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This is about the notion of the "End Times," And whether we apply it in a social or civic sense to the narratives we describe.

Note- I published this yesterday, but I had used the term "secular" to describe the opposite of a religious end times.  It seems that I was relying on the reader to have the same internalized understanding of the term that I was using.  It goes that way sometimes.  I wanted to restate it, but use clearer terms.  I didn't have any time to do it after I published, so I just pulled it, and planned to republish it.

Whatever we might call the end of the world, it's a fearsome prophecy that has driven many people to act in ways that might otherwise seem strange.  However, in terms of the end of the world, odd behavior is expected.

We might think of the end of the world as the last cycle of time when Vishnu returns.  We might think of it as the Armageddon, or the apocalypse.  Maybe we say it is the end of the Kalpa, or  we might call it Judgment Day.  In any event, the tradition of end times prophecies is long.  

The reasons are pretty simple, I think.  

1.  There seems to always be a general feeling that whatever events are taking place at any moment  among the most important events to ever take place in modern history.  
2.  We have always recognized that living things die.  We carry the concept of the circle of life very closely.  
3.  It is one of the strongest stories we can tell in order to be heard.  So we can convince people to behave in the way we would like by sharing stories about the end of the world.  

What I'm wondering is this: Do we also tell ourselves the same sorts of end times narratives in a more societal or cultural sense?  Do we use the same sort of imagery that is used in the religious end times stories to tell ourselves similar end times stories about our culture or civic institutions?

I would say yes.  

This is not a judgment on the merits of the stories we see here, and elsewhere.  There are very real world consequences to events that take place now.  That would be silly to deny.    I am also not attempting to use the idea of a cult to impugn anyone's motives.  Nor am I attempting to discredit anyone's behavior in anyway whatsoever!  

There seem to be a lot of uses of apocalyptic imagery in political, cultural, and economic writing.  We can see this at play in the actual, honest to goodness survivalists who truly believe that the shit is going to go down, and they are going to heading north at 120 MPH in full Repo Man style.  Yes, in this junker.

We can see this at play in the pseudo religious world when people are conned into believing that someone has connections with alien civilizations, or that they are somehow aware of sinister government plots.   We might even see this sort of thinking in small groups of people who do truly believe that we are in a simulated existence.  It could blink out at any moment.  

I think we could spend plenty of time searching left wing blogs and we would most definitely find a lot of language that is loaded with apocalyptic ideas and imagery.  Not necessarily in the religious meaning.  The consequences are necessarily different.  These end times scenarios would more likely involve a complete loss of individuality, and freedom.  If these conditions endure, the end of this civilization is most definitely going to be coming.  Our way of life will be destroyed.  Those would seem to be some of the lines of reasoning.  

What books or tradition to we honor in this secular "end times?" These narratives from the left and the right seem to use some of the same material.  They all seem to rely on George Orwell as a source of authoritative statements to verify the end times.  The idea seems to be that if you can apply quotes from a totalitarian dystopia to the world we currently live in, then we must indeed be near the end of our free existences.  Obviously, the Randians cling to their copies of Atlas Shrugged, dreaming for the day when they themselves will bring about the end times of the culture they live in.  Essentially, those people who go Galt will be no different than the select few in religious end times stories who are given the keys to the new civilization.  

But what actions should accompany these times?  In religious end times stories, the idea can be that there is another place that will be better.  What is required of us is that we change our behavior on Earth in order that we get a reward in that other place.  That's not to say that all end times stories go that way.  Many feature a simple destruction and rebirth cycle.  Perhaps some of those will share the notion that your change in behavior will have an impact on your chances the next time.  

What does the societal/cultural end times narrative ask from us?  First, it posits the destructive consequences of our behavior, then it goes on to specify changes that each of us needs to make, and that we need to ask others to make.  The "Good Word" is a religious term, but the idea of spreading the Gospel certainly is contained within any form of participatory persuasion.  In addition, the cultural end times narrative often requests that we even force others to adhere to the changes we wish.  In religion, there is very little to do with forcing another to accept the religion.  You can't force someone to change in a true way.  That would seem too nullify the point.  The Mormon practice of post mortem baptism is often viewed with anger and disgust.  

