Global / Local

Universal          -          Particular
Global               -          Local
Tepid                 -          Vivid
Mono                 -          Poly
Many                 -          Few
Disconnected    -          Connected
Definitive          -          Relative
Tourist               -          Pilgrim
Impersonal        -          Personal
Abstract            -          Concrete

In dissolving tradition, Modernity abolished every level in between the individual and the universal/global. First and foremost we are members of the global collective, united by the principles of liberal democracy (“egalitarianism, individualism, rationalism”…), but we can only be members of the global collective by forsaking any intervening identity. ‘Englishness’ detracts from ‘European’, which in turn detracts from ‘Global Citizen.’ Under liberalism each intervening identity becomes backwards and parochial compared to the all-embracing Global Citizen (the 'individual broadly construed' as Haidt puts it).

We need to be able to define levels in between Individual—Universal, but on what basis do we form these groupings? How, for instance, do you define a nation as distinct from other nations? How do you reassert a ‘national identity’ under the dissolutive influence of Globalism?

If the distinction is simply defined by the mere happenstance of location (i.e. anyone within these borders is ‘English’) then 'Englishness' simply becomes a co-ordinate, a segment of the larger whole - meaningless, in other words. There must be a binding element, a set of commonalities, that gives meaning and character to a grouping. Some have proposed ethnicity as this element.

Because liberalism acts against groupings (between Individual—Global) there can be no shared sense-making framework other than reason/science, which is abstract and universal (‘objective’, the same for everyone) rather than particular to a place or people.

Ideas are permitted within the marketplace - a superficial churning of views and interests - as long as they don’t threaten the sanctity of the liberal order (Popper’s ‘Paradox of Tolerance’). There must always be a rotation - no single idea can win. A tradition (in this context, the perseverance of a set of ideas over time) can never take root. If it doesn’t work at the universal level it is no good, hence any parochial sense-making framework is rejected out of hand. Lacking in subsidiary levels, the global scale is inherently anti-tradition.

Liberalism is a fundamentally dissolutive force. It works to dissolve any non-universal programme i.e. any tradition (because tradition is by its nature specific and exclusive).

Any attempt at an alternative sense-making framework at the global level is automatically felt as fascist or totalitarian, which points towards the need for subsidiary levels - national, local - where tradition can take root. Tradition works best at smaller scales - when imposed beyond a certain scale (‘human scale’) it becomes inappropriate. Monoculture is not in itself a bad idea, but monoculture-at-scale is.

When there are no subsidiary levels between Individual—Global then every contagious idea threatens to become a global pandemic (every idea is seen in the context of global, rather than local). Subsidiarity prevents spread, keeps things 'in their place,' and helps define a place for things.

Most of the tension resides between

1) Embedded, complexity-minded, multiscale/fractal localism (politics as an ecology/complex adaptive system), and
2) Abstract one-dimensional universalists and monoculturalism (politics as a top-down engineering project).”

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]

The tide is out, and globalism is exposed. In its place, watch for the rise of localism.

This won’t be some Jeffersonian agrarian world where we’re all threshing our own wheat, but a complex, locally–adapted system that is vibrant and resilient because it’s interconnected but not centrally controlled. 

Our current supply chain and financial system evolved by using standardization to create efficiencies. Finding “synergies” led to geometric growth of certain companies, lowering nominal costs for customers and concentrating decision-making among few. For example, four companies are now responsible for 70% of the pork production in the U.S.

The sticker price might appear lower at the grocery store, but hidden costs exist.

Think of it this way: A $4 Mr. C’s hotdog sounds like a deal, but it comes with the low-probability kicker that if a virus/terrorist/cyber-attack occurs, we might be sheltering in place for an extended period of time and our economy could go down the toilet along with millions of jobs. Now consider a locally–sourced hotdog that costs $5, $6, or even $15. Localism would likely result in higher nominal cost, but if localized decision-making, supply chains and finance prevented being shut-in at home, hoping centralized governments and corporations can avoid being overwhelmed, what is that worth?

Some things are better managed at scale, just not ALL things. By pushing most decision-making to the locally-dispersed, what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “fractal localism”, we can maximize customization, adaptation, and responsiveness while still keeping those systems and institutions that are most effective across locales.

