Hi, Lizard – you received some interesting comments among the 2,737 Facebook likes for your item about The Book of Genesis (see last blog, below), and not all of them of the “Repent and accept Jesus” variety. I was particularly intrigued with the discussion about the ancient snake-worshiping cult and its possible links to the Genesis story and to the snake incident in The Epic of Gilgamesh. One can only imagine how deeply these archetypes lie in the history of story-telling. It almost persuades me that there might be something to Jung’s idea of the collective consciousness after all.
I’m not a fan of populism, and I think its resurgence is an opportunity to reassert the importance of a trustee class and, in Britain and Australia, the continuing relevance of the monarchy.
Thank you, too, for referencing the Alienation Theory of History. The older I get, the more I find this theory—the idea that the roots of human alienation run back to the Neolithic—helpful in regaining some perspective on the ceaseless flux of daily life. It enables me to imagine that the flux and confusion can be characterised as the result of tension between pre-agrarian and post-agrarian traditions which, arguably, continues to resonate in our contemporary culture because (as you point out) such traditions began relatively recently in the timeline of our socio-intellectual evolution.
“The roots of human alienation….” Cliché or not, it’s still a powerful image.
It’s possible to visualise this tension in various ways. I see one aspect of it as arising from the relationship between constitutional monarchy and democracy, in Britain and Australia particularly. The tension in this relationship (much of it synthetic, in my view) seems to be growing. Just so we’re clear, I am a democrat, although a conservative one who believes that the monarchy and democracy can, and should, co-exist happily and to their mutual benefit. I am not star-struck about the British monarchy or any other, however. I believe that any stable and successful country needs a strong trustee class—people who exist above politics and who, through their personal values and public duty, embody their country’s character, history and traditions. It doesn’t need to be a monarchy but the British monarchy is all this and more. Nobody in their right minds, still less a patriot, would willingly entrust their country’s soul to a former politician or bureaucrat (Brexit is proof that many people share a similar view). Unless and until we find a better alternative trustee class to the British monarchy (and I can’t think what that might be) it should stay in place.
Gawd bless yer, Ma’am
What the monarchy (and, indeed, any credible trustee class) represents to me is an idea of social relationships based on human values such as trust, morality, loyalty, mutual care and compassion. This is in direct and absolute contrast to the values one encounters, and which are expected of one, every day in modern democratic society. There, relationships are essentially contractual, self-interested and short term. Indeed, as the Alienation Theory of History proposes, the movement towards these lesser values has been the overall direction of our social development since the Neolithic. Among modern historical examples, one need think only of the 16th century enclosure movement in England and, in the 19th century, the increasing use of legislation to regulate human behaviour (much of it necessary to extend the franchise and limit social evils such as child labour, etc.). Morality became less and less the governing principle of life, being superseded by technicalities.
This complex of shallow social democratic values is a source of alienation to me (and others) and I locate my sense of belonging in the traditional relationship that still exists (almost exclusively outside cities these days, in rural communities) between ordinary people and the trustee class. The social democratic microcosm belongs to a shallow self-serving bourgeois elite which, as the election of Donald Trump as US president last year showed, is losing its grip. I’m not a fan of populism, and I think its resurgence is an opportunity to reassert the importance of a trustee class and, in Britain and Australia, the continuing relevance of the monarchy. The internal corrosion of our cultural institutions by the fascist green left provides another opportunity.
Isn’t it strange how reflections like this should be set in train by a free-thinking meditation on the Book of Genesis?