Interestingly, there is also a strong implication in cultural narrative that includes a necessary destruction and rebirth of the culture that is considered to be in the end times.

It just struck me that we may not be able to develop a new religious end times scenario, given the amount of knowledge we have.  We also can't seem to see a complete end to the culture we believe is in the end times.  We don't really have another place for that culture to be deposited.  Instead, the cultural end times includes the feature of imminent destruction, but also a rebirth for a new culture.  Presumably, this  narrative would include the idea that the new culture would be done correctly.  

Tue Jun 25, 2013 at  6:18 AM PT: To continue with the religious imagery, I'd like to thank whichever non denominational angel who put my diary in the community spotlight.  


Originally posted to otto on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 02:12 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The end times have been... (9+ / 0-)

    ...being declared since the beginnings of humanity.  And will be through the next hundred thousand years.

    If it was really the end I understand that Chili's plans an all you can eat "Aporkalypse."

    What would Mothra do?

    by dov12348 on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:54:43 PM PDT

  •  The movie Planet of the Apes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    otto

    was sort of like that. The apes took over the world, and everyone either was dead or enslaved. When those movies came out people were shaken. I remember that there was a movement to ensure that zoos had the proper locks to prevent apes from escaping.

    •  There is an interesting series on SYfy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, SuWho

      It's called Continuum. 2077, there is a corporate government. It's basically a company store. Anti corporatists are terrorists, and they travel back in time in order to foment anti corporate unrest in our time, in order the the future would not be a corporate govt.  REally, it's probably going to all end up being a ruse that was undertaken to ensure that the corporate government could take place under sopmeone else.  Of course, our motives are always bad.

      Streichholzschächtelchen

      by otto on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 07:20:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heat Death of the Universe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, linkage

    that is about as 'end timesy' that secularists get

    Will humans kill themselves (along with a whole bunch of other species) off? ... maybe - I hope not, but we some times act pretty fucking stupid

    But that ain't the "end times" - more like 'designed obsolescence' - we are hoisting ourselves on our own petard and if we can't evolve beyond our current pettiness, then we will wink out well before our own sun does ...  

    "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

    by josephk on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 07:31:42 PM PDT

  •  There's a BIG difference (7+ / 0-)

    Secular "end times" are either well out on the evolutionary time scale (e.g., the sun going supernova; if we didn't get those warp drives working by then we're toast, literally) or tend to be awful and terrible but unlikely to terminate civilization.  (For example, global climate change will have terrible results, but "civilization" will survive, even in the really bad scenarios.)  And there's no concept (for the most part) of settling out God's moral scores.

    Religious end times are very deterministic; the people deemed "worthy" get rendered up and everyone else is going to be tortured in improbable ways for eternity.  They also involve literal interpretations of religious texts that are utterly inconsistent with reality.  And it is inevitable (e.g., you can't come up with renewables to stop CO2 emissions because that's not what God wants).

    •  Many Civilizations Have Ended. (7+ / 0-)

      Clovis civilization ended some 10,000 years ago. An entire society and its technology and way of life vanished and right quick. Mayan civilization ended. E. N. American mound builder civilization ended. Neanderthals, depending on how much humanity you want to accord them.

      Civilization of any form known in the west over the past half millennium will certainly end with climate change. Although our species as you say probably not, and ownership, most or all technology likely will. Clearly ownership is convinced it will.

      But the civilization going forward, not real likely it will owe much other than science and to a declining degree genes, to its prehistory.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 08:27:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mayan civilization didn't end! (0+ / 0-)

        It continued right on. There were states and polities from Classic Maya to when the Spanish took over (and it took 100 years for the Spanish conquer them!) and some ideas and parts of the legacy still remain today.

    •  I would not be on civilization surviving (8+ / 0-)

      ... even another two hundred years. Collapse can happen very quickly, particularly given the level of global interdependence.

      Isolated pockets of human beings will probably survive for a fair while because we are incredibly resourceful, but it's likely to be at a very low subsistence level.

