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The System Crisis of the Civilization and Its Overcoming

Sergey Semenov

Taking into account the heterogeneous character of the audience I'd like to start with the key definitions.

The first notion to define is that of the Global Crisis which stands in the conference name. As 10 years ago there was no great need in making clear-cut borderlines between the categories of the global (i.e. concerning the planet as a whole) crisis phenomena of anthropogenous origin, the term "Global Crisis" was employed at our conferences with reference to the whole bunch of them. The worsening of the actual situation makes it necessary to differentiate between the terms the Global Crisis, the System Crisis of Civilization and the Humanity Crisis.

In what concerns the term "Global Crisis", the majority of authors use it nowadays to denote the crisis phenomena especially hazardous for the biosphere. A few things to be mentioned as a part of this category are: the global warming - "the greenhouse effect", the so-called "ozone holes" - gaps in the ozone layer protecting the planet from radiation, the constantly growing environmental pollution, deforestation, and the nuclear catastrophe threat. Some of the problems mentioned are caused by carelessness and lack of competence on the part of the economic subjects together with the absence of the necessary coordination of their activity on the planetary scale. The other, greater, part of the problem is constituted by the phenomena resulting from the deep system crisis of civilization. We tend to regard this crisis as the major component of the Global one, so that it would be erroneous to consider the biosphere-related problems without taking it into consideration.

I am going to use the term "the System Crisis of Civilization" with reference to the totality of dangerous phenomena demonstrating the incorrigible vices of the current organization of mankind and the necessity to change the situation. Some of these phenomena endanger either the whole mankind or certain communities and social strata. Others are the phenomena hazardous for the health and life of everyone. Together they reflect the Humanity Crisis, as the crisis of human nature.

Speaking of the System Crisis of Civilization, its aspects are too numerous to be dealt with in one report. I hope that the majority of them will be touched upon in other conferees' speeches. And in the context of my report I would like just to name the main features of the System Crisis.

So, here they are:

  • An ugly political system based on sharp distinction between the rich and the poor. On the one hand, it is maintained by means of deceit with the help of the imposing mass media, on the other, by the police and army forces.
  • The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the related sudden world war threat.
  • Development and use of modern biological weapons in the international struggle.
  • Polarization of the civilization: rich high-tech countries at one pole and the poor countries producing raw materials at the other one. The bulk of population in the poor countries has no access not only to the modern technologies and education but even to healthy food. This status quo is maintained by destruction of national cultures as well as by armed force.
  • The commercial deformation and crisis of public production due to which any scientific and technological discoveries are used extremely one-sidedly and not for the benefit of all people but mostly for the profit of those in power.
  • The commercial deformation and crisis of culture with:
    • inculcation of perverse mass culture causing degradation of personality and underdevelopment of the highest human abilities,
    • the competence crisis whose essence is the constantly growing gap between the special knowledge as a basis for the modern advanced technologies and that provided by the school,
    • the crisis of world outlook involving individualism, absurdity and lack of spirituality,
    • the cult of the "Beast": inculcation of the "human-predator" image whose characteristic features are cruelty, aggression and readiness to kill,
    • fostering horror,
    • the commercial deformation and crisis of science, art and literature.

As you understand, the given list of phenomena accompanying the System Crisis of Civilization is unfortunately far from being complete.

Later on in the course of my speech I shall predominantly concentrate on the phenomena representing the Humanity Crisis category. But before I do this I'd like to draw your attention once again to the notion of the System Crisis of Civilization.

My analysis is made from the standpoint of authentism. As not all of the participants are familiar with this ideology I shall start with a summary of its key principles.

The basic principle of the conception is the principle of authenticity, i.e. being in accord with one's own self. According to this, the life of any being (be it a person or a civilization) can be safe and sound only if it is in accord with the natural abilities of the being and its type of organization. If the mode of life is in contradiction with the abilities, this will inevitably result in a disease, and an especially acute contradiction may even cause death.

