometimes at how stupid “other” people can be and how confused and seduced I was (sometimes) in earlier times.

    I think humans collectively do in some sense learn from experience. Not fast enough or sure enough to justify conscious “faith in progress” but maybe there is some evolutionary random walk of adaptation going on that allows me to think my small efforts to lean toward the light and persuade a few others to be open to learning and cooperating make sense.

    I appreciate Ian’s moral voice and incisive vision all the more because he acknowledges the futility felt when people who refused any better, easier teacher are finally taught by experience and consequences and still fail to learn anything.

  5. Mel

    Europeans. Too bad, there are some nice people there but — they would have it.
    Early in the 20th century they all got together and spent 31 years ripping each others’ societies to shreds.
    So here they are.

  6. Jeff Wegerson

    The old world dies. The new is tardy. Dark light nascents monstrosities.

    – A. Gramsci

  7. Ventzu


  8. ventzu

    It is depressing to find that no one in professional work circles knows / cares / talks about US empire, Palestinian genocide, etc etc. And if you raise the topic, you get some bland talking points regurgitated from MSM.

    It makes me want to stay away from people, and – as you say – enjoy the spectacle of the empire collapsing.

  9. Tallifer

    “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.” (Psalm LXVIII)

  10. Forecasting Intelligence

    As Greer rightly points out in his superb new essay, the best hope for America now is to elected Donald Trump in November, and hope that his isolationist America First leanings gets enacted in his term.

    Congress should adopt a balanced budget constitutional amendment, Trump will announce the closure of the bulk of US military bases abroad, massively cut the US defence budget, focus on ensuring that what remains of the de facto US empire keeps control of the Americas and its closest allies, Japan and the United Kingdom and largely leaves the rest of the world to its own devices.

    In the meantime using tariffs focus on rebuilding an industrial supply chain that is focused ideally on America or at least its near abroad in the Americas.

    That is basically the Trump playbook. And its the only option left to avoid imperial humiliation and defeat.

    Of course, the lefties of this blog will howl at such an idea. Doesn’t make it wrong though.

  11. Ian Welsh

    No, most of that would be agreed with by most of the readers. You are seeing what isn’t there due to your political commitments.

    So is Greer, a little bit (and I like Greer.)

  12. Forecasting Intelligence

    My point is whether your readership would support Trump to get that agenda enacted. Or at least the possibility of that which is not going to happen under Biden.

  13. DMC

    And we saw what evidence of this in Trump’s first term? Trump may be the lesser evil in that we avoid WWIII or he may start it with China rather than Russia. Really, we need to stop voting for Republicans or Democrats as they are both wholly owned by slightly different factions of plutocrats.

  14. different clue


    “May Bush, and Bill Clinton and Blair and Pelosi and Obama and Biden all live very long lives, with clear minds, that they might see all they created destroyed.”

    I, too, thought about what you thought about. So if it is not too brazenly effronterous to wish it, may God further grant that we all get to see Bush, Clinton, Blair, Pelosi, Obama, Biden, etc. become as poor as the poorest of those they impoverished, and that we live to see them live to see all their descendants become that poor too.

    Colonel Lang once offered what he said was an old Afghan proverb, which I will do my best to remember.

    ” Joyful it is to see the dead body of one’s enemy float by as one sits by the bank of the river.”

    ( About the Reagan victory in 1980 . . . I am going on fumes of memory now, but I think I remember someone named John Anderson running a vanity “Third Party” run during that election. He was a vanity ” No Labels-Third Way” type in that election. Someone might do a study to see how many votes he got in each state to see if he got more votes in any states than the number of votes Reagan won by. Because he would have pulled smug ” I’m too cool for school” type votes from Carter, not from Reagan. If careful study reveals that Anderson’s run made the razor thin difference between Carter losing when Carter would have other wise run had Anderson not been running,
    then Anderson should get a special thanks asterisk for ” best supporting Reagan enabler” .

  15. Joan

    Forecasting Intelligence,

    If what you say about Trump’s agenda in terms of localizing the American industrial base were actually true, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat! I’m from a red state and knew lots of people in 2016 that believed Trump would bring the jobs back. For their sake I hoped they were right but unfortunately it didn’t happen.