      "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

      by Demi Moaned on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 02:26:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would (0+ / 0-)

        It'll be very different, as our lives are different from those of 1813, but we're likely to continue.

        Actually, given the acceleration rate it'll probably be as different as our lives are from those of 1713.

        "Don't be defeatist, dear. It's very middle class." - Violet Crawley

        by nightsweat on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 09:53:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  There are always end times we just resist seeing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    otto, Words In Action, linkage

    life death process that way.  We prefer to deny death and loss and endings when they go on all the time.  The big calapse end with the sun falling into itself, well yah that will happen in the far future and we should be well away to parts unknown by that time, if we can manage to muddle through assorted human idiocies.

  •  Let's say that the world does not end (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    otto, linkage

    soon. Eventually, technology (which is advancing at an ever-advancing clip) will enable people to travel in time, at least backwards. Yet we are not visited by people from the future trying to alter our course. If humanity never is able to figure out time travel, that is one fact pointing to us having a rather short future. Of course, it is possible that we will have a long future but that time travel will never be figured out. So this data point proves nothing. But it does point to one possibility.

    •  Funny about time travel (0+ / 0-)

      On time travel, we simply can't say that we will or won't be able to travel through time.  We might believe that it could happen.  We might wish it were possible.  

      The reason we can't come to the conclusion that time travel will exist is that we have yet to see anyone from another time.  Sure, they might be here, lurking.  Who knows?  

      Streichholzschächtelchen

      by otto on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 02:44:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, we do know that time travel (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        otto, linkage

        will never be very popular. If it were, we'd see people from the future all the time. So if it ever is perfected, we know now, for a fact, that it will be used in a very limited way. And it is hard to see how they'd be able to prevent it from being used widely eventually. So I don't think we can throw out the information we have, which is that we can glean some information from the fact that we are not aware of any time travelers (nor have our ancestors had run-ins with them).

        •  I love time travel (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage, nightsweat

          My favorite sci fi involves time travel.  

          I think my favorite time travel movie ever is called "Primer" .

          It's a small budget film starting the writer and director.  I had to rewatch it with my son just so that I could stop the movie and explain it in a way that would make it so that I could actually get it.

          Streichholzschächtelchen

          by otto on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 02:56:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  We don't know that. (0+ / 0-)

          Time travel could simply split off another universe and our timeline would never see the time traveler even if he originally started out here.

          •  Not if the time traveler goes (0+ / 0-)

            backwards. He'd have to travel backwards within his own timeline.

            •  The instant he arrived, his... (0+ / 0-)

              ...presence would create another timeline (B) to avoid a paradox. Whatever happened, the timeline the traveler came from (A) would not be altered. If he went into the future he would find the future of (B) but it would be impossible for him to get back to (A). Even a single breath could begin a change in the ordering of air molecules that could result in vast changes... or barely any changes at all. He could return to a timeline (Aa) almost identical to his own, but it still wouldn't be the original (A).

              Or at least that's one theory! ;)

              Another is that a time traveler wouldn't be able to interact with the past at all, to avoid a paradox without changing the timeline. So I assume you'd just be in a sensory deprivation void in that case.

              Time travel theories are always fun to play around with.

  •  Oh, great. (6+ / 0-)

    The world will end before transfolk get equal rights.  That just figures.

  •  I do think one's age has something to do with it. (5+ / 0-)

    My observation is that apocalyptic thinking is correlated to age, myself included.  Pure armchair psychologizing, but could it be that it's difficult for us to imagine the world going on without us, therefore the world must be drawing to a close as our mortality becomes more immediate?

    As far a religious end times go, most of what appears in the Hebrew bible has nothing to do with any heaven or hell. It's YHWH marching down to vanquish the enemies of the good guys and restore the good guys to prominence, the good buys being the Israelites.  It's pretty easy to understand that as a powerless people hoping for deus ex machina to rescue them of the Day of the LORD.

  •  Catastrophism (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, linkage, yella dawg, otto

    I recently read a book with that title that talks about "end time" rhetoric and catastrophe rhetoric and it's effects on the left and the right. It's very common in society today. One of the manifestations of how common it is is the zombie apocalypse genre. The environmental movement is one example of a secular version of the end times rhetoric. Of course, the collapse of the biome is in fact a possibility if we don't adjust our behavior, so there's some reality behind that one.

