Several decades before I did any serious thinking about politics, I had already well and truly made up my mind about religion in general and my chosen spiritual practice in particular. Prior to meeting each other, my beloved GlenYs Livingstone and I were greatly influenced by the late Thomas Berry – a self-described ‘geologian’, and his ‘Twelve principles of a functional cosmology’. Principle number two is particularly relevant to how and why I now regard politics in general and socialism in particular from my PaGaian perspective.
“The universe is a unity, an interacting and genetically related community of beings bound together in an inseparable relationship in space and time. The unity of the planet Earth is especially clear; each being of the planet is profoundly implicated in the existence and functioning of every other being of the planet”.
Evening Thoughts, Thomas Berry (SF: Sierra Club Books, 2006)
Thanks to the so-called IT – information technology, revolution and our ability to know what is happening throughout the planet more or less as and when it happens, the influence of major international financial institutions and their subordinate political leaders on the quality of life for all of humanity has increased proportionately. While this rapidly developing technological advantage is benefitting a very small minority – probably less than 0.01%, of the planet’s total population, the vast majority of humanity is experiencing a rapidly diminishing quality of life. It is this increasingly oppressive socio-economic burden often being violently imposed on ordinary working families that eventually had me searching for a political story that might be compatible with Berry’s unifying second principle in general and my spiritual practice – PaGaian Cosmology, in particular.
Here I should let the author of PaGaian Cosmology, my beloved GlenYs Livingstone PhD, explain why she chose the name ‘PaGaian’ –
“The term “PaGaian”… expresses a reclaiming of the term “Pagan” as meaning a person who dwells in “country”, yet with “Gaian” spliced in, it expresses a renewed and contemporary understanding of that “country”. “Gaia” is a name for humanity’s Habitat, an ancient yet new name, which I understand to include whole Earth and Cosmos – there is no seam separating Earth from Her context. And Pagan religious tradition offers a spiritual practice of celebrating Earth-Sun Creativity manifest in this Habitat.”
As indicated in the above quotes, PaGaian Cosmology could well be described as a philosophical and or ecological spiritual practice. Moreover, it is a practice based on a sense of place that is at the same time personal, cosmic and indigenous – or native, to planet Earth. PaGaian Cosmology is by design and intention an organic – as distinct from theocratic, spiritual practice. Given the rapidly deteriorating economic and social circumstances being experienced by most of my fellow human beings this was a very important distinction for me to keep in mind when considering what if any political story might be compatible with my world view and spiritual practice.
Within the last decade the GFC – Global Financial Crash, of 2008, the subsequent austerity measures imposed on working families, the numerous occupy movements, imperialist invasions and a plethora of insurrections, I came to regard politics in general and our Australian Westminster system of governance in particular as being totally incapable of improving the economic and social circumstances of most and therefore probably any of humanity. My lack of confidence in politics in general and in Australian political parties in particular did bother me from time to time. I could probably have lived indefinitely with my political indifference but I chose not to. I eventually decided to look deeper into the story of politics after one of many whinges to my partner and subsequently being encouraged by her to read some of Barbara Mor’s work on the subject – Mor is a modern-day feminist scholar who’s political story I found to be very thought-provoking and inspiring, particularly this paragraph –
“In this world, at this point, no political revolution is sustainable if it is not also a spiritual revolution – a complete ontological birth of new beings out of old. Equally, no spiritual activity deserves respect if it is not at the same time a politically responsible, i.e; responsive, activity… The only meaningful political direction left now is synonymous with the only meaningful spiritual direction left now: towards the conscious re-fusion of the spirit and the flesh… This time it will be a global consciousness of our global oneness, and it will realize itself on a very sophisticated technological stage; with perhaps a total merger of psychic and electronic activity.”
‘The Great Cosmic Mother’ – Barbara Mor 1987).
