REVOLUTION INTO EVOLUTION Living Nihilism

Ethics
Values
Morality
Context
Meaning
Environment
Culture
Life
Fire
Rage
Existence

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From Revolution into Evolution: Living Nihilism in the 21st Century

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Once the superficial and unnecessary pieces are stripped away we're left with the unavoidable, and the unavoidable is always of particular concern to the nihilist, and most any thinker, with death being the most obvious factor. But what about the much more important time before the end? How do we live as Nihilists? Here are some final conclusions taken from The CounterOrder as a whole ...

Ethics

Reading an article about the cancerous corporate growth patterns of Starbucks Coffee Inc. made me think about a contradiction between words and action that seems quite common. Why are stated values and the subsequent actions of individuals so often contradictory? For instance, why do people rail against a company like Starbucks but then turn right around and buy their over-priced, over-roasted coffee anyway? Or another example, and I’m sure the reader can imagine many more, why do people so often complain about the quality of television programs but then spend hours watching them anyway? Why does the public patronize their own self-described ‘evil’ institutions purely out of choice and in blatant contradiction to their own expressed values? Clearly something is going on here that’s deeper than appearances suggest.

It seems likely that either impulse continually overpowers reason or many people are simply making complaints and criticism not based on their own reasoning but rather on group-think -- attempting to ascertain and adopt group values. But whatever the reason for it, hypocritical behavior as compared to self-expressed personal values cannot be psychologically healthy for it leads the individual into a chronic state of self-debasement.

The disconnect between words and action carried out over time leads to a perpetual state of hypocrisy and wears down the subconscious, rendering the individual a floating, baseless consumer that says whatever others want to hear while attempting to sound logical but acting purely on whim and impulse. It’s not surprising that so many people turn to religion in this kind of environment, a veritable sandstorm of hypocritical values and rationalization of behavior.

Religious morality provides a sense of center and focus, an ethical context with which to reference throughout daily life. It doesn’t matter that the beliefs are based on archaic fantasies and have little or no bearing on modern life, or that one believer is just as happily deluded in their faith as every other regardless of how and who they worship. The beliefs are not what matter, rather it is the framework and sense of context that creates a structure for the adherents to base their daily lives upon. This code of ethics leads to psychological health by eliminating the internal and external value-action hypocrisy.

Everyone needs a code and structure for living that they can aspire towards but also one that they can actually follow in practice, not just desire to follow, so that their words will match their deeds – a critical element of mental health. This is also why religious believers tend to be more honest in daily interactions and more likely to follow through on their promises. Success here means making a conscious effort to always match words to actions. Doing this empowers the individual as well because they gain the authority of coherence and the mental stability of consistency. This is all the belief-need really is; many people think it requires faith and attachment to arbitrary rules from mystical deities but in fact it’s simply an intentional effort by the individual to act on what they speak and speak to what they do. This is also why it’s so important to recognize the limitations placed upon action by human nature because ignoring or denying the limits leads to a perpetual state of defeat in mind and body.

To construct this necessary framework for daily life one must first have a solid awareness of what they can do, meaning one's own practical capacities for decision-making. In other words simply stating that Starbucks is a rip-off is not enough if one drives past one of their stores every day on the way to work and has a coffee addiction, because they'll soon find their best plans foiled by need and impulse! Something has to change, either the impulses are curbed, redirected, or one’s words change to match the impulses. Say what you do and do what you say.

Values

Human machinations are often explained as the inveterate search for happiness, and while this explanation suffices to a minimal degree in casual philosophical discussion in fact the human mind is not so simple that it just seeks happiness in every action and decision. Many people seek things that don't make them happy, power for instance. Many people seek to become Presidents, Prime Ministers and dictators but look at how much trouble they get out of the bargain when and if they arrive? Or what about fame; the famous say ‘don't be famous - it isn't worth it’, but who listens? Something deeper is going on here ...

In reality the human mind, and the body supporting it, is enmeshed within a complex system of relationships, connections, and interactions and we have to very carefully, continually and with great effort, map out a path and measure our actions against the consequences and impacts that our efforts will have upon the people, objects and connections in our environment. Unless they're a woefully dysfunctional psychopath, people aren't little atoms bouncing around trying to feel good all the time and the few fools that try this don't last very long! It seems surprising how few seem to recognize this fairly simple concept of interconnections and, perhaps because it's so difficult to quantify, this misunderstanding is especially common in the male mind.

Most important to recognize is that humans are not living beings that can exist independently; humans are not one-celled organisms, they are highly networked, social creatures. We all exist inside, and because of, a complex network of relations formed between objects, individuals, and an ever-changing array of groups composed of both. Our goals and values are a direct result of that system we are enmeshed within.

Hypothetically, the choice of which value system we adopt depends on what kind of goal we want to achieve but in practice we rarely know exactly what we want and even less often how to get it. So the entire argument that characterizes philosophy and metaphysics, as a dissection of the individual human mind and body, is a charade and it just ends in the same dead-end of argument because it doesn’t aim towards, or find the root, of the issue.