    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

    by AoT on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 03:31:32 PM PDT

  •  There is, perhaps (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    otto, AoT, Words In Action, linkage, METAL TREK

    another reason why folk are tempted to speculate on "end of times".

    Simply that nothing is forever, and our world is young, and our Sun has a finite life.

    So things, certainly as we know them, will end. What happens then is down to us, I guess.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 03:41:46 PM PDT

  •  Every culture (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, bartcopfan, nickrud

    believes it is central to every thing, just as every child believes it is the center of the universe.

    "Oh, no!  Things are changing!  This means the end of the world!" is a saying that has been current for all of recorded history.

    And we're still here.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 03:42:42 PM PDT

  •  I'm among those that believe (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, linkage, otto

    we're sitting at the end of the world as we know it.  The economic and social impact of climate change, energy depletion, and scarce water is going to be devastating.  There will be wars, there will be famines, there will be economic collapse.  This is a global problem, not simply a national problem, and energy efficient light bulbs, hybrid cars, and meatless Mondays are not enough to solve it.  Nor do I see the political will among nations-- including our own -- to pursue the regulation and technology incentives to address it (which would also have to include serious population control).  We are genuinely in the sort of collapse situation described so well by Jared Diamond.  This is not a religious narrative, but a perfectly predictable set of extrapolations from science and sociology.

    When I say "end of the world as we know it", I am not talking about the extinction of humanity or anything like that.  I'm saying we'll see the disappearance of consumer culture that we now know (because of the economic collapse that will accompany these things), governments will likely take a very different form (probably smaller and more fascist leaning given how humans deal with crisis; observe how we lost our collective minds after 9-11 and opened the way to a police state and endless war), and there will probably be a pretty horrific decline in population.

    •  Wishful thinking (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, otto

      As is about 99% of apocalyptic thinking (the other 1% would be scenarios of us being whacked with a really big asteroid or something of that order).

      You don't like consumer culture and so you wish it would disappear. Unfortunately for you, you're in a very small and perpetually disappointed minority. Two thousand years ago, the Chinese Confucian philosopher Xunzi held that evil appeared in the world because human desires are limitless, but materials to satisfy those desires are limited. Even if there were only two people in the world, sooner or later they would come to blows about something. And I'm sure if you looked, you'd find that he had many forerunners in different world cultures. But very few people ever listen to them.

      What goods that culture is based on may change, but the love human beings have for bling will endure. It is absolutely universal, except for cultures that are so tightly controlled by some tradition or religion that very few of us would want any part of them.

      And I guess you missed the diary a while back that eviscerated Jarod Diamond as a shallow and formulaic thinker. It isn't wise to base any argument on him at all.

      Modern society could collapse, of course. It didn't come with a guarantee. But if it does, I'd give heavy odds that it will be from a surprise cause. It's the one  you don't hear coming that gets you.

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 06:48:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So are you saying (4+ / 0-)

        you're a Climate Change and/or Resource Depletion Denier or that you don't think there impact will effect the limits of consumption?

        Add the median effective tax rate, healthcare costs (20%?), education costs, and other things guaranteed in Denmark & Sweden, we pay MORE for LESS. Somebody's gotta pay the billionaires. They don't grow on trees. ☮ ♥ ☺

        by Words In Action on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:20:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, that's quite a comment. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, AdamSelene

        It's not that I don't "like" consumer culture-- indeed, I'm quite a consumer myself --it's that consumption as we know it today has a very real impact on climate and there's only so much energy available to sustain that sort of consumption.  Couple this with ever growing populations, and we have a perfect storm.  There's no "wishful thinking" here as I think the future looks quite bleak and wretched.  It looks bleak and wretched not only materially, but also socially as people tend to get pretty awful when resources are scarce.  This is not a world that I care to live in, nor that I wish on future generations.

      •  And I'm not even (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage

        sure where to begin with your comparison of our current circumstances to those of Xunzi.  Materially these two worlds Are entirely different in terms of their impact on the environment and their draw on water and energy.