[Eric Weatherholtz]
'Localism: Retail’s Coronavirus Hangover Cure'

Things appeared to be getting better and better but our prosperity was built on credit. The things we gained came at the price of an increasingly fragile system, caused by ever-increasing imbalances.


1. The principle of subsidiarity which holds that the state should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently.

2. If a complex function is carried out at a local level just as effectively as on the national level, the local level should be the one to carry out the specified function.

3. Subsidiarity assumes that people are by their nature social beings, and emphasizes the importance of small and intermediate-sized communities or institutions, like the family, the church, trade unions and other voluntary associations, as mediating structures which empower individual action and link the individual to society as a whole.

4. But the principle of subsidiarity also allows for some decisions to be taken at regional or national (or indeed international) levels, for example in order to protect human rights or for reasons of social or economic justice.


What kind of Europe do you believe in?

It would be built on the strengths, cultures and heritage of its constituent nations. 

The fundamental principle which would guide its institutions would be that everything that can be done at family level would be entrusted to the family, everything that can be done at the local or regional or national level would be decentralized accordingly.

I believe that democracy functions properly when it is local and participatory.

[James Goldsmith]
The Trap, p. 65

What is the meaning of democracy, freedom, human dignity, standard of living, self-realisation, fulfilment? Is it a matter of goods, or of people? Of course it is a matter of people. But people can be themselves only in small comprehensible groups. 

Therefore we must learn to think in terms of an articulated structure that can cope with a multiplicity of small-scale units. 

If economic thinking cannot grasp this it is useless. If it cannot get beyond its vast abstractions, the national income, the rate of growth, capital/output ratio, input-output analysis, labour mobility, capital accumulation; if it cannot get beyond all this and make contact with the human realities of poverty, frustration, alienation, despair, breakdown, crime, escapism, stress, congestion, ugliness, and spiritual death, then let us scrap economics and start afresh.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 62

In the United States, both classical and progressive liberals placed liberal nation-building at the core of its mission, particularly the transfer of political devotions from concrete localities to the abstraction of the nation.

One of the key differences between "conservatives” and “progressives” today is over whether liberalism can and should see its primary locus as the nation or the world.

Both sides share the view that liberalism is a universalist philosophy, but they differ over how best to advance that universalism. Mainstream conservatives have sought to advance liberal universalism through the vehicle of the nation, primarily through globalized economic policy and aggressively interventionist and even imperialist militarism.

Liberals believe that the nationstate must eventually be superseded by global governance, best represented today by the European Union.

[Patrick J. Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.xix

A core ambition of liberalism is the liberation of such appetites from the artificial constraints of culture either to liberate them entirely as a condition of our freedom, or, where they require constraint, to place them under the uniform and homogenized governance of promulgated law rather than the inconstant impositions and vagaries of diverse cultures.

From the outset, proponents of liberalism understood that cultural constraints over expression and pursuit of appetite were obstacles to the realization of a society premised upon unleashing erstwhile vices (such as greed) as engines of economic dynamism, and that state power might be required to overturn cultural institutions responsible for containing such appetites.

Today, with the success of the liberal project in the economic sphere, the powers of the liberal state are increasingly focused on dislocating those remaining cultural institutions that were responsible for governance of consumer and sexual appetite-purportedly in the name of freedom and equality, but above all in a comprehensive effort to displace cultural forms as the ground condition of liberal liberty.

Only constraints approved by the liberal state itself can finally be acceptable. The assumption is that legitimate limits upon liberty can arise only from the authority of the consent-based liberal state.

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.69

Community begins with the family but extends outward to incorporate an appropriate locus of the common good. For [Wendell] Berry, the common good can be achieved only in small, local settings.

These dimensions cannot be precisely drawn, but Berry seems to endorse the town as the basic locus of commonweal, and the region mainly in the economic and not interpersonal realm. He is not hostile toward a conception of national or even international common good, but he recognizes that the greater scope of these larger units tends toward abstraction, which comes always at the expense of the flourishing of real human lives.

Larger units than the locality or the region can flourish in the proper sense only when their constitutive parts flourish.

