When the agonies of war meet the fantasies that feed culture, what comes out the other side? As tragedy unfolds in Ukraine, like many I’ve been trying to understand the complex ways in which cultural psychologies clash, and how this leads to shifts in the world order.
Your summation about feeling the pain really resonants for me. Typical human nature (in Western culture anyway) is about escaping emotional pain – in myriad ways.
As an emotions therapist, I see people burying their pain as it is too intense to fully experience the awareness and release of it. But as you indicate, if we can learn how to experience pain, "it can bring us back to our bodies and our compassion."
Of course, feeling our feelings – especially when they're painful – is a spiritual process that nurtures relationship with our deep Inner Knowing. It is hard but from this place springs all the good stuff – love, peace, kindness to serve the evolution of consciousness leading to personal and social transformation.
Right on: "... seeds are held in this pain."
I discovered NS a while back and have really enjoyed his writings, glad to see him interviewed here...his 'black pill' essay on why Wokeism is just getting started was also a real reality check for me...some of the best bloggers such as NS Lyon and Doomberg and in a previous life Mencius Moldbug are written under a nom de plume
I think Goodhart's duality is actually cross-class: it spans shire Tories and working class communities. So it's really the socially (ultra)liberal vs the socially conservative.
A very timely observation about pain given our nation's avoidance and obsession with it--the "painkiller" epidemic that sparked the opiate epidemic--all in the name of "pain management." Growth often requires pain, any athlete knows this, but we have seemed to have forgotten it.
Far too much emphasis here on deep analysis and finer detail. Step back and take a look around you. Too many people, too much greed, too much selfishness and too much arrogance - equals lots of squabbling. People need to reconnect with the land, the wildlife, where their food comes from and the processes and life forms necessary for it to grow - that is what's real. The myriad of mental illnesses, among which is transgenderism and wokeism is symptomatic of our loss of connection with reality. It's simple, not complicated, no need for intellectual analysis. The problem which blocks the solution is the fact that there are now too many of us (especially in the UK where we now have only have enough useable land to feed 40 - 50% of our population without importing food) to be able to do this successfully.
Interesting piece. I have recently subscribed to NS Lyons and have enjoyed his insights and writing. Being a surgeon I am a somewhere and a “real” but in a higher socioeconomic class. I certainly identify and sympathize with other somewhere/real groups. I am a nationalist/populist as well.
And I'm impressed that the aspect of the disassociated Western psyche is finally getting discussed around virtual vs physical societies.
This is to my mind is a big part of it for the Russians. Dugin has written about how he sees the Western "end-game" looking - transhumanist, AI-integrated part-humans, in inflammatory tones. I think he has some good points and I think it's valid to consider that Westerners themselves may be incapable of controlling what they have created.
Under psychological pressure, Westerners tend to dissociate from the body and inhabit a thought-dominated world. This has enabled us to create some amazing techie stuff. But I think it's good to recognise the role of dissociation here in forwarding Western culture. It's really not all sweetness and light.
Slavs, on the other hand, under the same stressors tend to internalise the wounding, holding it in.
I believe the difference between the Western intellectual mind and the minds of other races is coming to the fore and beginning to dominate geopolitics.
A lovely little intellectual fairy-tale has been spun here.
Nice interview but I'm surprised no reference was made to the US intervention in Ukraine. From what I've read there is ample reason for Putin to defend Russia from Globohomo decadence and proxy chaos and violence.
Alexander, if you enjoyed Weird, you should check out Culture Hacks by Richard Conrad to get a better understanding of the subtler and not so subtle cultural differences between the Chinese and West.
A very timely observation about pain given our nation's avoidance of and obsession with it. Lest we not forget that the "painkiller" epidemic (that sparked the opiate epidemic) was a result of a paradigm shift in modern medicine and the rise of "pain management." Growth often requires pain, any athlete knows this, but we have seemed to have forgotten it. After the Cold War, in the west, the multinational corporate state overthrew the sovereign nation state in a bloodless coup and the leaders of the new corporate state declared the playing field level. Anti-trust laws, unions, banking rules, workers’ safety regulations, and environmental protection, were deemed outdated and unnecessary hindrances to “the free market.” The politicians they owned and their mandarins in the press agreed. Increasingly overweight westerners flocked to warehouses full of cheap food, generic clothes, disposable furniture, and electronic distractions, most of it made in foreign sweatshops. Soon everyone had 500 channels, giant flat screens, and streaming porn. As long as the rich had cocaine, Cialis, Concerta, and Oxy, and the poor had crack, smack, and crystal, nobody seemed to notice the greatest consolidation of wealth in human history. Had Marx lived long enough to witness this strip mining phase of capitalism, he would have called it laissez-faire anarchy. In the end, these vast accumulations of wealth enervated the west’s transnational ruling class. Not only did they grow complacent and self-congratulatory, but their belief that the rules of geopolitics no longer applied led to strategic shortsightedness and imperial overstretch.
“the link between cultural cognition and geopolitical shifts.”
“ Morris ultimately makes the argument that it was a combination of good fortune and environmental factors that saw the West industrialise first and dominate the East.”
These two comments resonate as somewhat contradictory. And I also see them as representing a key difference in worldview that transcends geopolitics. Culture does matter not only as represented in outcomes as measured globally, but also domestically and individually. The US began its industrial revolution before the great wars. The culture embodied by The Idea that was contained in our founding documents of governance was the secret sauce that rocketed economic growth. The focus on rights of the divine individual rather than the fairness of the divine collective unleashed the creative entrepreneurial power and gave economic access to Everyman if he wanted it bad enough and would hard work and dogged persistence. It also caused men to “play chess” in politics as well as business. Unfortunately it has resulted in a corruption of corporatism today that is allowing geopolitical looting on a massive scale… but there are chess games to be played to fix it.
Also English has been the best language supporting business. It developed that way.
Ethiopia has always had abundant natural resources but it’s people have starved for centuries. Find any Spanish speaking Latin cultures that you would claim work well. Culture matters.
And the woke project is attempting to throw that baby out with the bath water. We need a civil rights renewal chess game to fix that.
Another classic on the "accidental successes" in the history of Anglo-American culture is Walter Russell Mead's "God and Gold".
This Mead video is a little bit long, but very accessible (not loaded with obscure jargon), and Mead is able to engage and entertain an audience:
I recognise myself in this avoidance of pain by (in my case) railing against everyone’s emotional reactions to Ukraine’s incredible defence when all I want is for the killing to stop. As a breach event it feels now that I have merely been wishing the war away because it pulls a rug from under me that’s been there since my birth.
Looking forward to Lyons' explanation of
Also, as a member of the intra-Beltway "foreign policy establishment", N.S. really ought to show better acquaintance with subject matter authorities like John Mearshimer, regarding Ukraine. Major omissions of basic facts like the 2014 color revolution, the Hunter Biden / Rosemont Seneca money laundering operation, etc. greatly diminish the credibility of the analysis.