The next fundamental feature of authentism is understanding life as a quantified process and gradual stage by stage development of all living beings. Their structural organization is not the same at different stages. Let's remember how different are the butterfly, the cocoon, the caterpillar and the egg as different stages of an insect's metamorphosis. Actually, these are different creatures and hence the mode of life of each of them should correspond to its morphology. For insects and other creatures whose mode of life is determined by instincts, i.e. inborn forms of behaviour, the dissonance between the mode of life and morphology is hard to imagine. But in case of human beings and any human communities this is not only possible but for a number of reasons practically unavoidable. The thing is, the Homo Sapiens species lives mainly with regard to the experience transmitted through the generations, which can certainly be not only beneficial but pathogenic as well. The sum total of the modern civilization's experience, or culture, contains a considerable amount of pathogenic experience concerning various aspects of life of an individual as well as of various human communities. As this problem has been thoroughly discussed in many of my works, I'd like to move on to the next principle.

Its essence is that the transition from one stage of development to another is realized in the form of a crisis in the depth of which a revolutionary change of structure takes place. In the course of such transformation a considerable part of basic elements of the old organization die out... With people being the basic constitutive elements of social organisms, any social revolutions are accompanied by mass deaths of people.

These are the three basic principles of authentism one must keep in mind in order to understand what follows.

Now a few words about what makes us participate in the social activities and what are our goals. It is reasonable to discuss these matters, for our motivation differs sufficiently from that of other organizations which call themselves humanist. It explains why we are not numerous so far but I don't think it is a problem as far as our organization unites like-minded people who know their goals and see the perspective of the work they do.

So, what are our motives? For an authentist, i.e. adherent of authentism, the highest social value is a human being as a creature possessing spiritual-psychological abilities which enable it to develop into an immortal being. That is why we are for such form of social order that would make possible the full realization of one's spiritual-psychological potential. Yes, to establish such really humanist world order is a goal we long for. However, authentism does not favour any voluntarist decisions: we believe that the humanist transformation of society will take place firstly in a natural way, and secondly only as a result of general discovery of the corresponding idea in the collective psyche together with general realization of the absence of alternatives. Therefore, our social activities are not aimed at destruction of the existing social organization (which we certainly do not like considering it marasmic) or at thrusting our dreams or even will on others but at fostering the spiritual-psychological preconditions necessary for the humanist transformation… Now it should be clear that we go the same way neither with those who reduces humanism to helping the poor people, nor with militant atheists, nor with religious fanatics, nor with any kind of revolutionaries who adhere to voluntarism.

Our confidence in the inevitability of the humanist transformation is based on the notion that the present-day civilization is in a deep system crisis. According to this notion the main morbid phenomena in mankind's life are rooted in one common ground: the principle of profitability fundamental for the existing social formation has for long ceased to correspond to the actual stage of scientific and economic development. Today man is capable of such forms of activity on the global scale that are absolutely inadmissible if aimed at making profit as they inevitably result in the phenomena disastrous not only for humans but for the biosphere as well. And this is no wonder as making profit involves competition, i.e. collisions and struggle with one another, the struggle which in absence of moral restrictions is aimed at destruction of the adversary. The international wars, the so-called "war on terror" and all other kinds of wars are but a continuation of the competition. Seeking to destroy one another we turn any scientific achievement into a weapon and, consequently, into a means of self-destruction of mankind. You understand that with the help of nuclear physics, genetic engineering and modern information technologies it can be easily achieved.

In my speeches and publications I keep pointing out that equally dangerous mainstreams of the crisis progression are:

  • commercial product denaturation;
  • production of goods and services aimed at satisfying abnormal, i.e. initially unhealthy needs;
  • consumer degradation of human personality.

Without going into detail, the core of the problem is this.

Being involved in a non-stop competition the producers of goods and services always had to search for new ways of interaction with their customers. However, both the number of natural human needs and their extent are limited. Accordingly, it seems quite natural that with development of civilization and growth of markets the producers are obliged to go further and further beyond the natural restrictions of human nature. Unfortunately, such violation of human nature is possible and is happening in a variety of ways.