Modern liberalism, by contrast, insists on the priority of the largest unit over the smallest, and seeks everywhere to impose a homogenous standard on a world of particularity and diversity. One sees this tendency everywhere in modern liberal society, from education to court decisions that nationalize sexual morality, from economic standardisation to minute and exacting regulatory regimes.

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.80-1

[Tocqueville] stressed that it was the nearness and immediacy of the township that made its citizens more likely to care and take an active interest not only in their own fates but in the shared fates of their fellow citizens.

By contrast, he noted a striking lack of attentiveness to more distant political centers of power, including both state and an even more distant federal government, where only a few ambitious men might govern but which otherwise was of little concern to the active citizens within the township.

Tocqueville would have regarded a citizenry that was oblivious to local self-governance, but which instead directed all its attention and energy to the machinations of a distant national power, not as the culmination of democracy but as its betrayal.

Tocqueville argued that self-rule was the result of practice and habituation, and the absence of such self-rule would bring not the flourishing of freedom but reduction to servitude to distant rulers. Democracy, in his view, was defined not by rights to voting either exercised or eschewed but by the ongoing discussion and disputation and practices of self-rule in particular places with familiar people over a long period of time.

Today's liberals who call for encouraging democratic participation through more extensive forms of civic education focused on national politics neglect the extent to which their cure is the source of the ills they would redress.

It remains unthinkable that redress of civic indifference would require efforts to severely limit the power of the central state in favor of real opportunities for local self-rule. But those who readily display evidence of civic indifference or ignorance as evidence either for the need to limit or educate the citizenry unavoidably do so in the deeper commitment to strengthening the identification of politics with the actions of the liberal state, and by so doing, ensure the further degradation of citizenship.

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.176-7

Globalist vs Internationalist

Globalist - no intermediate levels, a free flow of information between states that essentially turns the world into one large market. All cultures are dissolved in favour of the One True Culture (‘Globohomo’). Nothing between Individual—Global; no tariffs, protectionist policies, or local currencies and cultures.

Globalism is imperialist. It wants a single idea to become universal, a global monoculture.

Internationalist - a recognition of the need for coordination at the global level (a need for a global level), combined with subsidiary levels that allow multiple unique identities to emerge and that provide circuit-breakers between Individual—Global.

Internationalism is anti-imperialist - it does not want any single idea to scale up and take over. Local monocultures over global monoculture. No global pandemics.

Although he held out the hope that "the Great Society may become the Great Community," Dewey knew that it could "never possess all the qualities which mark a local community.” “In its deepest and richest sense a community must always remain a matter of face-to-face intercourse.... Vital and thorough attachments are bred only in the intimacy of an intercourse which is of necessity restricted in range."

What Dewey could not explain was just how loyalty and responsibility would thrive in a world dominated by large-scale production and mass communications. 

He took for granted the "disintegration of the family, church and neighborhood." What was to fill the resulting “void”? Dewey did not say. "It is outside the scope of our discussion,” he wrote, "to look into the prospect of the reconstruction of face-to-face communities.” His commitment to the idea of progress prevented him from pursuing the point.

In a 1916 essay on progress, he argued that although the replacement of a "static" social structure by a "dynamic or readily changing social structure" did not guarantee progress, it created the preconditions of progress - of "constructive intelligence" and "constructive social engineering." In any case, there was "no way to 'restrain' or turn back the industrial revolution and its consequences.”

Under these circumstances, it was impossible to defend his belief in the possibility of a "return movement ... into the local homes of mankind.” Since nothing in Dewey's social philosophy justified any such hope, the subjects of work and loyalty had to be relegated to the margins of his work, as, increasingly, they were relegated to the margins of the liberal tradition as a whole.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.368

Like the romantic sociologists, social democrats insisted that individuals had no being apart from society. They too regretted the decline of "community," but they relied on the state, not on small intermediate groups or voluntary associations, to restore a sense of connection.

When Lynd asked whether it was possible to "build urban people into vital communities," the grammatical structure of his sentence revealed more than he may have intended. People were the objects, not the subjects, of "community," as he understood it.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.427

Syndicalists and guild socialists, as we have seen, believed that small-scale proprietorship conferred moral independence, self-respect, and responsibility. 

They did not seek to restore proprietorship as such, but they never lost sight of the virtues associated with it. They envisioned a society of small workshops, in which effective control over production remained at the local level.