The message emanating from the reduction-oriented methodology of Nihilism concerning values is simply that because of our tenuous and constantly changing situation our values and goals are not absolutes but are in a continual flux. Consequently our values are not fixed but actually quite relative. For various reasons we typically use great effort to hide this value ambiguity by concocting false absolutes, such as through myths and religious beliefs held together by dogma, but in the end our actions reveal this for the delusional foolishness that it is.

The fully and properly developed human mind and body are seeking more than simple short-term self-interest, but also seeking to better fit into the vast and often complex surrounding environmental network. This entails a constant process of adaptation, questioning, solution seeking and struggle while continually creating and destroying the networks that characterize our social and physical environment. Because of this, in this struggle called life the Nihilist has a profound awareness to not hold anything sacred and never get too attached to anything.

Morality

To help explain the basics of morality consider this situation: someone stranded alone on an island cannot act immorally for there is no God and there is no posthumous judgment of deeds except by earthly survivors. Similarly as Ayn Rand once stated, no situation without a decision can have a moral component. So if you have no choice or context, or if an outside value system is imposed upon you, then you have no morality - you cannot be moral or immoral in action or thought.

Indeed morality itself is a product of society, of interconnections, of social bonds and the inevitable search for power equilibrium between individuals. Further, moral codes serve as tools of control but not necessarily always as a top-down imposed authority force but very often as a means of balancing power between individuals, of keeping 'them' from getting more than 'me'. Morality changes over time and indeed is itself largely relative and culturally derivative. But the social and psychological effects are nonetheless quite real even if inconsistent and plagued by chronic efforts to 'cheat' or for 'me' to get more than 'they' do.

I remember an old episode of the Twilight Zone where a crew of space explorers crash-lands on what they think is a distant, desert planet. They proceed to battle each other over diminishing water supplies, and thus personal survival, only to eventually discover that they actually crashed in the Mojave Desert and civilization was just over the hill. I think the implied, made-for-TV feel-good message was that one should always value human life and not be greedy. But on a practical level the true message is that regardless of the pre-existing cultural and moral overlay, ultimately human behavior, meaning 'right' and 'wrong', is contextually defined and founded upon the basal law of personal survival and propagation.

Using another fictional example, consider the classic novel by HG Wells, The island of Dr. Moreau, where the doctor tortures animals using the excuse of scientific progress -- what moral position does this have? None? But the doctor could not do this without continual assistance from the outside world through supplies, food, and so on. So Doctor Moreau is not isolated, he is connected to a larger society and can be judged by its dominate moral codes. Regardless of the morality of his actions, the ethics of his research are easily criticized for the wayward results that were produced, not to mention the Doctors original motives that were based purely on faith in achieving a questionable goal. So now that he is connected to the outside, most would consider Dr. Moreau's actions to be morally wrong. Here is where nihilism enters for it argues that 'wrong' or 'right' are secondary not primary as most, especially religious views, would hold. Right or wrong are irrelevant if in this case Dr. Moreau can get away with what he's doing. This is why using morality as a social security system is one very dangerous way to live and why authority must jump in like an 800 pound gorilla and take over to hold a society together with an outcome that is more vast and convoluted than the original simple problem could have possibly ever produced on its own.

Human morality, as it's traditionally employed, is an artificial construction, and as such it can be changed to be almost anything.

While there's no right or wrong in a cosmic sense we nonetheless still exist within a universal framework of cause and effect. And within the boundaries of cause and effect it's clear from even a passing view that certain behaviors are more functional than others – for instance, cooperation is more universally beneficial than conflict, or even competition in most cases. These facts are obscured by common cultural myths, such as the belief in 'dog-eat-dog' struggles and a zero-sum world. This misreading of Darwin’s theories only serves as a convenient excuse to justify otherwise unacceptable actions of abuse and exploitation, actions that are ultimately self-defeating anyway.

Further, because humans are social creatures we need guidelines and protocol in one form or another in order to function collectively on even a rudimentary level. Morality emerges as an inevitable byproduct of the social interactions of multiple participants. So, although much of morality is cultural variable, consistent underlying elements can be found. These consistent elements first emerge as a result of personal interactions, primarily acquired through the socialization process in childhood.

The reason we need to reconsider and reassess the values within our moral codes, along with our cultural concepts of right and what’s considered wrong, is that by continually taking them on assumption we can easily be led astray or compelled to do things that are harmful to ourselves and others. Not all moral rules are equally valid, just as the rules must inevitably change as circumstances evolve, and that's why it's important to recognize where these rules that compel us to act in certain ways are coming from to begin with. 

