The Revolution Issue

21st Century Enlightenment

The rebirth of the political left will depend on how well we can incorporate this big idea.
Photos by Roderik Henderson - Island: A Bare Skeleton of Being

Photos by Roderik Henderson - Island: A Bare Skeleton of Being

Audio version read by George Atherton

The 18th-century enlightenment concept of the individual self is running out of steam and a new paradigm of human nature is emerging. Our sense of being separate, autonomous beings each with our own distinct, self-authored identity is melting away. That we should strive to become islands of free-floating individuals, each absolutely responsible for our own destiny and journey through life, now seems impossible and even undesirable: We understand that we are the products of both nature and nurture. The enlightenment idea of a world of self-interested individuals, impermeable to hands and ideas that would nurture us seems dystopian now.

Freedom – the grand unifying cause of our modern democratic societies – has not been realized by having an ever-expanding array of personal lifestyle and product choices. And progress is not advanced by the constant expansion of those choices. As we witness the destruction leveled against people and nature in the name of personal gain, our lives lived within our current consumer capitalist paradigm feel increasingly hollow. We see more mental health problems and suicides than ever before. And the Earth bears horrible wounds of our egocentric greed.

Community – not more individual freedom – is what we now crave. And what is emerging from this craving is a convincing new account of what it means to be human and live a good life: a new paradigm of human nature that reconnects us to each other and the natural world.

We are standing on the verge of a 21st-century enlightenment.

The rebirth of the political left will depend on how well we can incorporate the new, 21st-century enlightenment paradigm of human nature into our narratives, agendas and visions of the future.

Kalle Lasn, inspired by Madeleine Bunting

64 comments on the article “21st Century Enlightenment”

Displaying 11 - 20 of 64

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Greg R.

Finally someone who knows what I'm talking about. I used to be really skeptical about the NWO and all of that conspiracy theory stuff, but the more and more I look into it, the more it seems true.

Greg R.

Finally someone who knows what I'm talking about. I used to be really skeptical about the NWO and all of that conspiracy theory stuff, but the more and more I look into it, the more it seems true.

Hans Riisgaard - DK

What do we do? That always seem to be the question, when one's head stops spinning from abstract ideas. Well, I for one am enjoying the autumn and eating a hell of a lot of apples and hazelnuts. I pick them in the cemetary. Things are just more alive there... Then I read Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape, and ponder the development of ourselves contra civilization when watching stains of mold growing on my bread. They seem like cities to me and I fantasize about a mold-civilization. "Republic! Republic!" Wonder what Zerzan would gather from that... Do fungii vote? Some research could probably be interpreted in such a way. Then I eat more apples and do a headstand before going swimming in the icycold ocean. It's refreshing. I once stood on my head for almost 15 minutes - indian style.

Hans Riisgaard - DK

What do we do? That always seem to be the question, when one's head stops spinning from abstract ideas. Well, I for one am enjoying the autumn and eating a hell of a lot of apples and hazelnuts. I pick them in the cemetary. Things are just more alive there... Then I read Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape, and ponder the development of ourselves contra civilization when watching stains of mold growing on my bread. They seem like cities to me and I fantasize about a mold-civilization. "Republic! Republic!" Wonder what Zerzan would gather from that... Do fungii vote? Some research could probably be interpreted in such a way. Then I eat more apples and do a headstand before going swimming in the icycold ocean. It's refreshing. I once stood on my head for almost 15 minutes - indian style.

Jon M.

This guy knows what he is doing, at least. Everybody is scared as hell, or mad as hell, running around yelling "what do we do!? what do we do!?" as if there is some magic rite you could perform to instantaneously save the world.

I'll tell you what to do: chill out. You don't need to key anybody's car or pull anybody's fire alarm. Except that it is hilarious, it won't make you into some counter-cultural mastermind.

I saw this once: The less you need, the smarter you are. It was at Rainbow Gathering. I think that all of these "issues" are manufactured discontentment. If the world system inevitably crashes, we'll be poor and hungry, but we should concentrate on harmony and peace so that if that happens we don't start fighting each other.

Jon M.

This guy knows what he is doing, at least. Everybody is scared as hell, or mad as hell, running around yelling "what do we do!? what do we do!?" as if there is some magic rite you could perform to instantaneously save the world.

I'll tell you what to do: chill out. You don't need to key anybody's car or pull anybody's fire alarm. Except that it is hilarious, it won't make you into some counter-cultural mastermind.

I saw this once: The less you need, the smarter you are. It was at Rainbow Gathering. I think that all of these "issues" are manufactured discontentment. If the world system inevitably crashes, we'll be poor and hungry, but we should concentrate on harmony and peace so that if that happens we don't start fighting each other.

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