Syndicalism (like populism) fell outside the broad consensus in favour of progress, centralisation, and distributive democracy. It undercut the Marxist claim to offer a radical alternative to the capitalist regimentation of the workplace. It forced Marxists to justify their program on grounds of superior efficiency, on the increasingly implausible grounds that only a socialist state could assure prosperity for all, or on vague appeals to the progress of the human race.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.335

Today scientists are beginning to study the remarkable farming methods practiced by Indigenous peoples in the Americas. Their aim is to discover techniques that could be transferred to the Third World and employed by ecologically minded farmers in the West.

But this should be done in a cautious and watchful way, for Indigenous science was developed by people living in a particular landscape.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.306-7

In a world of categories and abstractions a game is just a game, and it does not much matter from what materials a pack of cards, or a chess board is made. 

By contrast, Indigenous science deals in direct experience and these things do matter.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.172

Unlike Western science, the importance of the landscape, and specific places in it, is a characteristic of all Indigenous science.

A mound, rock, medicine wheel, river, or tree may be of deep significance to a people. Even the language spoken by a people arises out of the land they live in and and of the "map in the head" they all carry.

Within Indigenous science there is an association of spirit or energy with particular places, and it is important to visit these places and carry out ceremonies there. Fasts and vision quests are carried out on particular hilltops. At other locations, medicine wheels can be found whose alignments connect to movements and harmonies within the sky.

This idea of the significance of place and the energies associated with it is common to Indigenous sciences all over the world.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.265-6

We should also recognize that raising our own food has many benefits beyond healthy eating. Most importantly, it is a skilled practice rooted firmly in reality.

In the words of Matthew B. Crawford, adopting such practices creates a “situated” man (or woman), one who understands that he is not autonomous or able to escape reality, making him a more rounded individual with far more strength than the desiccated, massified individuals who make up our population today.

[Charles Haywood]
'The Eggs Benedict Option (Raw Egg Nationalist)', The Worthy House

Across Western Europe, ideological battles between the left and right have centered on this tension between universalism and parochialism.

Universalism refers to moral regard directed toward more socially distant and structurally looser targets, relative to socially closer and structurally tighter targets. Parochialism refers to moral regard directed toward socially closer and structurally tighter targets, relative to socially more distant and structurally looser targets.

Liberals care about harm and fairness (individualizing values), whereas conservatives care more about loyalty, authority, and sanctity (binding values). This research again suggests a differing focus such that liberals tend to express compassion toward individuals broadly construed, whereas conservatives emphasize compassion toward their immediate social groups.

Supporting this idea, separate work indeed found that endorsement of individualizing values is positively correlated with moral expansiveness (moral consideration for entities, including plants and animals, beyond one’s immediate in group) whereas endorsement of binding values is negatively correlated with moral expansiveness.

Universalism may reflect favorability toward policies that promote open borders (and encourage immigration) and that promote diplomacy toward ostensibly hostile nations. Such policies represent extending moral regard beyond one’s immediate group (e.g., the nation) and to the world more broadly.

Similarly, parochialism may reflect favorability toward stricter immigration policies and defense spending to protect one’s nation—these policies represent prioritizing the well-being of one’s own nation at the potential expense of others.

[Jonathan Haidt]
‘Ideological differences in the expanse of the moral circle’, p.2

If the cortex consisted only of a homogeneous mass of neurons, it would have been impossible for any structure to develop.

On the other hand, neurons by themselves are incapable of performing complex functions. Neural groups therefore have an optimum size, but unfortunately it is not constant or known a priori.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.103

There may indeed be a crisis of knowledge, but, and this must be underscored, the crisis is not the result of the disruptive activity of 'subversive' theoreticians like Nietzsche, Heidegger and Derrida.

It is a direct result of the complexity of our postmodern society.

This is the point Lyotard also makes when he insists that the conditions for knowledge are locally determined. Reflexivity does lead to paradox, but this is only a problem if all paradox has to be resolved at a meta-level. If one has to remain at the level of the network, one has to cope with the paralogy of the postmodern condition.