The really remarkable aspect of morality is that in many instances the rules can be mathematically described, using game theory for instance. Even more important, these quantifiable values are not restricted to humans, and in fact also serve to describe the behavior of other animal species as well. Because morality is a byproduct of social living other social and intelligent species, such as birds and apes, display the same moral behavior that humans must, emphasizing the universally applicable aspect of many moral guidelines and behavior patterns. [5] Intelligent social animals display the same needs for justice and fair-treatment that humans do, and will even react in similar fashion when injustice is manifest. "It is part of a long evolutionary history in which cooperation and equity go hand in hand, even though it is undeniable that we have also a hierarchical streak. This is equally true for other primates, not to mention for canines, but no species accepts these vertical arrangements 100 per cent of the time." [8]

It’s often believed that morality comes from religion, but scientific research into animal behavior, moral rules, and game theory analysis, clearly indicates that morality does not come from religion or religious beliefs. Actually, religion hijacks moral rules and associated behavior to serve ulterior motives. Basic morality is hard-wired into us as social beings. [6]

Unless mentally or psychologically damaged we intrinsically know, with the aid of the socialization process, how to behave because of consistent cause and effect and because the majority of interactions are reciprocal in nature. In other words, you reap what you sow.

The problem of morality and misbehavior boils down to at least two deficiencies residing in the individual, and at least one can be corrected. The first is a lack of power. The core problem is lack of personal efficacy and those who perceive themselves as powerless, selling freedom to authority for a sense of security, and an equilibrium at the bottom where if 'I' can't have it 'no one' can. Fear of loss, also fear of the other, fear that others will gain at my expense hence the desire to submit to social conformity and specious rules just to try and hold on to what little 'I' have now. Especially in a transitional society people are very insecure and they will cling desperately to whatever scraps they've already acquired in life.

The first deficiency is largely an issue of education and the things people learn as they grow and develop. For instance, if while growing up you're always told what to do, criticized for minor details and had parents or authority do things for you or to you, then a lack of efficacy, lack of self-worth, and a need to strike at something inside or outside can result later in life. In this case perspectives of power become perverted and appeals to authority forces may appear the only way to rectify internal deficiencies; if enough individuals are this way they form a society of concomitant character. The second deficiency is partially a cumulative issue stemming from the first and also external large scale factors such as environmental and economic instability.

Those who control the images rule the world. As such it's critical to manage your inputs, because our individual characters are deeply influenced by external factors, from physical substances to the intangibles of images thoughts and ideas -– it all comes together to create who you are. So, if you want to control who you are you must control what you absorb -– your surroundings in people, places and things.

Context or Absurdity

As we've learned already morality is relative and meaning is contextual. Our own meaning is encapsulated in personal identity, and identity is the interface of our own self-value or worth and the outside external composed of others. An individual isolated on an island can have no identity, or maximum identity which is effectively the same, zero or infinite. But they have no future as well so everything they do is ultimately meaningless, although not necessarily immediately meaningless since survival is an immediate need and everything which works towards fulfilling that need is meaningful, it has value. But since this poor lonesome being is doomed to die anyway and they have no social context to create meaning for everyday life then their sum is zero. Life for someone permanently stranded alone and destined to die alone is thus absurd, it's meaningless. Everything is absurd without a society to contextualize action and value, as well as a future to perpetuate the self. Similarly if reality is solipsistic then it's absurd since we (or just I) are all stranded alone on islands, metaphysically speaking.

Many things seem odd or perplexing when removed from proper context.But now we can see that meaning is a two part issue consisting of the immediate personal and the strategic non-personal. Long-term meaning can only come through perpetuation of the self in some form; it is an extension of tactical meaning. Although tactical meaning is more important it is not what one considers when philosophizing, it is not what obsesses philosophers and theologians. Strategic meaning is the age old question, why are we here? Does anything matter? And so on. Although one could logically argue these vague issues don't even matter, there seems to be a fundamental psychological need to be convinced they do. While it's possible to explain this desire as just an extension of the instinctive survival motive being projected through an intelligent mind attempting to find a means of lengthening existence, it probably has something to do with the human body being a vehicle for the genes to perpetuate on a time-scale far in excess of any single person and human nature evolving within societies.

Both strategic and tactical meaning is firmly rooted in the genetic core of every living being. This is not fanciful but quite real even though widely misunderstood and misinterpreted, and thus abused and perverted in practice. This genetic drive is clouded in euphemisms and mystique, the soul, the spirit, love, and so on. The simplicity of meaning, life, and everything is its own deception within the intelligent and introspective human mind, and further, people tend to manufacture complexity to mask responsibility. Maria Montessori, one of the most profound genius' of 20th century social science (because she operated based on observation not assumption), once wrote, "A great deal of time and intellectual force are lost in the world, because the false seems great and the truth so small and insignificant."

Meaning truly is 'all in the mind' because your own personal perspective and attitude literally determines whether you live or you commit suicide. The will to live is biological; the will to die is psychological. The physical universe doesn't care at all one way or the other and will continue humming away long after you are gone, just as it did long before you were around. Our very identity is defined by relative connections. If you want to alter who you are you must control what surrounds you, what the inputs are. Identity, just like meaning itself, is largely (but not completely discounting genetic origins) relative to surroundings.