One of them is commercial product denaturation. The essence of this phenomenon lies in the fact that consumer products in general and foods in particular gradually become less and less natural. However, as the human organism has been forming for millions of years in the natural environment, only natural foods or foods identical to them are harmless. Consuming what should not be consumed results in a disease. Unfortunately, the modern production tends to denaturate foods, i.e. to deprive them of their natural properties. This is easy to understand: involved in the on-going competition, the producers have to give always new distinctive features to their products. At first, when quality was the target of the competition, this was good. However, long ago another possibility was discovered: to change properties of natural products, and now this is one of the major lines of competition. That's how a comparatively small number of natural products was transformed into the great multitude of modern goods. It may look like progress but in fact it is not because most additives used as distinctive features are not only useless for human body but even harmful to a certain extent. Modern high-tech foods usually contain lots of such additives. The harm brought about by each of them taken separately is not pronounced, and that's why they are not forbidden. But in their totality they do interfere in the body's functioning which may cause illness.

Another equally vicious trend of market broadening is the production of goods and services aimed at satisfying abnormal, morbid needs. Such are, for example, alcohol, tobacco, drugs... The ever growing production and consumption of these and the like cause, on the one hand, addiction pandemic, on the other hand, a sharp increase in the related malfunctions, which are: lung and esophagus cancer, coronary heart disease, Reynauld's disease, hepatocirrhosis, and plenty of others.

A particularly dangerous mainline of the competition is the consumer deformation of the very man. It becomes possible due to the fact that unlikely those of all other species, human needs can be formed as they are not inborn... This possibility having been detected long time ago, the competition made it clear that as soon as you form a need in a certain product this becomes not only competitive but beyond comparison with other products, that is the only bought. Knowing this fact nowadays all the producers invest huge sums of money in forming the consumer demand for their own benefit. Since the market has long ago crossed the borderline of human norm, this money is mostly spent to form abnormal needs. Owing to the mass character of this phenomenon, in fact increasingly abnormal consumers, i.e. increasingly ill people, are being formed. Nowadays practically everywhere one can see:

  • substituting real life values with pleasure-seeking as the goal of existence;
  • the individualist deformation of emotional sphere involving degradation of the senses of sympathy, human kinship and unity (love);
  • the individualist deformation of interpersonal relations where the partner serves as a mere means of self-satisfaction;
  • formation of progressively unnatural needs;
  • orientating the younger generation towards the "virtual reality", the dreams industry (the internet, video, computer games, etc.);
  • forcing out of the limits of one's individual and human norm - into pathology.

To sum it all up, we face an acute, profoundly morbid crisis of human nature... Liberalism, the prevailing ideology of the modern society based on the principles of freedom and individualism, serves as an ideological cover and a means of justification for the existing order. Actually, liberalism is but a generally accepted form of protection from the stings of remorse. For if a human recognizes another human to be his brother and loves him, he would hardly do him harm producing low quality products, depraving him, intoxicating him with alcohol, tobacco, drugs, killing... But if everybody is on guard of his own interests only, all these things are acceptable. Why is it so? Because proclaiming the principle of freedom (understood as being unbound with anything supreme) liberalism allows to fight for wealth by any means which are not forbidden and, cherishing the individualist standpoint, removes moral bans as well... With the sci-tech progress going much faster than law making, the number of possible ways to do harm to one another is constantly growing... Besides, the individualist standpoint itself is a morbid one. Believing oneself to be completely isolated from others results in the sense of absurd. In such case, why not divert oneself with tobacco, alcohol, drugs, psychedelic substances - all sorts of poisons are acceptable...

Thus, whatever perspective we choose, the bulk of the most acute problems of human existence is rooted in the profitability principle, the backbone principle of modern civilization. Consequently, the crisis we all face and take part in is a system crisis by its nature, so that its overcoming presupposes a total reorganization of the whole social organism. At this point a question arises: "What type of a crisis is this?"

In order to understand my answer to it, first it should be realized that civilization is a living organism. Of course, it can also be regarded as an economic system or otherwise but it would be a most serious mistake to fully ignore the live nature if its human components, which is exactly the case with our political opponents not sufficiently competent in biology.

