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 41 - 50 of 64

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Anonymous

I don't think many of the proposals adbusters suggests are really effective. Like the carnivalesque rebellion? or buy nothing day? We need to start spray painting surveillance cameras or make things very difficult for day to day operations of the corporate state. This country has been hijacked and anyways dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Isn't that what Jefferson once said.

Anonymous

I don't think many of the proposals adbusters suggests are really effective. Like the carnivalesque rebellion? or buy nothing day? We need to start spray painting surveillance cameras or make things very difficult for day to day operations of the corporate state. This country has been hijacked and anyways dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Isn't that what Jefferson once said.

Anonymous

Here's an idea how about get to know a few people and sell to them unofficially to avoid paying income tax. You need to get more creative. How about making people have really bad days so they feel pissed off and unsatisfied. Start keying up cars or making life very difficult, just spread miscontent until people take action.

Anonymous

Here's an idea how about get to know a few people and sell to them unofficially to avoid paying income tax. You need to get more creative. How about making people have really bad days so they feel pissed off and unsatisfied. Start keying up cars or making life very difficult, just spread miscontent until people take action.

Anonymous

I'm a big fan of chaos theory. Create a ripple in the system that changes people's normal day to day routines. Make our selves less predictable to the corporate state and therefore less vulnerable and easily manipulated. Also, I don't propose doing things illegal, but borderline illegal. Like walk by a place and knock down a trash can, like it was an accident and then keep walking like you didn't notice. Or take all of the toilet paper in your office building and flush it all. Or cause major toilet cloggage to cost them money. Basically just find any possible way to fuck shit up without getting noticed or caught. These should have ripple consequences.

Anonymous

I'm a big fan of chaos theory. Create a ripple in the system that changes people's normal day to day routines. Make our selves less predictable to the corporate state and therefore less vulnerable and easily manipulated. Also, I don't propose doing things illegal, but borderline illegal. Like walk by a place and knock down a trash can, like it was an accident and then keep walking like you didn't notice. Or take all of the toilet paper in your office building and flush it all. Or cause major toilet cloggage to cost them money. Basically just find any possible way to fuck shit up without getting noticed or caught. These should have ripple consequences.

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