Laughter is a necessary defense mechanism against absurdity.Many people prefer denial, they choose to believe in fantasies and get high on the veritable buffet of pop-drugs from God to TV to heroin (it's all the same) in order to escape, but the price they pay for a temporary feeling of happiness is going through life wearing a thick blindfold and both arms tied behind their back, metaphorically speaking. In truth most of humanity is far, far too weak to accept anything but cultural narcotics and self-delusions. Yet for these sad specimens in a very dangerous world where intelligence and cunning are your one true ally, suffering, confusion, and anguish are their only rewards. As Nietzsche said through Zarathustra, "To many men life is a failure; a poison-worm gnaweth at their heart. Then let them see to it that their dying is all the more a success." So, let the dying begin.

Fortunately as a species we can adapt and overcome, or else we wouldn’t still be here on this planet, but nevertheless the ones that can’t adapt will die. In a world of anomie and rapid change, nihilism often acts as a fitness test for survival; those that can only see meaninglessness and futility self-destruct through suicide, the survivors overcome, and the successful see opportunity, challenge, and new experiences.

Meaning

First of all meaning is relative, it is relational. Take anything out of context and it loses its meaning and becomes absurd. This is why meaning seems so transient and difficult to define, it is not a 'something' it is a 'because of' (derivative). Ultimately the reason we seek meaning is to establish our social position and context, and to find a sense of happiness, or at least a sense of momentary ease. The existentialist position delves into this and eventually concludes that happiness is impossible. This view satisfies no one and only highlights the flaws of the existentialist position, for although they are correct in realizing that conflict is inherent in all social interactions they are not correct in concluding that harmony cannot emerge from the fracas of life.

Obviously no one wants to be redundant and feel useless or that their place and potential are a waste. Marx was closer to the truth by realizing that human worth is connected to what we do, labor is key to happiness. Nietzsche was closer still by connecting values to the internal will-force.

If you look around you'll find that some of the happiest and most optimistic people are those that own their own business. They work hard but remain upbeat and I think there's more to this than just personality. Any healthy person will put enormous effort into an endeavor if it fulfills at least two qualifications:

1. It's something they are interested in and enjoy dealing with.

2. The rewards from the endeavor are unambiguously returned to them personally, preferably with a direct connection between the effort (input) and the reward (output).

The third qualification is the frosting on the cake so to speak,

3. Other people also gain from the endeavor.

If all three are met then that’s generally a happy person.

Further, the happiness principle involved here has nothing to do with capitalism since profit in terms of money is a secondary issue. Profit is just a means of perpetuating the enterprise and quantifying the reward. After all, many people work in non-profit businesses that serve the community and take little or no pay for their often very significant personal efforts; they're rewarded through principle three. Indeed selfishness and the inveterate need for personal profit in life is a vastly misunderstood concept that muddles some critically important aspects of human nature. The real question here is: are we gaining from taking or gaining from giving?

An interesting example which demonstrates the importance of principle two is that of video games where the connection between action and reward could not be more clear - and that's the appeal! Even deeper than that is the action, the 'labor' part. Being productive (or at least active) does two very important things, it occupies the mind with concrete and substantive issues, and it connects the physical world with the mental being.

What does it say about our society when we have to resist even the most mundane elements of our modern world, like hamburgers and elevators, just to be healthy?The easy and overly convenient life spawns a general lack of meaning and purpose. Instead, expand the known limits, explore, climb a mountain, learn new things, push your physical and mental boundaries, accomplish the 'impossible'. Rediscover purpose through resistance, friction, and challenge. The easy life kills us, but the difficult life invigorates us.

Communicate with other Nihilists, join the Symposium for Nihilism.

Environment

Over millions of years we as a species, like other life, have adapted to fit our environment because failure to do so inexorably leads to death and even extinction. This basic rule of existence hasn’t changed; we still must fit our surroundings or suffer the pitiless consequences. Yet our technological development is so profound and potent that we have begun to create our own environment apart from the natural realm that interactively created us as biological beings. Our artificial technological environment is currently incompatible with the natural environment, as evident from the widespread ecological devastation that has been perpetrated upon the natural world’s life forms, oceans, atmosphere, and land. Primary responsibility for the devastation of the natural world can be traced back to religious beliefs, particularly the Jewish and Christian holy book of Genesis, dictating that the Earth’s life and elements are for man to use as his property, generating a pernicious mindset that views everything as a resource to be endlessly exploited for private profit.

Although humanity is being compelled to develop a wisdom beyond religiously-derived resource exploitation, the artificial changes to the natural world have become so pronounced that we have actually generated an entirely new geological era, transitioning from the Holocene that began at the end of the most recent ice-age, into the anthropocene, meaning that human activities are marking the Earth in ways that will be detectable millions of years in the future, and altering our surroundings on a significant scale in the process.