The main types of crises in biological systems are these:

  • the age crises taking place at transitions from one age stage to another;
  • the crises as symptoms of various diseases;
  • death agony.

To which of the three types shall we refer the modern civilization crisis? Most our colleagues are of the opinion that the modern society is simply not quite healthy which makes them think that the situation may be improved by some sanatory means. Even if they speak of a crisis, they regard is only as a signal of a social malady. Unlike them, as I have said, we believe the most acute contemporary problems to be rooted in one common ground lying in the very basis of the civilization. It means that we deal either with an age crisis or agony. However, there are no strong grounds to believe that the mankind has reached its last limit. Of course there is a risk of death and it is high indeed but nevertheless there is no predetermination about it. When sometimes I call our epoch apocalyptic I do it to underline its conclusive character for the existing civilization only but not for the whole of mankind...

Authetism is an optimistic worldview: we are sure that the system crisis of the modern society is an age crisis, the crisis of becoming adult, which will result in the humanist transformation. The bright humanist tomorrow is sure to come, although for the time being its light is very difficult to see and the years to come will bring further worsening of crisis phenomena. I think that millions of our contemporaries are doomed to perish. This is the pessimistic side of my generally optimistic prediction. I clearly see the mechanisms that will inevitably cause mass human mortality. Our conference is not the right place to discuss each and every possible danger, but the principal directions of wholesale dying must be thought over and made public knowledge.

One of such mainlines is genocide and gene pool damaging. As the modern advanced technologies enable penetration to any level of biological organization, the competition is increasingly affecting the cell structure and the genome. The influence upon intimate life processes is used both for fighting and for attracting buyers...

As regards fighting, a good example is presented by Africa, the continent tremendously rich in mineral resources which very soon will be cleared of the bulk of its autochthons by means of the AIDS... The drug-addiction pandemic is helping to get rid of the "unnecessary people"... The outbursts of diseases not known before, like SARS, testify that the development of non-war means of genocide intended for different human communities is clearly financed...

As regards commercial food denaturation and the related risk for consumer's health, here everything is quite obvious: as the producers have to comply only with the existing norms and regulations, the possibilities of food denaturation through combination of technology innovations are practically unlimited. Meanwhile, even the combinations of various food additives have not yet been properly investigated and, consequently, may prove to be harmful. From the viewpoint of cytology, the science studying cells, the present-day mankind obviously ruins itself consuming thousands of substances that have never existed in its natural environment throughout the whole history of the Homo Sapiens species. Medicaments taken alone are more than 10 thousand already... Imagine some one-cell organism with such a quantity of alien chemical compounds introduced into its natural environment and you will know how the cells of present-day man feel. Needless to say that the genetic system is also under a great stress in this situation, so that the risk of genetic anomalies is higher from year to year. One should also bear in mind that many mutations are latent and we observe only a small part of them, which means that in reality the situation is far more complicated. And, today already, there are almost no healthy babies born…

All in all, human gene pool damaging and various forms of genocide are one of the evident ways of mass deaths of our contemporaries in the nearest future.

Equally evident is an increase in the diseases caused by the sharpening contradiction between the genetically predetermined abilities and the existing life style. This is, in particular, the sharpening contradiction between the organismal and the cellular levels of structural organization. A human being is known to be composed of cells while the modern life style increasingly defies this fact: man asserts himself as a macro-organism paying no attention to the interests of his cells, these microscopic creatures on whose welfare his health depends. Such an attitude stems from the individualist position and false understanding of freedom... Even the investigation of new food additives is based on this attitude: the absence of a noticeable harmful effect upon the body and its tissues, and not upon a cell, is taken as an admissibility criterion. Yet, anyone competent in biology knows that the harm for the body and the harm for a cell are not nearly the same. For instance, many nerve poisons are lethal for a man in such dose which has practically no impact on the metabolic processes in most cells. On the other hand, many substances harmful for certain cell groups have no noticeable pathogenic effect on the body as a whole. Does this mean they may be widely used? To my mind, the criteria applied in evaluating toxicity should be considerably stiffened to avoid suspended pathogenic effects. But this is the matter of specialists... Our task is to identify the problem: man can not contradict to the cellular level of his organization without damage to himself. The acute character of this problem is demonstrated by the numerous facts of detecting dangerous characteristics in the substances used widely and for a long time...