  16. Curt Kastens

    Different Clue and Forcasting Intellegence,

    Daniel Lynch makes a good point on the other thread, Clear Talk About the Sweep of History that neo liberalism began with Jimmy Carter, not Regean and Thatcher. Daniel says that he has written about that often in the past. I do not know what he said to support his point. But I can support it with one bit of history. My father was a truck driver and I remember that it was Carter that deregulated the trucking industry. That bill that Jimmy Carter signed looks to me like a darned good point from which to say, that was the beginning of neo liberalism.
    Therefore if we are talking about the 1980 election and the 3rd party candidate Anderson I think it would be reasonable to conclude that the US was going to get neo liberalism one way or the other.
    I expect the same for the 2024 US election. First of all based upon the last 40 years of history there is clearly no reason to believe anything that comes out of the mouth of Donald Trump. We could at best have a tiny bit of hope that Trump would be allowed to do what he publically says that he wants to do, in reference to US foriegn entanglements. That is against as you say No hope at all the such things would happen under Biden. The deep state will decide such matters neither Trump nor Biden. But a win by one or the other could be a clue as to which way the deep state is leaning. But I do not think it would be worth even one calorie to make the move to a polling station on the day of the election. Because even if Trump were to win and US foreign policy were to become 5% or 10% less insane that would have to be balanced against more insane domestic policies. The US voter is clearly not allowed to win a US election.

  17. Carborundum

    It took me a long time to get past the toxicity of the framing implicit here. To *truly* have enemies, they first have to know you exist.

  18. UphillBend

    A lot of gloom. With a nod to our host’s profile pic on Twitter, here’s a gloomy but, ultimately, hopeful story. Well-known but rendered beautifully by the storyteller. I’m putting it up here because, in addition to the subject of gloom and hope, it also has allusions to the themes of seeing into the future and environmental catastrophe, not to mention of future generations and the picking up of the pieces of civilization in their honor of the past even on a New Earth we will not know ourselves.

    From Roger Lancelyn Green’s Myths of the Norseman, the latter passages from Ch 15 Ragnarok –

    ‘Thor slays the Midgard Serpent, and no greater deed was ever done. He strides away from the spot; nine paces only, and then he falls to the earth and dies, so deadly is the venom which Jormungand has poured upon him.

    ‘Odin and Fenris fight together: but in the end the Wolf has the victory and devours Odin. But Vidar strides forward to avenge his father, and sets his foot on the lower jaw of Fenris. On that foot is the shoe made of the scraps of leather which men cut from their toes or heels: therefore should men cut often and fling away if they desire to help the Æsir. Vidar takes the Wolf by the upper jaw and tears him apart, and that is the end of Fenris.

    ‘Loki battles with Heimdall, and in their last struggle each slays the other and both fall.

    ‘Now Surtur spreads fire over the whole earth and all things perish. Darkness descends, and I can see no more.’

    The voice of Haid the Vola faded away into the silence. But still she sat rigid and still gazing beyond the distance, gazing into the future with wide, unseeing eyes.

    Very slowly, as he stood behind her, it seemed to Odin that her power was creeping into him. His own eye grew misty – grew dark – and then on a sudden he was looking out with two eyes, with her eyes and not his own.

    At first he saw only a great waste of water, tossing and tumbling over all the world. But as he watched, a new earth rose out of the sea, green and fruitful, with unfading forests and pleasant meadows smiling in the light of a new sun. Then the waters fell away, making wide rivers, and sparkling falls and a new blue sea about the land.

    Then, on Ida’s Plain where Asgard had stood before, he saw Vidar and Vali, the two of the Æsir who had survived through Ragnarok. Thor’s two sons, Magni and Modi, came to join them, bearing Miolnir in their hands. After this the earth opened and back from Helheim came Baldur the Beautiful, holding his brother Hodur by the hand.

    They sat down and spoke together concerning all that had happened, of the passing of Fenris and Jormungand, and other evils. Then, shining among the grass and flowers, they saw the ancient golden chessman of the Æsir, and collecting them began to play once more on the board of life.

    Presently Honir came to them out of Vanaheim, bringing great wisdom to the new Æsir. At his bidding new halls rose on Ida’s Plain, glittering palaces waiting for the souls of dead men and women from Midgard.

    For in Midgard also life came again. In the deep place called Hoddminir’s Holt a man and a woman had escaped from Surtur’s fire. Now they awoke from sleep, Lif and Lifthrasir; and for food they found the morning dew was all they needed. From them were born many children so that Midgard was peopled anew. And there were children also in the new Asgard which was called Gimli the Gem Lea, where the halls were thatched with gold. There the blessed among men mingled with the new race of the Æsir, and the new Sun shone brightly, and the new world was filled with light and song.