So my search for a political story began by taking the hint from Mor that the merging of a political and spiritual revolution could take place on ‘a very sophisticated technological stage’… It wasn’t long before the World Wide Web and the likes of Google and Wikipedia led me to what I regarded as a plausible political story, a story that was also compatible with my world view and spiritual practice. It was at WSWS.org – the ‘World Socialist Web Site’ where I came across two key words ie; ‘internationalism’ and ‘equality’. If a political story was going to be both compatible with my spiritual practice and plausible in the context of changing the economic and social circumstances for most if not all of humanity, it had to at least meet these two essential criteria.
WSWS.org led me deeper into the political thinking and leadership of those who I now regard as our foremost political thinkers and leaders namely, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Luxemburg. It is their individual political rigour that impresses me most, but underpinning their scholarly approach to politics is a very evident sense of caring for their fellow beings. What I found within the WSWS.org political story as it relates to Leon Trotsky in particular is well expressed by David North, chairperson of the International Editorial Board of WSWS.org –
“A study of Trotsky’s writings is essential not only for an understanding of the politics of the twentieth century, but also for the purpose of orienting oneself politically in the very complex world of the twenty-first century… Trotsky provided a timeless demonstration of the power of ideas and ideals that correspond to and articulate the progressive strivings of humanity.”
(‘In Defence of Leon Trotsky’ – David North, Mehring Books 2013 p7)
The political rigour and discipline of Marx and Trotsky et al; appears to be an ongoing tradition among the journalists working for WSWS.org. For me, their political story telling is among the bravest, most honest and caring that I have ever read. Take the story of Yuri Primakov for example, he is the 87-year-old son of Markovitch Primakov a hero of the 1917 October Revolution, Yuri among other grandchildren of the revolution was recently interviewed by a WSWS.org journalist –
“They didn’t care about money and they truly believed in communism. They were convinced that they had to fight for the betterment of humankind, not just for the improvement of their own material position. If you compare that to the elites today, who don’t give a damn about the people and are interested only in the market rates of their companies on the stock exchange, then you can see what degradation has taken place.”
Were it not for this underlying sense of caring for the well-being of humanity and their strong commitment toward replacing the current profit driven systems of governance with an international socialism to meet the needs of most if not all humanity, I would find the often brutal honesty of WSWS.org political reporting to be depressing. Thankfully I don’t, on the contrary, nowadays the ICFI/SEP/WSWS.org is my chosen source of political information.
As indicated above, my world view and spiritual practice draws on a contemporary philosophical understanding of our place in the cosmos, as well as our newly emerging scientific understanding of how ‘each being of the planet is profoundly implicated in the existence and functioning of every other being of the planet’. As such I am now also confident that PaGaian Cosmology is a spiritual practice that does what Trotsky recommended we do in that it takes ‘the best possible tools of the latest technology’ –
“Spiritual culture is just as contradictory as material culture. And just as from the arsenals and warehouses of material culture we put into circulation not the bow and arrow, not stone tools or bronze age tools, but we take the best possible tools of the latest technology, – we must approach spiritual culture in just the same way”.
(‘Socialism & Culture’ – LeonTrotsky 1927)
Trotsky’s conception of Marxism as the ‘science of perspective’ also gives me confidence in arguing that my world view and spiritual practice is compatible with a classical Marxist international revolutionary Socialism –
As philosophy finds its material weapon in the proletariat, so the proletariat finds its spiritual weapon in philosophy… It is, therefore, the task of history, once the other-world of truth has vanished, to establish the truth of this world. It is the immediate task of philosophy, which is in the service of history, to unmask self-estrangement in its unholy forms once the holy form of human self-estrangement has been unmasked. Thus, the criticism of Heaven turns into the criticism of Earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.
(Karl Marx 1844)
This is how Marx perceives and reveals to us a careful and most valuable understanding of spirituality, philosophy, history and politics. This is the kind of scientific rigour that has enabled me to build on and make progress from Thomas Berry’s Unifying principle, then to GlenYs Livingstone’s PaGaian Cosmology and eventually to Leon Trotsky’s concept of an international revolutionary socialism.
As with our spiritual vision, so too with our ecological and social visions, they are planetary by nature and PaGaian by name.
(Livingstone & Seaborne 2014)
Southern Spring 2014.