  •  you may like our book on this topic (4+ / 0-)

    Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World

    The Global Economy that sustains the civilized world is destroying the biosphere. As a result, civilization, like the Titanic, is on a collision course with disaster. But changing course via the body politic appears to be well nigh impossible, given that much of the populace lives in denial. Why is that? And how did we get into such a fix? In this essay, biologists James Coffman and Donald Mikulecky argue that the reductionist model of the world developed by Western civilization misrepresents life, undermining our ability to regulate and adapt to the accelerating anthropogenic transformation of the world entrained by that very model. An alternative worldview is presented that better accounts for both the relational nature of living systems and the developmental phenomenology that constrains their evolution. Development of any complex system reinforces specific dependencies while eliminating alternatives, reducing the diversity that affords adaptive degrees of freedom: the more developed a system is, the less potential it has to change its way of being. Hence, in the evolution of life most species become extinct. This perspective reveals the limits that complexity places on knowledge and technology, bringing to light our hubristically dysfunctional relationship with the natural world and increasingly tenuous connection to reality. The inescapable conclusion is that, barring a cultural metamorphosis that breaks free of deeply entrenched mental frames that made us what we are, continued development of the Global Economy will lead inexorably to the collapse of civilization.

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:02:45 PM PDT

  •  I think the whole notion... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, JosephK74, otto, METAL TREK, nickrud

    of end-times is a purely religious one.  Christians (and others) believe in a beginning and an end, with some kind of struggle in the middle requiring a judgment or a perfecting phase just before or at the end.  And that's it.  Others suggest a cycle or period of struggle before the cycle restarts.  Some believe that things begin and end simultaneously from moment to moment.

    I think eventually we'll run out of oil, and the world will be very different.  For our culture to survive, there will be changes... and hard choices, but does that qualify for an "end-time"?  I don't think so, at least not in the sense of an eschatology where history actually ends.

    •  What I thought I might discover (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lalo456987

      When I wrote this, I took care not to equate religious belief with commitment to activism on an issue.  

      In specific, I wanted to avoid conflict that might arise due to a misunderstanding of my treatment of that issue.  I didn't want to be responding to comments that took this diary to be equating environmentalism to religious belief, for instance.  

      I knew that some of the responses would assert that their position was correct, while the religious end times isn't.  

      To the end times believer, there is little distinction in trueness of their belief.  

      They would probably say the same thing about their religious belief.  They would say that their end times belief is true, so it really isn't a psychological or anthropological phenomenon.  It's just the truth, according to them.

      Streichholzschächtelchen

      by otto on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 06:11:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not really ... my Marxist ancestors (0+ / 0-)

      (and I've got some simon-pure "1905 Revolutionary" great uncles in Mt. Hebron cemetary)  firmly believed in a dual apocalypse theory:

      First would be The Revolution:  after which we would all "eat strawberries and cream"  (whether or not we LIKE strawberries and cream).

      And after an unspecified but fairly lengthy stretch of time

      Would be the Withering of the State: which does, at first hearing, seem to have a lot in common with the post-Apocalyptic "Kingdom" following the Communion of
      Saints in Paradise.

      (I suspect Marx and Engles of having read a lot of  Christian Scripture under the covers after lights-out.)

      The thing I find utterly ironic, is that I do see The Withering of the State coming about. But  unlike in  the Gospel according to Oncle Karl version,  the Withering isn't Communist led.  Instead, it is (what Marx would have called) The International Cartel  (read: Army of the Antichrist ) bringing an end to European style "total war" ... tamping down local/tribal wars ...  abolishing actual starvation for most the Wretched of the Earth -- and doing it with considerably fewer secret police  and orchestrated famines than the Marxist/Leninist/Maoist political apparatchiks seemed to find necessary.  

      •  It's interesting (0+ / 0-)

        The religious end times obviously are suited to the religious held ideology, so I find it interesting that ideology is what drives your opinion that the end of this culture is coming.

        Streichholzschächtelchen

        by otto on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 12:57:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, please ! "The End of the culture" happens (0+ / 0-)

          like clockwork ... every few generations.

