The New & Necessary Fundamentalisms: Rough Notes on political action and negotiation for the good life, globally, in the 21st Century
This note means to be brief, the central purpose of it is to articulate this, globally speaking in our understanding of the basis for our political life beyond economics we are at an impasse that is based on the illusion that we have reached the end of history and that neither left or right has anything to offer, and only the market remains. My argument is made here with a view towards re-invigorating politics without entirely overturning the global order. Firstly, we need the competition between the left and the right, and despite being prima facie victorious both sides have lost their way and are stuck in arguments based on historical conditions that have passed and been fulfilled; we are no longer in a financially capitalist world but a world driven by capital – where though not completely implemented a central proposal about human life has been accepted – that all human beings are of equal dignity and because of this certain ways and modes of being (even if in existence) are actually outside of the boundaries of how we function as human beings; therefore, no legitimate political action can occur that is based on the premise that one human being is fundamentally unequal to another, and that anything that negates the life-extending possibilities of human life is the central problematic for the world to resolve – not the acquisition of survival in nature per se – which in historical material terms humans have now triumphed – in the war with nature and our nature – humans have won a great truce; though it is not true in practice, it is true in fact that starvation is an impossibility for the human animal in the world that we have created; as such the division between left and right is no longer on the basis of whether we should communally pool our resources or whether we should concentrate resources and liberty into the individual, rather it is more a question of a.) how we do those things b.) how we do them within a responsible custodianship of two places – the earth and the heavens, particularly our immediate outer space.
There are fundamentally two groups – as there were at the extremes -communists and fascists – we now have market fundamentalists and nature fundamentalists* (Please note, nature and market here are broad terms, that for example in the case of nature tries to mean the fundament of the thing and in terms of market tries to mean the power of the thing) – a wide variety of issues criss-cross within this two ideological frameworks, however, within these broad-rubrics are all the social issues in contestation in today’s world, yet are rarely reflected in the political contestations for power because the class groupings are not entirely clear, nor the power bases to mobilise people into electoral or representative action; however, this author believes the underlying structures are there and political actors need to interpret and act upon them better – as well as recognise that certain historical conditions and interpretations are no longer as they were – this is particularly relevant for the left, which continues to fight a capitalism that has already transformed itself, when it should be focused on the mobilisation of its own capital, which is social capital, including but not exclusively, labour, migration and biological capital inherent in each person; the left still has the historic responsibility of extending the boundaries of The Freedom From, in the same way that the right has the historic responsibility of liberty (The Freedom To) – both of these central complementarities and tensions expressed in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Within this wide field of contestations, there are the inhuman political conditions that neither left or right can legitimately stand for – except as extremists – ideally politically neutralised extremists – and these are (Climate Change and its attendant genocidal power, Racism and the hierarchical use of racial categorisation to order the world including the poverty of majority black and brown nations, financialization that completely disconnects financial concepts from the actual lived experience of all human beings, and this includes rich individuals whose empty materialism leads to chronic mental health issues that fuel further acquisitiveness and economic destruction, usually far away from their personal lives; identititarian politics divided from an acknowledge of a positive central human experience and freedom of expression, and lastly, an unanchored global currency economy, a historical condition that occurred with the removal of the gold standard and its link to the world’s reserve currency – a situation which now needs to be politically corrected.) It is of course easy and sweeping to articulate this position and harder to implement into real politics which has the purpose of all government – maintaining the ship of state and society, ensuring the good life for people, and defending against threat. In the situation of Great Britain and Nigeria, which are the two political and cultural contexts most known to this author – the ideological cleavages between the market fundamentalists and the nature fundamentalists are clear, though they are largely or to some extent not always reflected in formal politics – which is to say political parties and actors have not found a way to connect the great historical shifts we are experiencing with how they talk and mobilise people so that society can choose between competing goals, though from place to place and time to time particular positions are expressed. It should be noted that the ideological tendency at the moment is not necessarily expressed by the usual suspects, i.e. one might expect a right winger/conservative to be a market fundamentalist and a left winger a nature fundamentalist however as we are in flux it is not the case – the most telling is the issue of gay marriage; in the UK, the law permitting this was introduced by the conservatives and the argument put forward was one of nature fundamentalism (People are born gay, and therefore they should be free to love as their biology dictates) – whereas in Nigeria, the basis for introducing a law against gay marriage was fundamentally a market argument – the electoral buyers it was argued are primarily against homosexuality therefore the bill was introduced, and further the reason for ‘their’ – their being understood as the moral majority – opposition to gay marriage was not on the basis of nature, but the particular culture or market sphere of the society. There are other areas in which these ideological shifts exist – for example, around bio-hacking – a market fundamentalist sees the possibility of a market for this and begins the process of creating a product, without