A selection from World History And The Eonic Effect
1848: End Of Eonic Sequence?
We reach the end of our eonic sequence, as our model forces a distinction of the early modern and the new period at the end of this transition as the new system comes into play. The rough year 1848 is useful, for we can see that this is the first point at which one could begin to clearly perceive the eonic effect. And who do we find here but Marx and Engels generating either a revised liberalism, or else a ‘general TP4 exception’? Our discrete freedom sequence seems to end up an indiscrete Whiggocracy and to have some unfinished business. Not surprising. Whenever there is a Leveller a True Leveller can’t be far behind.[i]
Although the year 1848 is no more than a rough marker chosen as a peg to hang a tale, and end a book, it neatly shows the point at which our pattern starts into its post-transition, and reversal from localization to globalization, unprotected by any factor of eonic determination from imperialistic degenerations and the new economic systems, soon to be downshifted further by Darwinian ideology. Even a cursory glance at modern philosophy shows how the seminal era slumps out after the generation of Marx and Schopenhauer. Many other indicators make the point. This time, seeing the effect, we can take action to recover. We tend to be mesmerized by the ignited exponential processes (e.g. the demographic transition) beginning in the transition, but these are not the same. We must stick to the rules of our model, which suggests the intermittency of our transitions, which puts us outside of the eonic sequence. That will at least enforce a discipline of teleological disarmament of all parties.
1848: Teleological antinomies We can easily spot the crude division point predicted by the model at about the time of the French and Industrial Revolutions, at the outside by 1848, a truly spectacular generation in world history. This division is useful because it is about the exact ‘first point’ at which our ‘eonic observer’ can start to see the eonic effect, and also because its symbolic significance forces the issue of ideology. This division is of course a consequence, slightly artificial, of our model, and can’t safely be used for any ideological purpose, although it shows clearly that liberalism is a main core emergent, while the Marxist challenge is a bit too late to alter the momentum of the system, as the Bolshevik fiasco makes clear. But nothing in our model forbids a general TP4 exception just here second-guessing a liberal outcome with an alternate as socialism (i.e. democracy!). Unfortunately the result is likely to start a jackknife sequence. The point is not complicated: a democratic realization leads naturally to a consideration of socialism, but, as it happens, this natural flow is interrupted by the timing of the eonic sequence, as macro switches to micro-action, seemingly causing a division of the two aspects, due to the downshift to low octane. This gesture required someone really smart, such as Marx, perhaps not smart enough. We see the dilemma in the attempt to abandon the rich emergentism of the modern transition for a precipitous TP4 exception. So where’s the socialist Mozart? Nature was done just as socialism got underway. This creates an illusion of legitimation of the first liberal experiments. If the point is not clear consider that it took the American Civil War to set a course correction for the first and greatest liberal experiment, the American democratic breakthrough.
This choice of symbolic year is about the same as Hegel’s 1806, but more cogently directed to the issues, and merely a useful token for a rough ending to the transition. It is like the difference between ignition, liftoff and steady flight getting underway. But is it also the end of the eonic sequence? We don’t know. But it is an unsettling thought, since ‘revolutions as free action’ will move to take the place of transitional sequence.
Armed with the distinction of macro and micro-action we can see at a glance the overall dynamic at work, however we understand it, and it is unsettling. We think in terms of linear progress, and then are understandably baffled by the First World War, the Holocaust. Whatever else is the case, these are well outside the eonic sequence. These are clear cases where mideonic stupidity is starting up again. Nietzsche influenced by Darwin does not bode well for the future.
Can we even maintain the modern transition, let alone advance it? In fact, we can, but we see in antiquity this dread effect as the classical transitions run out of octane fuel and lapse to a higher degree of mechanization, never to recover. That is less likely in this case, although we see the fall-off take effect as the transitional effect wanes. This is not Spenglerian decline but a one-time slump-down from a bursting episode of high performance, followed by a more stable process tending to a more contingent social drift, and then potentially, we can hope, new advance, but without eonic determination, a new freedom beyond the eonic sequence. This is the punctuation, then equilibrium, of the whole eonic effect. But it is not really equilibrium, and the metaphor is not quite right. A whole series of take-offs have been ignited, and it is completely within the rules of the game to realize the dynamic and compensate. The fate of the Hellenistic need not be ours.
Although our model seems to be confounded by an ideological modernism or a Eurocentric focus now under challenge, we see that in fact it has a built-in device to reconcile these contradictions, and we leave our system just as it undergoes its convulsive reversal from local transition to global oikoumene creation. It is important to remember that in our model, the local and long-range future diverge, and no teleological claim on the latter is possible for the former. And our system aggressively reminds us of this as the sequence seems to stop in the wake of the revolutionary early modern. This explains the baffling puzzle arising in the instant bifurcation of our system at the very moment it is getting under way. And one issue is the teleological antinomy, latent in Kant’s Challenge, of the potential system and actual outcome, with its economic emergentism taken as the ‘final state of the system’. Chillingly apt that Marx (not alone!) proposes the abstract category ‘socialism’, which he refuses to define, as a next ‘transition’. This thinking merely reflects the antinomy, and it is important to remember that our model predicts nothing. It is right that it be that way and we can see that Marxism suffered the fiasco of a ‘local time teleological’ projection. Marx/Engels as champions of democracy works quite nicely.
