Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Vignette About the Unending Inequities of Civilizations (Polemic) by Edwin L. Young, PhD

An old, filthy, disheveled, scraggly-haired, boisterous, belligerent, haggard and emaciated, homeless man is shooed away from pestering emerging customers, as though he were an annoying fly, by the grocery store’s behavior monitor.  He made such an impact on me through the virulence with which he spewed invectives willy-nilly that I frequently recalled his image in the following days. Paradoxically to me, the manner of his existence seemed to represent a kind of counter-emblem enunciating the true significance of the rich, and powerful in our society, a faction that is his extreme opposite. I remembered his spindly legs were like Vermicelli and so that is what I called him. In my mind, I was alter casting him in the role of the necessary antihero complement to the hero, named Perciatelli, in an Italian Opera.  Perciatelli, as you may know, is a long, thick, hollow type of spaghetti.  

This solitary homeless, wispy wight of a man’s raspingly shrill, crude, cacophonous tirade from the mucky, noisome city back streets seemed like it would make a fitting refrain to a lyrical leitmotif sung by the hero in an ironically tragic opera emanating from an upscale metropolitan opera house. In fact, he could well be seen as an offensive parasite, as mere castoff garbage, created by the ruthless, devil-may-care, self-indulgent, exploitation by those of High Estate ensconced in opulence and endowed with elitist education.

Are the homeless man and the elitist ‘hero’ both archetypes of evil, or is one character evil while the other is good? Did they get to be the way they are by being born that way like generic ‘bad seeds’? Are they Leibnizian monads pristinely unfolding from within, without external causal factors shaping them to be their evil selves; cases of psychological Aristotelian spontaneous generation; and simply sui generis pure evil or good (as the elitist would have it) in and of themselves? Was either, or both, of these two archetypes somehow possessed of an intransigent evil will such that efforts to reform or cure them would be in vain, futile?

On the other hand, could they be exemplars of an economically necessary symbiotic parasitism? Do civilizations simply require such a despicable plight for them to function, at all?

The issue could be looked at from still another perspective. If you consider the little vignette above, does it seem emblematic of our culture and perhaps all cultures encircling the globe? If so, could you, also, but furthermore, begin to think that there might be something wrong with the way human civilizations have evolved from the dawn of their first appearance onward? Is this the only way in which civilizations could have been, could have evolved, or the only possible way in which they could be, structured? A kind of immutable social reality? Is this inequitable condition of societies simply, brute fact, ‘social reality’ such that it is inevitable and eternally unalterable?  Is humankind inflexibly predestined to produce examples of polar opposites of people and socioeconomic class representatives like those above, each with their intertwined historical and biological inevitability? 

If we can gain a perspective on how civilization evolved and what maintains its continuing grotesque evolutionary malfunctioning trends, such as those we now endure, could we, then, possibly imagine and implement better alternative future civilizations?  If so, should we feel obligated to do so?

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