The implication is not that it is impossible to interpret information; it merely means that all interpretations are contingent and provisional, pertaining to a certain context and a certain time-frame.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.121-2

Lyotard claims that Habermas’s approach, consisting of what he calls a ‘dialogue of argumentation’, rests on two assumptions: in the first place, it assumes that ‘it is possible for all speakers to come to agreement on which rule or metaprescriptions are universally valid for all language games’; and in the second place, it assumes ‘that the goal of dialogue is consensus.

Lyotard finds neither of these assumptions acceptable, primarily because they deny the complexity of postmodern society—the nature of which he describes in the following way:

It is a monster formed by the interweaving of various networks of heteromorphous classes of utterances (denotative, prescriptive, performative, technical, evaluative, etc.).

There is no reason to think that it could be possible to determine metaprescriptives common to all of these language games or that a revisable consensus like the one in force at a given moment in the scientific community could embrace the totality of metaprescriptions regulating the totality of statements circulating in the social collectivity.

As a matter of fact, the contemporary decline of narratives of legitimation—be they traditional or ‘modern’ (the emancipation of humanity, the realization of the Idea)—is tied to the abandonment of this belief.

The first assumption of the Habermasian approach is directly opposed to Lyotard’s emphasis on the proliferation of heterogeneous discourses and the role of paralogy, while the second is opposed to his insistence on the importance of dissent.

Not that consensus is always impossible; it can be achieved, but only as a local phenomenon limited in both time and space.

Consensus as a goal would attempt to freeze the social system into a particular state. Since it is unlikely that this will be achieved (as well as undesirable), a better (and more just) policy would be to develop a sensitivity for the process of social transformation. This may indicate that ‘consensus has become an outmoded and suspect value’, but, claims Lyotard, ‘justice as a value is neither outmoded nor suspect.’

Given the complexity of postmodern society, the concept of justice is certainly a problematic one, but Lyotard recognises two important, if predictable, strategies: the recognition of the heteromorphous nature of language games; and the recognition of the fact that all agreements on the rules of any discourse, as well as on the ‘moves’ allowed within that discourse, must be local, in other words, ‘agreed on by its present players and subject to eventual cancellation.’

This proposal sketches the outline for a practical theory of justice that can best be understood as follows. It becomes the responsibility of every player in any discursive practice to know the rules of the language game involved. These rules are local, i.e. ‘limited in time and space.’ In following such rules, one has to assume responsibility both for the rules themselves and for the effects of that specific practice. This responsibility cannot be shifted to any universally guiding principles or institutions—whether they be the State, the Church or the Club.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.136-7

Instead of looking for a simple discourse that can unify all forms of knowledge, we have to cope with a multiplicity of discourses, many different language games - all of which are determined locally, not legitimated externally. Different institutions and different contexts produce different narratives which are not reducible to each other.

[The] description of knowledge as the outcome of a multiplicity of local narratives, it must be stressed, is an argument not against scientific knowledge as such, but against a certain understanding of such knowledge. Lyotard rejects an interpretation of science as representing the totality of all true knowledge.

He argues for a narrative understanding of knowledge, portraying it as a plurality of smaller stories that function well within the particular contexts where they apply.

Instead of claiming the impossibility of knowledge, 'it refines our sensitivity to differences and reinforces our ability to tolerate the incommensurable. Its principle is not the expert's homology, but the inventor's paralogy.’

Let me summarise Lyotard's position. Different groups (institutions, disciplines, communities) tell different stories about what they know and what they do. Their knowledge does not take the form of a logically structured and complete whole, but rather takes the form of narratives that are instrumental in allowing them to achieve their goals and to make sense of what they are doing.

Since these narratives are all local, they cannot be linked together to form a grand narrative which unifies all knowledge. The postmodern condition is characterised by the co-existence of a multiplicity of heterogeneous discourses - a state of affairs assessed differently by different parties.

Those who have a nostalgia for a unifying metanarrative - a dream central to the history of Western metaphysics - experience the post-modern condition as fragmented, full of anarchy and therefore ultimately meaningless. It leaves them with a feeling of vertigo. On the other hand, those who embrace postmodernism find it challenging, exciting and full of uncharted spaces. It fills them with a sense of adventure.

