Monday, 1 August 2011

The Iron Cage and the rise of Fundamentalism (in the West and East)

In talking about the contradictions of a rational-legal society, one dominated by bureaucracy and constitutional governance - mind, created by people of high ideals and noble intents and then left to run its course for convenience's sake - , Max Weber wrote:

"How is it at all possible to salvage any remnants of 'individual' freedom of movement in any sense given this all-powerful trend?"

which I take and interpret as, how does individual conscience, responsibility and ethical behaviour come into play when all and everything becomes prescribed and predetermined by the "iron cage"?

I've been thinking about the mass murders that Breivik, Bin Laden, Hitler, the Khmer Rouge, etc. have inflicted upon humanity in terms of Weber's prophetic warnings of the dangers and contradictions of a rational-legal society, one dominated through knowledge and cavalier application of formalized power structures (be it "divinely"- or constitutionally- inspired).

It is said of Breivik that he is not insane, though his acts of mass killing clearly are. But what links him to the other monsters of human history is his own malformed brand of "line of reasoning" within a formalized system of thought that justifies power and the fealty of its subjects.

This nascent satanic verse, this double-edged sword of rational-legal systems (be it theocracies, democracies, ideologies) is easily perversed by apathy, fear, corruption, granfalloons, etc. - ie, by the baser, more selfish side of human nature - and, because it is built into the very fabric of rational governance, one that calls upon us all (as a community) to remain always vigilant in its discourse to counter the lowest common denominators - the Breiviks, the Osamas, the Adolfs, the Pots, the tea parties, the anonymous bureaucrats, and popes and grand masters of the lodge.

It is said of the great Godel in his citizenship hearing that he was just about to point out the logical basis for a dictatorship to hijack the American Constitution when his sponsor, Einstein, shut him and dragged him off before he could jeopardize his citizenship to America. Him, having just seen and fled the devastation of such a coup in Europe, I often wonder what he'd had to say about the American system.


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