a consideration of a natural base of biological information, which a nature fundamentalist takes as their first consideration, asserting that such natural conditions should not be interfered with. IIn the greater political and social matter of our age, climate change, these differences are of course starkest – the market fundamentalists argue that the fossil fuel economy and other elements are necessary to maintain what is considered the good life for human beings, and that if a solution is needed is a market solution that would be the most appropriate; the nature fundamentalist argument asserts at its furthest that regardless of human development needs the preservation of nature is most important and a market conceptualisation needs to be disregarded, which is to say they argue that nature is priceless; two more examples, in the United States of America particularly, Healthcare and Abortion have become the two issues across which there is a cultural mason-dixie line – except for the fact that it is theoretically possible for women to decline to have relationships with or interactions with men in a state where abortion rights are restricted and leave such states en masse – the nature fundamentalist position asserts that birth is a natural process which should only be regulated in so far as it allows the new life to emerge- whereas the market fundamentalist asserts that the person with the right of exchange to bring a new life into the world is the person bearing the biological person and material possible for it to do so, i.e. the woman, who owns the product, a body and its data; the last example for the present is in the area of property, the market fundamentalist asserts that bricks and mortar are a store of value to be traded and the nature fundamentalist argues that the building is first and foremost a tool for shelter, and all the extended versions of that, that humans have devised. It should be said here that these two ideological positions are necessarily caricatures or sketches of extremes, and the push and pull of both ideological positions is likely present in one individual rather than being two dogmatic personality types, though the social position connected to some of the actions, values and attitudes are more likely to exist in distinct people and in intra-identity conflicts.There vast areas of society that can be further examined from this rubric to identify the central plain of contestation for this and the generation to come in the political space as well as the solicitation of mass action and opinion and the shaping of mass consent – within the two containers all human society accepts tacitly or explicitly via the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its similar articulations, which descend not from one cultures concept of rights but are a well of values from across the globe including the laws promulgated by Ashoka, to the considerations and compassion of figures like Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), alongside the historical experiences of suffering and redemption by particular peoples and cultures, especially Black Africans, Hebrews, and the first nations of the Americas and Oceania. There are political classes to mobilise around both these positions of market and nature, and it should be clear that in a purely ideological consideration and awareness of managed competition between human ideals, neither of these is completely flawed and both have proponents wealthy and poor, elite and non-elite, established and non-established, and both have a particular risk of annihilation that they pose to humanity. In mobilising this understanding, political parties might consider that social groups might mobilise around issues along the rubrics in this way, and while they may continue with their current names and designations, their language and mobilising actions have to begin mapping onto the real social regroupings of human society that have moved beyond the simple description of capitalist and workers, and the simple division between individualism versus community, even though some of the economic realities of those designations remain very real, they are not the only practical basis for the ideological mobilisations of the 21st century – lastly, the market fundamentalist is likely to principally view or want the state to be ‘the regulatory state’ – whereas the nature fundamentalist wants the state to be a ‘steward state’.
|Market Fundamentalists/ism||Nature Fundamentalists/ism|
|The individual as marketable and marketeered entity||The individual as a repository of social, rights and political capital|
|Humans as rational economic actors||Humans as emotional and social actors|
|Society as composed of hardworking individuals, hustlers and a periphery of scroungers and losers||Society as a network of humans needing both participation with each other and care|
|Nature as fundamentally a resource to be exploited for the enjoyment of human life and the maximisation of profit||Nature as fundamentally a gift and resource to be managed with the responsibility of a steward|
|Data as a product to be traded and principally produced by the actions of corporations||Data as an inalienable right of humans both via biology and social action|
|Labour principally as a product of an exchange between a capitalist and a labourer, physio-cognitive or cerebro-physical||Labour as principally a relationship of exchange between social entrepreneurial actors|
|Generational wealth as the result of enterprise to be protected and expanded in furtherance of individual liberty, pleasure, and happiness||Generational wealth as the result of historical processes and products that need to be embedded in the commonwealth|
|Health and Poverty as a product or social challenge to be addressed by a market or enterprise solution||Health inequality and poverty as a fundamental part of human society to be ameliorated by benevolent social action|
|Taxation as a limited source of and for regulatory power||Taxation as a source of social power and direction|
One last thing, in respect of the UK, a political alliance of parties such as the greens, labour and the liberal democrats and mapping on to many of the ‘centre ground’ ideological positions of nature fundamentalism is likely to result in a shift in political power we predict, that would empower the progressive left; in the global respect, the left needs to mobilise the freedom from the genocidal possibility of climate change and inequality, represented by the inability of individuals and societies to use their in born cultural, social and biological capital and data and the right needs to mobilise around the freedom to have a market life within the rubric of a regulated human existence that recognises the externalities of commercial and capitalist actions however distant from the centre of its decision-making.