Which of these two evaluations apply is often determined by whether one feels comfortable without fixed points of reference. The choice between the two is determined by psychological just as much as theoretical considerations.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.113-4

These positions (which for conciseness, we henceforth refer to as ‘materialist’) have in common a commitment to immanence (Deleuze, 1988: 124); in other words, ‘a philosophy of becoming in which the universe is not dependent upon a higher power’ (Connolly, 2011: 178) – powers that might include God, fate, evolution, life-force, Gaia, mechanisms, systems or structures.

Instead we are to explore events and interactions within a ‘plane of immanence’ that possesses ‘no supplementary dimension’ (Deleuze, 1988: 128).

[Nick J. Fox & Pam Alldred]
‘Social structures, power and resistance in monist sociology: (New) materialist insights’

Humans are an evolved species like the others and one thing that we have evolved to be is shortsighted. There's a number of wonderful papers on the nature of myopia […] economists have recognized this in the concept of discounting.

So we tend to prefer our present. We tend to prefer our close relatives and friends, and we tend to prefer our home places over distant futures, other people who are complete strangers in other places.

In fact, if you think of climate change, most people in our country or the United States or Canada think, well, it's probably important, but it's probably mostly going to hit somebody in India or in other lands far away.

If you're a politician, you would much rather risk future damage to somebody else somewhere else than to impose [constraints] on your own people today.

[William Rees]
‘William E. Rees: "The Fundamental Issue - Overshoot" | The Great Simplification #53’, Nate Hagens, YouTube

By equating capitalism and religion, Agamben puts pilgrims and tourists on the same plane: ‘To the faithful in the Temple - the pilgrims who would travel across the earth from temple to temple, from sanctuary to sanctuary correspond today the tourists who restlessly travel in a world that has been abstracted into a Museum.'

In reality, pilgrims and tourists belong to entirely separate orders. Tourists travel through non-sites emptied of meaning, while pilgrims are bound to sites that assemble and connect human beings. The assembly is the characteristic trait of sites […]

[Byung-Chul Han]
The Disappearance of Rituals, p.44

A haiku is subject to strict rules of play, and thus it cannot really be translated into another language. Forms which are proper to the Japanese language resist any kind of translation.

[Byung-Chul Han]
The Disappearance of Rituals, p.63

The liberal will forever be unable to think outside of a universalist frame and must apply the rules equally to all. It's totally foreign to him that an action can be right for A but not for B simply by virtue that A is A and B is B.

So the simple and obvious morality of "it's good when we win and bad when we lose" will always elude him because he wants to boil justice down to a principle that can be abstracted away from the people involved. It guarantees his perpetual defeat and the rule of psychopaths who want to exploit that he "refuses to take his own side".

[Imperium Press]

There is indeed in the vocabulary available to Homer's characters no way for them to view their own culture and society as if from the outside. The evaluative expressions which they employ are mutually interdefined and each has to be explained in terms of the others.

[...] that it is only within their framework of rules and precepts that they are able to frame purposes at all [...] All questions of choice arise within the framework; the framework itself therefore cannot be chosen.

There is thus the sharpest of contrasts between the emotivist self of modernity and the self of the heroic age. The self of the heroic age lacks precisely that characteristic which we have already seen that some modern moral philosophers take to be an essential characteristic of human selfhood: the capacity to detach oneself from any particular standpoint or point of view, to step backwards, as it were, and view and judge that standpoint or point of view from the outside.

In heroic society there is no 'outside' except that of the stranger. A man who tried to withdraw himself from his given position in heroic society would be engaged in the enterprise of trying to make himself disappear.

Identity in heroic society involves particularity and accountability. I am answerable for doing or failing to do what anyone who occupies my role owes to others and this accountability terminates only with death. I have until my death to do what I have to do. Moreover this accountability is particular. It is to, for and with specific individuals that I must do what I ought, and it is to these same and other individuals, members of the same local community, that I am accountable. The heroic self does not itself aspire to universality even although in retrospect we may recognize universal worth in the achievements of that self.

The exercise of the heroic virtues thus requires both a particular kind of human being and a particular kind of social structure [...] If the heroic virtues require for their exercise the presence of a kind of social structure which is now irrevocably lost - as they do - what relevance can they possess for us? Nobody now can be a Hector or a Gisli.

