Based on rhetoric from my recent blogs including Worlds Apart, A Blast From The Plast, and Consciousness Is The Key To Change, it may appear that my worldview could easily be categorized as millenarian, apocalyptic, or Utopian. John Gray's engaging, well informed, and well written book Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia has influenced me to analyze and measure my own worldview against these very stories. According to Gray, millenarian and apocalyptic worldviews have pervaded society since the birth of Christianity. The basis of these views in the context of religion is that through some violent reforming event -- an Earthly battle between God and Satan, good and evil, or Christianity versus Islam -- the surviving human collective will transcend to an era of peace, holiness and prosperity -- a Golden Age. This, apparently, is an increasingly popular view in the West and other cultures, and has become obvious as a driver behind historical and post-modern military endeavours around the world, as in the catastrophic American-initiated war in Iraq. As Gray clearly illustrates, George W. Bush's illegiance to the Christian fundamentalist apocalyptic worldview had influenced his decision to initiate that brutal, destined-to-fail struggle in Iraq -- in pursuit of an ill advised, delusional Utopian vision. Utopian visions are typically characterized as a future scenario that is unachievable, the promotion of impossible social engineering or idealism that denies the innate tendencies of humans toward violence, corruption and selfish interests, and is therefore unattainable. Bush's attempted imposition of Western style liberal democracy in Iraq is just one of many examples, from pre-modern European Enlightenment movements to Nazi-ism. All have resulted in failure, always manifesting worse conditions than before, including widespread misery, environmental destruction, and death.
So what makes my ideals any different than those of historical Enlightenment prophets, apocalyptic religions, and other pursuits of unachievable Utopian visions? Primarily, I absolutely refute religion in my worldview. While strategizing in life -- as in the game of chess -- an assessment of most likely future circumstances is critical if one's strategy is to be effectively executed, and if one wishes to position themself as successful in their endeavours. So based on a selfish perspective, over and over again I assess and finally equate mounting global circumstances and available information to a certain vision of the future which strikes me as most probable. Coincidentally or not, based on probability, my personal vision of the future parallels to some degree that of apocalyptic religion -- minus the religion. In my view there is no battle between God and Satan, only the grinding retribution we will suffer at the mercy of nature. What I fear is a world of increasing desperation, depravity, violence, struggle for shrinking resources by an increasing population, reduced food production by the aftershock of peak oil production, scarcity of potable water and housing, and a most horrific global war of unfathomable proportions. All this may or may not be avoidable, but it certainly will not be avoidable if things continue as they are now. Many including Gray suggest the Earth is at maximum or beyond its maximun carrying capacity for the human species. As global food production is heavily reliant upon an immense supply of cheap energy, now arriving from fossil fuels, the aftermath of peak oil production alone will increasingly reduce availability of sustenance and, therefore, the carrying capacity of the Earth. As our population continues to overload the planet's support systems and the carrying capacity diminishes, there is an inevitable clash of trends, which must ultimately result in a drastic increase in resource availability or -- what is more likely -- a drastic reduction in the world's population in the magnitude of billions. The process by which billions must perish, the grinding transformation of human geography on the planet and the squalid, horrific conditions that must accompany it are what I would label as my own apocalyptic nightmare. And as I aspire to conceptualize some positive outcome or less frightening alternative scenario, the only options I conceive are a radical and immediate shift in current trends or some distant desirable aftermath of my apocalyptic nightmare, where collaboration, unity, and cooperation ensure the most efficient management of our available resources and civilized treatment of all humans, creatures, and the planet itself -- which also could be labelled as my own "Utopian" vision. It may be a concept that is beyond the realm of likelihood, but the other option is to accept utter demise or perpetual widespread misery. Additonally, I don't believe in restricting possibilities to those of simple likelihood. From sports to science, history has shown us that what was once believed to be impossible can rapidly manifest into the realm of possibility, if only through sheer will, aspiration, and committed action. If we don't aim for the most ideal circumstances, we will never achieve them. That is as important a lesson in global affairs as it is for personal life and setting goals for oneself.
Another difference between myself and historical Enlightenment thinkers is that I deny the concept that peace can be achieved through violence. Rather, I fear violence as an undesirable -- but not necessary -- consequence of a grand portfolio of lessons we seem destined to learn. And this violence will not be initiated by outside forces but thrust upon ourselves by our own resistance to transformation. Although I sincerely hope this is not the case.
In any case, Gray's Black Mass was a sobering read, quelling to any fantastic Utopian visions I may have imagined. I recommend the book to anyone who has interest in the subject. But it hasn't changed my propensity to conceptualize a most likely future scenario -- if not only for my own selfish purposes -- and envision what ideal criteria could incubate my most desirable circumstances on the planet.