When you fit your environment it no longer seems ‘chaotic’ and ‘evil’. Think of a swamp -- to outsiders it appears to be a miserable and disorderly realm of darkness and decay, but to the native inhabitants it’s a paradise to thrive in.

So, not only do we have to be compatible with our artificial environment, but it also has to be compatible with the natural world, or we’ll run out of resources amidst ecological collapse. Fortunately we have the technology to adjust our artificial realm, and the power to alter ourselves to fit within it. Unfortunately our collective wisdom in decision-making is often lacking, and this is the crux of the matter, for just as religious mentalities got us into this mess, strategically-sound scientific methods can get us out.

In the meantime, it's critical to recognize that the main physical reason for widespread environmental degradation, disease, wars, and even uncivil behavior, is simply a result of crowded living and the overpopulation of our own species as rated against the limited space and material we have on this small planet.

"The more crowded it gets, the cheaper life becomes, and the easier it becomes to exploit people." - Donna Locke, 2006

We have several choices and they aren’t mutually exclusive. We can reduce our population numbers, drastically increase our resource efficiency, or leave Earth and expand our frontier.

Culture

Although culture is as palpable as it is immeasurable and complex it's really just a collection of common beliefs, values, and ideas that slowly change with the winds of fashion and perception. Culture functions as a means of conveying collective knowledge from one generation to the next; and indeed many animals have culture too, so it’s not even unique to humans. As participants, willing or otherwise, culture also serves as a dimension with which to perpetuate the concept of self. Culture is proxy immortality for the participants, a selfish gift to the next generation.

[T]he force of culture shapes both behaviour and biology across generations. Culture has been confused with genes because behavioural studies are short-term, while culture operates on the scale of generations with a kind of tyranny and force that has not been widely recognised. - Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, 2010

Much of cultural knowledge was useful in the past but isn’t any longer, and may even be harmful to development, but it gets pushed forward by inertia and habit. So, a culture that isn't questioned or revaluated, destroyed and reinvented, is a hopeless loop of history repeating itself where subsequent generations must repeatedly toil against the same pain and wrestle the same fictional demons. Culture unquestioned is just habit - it's the comfort of routine within the context of perceived history. It's entirely natural for youth to revolt against the culture of their parents and their ancestors in order to test the necessity and validity of established cultural notions, to rid the world of dead and obsolescent ideas and harmful beliefs, and at the same time to craft an identity for themselves that's built from the foundation of the past and combined with their assessment of the present in order to survive and prosper in the future.

We know the reasons behind culture but the important issue is what form should our culture have -- what values are our culture based on and perpetuating? If it's based upon faith in fantasy it will inevitably crumble to dust and spin everyone attached into disorder and self-destruction. If it is based instead on facts, skepticism, and a verifiable methodology it will have greater longevity while generating peace and prosperity for the cultural participants.

Life

What’s the meaning of life? Where did life come from? These have long been fundamental human questions motivating theologians, philosophers, and scientists searching for answers. From as far back as can be discerned the fundamental algorithm for everything around us is the ability to be copied and extenuated. Anything that can fulfill this role will spread and succeed to varying degrees based on multiple factors, such as copying fidelity or cleverness in avoiding hazards and outwitting opponents. This is the root meaning of life; a tautology in that life exists because it exists, and continues to do so because it can adapt and overcome.

As the scale of our awareness increases, the often inflated sense of self-importance shrinks in proportion. And things are not always what they seem because we so often distort actual events through the lens of our selfish impulses. We now realize that, contrary to ego-driven beliefs, a human being, like all life, is the vehicle for genetic continuity. The reproducing animal is actually just the form genes use to spread and perpetuate. The ego-cult of the individual has been overthrown, yet the critical concept here is the act of replication, for even ideas moving through a sea of culture can outlast genes.

Where life came from isn’t certain, but the basic outline is already known. From spectrographs scientists can detect that life’s primary chemicals form in clouds of interstellar gas, a chemical soup warmed by a steady stream of cosmic radiation. Comets and asteroids bombarded the early Earth and delivered the basic chemical ingredients needed for life, such as water and amino acids.

Curiously, almost every living organism on Earth uses left-handed amino acids instead of their right-handed counterparts. In the 1990s, scientists found that meteorites contain up to 15% more of the left version too. That suggests space rocks bombarding the early Earth biased its chemistry so that life used left-handed amino acids instead of right. [3]

Convincing evidence indicates life could have originated in underwater alkaline vents, consisting of bubbly rocks riddled with labyrinthine pores, which existed before Earth had an oxygen atmosphere.