    Then Odin wept with joy, and as the tears coursed down his face, the vision faded into the greyness of the cold Northern world where Ragnarok is yet to come. The wind moaned over the chill plains, the wolves howled in the lonely mountains, and across the sea stole forth a longship hung with shields in which Viking men went out to harry and slay and burn.

    The old sibyl sat alone by her cave, chanting the words of the Volo-spa, the poem of prophecy, the finest of all the old Northern poems which are still known among men.

    But Odin threaded his way quietly across Midgard to Bifrost Bridge, up its gleaming arch where Heimdall stood on guard, and so brought this good news to the Æsir.

    For now he knew the meaning of the mysterious word which he had whispered into Baldur’s ear as his dead son lay upon the funeral ship: the word ‘Rebirth’ which was to bring comfort and hope to the Men of Midgard as well as to the Gods of Asgard.

    **The earlier parts of Ch 15 Ragnarok can be read here:

    ** Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke also address in epic fashions the themes of war, environmental apocalypse, and renewal.

  19. And keep fighting the good fight with your health struggle, Ian! The longer you live, the more of your enemies you will see dying before you. Every man should have a goal. That’s mine, at least!

  20. Soredemos


    The Nausicaa manga, which extends far beyond what the movie covers and has a very different ending, is extremely gloomy and pretty explicitly ends by saying humanity is doomed. The encroaching poison forest is actually just the planet radically purging itself of toxins from humanity’s apocalyptic war, and a new ecosystem will eventually emerge from it. But humanity won’t survive the transformation (and that includes the pretty heroine).

    I like Miyazaki, and I like Nausicaa, but the ultimate message of it is frankly sophomoric pessimism that is incredibly vapid and tiresome. It’s a type of ‘everybody sucks and should disappear’ attitude that is cringe past the age of about sixteen. Call me a human narcissist or whatever if you want, but I don’t actually think the world would be better if it was just filled with baser life operating mostly or entirely on instinct. All that ‘we are how the universe knows itself’ poetic Sagan stuff goes right out the window, to be replaced by animals where it’s impressive if they’re smart enough to know not to eat their own shit.

  21. StewartM

    Forecasting Intelligence

    That is basically the Trump playbook.

    No, it isn’t. It never was. Trump massively increased the debt during his term, and he made outsourcing easier, not harder. Nor do I believe he would be isolationist.

    And American society would be more divided. It would be because conservative “solutions” aren’t real solutions, so when they fail-as they will–the internal and/or external “other” must be scapegoated. As you can hear at any CPAC convention, ‘conservativsm can never fail, it can only be failed’ so this lack of any self-doubt will lead to real persecution, and possibly external war.

    People can be excused if they thought some of Trump’s agenda was ‘progressive’ in any way in 2016. People who continue to believe that crap in 2024 are simply deluding themselves.

  22. StewartM

    Curt Kastens

    That is against as you say No hope at all the such things would happen under Biden.

    Uh, what exactly do you mean?

    If you mean a change in foreign policy, I fear you’re right.

    On domestic policy, while Biden is not perfect by any means, he’s far better than any president of my adult lifetime. Like, say, in antitrust actions:

    Mind you, starting in the early 1970s, but accelerating under Reagan, Federal anti-trust law was almost allowed to lapse.

    Then there’s the bill to force hedge funds from buying up houses, and indeed dumping those they bought, a big step in housing affordability?

    Now—really–do you think that any of this would be done under Trump?

    Let me give you an idea of who really supports that faux anti-neoliberalism of Trump

    Billionaires seem to think Trump is ok. And why shouldn’t they? Why, they like the fact he calls them up on the phone for economic advice on what to do!! What could be better?

    So do you think that giving the rich more free money is what America needs? Because that’s EXACTLY what a Trump presidency would do.

  23. Curt Kastens

    A vote for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in 2024 has to be at least as good as a vote for John Anderson in 1980. Even better a vote for RFK Jr. in 2024 might be as good as a vote for Jesse Ventura in 1998.

    And that brings uo the idea of a RFK Jr., Jesse Ventura ticket. Yes I know that Jesse Ventura is a quasi libertarian. But he is not doctrinaire. In a book that he wrote many years ago he supported public education over private education. He changed my mind on the subject. Public education in the USA is a disaster. But he convinced me that private school vouchers were not at all a good solution to the problem of bad public schooling in the USA. That is not a poistion that a big L libertarian would take.

  24. different clue

    Public education in America was not a disaster when I went to school in the 1960s-1975.
    If it became a disaster between then and now, it is because somebody carefully engineered and maneuvered it into being a disaster.

    Who? And why?