The answer is that perhaps what we have to learn from heroic societies is twofold: first that all morality is always to some degree tied to the socially local and particular and that the aspirations of the morality of modernity to a universality freed from all particularity is an illusion; and secondly that there is no way to possess the virtues except as part of a tradition in which we inherit them and our understanding of them from a series of predecessors in which series heroic societies hold first place.

If this is so, the contrast between the freedom of choice of values of which modernity prides itself and the absence of such choice in heroic cultures would look very different. For freedom of choice of values would from the standpoint of a tradition ultimately rooted in heroic societies appear more like the freedom of ghosts - of those whose human substance approached vanishing point - than of men.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.146-8

Thus the first massive fact that we have to reckon with is the difference that it makes to the conception of the virtues when the primary moral community is no longer the kinship group, but the city-state, and not merely the city-state in general, but the Athenian democracy in particular.

[...] the Homeric values no longer define the moral horizon, just as the household or kinship group are now part of a larger and very different unit. There are no more kings, even though many of the virtues of kingship are still held to be virtues.

A second reason for not seeing the difference in the conception of the virtues simply in terms of changed social contexts is that the conception of a virtue has now become strikingly detached from that of any particular social role.

Neoptolemus confronts Philoctetes in Sophocles' play in a way very different from that in which his father confronted Agamemnon in the Iliad. In Homer the question of honor is the question of what is due to a king; in Sophocles the question of honor has become the question of what is due to a man.

To characterize a good man is in crucial part to characterize the relationship in which such a man stands to others and both poets and philosophers for the most part do not distinguish in their account of these relationships what is universal and human from what is local and Athenian.

The claim is often explicit; Athens is praised because she par excellence exhibits human life as it ought to be. Yet in these very acts of praise Athenian particularity is distinguished from Homeric particularity.

For Homeric man there could be no standard external to those embodied in the structures of his own community to which appeal could be made; for Athenian man, the matter is more complex. His understanding of the virtues does provide him with standards by which he can question the life of his own community and enquire whether this or that practice or policy is just.

Nonetheless he also recognizes that he possesses his understanding of the virtues only because his membership in the community provides him with such understanding. The city is a guardian, a parent, a teacher, even though what is learnt from the city may lead to a questioning of this or that feature of its life. Thus the question of the relationship between being a good citizen and being a good man becomes central and knowledge of the variety of possible human practices, barbarian as well as Greek, provided the factual background to the asking of that question.

To be dikaios in Homer is not to transgress that order; thus in Homer the virtue of the dikaios is to do what the accepted order requires; and in this his virtue is like every other Homeric virtue. But by the latter part of the fifth century it is possible to ask if it is or is not dikaiosune to do what the established order requires; and it is possible to disagree radically as to what it would be to act in accordance with dike, to be dikaios.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.154-7

[...] the fact that the self has to find its moral identity in and through its membership in communities such as those of the family, the neighborhood, the city and the tribe does not entail that the self has to accept the moral limitations of the particularity of those forms of community.

Without those moral particularities to begin from there would never be anywhere to begin; but it is in moving forward from such particularity that the search for the good, for the universal, consists.

Yet particularity can never be simply left behind or obliterated. The notion of escaping from it into a realm of entirely universal maxims which belong to man as such, whether in its eighteenth-century Kantian form or in the presentation of some modem analytical moral philosophies, is an illusion and an illusion with painful consequences.

When men and women identify what are in fact their partial and particular causes too easily and too completely with the cause of some universal principle, they usually behave worse than they would otherwise do.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.256

Information destroys traditional jobs and traditional cultures; it seduces, betrays, yet remains invulnerable. How can you counterattack the information others have turned upon you?

There is no effective option other than competitive performance. For those individuals and cultures that cannot join or compete with our information empire, there is only inevitable failure … The attempt of the Iranian mullahs to secede from modernity has failed, although a turbaned corpse still stumbles about the neighborhood. Information, from the internet to rock videos, will not be contained, and fundamentalism cannot control its children. Our victims volunteer.

It is fashionable among world intellectual elites to decry ‘American culture,’ with our domestic critics among the loudest in complaint. But traditional intellectual elites are of shrinking relevance, replaced by cognitive-practical elites–figures such as Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Madonna, or our most successful politicians – human beings who can recognize or create popular appetites, recreating themselves as necessary.