The last common ancestor of all life was not a free-living cell at all, but a porous rock riddled with bubbly iron-sulphur membranes that catalysed primordial biochemical reactions. Powered by hydrogen and proton gradients, this natural flow reactor filled up with organic chemicals, giving rise to proto-life that eventually broke out as the first living cells - not once but twice, giving rise to the bacteria and the archaea. [7]

This ingenious idea solves the mystery of two key elements necessary for cellular life – an energy source and a discrete package to protect the special chemical reactions. If this is the case the necessary situation and ingredients for life to begin must be remarkably common throughout the universe.

But if life really did originate on Earth it did so suspiciously fast -- as soon as possible, immediately after Earth’s formation during tumultuous volcanic cataclysms and violent meteorite impacts. Since the necessary situation and ingredients for life to begin must be remarkably common throughout the universe, it’s not a great leap to consider the possibility of a cosmic origin for life in a theory called panspermia or exogenesis. In two separate experiments India launched rockets to search for signs of life in the upper atmosphere, in what was thought to be an inhospitable region for living things considering the high-levels of radiation. Yet life they did find – three previously unknown species of bacteria. [4] Incredibly, these two experiments establish that life can survive in outer space.

Consider these three recent discoveries that point towards life originating in outer space:

In 2013, a balloon was flown into the stratosphere during the Perseid meteor shower. It returned with samples of microorganisms found 27 kilometers up, too high to have been lofted from Earth's surface.

The infrared light coming from many distant astronomical objects matches the kind that biological materials would give off.

In 2001, Kerala in India was showered with reddish rain that contained unusual cell-like structures. The rain followed a sonic boom that may have been a meteor breaking up in the atmosphere. [9]

NASA concept for a colony on the moon.Whether life started here on Earth, or somewhere in space and was delivered to Earth by a comet or asteroid, the point is that our very physical existence is the direct result of cosmic events. Jumping from inorganic chemicals to self-perpetuating cells, life eventually evolved into sentient beings capable of recognizing what’s happened!

The logical conclusion is that life must be ubiquitous, even if it's isolated and hidden from our currently very limited capacities for detection. This realization contains enormous significance. As living beings we are not unique or alone in the universe. No longer is Earth an anomaly and we can establish a context for our existence as a part of the greater universe. Our effort and struggle doesn’t have to die here, alone and forgotten.

For tens of thousands of years people have gazed into the night-sky at an amazing multitude of scattered fires. They invented stories and elaborate religious beliefs to explain the burning lights. The ancient Greeks developed philosophy as a way to explain events and forces through subjective rhetoric. The scientific method was developed and it competed with philosophy and religion, eventually superseding both by providing objective, verifiable, and predictive conclusions. Between religion and philosophy, and between philosophy and science, someone imagined a different state of affairs and others helped to create it. A volcanic lava flow almost buries a street sign in Hawaii.Philosophy was overthrown and the burning spots in the sky turned out to be stars, and the stars turned out to have planets of their own, and someday we’ll even find out what’s on those planets.

Meanwhile the natural forces on our small and dynamic planet are continually creating the new by destroying the old, and a balance emerges from this natural state of chaos. Yet human effort so often struggles to retain the status quo long after it transforms from a benefit into a burden. It was once a blasphemy to suggest that the Earth revolved around the Sun rather than being the center of everything. Even today natural selection and biological evolution are attacked as heretical. Similarly it was once only the family, and then it was only the tribe, then the nation, the empire, the state, the global institution, and now the network. Despite the force of cultural inertia and social conservatism, superior ideas and predictive methodologies inexorably supplant the useless and ineffective.

Fire: Not even the healthy are safe in a forest of disease

Nihilism is often best conveyed within the context of biological parallels because they're so concisely applicable to our own survival. A prime example resides in the vast stretches of forested wilderness within western North America. If you live near, or visit the forests, you'll see the death toll: sick and dying trees forming a grim monument to a hundred years of human error and bogus solutions. Thousands of square miles showcase natural systems driven to unnatural states, forming an imbalanced order that presently defies resolution except through complete devastation.

A hundred years ago the western North American forests consisted of about 70 percent ponderosa pine and 30 percent Douglas and grand firs. Today the order is reversed, and this is a major problem because harmful budworms attack, eat and kill firs, but they don't eat ponderosa pines. A firestorm in Yellowstone National ParkErrant conservation programs, often necessary as a result of human development encroaching ever further into the forests, have had unintended consequences because prevention of all forest fires has created a very unnatural state.

Ponderosa pines need regular fires and before fire suppression efforts took place a ground fire would burn through the forests about once every ten years. These ground fires cleared underbrush, giving young pines space to grow, and with naturally fire-resistant bark the mature pines thrived. But without regular clearing fires the small trees and undergrowth multiply and this benefits Douglas firs that tolerate more shade better than pines. The Douglas firs have spread across the American West at the expense of fire-resistant pines.

When fire does occur in a forest filled with underbrush the fire easily leaps to the tops of trees, creating an uncontrollable crown fire. When a crown fire occurs it’s so severe that firefighters can only back off and defend elsewhere.

