Monday, 19 February 2018

Everything is not enough... The forgotten insight of post-war radicalism

Colin Wilson recreates his summer living in a waterproof sleeping bag on Hampstead Heath, researching and writing The Outsider. 

Everything is not enough is the core insight of the post 1945 radicalism beginning with the Existentialists and Beats of the 50s, the Hippies of the 60s, and the Small is Beautiful movement of the mid 70s...

There was (among some people, for some time) a clear recognition that even-if modern society had everything that people aspired-to - abundance of stuff, ideally-distributed, advanced capability... peace, prosperity, comfort and adventure... It would not be enough. It would indeed be entirely, qualitatively inadequate.

This was a spiritual, a religious insight - and the insight and its nature can be seen in Colin Wilson's first two books - The Outsider (1956) and (even better) Religion and the Rebel (1957). Another example was the widely known and influential work of psychologist Abraham Maslow, and his increasing focus on spirituality and religion in later years.

Everybody knew that everything was not enough...


This core insight was not new - since it was essentially the same insight as Romanticism, almost 150 years before - but in the post-war period the insight became widely appreciated because the problem of production had been solved, poverty had been abolished (insofar is it could be), the nature of the situation was being experienced by many people for themselves, played out in their own lives and lives around them.

In the period since, the core insight has been lost and buried. The Left was turned from a concern with poverty mutating to existentialism - over to an envy-fuelled concern with inequality, a resentment-fuelled concern with identity, and an ever-mutating sexual hedonism rationalised by inequality and identity...

The mainstream secular 'Right' (including free marketeers and libertarians) was weaned-off religion and instead focused the on status-fuelled need for ever-more stuff, but stuff of the right kind; and the pride-fuelled need for domination at home and abroad.

The really-religious acted tactically (assuming the problem would be temporary) and doubled-down on the traditional and/or legalistic aspects of their churches - asif the Romantic insight had never happened, asif the existentialist insight into the human condition of modernity wasn't real.


To a truly amazing extent, half-a-century-plus since the existential unsatisfactoriness of modernity became a solid insight in the minds of modern people - the mainstream public official world continues asif the problems were still the same. There is an unreleting focus on poverty, hazards, lack - the world is depicted asif it was the pre-industrial world...

(And, indeed, such conditions are actively 'created' in the minds of people by a combination of dishonesty and active problem creation.) 

By means of the ubiquitous mass/social media and the ubiquitous linked-bureaucracy, minds are kept firmly off the real problem - and fake priorities are substituted.

Yet normal Life is more Existentially Desolate then ever - as Thoreau said, but to a far greater extent: the mass of Men continue to lead lives of quiet desperation...  But this time (because our metaphysical assumptions absolutely exclude it) with no hope, and no possibility of hope.


All this distraction, displacement, death of soul is no accident; all this was and is being strategically implemented; all this could swiftly be overturned in the minds of millions, If Only...