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 51 - 60 of 64

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Anonymous

Also, if you cause enough miscontent and the corporate authorities start taking away privileges that should help provoke unrest.

Anonymous

Also, if you cause enough miscontent and the corporate authorities start taking away privileges that should help provoke unrest.

Anonymous

Also, smear campaigns can be fun. Just make up lies about a company and make them look bad. Like say, Starbucks puts arsenic in their coffee beans or something more believable. If enough people believe this, their stocks will drop. In a way we have to declare economic war on these guys.

Anonymous

Also, smear campaigns can be fun. Just make up lies about a company and make them look bad. Like say, Starbucks puts arsenic in their coffee beans or something more believable. If enough people believe this, their stocks will drop. In a way we have to declare economic war on these guys.

Anonymous

For people working in the food industry: Put hair in people's food that will guarantee that they never come back.
For people in office buildings: At every opportunity, raise the thermostat to insanely degrees. Leave the water running until it floods the bathroom. Keep all of the lights on. Sometimes pull the fire alarm, the water destroys alot of computer equipment.

Anonymous

For people working in the food industry: Put hair in people's food that will guarantee that they never come back.
For people in office buildings: At every opportunity, raise the thermostat to insanely degrees. Leave the water running until it floods the bathroom. Keep all of the lights on. Sometimes pull the fire alarm, the water destroys alot of computer equipment.

-oka

We live in a police state we are governed by fear. We live in a constant state of crisis which is by design. The more you keep your consumers living in a state of panic the more valuable they become, making irrational purchases and decisions. We need to educate ourselves and eachother, this is the only way we can grow out of this paradigm of fear and reppresion.

-oka

We live in a police state we are governed by fear. We live in a constant state of crisis which is by design. The more you keep your consumers living in a state of panic the more valuable they become, making irrational purchases and decisions. We need to educate ourselves and eachother, this is the only way we can grow out of this paradigm of fear and reppresion.

Anonymous

I think a big part of this is the fact that like minded individual are connected in the virtual world but are disconnected in the physical world. Basically we can chat online about our ideas, but its very difficult to get together and conspire when we live on different sides of the country. I think that in order to break out of this paradigm, we would each need to make a concious effort to break out of our comfort zones. Like tomorrow, walk out of your house and greet your neighbor. The day after that go out and start a community club. etc. etc.
If enough people make a concious effort then we can make real change.

Anonymous

I think a big part of this is the fact that like minded individual are connected in the virtual world but are disconnected in the physical world. Basically we can chat online about our ideas, but its very difficult to get together and conspire when we live on different sides of the country. I think that in order to break out of this paradigm, we would each need to make a concious effort to break out of our comfort zones. Like tomorrow, walk out of your house and greet your neighbor. The day after that go out and start a community club. etc. etc.
If enough people make a concious effort then we can make real change.

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