          As it happens many people feels  it's "the end of the world."  (vide: Civil Rights, Feminism and the Internet.)

          But as Apocalypses go non of these quite stack up,   to Asteroid Strike, Climate Change or Nuclear War.

          So ... I find it "interesting" how easily you can dismiss long-term observation as being merely driven by ideology.

  •  More bible BS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, blueoasis

    Please no one with half a brain believes that shit.

    Hillary Clinton 2016

    by artr2 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:42:26 PM PDT

    •  The point of the diary (0+ / 0-)

      It's that we have a tendency towards this sort of doomsday thinking.  Religious belief was an attempt to explain the world at a time when that was the only tool we had.  Scientific thinking wouldn't be heard of for thousands of years, so we were left to blame some unseen actors.  

      The idea is that we use that sort of apocalyptic imagery in the non religious world.  

      So it's not about whether or not it's true.  It's about the idea that we use this sort of doomsday thinking as a persuasive device.

      Streichholzschächtelchen

      by otto on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 05:59:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One always present recurring theme (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, otto, nightsweat

    in end time mythologies, secular or religious, is that after all the shit hits the fan, what comes after will eventually be BETTER.  

    As a religious example, the Christian apocalypse has a happy ending.  Jesus comes back, the bad guys lose, the good guys go to heaven yippee.  As a more secular, political example, you can go to Marx.  The internal inconsistencies of capitalism will cause it to ultimately fail and bring about the death of capitalism, and from it shall arise, like a phoenix, a socialist state.  We heard many echoes of that here in diaries during the financial meltdown.  

    A very different way of looking at things is the CYCLIC non-end times apocalypse.  You already mentioned the religious example of Vishnu.  That's very different from the Christian idea of apocalypse.  Since all this has happened before, and will happen again, everything that happens is a bit less dramatic.  It's all just a part of a long play with some nasty parts to it, and there's no point in grieving over them to much.

    I suppose my political philosophy is a bit more like that.  We're doomed to repeat class conflicts for the rest of history.  That doesn't mean we shrug it off.  We just have to remember our parts in the play.  The wealthy and the powerful always want to maintain the status quo or to increase their wealth and power.  They will view those who oppose them as barbarians intent on destroying their good times.  But those of us that identify with the poor and oppressed will always have a different part to play.

    I guess, in a way, I envision social politics as an ecological predator-prey relationship.

    Remember that scene at the beginning of the Lion King where the baboon witch-doctor holds up the baby Simba to the sky and all the animals on the plains look up and howl and bark and trumpet in celebration?  I imagine that makes a lot of sense IF YOU'RE A FUCKING LION.  What about those zebras, though?  What the hell are they cheering about?  Lions eat zebras!  Elton John is there singing, "The ciiiiiircle of life..." to explain it.  Of course.  When the lion kills the zebra, the zebra is supposed to say, "Oh, this sucks, but oh, the circle of life!  So, yeah, I'll just die and let you eat me in front of my family."

    There are always going to be zebras.  There are always going to be some social equivalent of the lions.  And there's always going to be a battle between the lions and the zebras over just who gets to eat whom.

    •  Zebras don't fight back ... the invent theolology (0+ / 0-)

      that rationalizes and justifies the necessity of  breeding lots of little Zebras so the Lions are fat slow and contented to eat only the weak and the infirm.

      Sort of the way Democrats wage Class War in the House.

  •  Thank You ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    otto

    Scheduled to be re-published on Street Prophets.

    JON

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:18:15 PM PDT

  •  Fascinating diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    otto

    I believe End Times imagery, whether supernatural or not, serves an important role and purpose that you delineated out in your diary. It creates a vivid image of impending doom, is accompanied by a call to action, and carries with it a promise of something better. I could not tell whether your diary carried with it an aspersion on 'End Times', at some points I thought it did, at others I thought it didn't.