Econostream != eonic sequence We don’t need to indulge in leftist propaganda to see that our model distinguishes two things: the economic stream and the eonic sequence diverge. If someone says that you must submit to economic ‘laws’ in the name of history, laws that make him rich and others poor, that man is pulling the wool over your ideas with bogus theory, because we can see that economic processes pertain only to economies and don’t generate the long-range future (at least so far, looking backward), these points not to be taken dogmatically. Our model simply mirrors the debate, its proper task.
How elegant yet somber to observe this system cross this divide into a new era in rise of liberalism, the turbulence of revolution, and the passage across the spectrum of the Left to the year 1848, about when our transition moves toward shutdown in the open field of a ‘new age’. Although a basic liberal interpretation is well within the bounds of our model, a kind of default outcome, we should note that this construct cannot be safely used as a form of legitimation for that.
It is not hard to show that emergent liberalism was an imperfect outcome of the modern transition. The American system failed even to abolish slavery, proof that nothing deductive can be extracted from ‘eonic determination’, in case propagandists aim at a legitimation of modernism via this model. The sudden chaotification resembles overshoot and undershoot in a control system, and the instability or equivocation is evident from the first in the twin figures of Luther an Münzer, then in Locke and the Levellers. As if a last minute course correction, suddenly turning into a demand for a different outcome, finds Marx and Engels challenging the whole transition as it were, on the verge of a disastrous attempt at course correction. Lest we forget, they took action at a desperate moment in a system that almost failed to accomplish abolition. We are left with an unnerving question, What else is missing?
An immense ideological veil protects the confusion of eonic sequence versus econostream. The modern transition rapidly crystallized into the capitalist societies dominated by market ideology that are prone to the domination of a new type of elite. We can’t quite mediate that using our model, and the potential of this system so far outstrips systems of antiquity that leftist reactions tend to backfire. The world of our transition is nearly done before the Industrial Revolution, which rapidly generates a secondary post-transitional culture of the new capitalist society. Looking at the chaotic movements of world history we should think this development potentially almost benign by comparison, and the classic Marxist critiques, while altogether cogent and seminal, tended to misdiagnosis and false efforts to construct an undefined socialism whose record speaks for itself. We cannot legislate these issues with our model, which promptly reflects this dilemma without resolving it. We see the obvious lost opportunity: the founders of the American system could have created a socialist republic, but were too fixated on Roman history.
However, the whole point of our model is that it allows us to distinguish two levels, e.g. emergent democracy at its initialization, however obscure, and the subsequent realization, which may be flawed or fail. In a global context the dilemma of empire arises very quickly and we find the sad reaction to the American system rising to produce a challenge to its future. The rich potential of the eonic starting point is soon forgotten in the mix of Darwinism, classical liberalism, economic ideology and scientism that assembles the new worldview. Locked in this box we fail to see the limits to our vision this induces. Challenged at once by the far left, the new economic society ambiguously enters its mideonic pilgrimage in experiments still young in the reckoning of five thousand years. The future of the reign of Capital is an ominous suspense.
The new world of capitalism must be judged on its own terms, our job done. We have merely disengaged it from the macrosequence. But we must note that before classical liberalism stands the work of its creators, who never foresaw the results of their endorsement of economic freedom, that orphan of the discrete freedom sequence. The eonic mainline can’t control the economic field, as core and periphery imbalance arises. But the difference between the two can be seen in the way the modern transformation lets loose a new round of slavery in the periphery, while the core, racing against time, generates abolition, and not a moment too soon. The American sidewinder system doesn’t make it, and we have the preposterous constitution of four-fifths person at the outcome. Downfield course corrections beyond the divide point prove very costly, and are prone to fall into the hands of those who don’t know what they are doing. In the post-divide the gates of the penitentiary slam closed, and the inmates begin to make their own rules.
Like a great oak tree the eonic sequence sprouts a new limb and this injects new life into the world system, even as the other limbs continue in their growth and separate existence, forced however to mediate the immense confusions of globalization. Needless to say we must evaluate dialectically the nature of the modern outcome by sifting the eonic emergents defining our transition. There is no simple talisman or formula of success. Some more complex process has differentiated into a scattershot spectrum of results and we are inside that field of eonic emergents, assessing their components as relative free action. We must beware of getting lost in fantasies of a ‘Western Civilization’, although that confusion will prove inevitable, at great cost to the slowing of globalization momentum.
[i] Oscar Hammen, The Red ‘48ers (New York: Charles Scribner’s, 1969), Alan Gilbert, Marx’s Politics (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1981), Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution, 1789-1848 (New York: New American Library, 1962), Christopher Hill, The Experience of Defeat (New York: Viking, 1984), M. Hardt & A. Negri, Multitude (New York: Penguin, 2004).