  25. UphillBend


    Last time you criticized me for being tender-minded toward mystics, and now I’m similarly getting it for my recommendation for Miyazaki who is tender-minded in his film but, wait, who is eventually even worse for being tough-minded in his manga. I can’t catch a break it seems.

    And I don’t think I actually disagree with you, being somewhat catholic in my thoughts on these matters. A little bit of this is ok, a little bit of that is also good; like being the Bill Clinton of metaphysical positions. I don’t think I’m being slick, but it’s erring on the side of being horribly unexciting, no?

    Anyway, I guess you like the movie better then.

    More seriously, the ideas behind the “sophomoric pessimism” had been expressed in ways which have been taken quite seriously by many. One would be Zhuangzi with his relativization, even mockery, of human values vs Nature, returning to the simple and the natural, viewing the touch of the human on nature as a loss, etc. Coming together to a kind of ironic and very large even-mindedness. From similar elements of de-centering the human, one can also develop a form of Nature-piety relevant to policies, such as Deep Ecology.

    (There’s a general pov, expressions of it with different emphases given to select elements, and the reactions to the expressions. Although some pov’s maybe so inherently sophomoric that it’s all like that throughout the chain. But how do you know that is not actually matter of a negative reaction making claims based on an imperial sense of entitlement?)

    On the other hand, and based on the same material facts of the world that the tough-minded observes, one can have a tender-minded pov of privileging the human (along with consciousness, Reason, the higher emotions like altruism, etc) or at least of viewing humanity as not something to be viewed as superfluous to Nature. I say the same material facts, but, probably, many in this latter camp harbor at least some minimal mysticism of a higher intensity of the divine spark in man as opposed to nature.

    So you get stodgy humanists. Confucians clicking their tongues at Taoists. “Human narcissists” like you. I probably fall into this camp too.

    As for the “poetic Sagan stuff”, I think that indeed is a poetic extension of his awe at the cosmos trying to square with itself his rationalism. The great metaphysics of the objective other that would be subsumed by an understanding of its identity with the conscious subject, and that the process of cosmic evolution is meant for the enjoyment of this self-knowledge by The Absolute through finite beings sits, I think, uncomfortably with Sagan’s agnosticism. Although I can understand that in some near-epiphanic moods it might come to one as an insight of something like truth.

    It does show there are many ways to slice the pie from the experience of the world. We go from the pov of raw nature that, while allowing for human consciousness, gives it little significance, then to some privileging of it, and now to the idea that consciousness traced far back enough to its source is actually the vast ground of totality.

    There are other options as well. Some people maintain a humanity of fierce compassion for sentient beings from a pity for the very smallness, fragility, and inconsequentiality of those beings, while stubbornly rejecting as a luxury any metaphysics that might justify or explain their compassion. People are diverse in their orientations and tastes.

    Back to Miyazaki. I, being tender-minded, mentioned his works as examples, and dramatic ones, of tales of renewal. Admittedly not too articulated in their philosophy. If there is sophomoric pessimism, then there is, on the other hand, a tentative wanting-to-believe that the stuff of narratives reflecting the pulses of the soul shares the rhythm of the universe at large; that the phrase “Hope springs eternal” is often smug self-assurance but may also be something of the character of reality.

  26. Curt Kastens

    Yes I meant a change in foreign policy.

  27. Soredemos


    I don’t actually like the movie more. The comic expands greatly on everything I like in the movie, with the large caveat that it ultimately ends on a completely doomer tone that I find tiresome. ‘Humans suck and the world would be better off without them’ isn’t an original or interesting thought.

    It’s also one I fundamentally disagree with. First, nature as a whole isn’t pretty. Humans aren’t actually unique in how much we suck other than the scale and sophistication. Further, judgements of good or bad are essentially human inventions. To judge that humans are awful and shouldn’t exist is something only a human is capable of, which, to my mind, puts us in a unique category. It’s an arbitrary judgement, but also we’re the only ones able to make that judgement. I judge that that capacity gives as an intrinsic worth that makes us more worthy of survival than, yes, lower lifeforms.

    The Sagan stuff is essentially a lie, in fact it’s just pure gibberish. But it can be a cute thought. If people insist on there needing to be some purpose to life (ultimately there isn’t any, not in any grand, eternal sense, and I see the quest for such a thing as essentially narcissistic), ‘a way for a largely unthinking universe to view and ponder itself’ is as pretty a purpose as any. It’s not actually true in any literal way though.

  28. Soredemos


    I’ll add to myself here, as a sort of extended aside, and keeping with the manga/anime subject, that a recent franchise that directly addresses the idea that ‘nature is cruel’ in a very brutal way is Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin.