    But I came away seeing that End Times imagery is just a more elaborate form of standard rhetoric and argumentation. The point is not for it to be literally true, but to be culturally significant and politically resonant. To quote Clifford Geertz:

    In discussing the cognitive inadequacies by which ideology is defined for them, Sutton et al. use as an example of the ideologist's tendency to "oversimplify" the denomination by organized labor of the Taft-Hartley Act as a "slave labor law":

    "Ideology tends to be simple and clear-cut. even where its simplicity and clarity do less than justice to the subject under discussion. The ideological picture uses sharp lines and contrasting blacks and whites. The ideologist exaggerates and caricatures in the fashion of the cartoonist. In contrast, a scientific description of social phenomena is likely to be fuzzy and indistinct. [n recent labor ideology the Taft-Hartley Act has been a "slave labor act." By no dispassionate examination does the Act merit this label. Any detached assessment of the Act would have to consider its many provisions individually. On any set of values, even those of trade unions themselves, such an assessment would yield a mixed verdict. But mixed verdicts are not the stuff of ideology. They are too complicated, too fuzzy. Ideology must categorize the Act as a whole with a symbol to rally workers, voters and legislators to action ."

    Leaving aside the merely empirical question of whether or not it is in fact true that ideological formulations of a given set of social phenomena are inevitably "simpler" than scientific formulations of the same phenomena, there is in this argument a curiously depreciatory one might even say "oversimple" view of the thought processes of labor union leaders on the one hand and "workers, voters and legislators" on the other.

    It is rather hard to believe that either those who coined and disseminated the slogan themselves believed or expected anyone else to believe that the law would actually reduce (or was intended to reduce) the American worker to the status of a slave or that the segment of the public for whom the slogan had meaning perceived it in any such terms.

    Yet it is precisely this flattened view of other people's mentalities that leaves the sociologist with only two interpretations, both inadequate, of whatever effectiveness the symbol has: either it deceives the uninformed (according to interest theory), or it excites the unreflective (according to strain theory). That it might in fact draw its power from its capacity to grasp, formulate, and communicate social realities that elude the tempered language of science, that it may mediate more complex meanings than its literal reading suggests, is not even considered. "Slave labor act" may be, after all, not a label but a trope.

    More exactly, it appears to be a metaphor or at least an attempted metaphor. Although very few social scientists seem to have read much of it, the literature on metaphor "the power whereby language, even with a small vocabulary, manages to embrace a multimillion things" is vast and by now in reasonable agreements

    Of course, the "End Times" is always happening... both gradually and literally. At every moment somebody is dying, and the world as experienced and perceived by that person, is coming to an end. At the same time society as a whole is in constant change and flux. Its past self is always dying and a new self being born.

    "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

    by randomfacts on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:23:22 PM PDT

  •  Yes, It's Psychological... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    otto

    ...to declare the end of days.  Heck, the early Christians thought they were in them, and they were hardly the first.

    However, societies and cultures do fall.  Rome did, several incarnations of Persia did, the Hittites did, and the Aztecs did too.  Not everything is psychological.

    I paid no attention at all to the year-2000 (or was it 2004?) millenialists who looked to Nostradamus or the Bible or whatever else (oh, right, 2012 too) for some kind of paranormal brick wall.  I'm more concerned with what's happening physically.

    And I think things like global warming and peak oil are in fact very large, and getting larger, controls on what our society is capable of.  The end of times? Maybe not completely, but we're very likely in for some big changes soon.

    •  As I said (0+ / 0-)

      While I may have had different issues in mind while I was writing, I wasn't intending to make it about whether or not the things themselves are true.

      THe reason I didn't want to do that is because then we would have to engage in a discussion about what the nature of "truth"  is.  

      I am not a religious believer.  I've never been a religious believer.  

      The question that caused me to avoid this issue was whether or not the religious believer actually has a different type or level of belief than the policy focused individual.  

      Streichholzschächtelchen

      by otto on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 06:06:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's like being stuck watching a bad movie. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, otto, MNPundit

    It's not the end of the world, it just feels that way.

  •  Most end-time scenarios (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    otto

    Are about the ones you hate being punished.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 10:14:49 AM PDT

  •  We may be going where we're going (0+ / 0-)

    whether we want to go there or not. How much more apocalyptic weather do we need before we understand it's not stopping? The rising oceans are not stopping.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:57:22 PM PDT

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