A separate direction of wholesale dying is constituted by the psychosomatic diseases, i.e. those developing primarily due to psychological reasons. Many widespread chronic diseases fall into this category. As it is not the right place here to discuss special mechanisms of pathogenesis, I shall only draw your attention to the essence of the matter.

It is well known that human beings tend to identify not only with other people but with the social organization as well. If an individual identifies substantially with an organization in the state of crisis, its intrinsic contradictions become his own resulting in related pathological processes. Let us consider for instance two very spectacular stories of elderly presidents: Reagan and Yeltsin.

Reagan was an embodiment of American militarism. An artiste, he could not fail to identify with the situation created by his own hands. The aggression aimed at others came back as autoagression. The result was Altsheimer's disease that turned this arrogant politico into a living corpse.

Another vivid example is the story of Yeltsin who acted as a terminator of the great country having brought it into the state of degeneracy in several years. A testimony to this politician's sincerity is his own degeneracy reached in the view of the whole world within the same period of time.

I believe no further examples are needed, as the principle should be clear by now: identification with a structure in crisis causes illness and death. Ardent champions of a social system imbued with a sense of hatred, whatever its form and object may be, can not escape autoagression. Why is it so? - Because the aggressive emotions are linked to the image of enemy which, as a subjective phenomenon, is in fact the aggressor's own inherent part. This is how it works: the more strong is the hatred for the adversary, the more badly it hurts the person possessed by it. And it is hardly needed to be proved that the competition is a real battle to the death today... In this situation, the situation of total hatred, even Christ's testament "Love your enemies..." can change little.

The interiorization of social hatred launches one more important psychological mechanism of self-destruction. Its essence is this: aggression as a basic attitude naturally activates the image of universal Enemy, the Fiend. Nowadays this character and all those by his side are among the most popular characters of films and books. But, even if one does not believe in the possibility of its real existence, one should not ignore the inescapable damage its image causes due to psychological reasons. This image actually makes an individual open and vulnerable to any aggressive agents of the environment. The situation is particularly grave when the individual surrenders to the Evil and identifies with the Devil's host. It is well-known that the number of people engaged in the related cults is growing rapidly. All these people are doomed to perish, for identifying with the Enemy of the human race, they violate their nature, destroy themselves...

I think that the foregoing sufficiently illustrates the statement that an epoch of extinction of those adherent to the moribund social organization is coming.

In conclusion I shall briefly touch upon what we can do in such a difficult situation. We see our strategic goal in facilitating the new organization to take shape. A new civilization is coming to change the moribund commercial civilization of individualists mad on profit-making and the related aggression -- a totally different civilization based on spiritual unity. The formation of this new organization is going in the interior of the existing one and its members will be, of course, not extraterrestrials but our contemporaries. Humanus Spiritualis, the Spiritual Man, is coming into being...

To facilitate this transformation, it is necessary:

  • to help to survive all those who can perceive the social origin of their own problem or disease and wish to improve the situation;
  • to develop and perfect the means of effective help which do exist;
  • to spread the true knowledge about the spiritual-psychological nature of man and about that the very Man is a creature developing into an immortal being...
  • to bring these ideas home to people making them realize the inevitability of the humanist transformation;
  • to form an adequate understanding of the coming world order.

In view of the listed tasks our coalition's primary goal should be inviting psychologists, psychotherapists, teachers and specialists in the humanities to participate. As to the aim of this conference and the next ones which I hope will take place annually, it is to update the general picture thus making the problem prominent in the collective psyche. Let the tomorrow discussion be as fruitful as possible, let it be a sort of "brainstorming" on the basis of today's reports.

I sincerely wish our conference be a success.

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