    Now I’m not going to pretend that it is any way comparable in quality of execution to a Miyazaki production, because it absolutely isn’t ( AoT was a massive, very successful hit, I think partially undeservedly so). But it directly deals with some very unpleasant subject matter that a lot of fiction shies away from, centrally that all life is dependent on consuming other life to survive. A famous line from Titan is to the effect that ‘you can’t live if you don’t win, and you can’t win if you don’t fight’.

    It’s been raked over the coals from certain quarters for supposedly being fascist, but it simply isn’t. It just deals with the idea of life being a brutal fight for survival that fascism also acknowledges and attempts to address. Actually fascist philosophy does appear in Titan, in the form of a faction of militarists who through their own fanatical belligerence ultimately make the whole world their enemy and set their nation on a path to its own total destruction because everyone else unites to put them down like a rabid dog. They take the observation that sometimes you need to fight to survive to such an extreme that that is itself what destroys them.

    Titan reaches a final conclusion that ‘yes, but no matter how hard you fight, you still die in the end anyway’ and suggests that maybe the relationships you forged along the way and the joy you experienced before the end are ultimately the point. Which is exactly the kind of ‘the real treasure was the friends we made along the way’ conclusion that rightly is often attacked as lazy and unsatisfying, but I was actually okay with given the context and how long-form it was arrived at. I also think the main plot of the story had shit itself like seventy chapters earlier, so I wasn’t particularly bothered with notions that the ending ruined the whole thing. I think the thing had been critically broken for a long, long time before the end).

    (also, elephant in the room with this particular franchise, and something that helped fuel the claims that it was fascist, there’s a lot of very unsubtle stuff with a fictionalized analog for Jews, now living in literal ghettos, and how they’re trapped in a recurring cycle of domination and then victimhood, followed by resurgent aggression with the rest of the world. My initial reaction years ago was that it was just an honest misfire, a Japanese author clunkyily drawing from something exotic to him in a way that carries unfortunate implications he’s probably not aware of. I think the intent was just to demonstrate the tragedy of an unbroken cycle of violence and how things can become self-fulfilling, and that the clear real-world analog was just poorly chosen. But I think that the events of the last few months have demonstrated how the analog was absolutely not a misfire, and that most of those old criticisms have been sort of rendered invalid by the insane events in the real world. I won’t say though that this was due to some brilliant foresight on the part of the writer. He still strikes me as something of a dim bulb who is just ruminating on unpleasant subjects most writers ignore, but who doesn’t have particularly deep or intelligent thoughts on those subjects. He just happened through dumb luck to pick a group that seems hellbent on proving his notions of cyclical tragedy completely correct.)

  29. UphillBend

    In light of your work with the homeless, I’ll risk another censure and note my impression that you belong more towards the last group I mentioned than the “human narcissists.”

    ‘[A] way for a largely unthinking universe to view and ponder itself’ – a lot more succinct than I put it, LOL!

    I think it’s possible to subject higher-order intellectual capabilities, for things like value judgments, and the idea that they bestow intrinsic worth, to the same salty look expressed towards brute nature. Some would say such an assertion of value makes man a heroic figure, albeit a Quixotic one, if done in full cognizance of its absurdity. Some Buddhists would say such higher “meta” acts of the mind is just another faculty not too far from the basic uses of the intellect and the senses, fueled by clingings for stabilities to frame the world.

    But then they come in through a back door and sing praises to meritorious deeds, initial resolutions based on some uplifting “wow” factor, and vows towards transcendence. It kind of comes back to bite them at the end, but only theoretically, when they are supposed to account for and discard the shell of desire that has led them to the precipice before enlightenment. But it’s theoretical, and they seem to manage it.

    Similarly, your bare-bones view of avoiding nihilism works and is worthy of respect.

  30. Soredemos


    My point isn’t that they instill intrinsic worth so much as that the very idea of intrinsic worth literally only exists in human minds. As far as we can tell no other animal has even a meaningful fraction of our intelligence and self-awareness (and yes, I know how much of how human consciousness works seems to be a thin layer on a sea of instinct and automated responses. But even so, we have more of it than any other animal). No other animal is making such value judgements.

    You can call it human centric arrogance, but that too is a judgement only another human can make. Only humans can have these debates, which to mean sort of axiomatically demonstrates a uniqueness and superiority to humans that I value above other life forms. I choose to value us more and put us first. I’m not saying it’s objective, or somehow metaphysically ‘true’, I’m saying it’s a position I choose to take with, I think, some logical justification.

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