As budworm infestations spread so do the pernicious effects, eventually creating a 'stand-replacement event', a fire that burns the entire forest to the bare ground. As one expert put it, "The forest is ripe for catastrophic change."

Every summer news crews cover the outbreaks of forest fires and each year the conflagrations become more widespread, tougher to control, and more deadly to homes and fire fighters. Fire, usually in the form of lightning strikes, is a natural part of the forest life-cycle serving to clear out forest-floor detritus and prevent tree overcrowding. These natural periodic burns prevent the large scale unnatural holocaust conflagrations we now witness every summer. This is the result of a dogmatic approach to forest 'conservation' guided by wayward environmental activism and coupled with mistaken government and industrial attempts to alter equilibrium and exploit nature as a 'resource'. Consequently the only way the forest can be saved is to leave it alone, let it burn to the ground, and allow the trees to start all over and grow back from seed.

The same malevolent parties responsible for reducing the western forests to a state of lingering death have brought human life to an equally unhealthy nadir. Blame government for horrendously flawed and short sighted policy. Blame monomaniacal environmentalism and the legion of similar dogmatic ideologies. Blame mass-media for conveying erroneous and overly simplified filtered views of reality, Smokey Bear cartoon truth, manic fire prevention and 'build a house in the woods'; all the while failing to properly explain the science behind the fires or the danger of living in the wilderness. Blame industry for logging off the natural life to begin with and either clear cutting or replanting with the wrong trees as well as importing foreign species that take over and wreak havoc, all for improved pulp production, faster growth or whatever the reason.

Nihilism is not abstract philosophy, it's tangible and of imperative significance. Much as our forests have become unstable and doomed to destruction, warped to where sickness, disease and death are endemic, so has our own society. The forest of our society has become deadly to the human inhabitants, a natural system chronically corrupted, the equilibrium fractured and our environment driven to unnatural states. But it's a slow change, just slow enough that most can entertain the notion everything is fine while those perplexing problems will all be rectified without personal price or harmful collective consequence. But in parallel with the spread of subconscious unease comes knowledge of what few can admit even to themselves - the end is very near and there's only one way out.

To a Nihilist, destruction for survival is not counterintuitive it's just common sense, and all the technology, all the faith, all the prayer and all the effort to stop it will not tarry that eventual event.

Rage Beyond Right or Wrong

Nihilistic Detonation, by Freydis, 2010The early years of the 21st century have already featured increasingly widespread and violent outbursts of suburban youth-driven rage, growing from the ranks of the impoverished, into the working class, and now including even the middle class.  The deliberate police shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Greece sparked riots and protests in December 2008, but this was only the catalyst that released simmering anger over much greater social and economic trouble. As a result thousands of Greeks staged street protests and violent riots, attacking police and property and creating the most severe civil unrest since the collapse of Greece’s military dictatorship in 1974. [1] Yet unlike traditional public protests planned and organized to address one, or a few, key issues and then the demonstrators return home afterwards, the new rage is notable for spontaneity and a lack of clear aim on the part of those involved.

Actions in the Paris suburbs, and other cities in France in 2005 and 2007, and across Greece in December 2008, are potent examples of this new rage. Indeed, this is nihilism by dictionary definition: When conditions in the social organization are so unhealthy as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility. After seeing peaceful demonstrations ignored by authorities, voting produce no substantive political change, and the gap between the rich and the poor and what those in power do and what everyone else needs grow ever wider, it’s only natural that violent and unfocused anger emerges from chronic injustice and disenfranchisement.

Athens Greece, December 20, 2008The post-anarchists have no heroes, nothing to believe in, no progressive future to look forward to, and everything around them is FUBAR. This is pure nihilism; it’s all wrong so tear it all down. This is a generation of nihilists without a label, living in an anomic world, many lacking even a name to call themselves or a symbol for recognition! It may be an unspoken nihilistic rage, but in the process we’re reminded that the only way to be heard by those in power is through violent outbursts because peaceful protests are ignored. In order for your voice and concerns to be recognized by those in power you have to shake things up and force authorities to respond. And without a resolution and a solution the rage only grows.

[T]he new generation of urban guerrillas has tried neither to garner popular support nor explain its actions. Instead, the Sect of Revolutionaries, believed by experts to be a branch of Revolutionary Struggle - a group that made its debut with a rocket attack on the US embassy in 2007, and also thought to be behind the attack on Citibank - has stood out for its cold cynicism and marked lack of ideology. "We don't do politics, we do guerrilla warfare," it declared [in Greece, February 2009]. [2]

So, while authorities try to suppress the nihilism, and philosophers debate how bad it is, the sentiment remains and spreads regardless of official opinion. This amorphous revolt has to be carried through to the natural conclusion, otherwise it’s just like government's attempted rescue of the broken economy – bailing out criminal billionaires and busted banks when if we just allowed natural failure we could purge the mistakes, punish the guilty, and move on.