Contemporary American culture is the most powerful in history, and the most destructive of competitor cultures. While some other cultures, such as those of East Asia, appear strong enough to survive the onslaught by adaptive behaviors, most are not.

The genius, the secret weapon, of American culture is the essence that the elites despise: ours is the first genuine people’s culture. It stresses comfort and convenience – ease – and it generates pleasure for the masses.

We are Karl Marx’s dream, and his nightmare.

Yes, foreign cultures are reasserting their threatened identities - usually with marginal, if any, success - and yes, they are attempting to escape our influence. But American culture is infectious, a plague of pleasure, and you don’t have to die of it to be hindered or crippled in your integrity or competitiveness.

[Ralph Peters]
‘Constant Conflict’, Parameters, Summer 1997, 4-14

Peters refers to certain cultures trying to reassert their traditions, and again emphasises that the globalist ‘culture’ that is being imposed primarily via US influence is one of ‘infectious pleasure.’ The historical inevitably is re-emphasised, as the ‘rejectionist’ (sic) regimes will be consigned to what in Trotsky’s term is the ‘dustbin of history.’

[Kerry Bolton]
'Constant Conflict'

The economic system cannot not be a source of human conditioning; as such, it must condition (towards) omni-consideration, and in no ways condition towards psychopathy. It must simultaneously condition agency/uniqueness/self-actualization with communion/cooperation/care.

It must condition consideration beyond the dunbar number (similar to how Buddhism or Jainism achieved reliable abstract empathy deeply enough to determine behavior).

[Daniel Schmachtenberger]
'New Economics Series: Part 1', Explorations on the Future of Civilisation

Although parliamentary regimes, in imitation of Britain and France, had been established throughout the Near East, as in much of the world, they never functioned as democratic or even constitutional systems because of the lack of organized political parties and of any traditions of civil and personal rights.

Political parties remained largely personal followings or blocs, and political power, based on the arbitrary autocracy of Semitic patriarchal family life, was also personal, and never took on the impersonal characteristics associated with Western rule of law and constitutional practices.

The weakness of any conception of rules, and of the material benefits which help rules to survive, made it impossible for the Near East to grasp the conventions associated with cooperation in opposition found in the Western two-party system, parliamentary practices, and sports.

The whole range of human and universal relations of the Arabs was monistic, personal, and extralegal, in contrast to that of the West, which was pluralistic, impersonal, and subject to rules. As a result, constitutional and two-party politics were incomprehensible to the Near East, and the parliamentary system, where it existed, was only a facade for an autocratic system of personal intrigues.

The whole of Iranian life was imprinted with leader-follower characteristics of a very personal character, with loyalty and honor two of the outstanding features of all human relationships. Where these did not operate, human relationships were precarious and filled with suspicion, so that many of the patterns of life which form the modern world, such as political or public relationships and impersonal business relationships, were very weak, and, without stable principles, fell readily into nepotism and corruption.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, ‘The Future in Perspective,’ p.668, 674

Behind all these ‘meanings’ of globalisation is a single underlying idea, which can be called de-localisation: the uprooting of activities and relationships from local origins and cultures.

Thus, domestic prices - of consumer goods, financial assets such as stocks and bonds, even labour - are less and less governed by local and national conditions; they all fluctuate along with global market prices. Multinational corporations break up the chain of production of their products and locate the links in different countries around the world, depending on which appears at any time to be the most advantageous to them. The products sold by multinationals are identified less and less with any single country and increasingly with a world brand or with the company itself; the same images are recognised - in advertising and entertainment - in many countries.

Globalisation means lifting social activities out of local knowledge and placing them in networks in which they are conditioned by, and condition, worldwide events.

Globalisation is often equated with a trend towards homogeneity. That, again, is just what globalisation is not. Global markets in which capital and production moves freely across frontiers work precisely because of the differences between localities, nations and regions.

Had wages, skills, infrastructure and political risks been the same throughout the world, the growth of world markets would not have occurred. There would not be profits to be made by investing and manufacturing worldwide if conditions were similar everywhere. Global markets thrive on differences between economies. That is one reason why the trend to globalisation has such an irresistible momentum.

[John Gray]
False Dawn, p.57-8

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