Once you begin to visualize a world that is different, a system that we like and want to participate in as opposed to the current corrupt authority-establishment predicated upon mass-disenfranchisement, you've made the first step towards creating it.

21st Century Existence

Existence is predicated upon by relationships, just as meaning emerges from the interactions of those living relationships. So just as primitive human societies, and indeed most life, functions in a nominal state of equilibrium with surrounding environment, we must form a new state of nominal balance between our surroundings and ourselves expressed through an array of relationships. Technologically primitive humans had to do this through myths and beliefs that were gradually developed over hundreds, even thousands of years based on continuous and steady interactions with a relatively stable natural environment.

Yet today we live in an advanced, primarily artificial, environment crafted by our own enterprise and structured for our own short-term benefit -- but at long-term costs that are rarely included in near term expenses. If we are to survive individually and collectively our new equilibrium must be one based upon the same consistent, verifiable, and predictable forces that we use to build our surroundings – primarily physics, math, and science in general. This requires a radically different approach to living than what we have experienced in our collective past, just as our own environment has already radically changed from traditional lifestyle patterns.

Although we can’t go back to a stagnant past, we can go forward into a dynamic and fruitful future. But evolution doesn’t occur without cost or sacrifice. Archaic and traditional beliefs still dominate social values and assumptions even though every structure we have built has been through a completely different viewpoint, that of reason and science! The values and beliefs that many still cling to now lead us collectively into self-defeating dead-ends while our words, abstracted ideas, and expressions are all too often contradicted by our real actions based on necessity or desire. As has become painfully obvious amidst a record-breaking economic crisis, epic ideological collapse, gory religious wars, and widespread anomie, much of what has been accepted as truth has turned out to be abominable lies, while holy gods have failed, and supposedly overwhelming authorities have crumbled to dust under scrutiny and public challenge.

As the social scientist Gustave Le Bon once stated, “The beginning of a revolution is in reality the end of a belief.” Take a cue from Mikhail Bakunin and ignite the fires of revolution around the globe, one belief at a time.

Until our words match our deeds, and our deeds match our words, until our values are finally based upon consistent elements, we will only foolishly struggle against inviolate forces while wallowing in a morass of suffering, internal contradiction, and detrimental social hypocrisy. In order to overcome we must test to find weakness, while openly challenging assumptions and established beliefs so we can learn what remains valid and what is simply myth. In life it’s not enough to just be told the answers and ordered what to do, because some answers may be correct for one but not for another, or invalid in a different time or place. This is why 'learning' by command is one of the most blatant and harmful flaws of the establishment education system. Ultimately you have to learn the answers on your own, but more importantly we all need a robust methodology to be able to find valid answers regardless of the time, place, or situation. Remember, you can't control your own life until you start to think for yourself.

Just as Maria Montessori did what Friedrich Nietzsche could not do as a philosopher – turn radical ideas into a practical methodology, so it is today in the 21st century we need a revolution to establish a methodology that allows us to evolve and develop on a social and environmental level in conjunction with our technology, so one force doesn’t far exceed the other.

As Nihilists we are terminators of belief, enemies of social hypocrisy, and opponents of a society that forces aberrant and contradictory behavior creating schizophrenic values and mental anguish. In this way Nihilists are catalysts, they're lightning bolts setting fire to the diseased and dying forest and compelling a new paradigm to grow in the newfound absence, the nothingness of a healthy and invigorating apocalypse.

– Freydis


1. Policeman 'aimed in direction of' Greek schoolboy, by Helena Smith, The Observer (UK), January 18, 2009.

2. Death threat to Greek media as terrorists plot bomb havoc, by Helena Smith, The Guardian, February 22, 2009, (italics added for emphasis).

3. Watery asteroids may explain why life is 'left-handed', by Hazel Muir, New Scientist, March 17, 2009.

4. Discovery of New Microorganisms in the Stratosphere, ISRO, March 16, 2009.

5. The documentary Animal Minds (1999) presents an incredible look into intelligent animal life that reveals the inner workings of moral behavior in social animals, and much more.

6. For an interesting explanation of how a basic moral sense is built into us and the way that religion hijacks it read Religion Explained – The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought, by Pascal Boyer, 2001, Basic Books.

7. Was our oldest ancestor a proton-powered rock?, by Nick Lane, New Scientist, October 19, 2009.

8. Fair play: Monkeys share our sense of injustice, by Frans de Waal, New Scientist, November 11, 2009.

9. World Turned Upside Down, New Scientist magazine, August 8-14, 2015, pg. 34.

We must overthrow the material and moral conditions of our present-day life. ... We must first purify our atmosphere and completely transform the milieu in which we live; for it corrupts our instinct and our will, and constricts our heart and our intelligence.
- Mikhail Bakunin

   

 Content & Design By Freydis
Updated: October, 2015
Created: 2009