The Energy of Civilizations

Editor’s coloumn, Partnership of Civilizations International Scientific-Practical Journal, #2-2012. 

The dialogue of civilizations in the 20th century had a persistent smell of oil, blood and money.

Their influence, like the oil slick spilling on the sea surface because of disaster, suffocating life. But such was the balance of technological and civility in the past century.

The discovery and study of several dozen of “cradle civilizations” which preserved identity in spite of the industrial breakthrough of the rest of humanity has showed their amazing lifestyle pattern. It is remarkable for its unique expedience, rigid subordination to the requirements of the species survival and commitment to own cosmogony. Such oases even at the end of the last century persisted, strange enough, quite abundant in spite of globality of communications. The very fact of their preservation — like a benchmark, like a tuning-fork, like a guarantee of future revelations about certain laws of existence unavailable for as so far. Perhaps, some fundamental depth hides in what someone would call primitive, archaic. And what we think “progress” might be hiding a cultural disability?

The colossal volumes of oil production, the web of pipelines, tanker fleet pumping the potential of economies and turning at the end into the automobile traffic with jams, flickering computer screens and purring food processors, into all that, after sterilization of its objective essence the statisticians will term “the level of energy consumption” and “quality of life.” And it is continuously transformed into ghostly realms of financial assets, pumping, in turn, the ratings of countries and corporations, promising them investment attraction and market influence. This formula for success erases the features of civilizations and strives to keep one universal code of any partnership. This is purely an arithmetic code: more or, less, add-subtract, and so on, and most importantly – to reduce to a common denominator, in the limit — to the general equivalent, claiming to measure and motivate everyone and everything, digitize and simplify.

This logic has no place for diversity of civilizations, it is redundant and nonfunctional, prevents abstraction. But there is a charge for this kind of logic — it is required an extensive infrastructure to keep increasing the volume and speeds of flows. And at some point, this logic impinges on the barrier. Even the financial leverages and pyramids turn out to have a horizon not moving further and making all efforts meaningless. This is a dead end or Zugzwang.

But in the creative genius of humanity there are found the breaks of the deadlocks. The future technological order itself, with its nano-, bio-, info-and cognitive innovations suddenly begins to provoke nostalgia for the real, the true, the harmony, and diversity. And it turns out a strange way that exactly these creative, cultural energies nourish the stamina of modern society no less powerful than all the oil and gas combined.

The creative energies, just like any other energies has a dimension not only in potential. They are embodied, as noted Arnold J. Toynbee, in the greatness of the soul as the ability to put in motion other people. The highest level of the greatness of soul is inherent in religious prophets, affined with the greatness in the intellectual and other creative activities, carrying along and putting in motion others.

And isn’t it in a touching concern for “stealing souls” in the cradle civilizations an important lesson for the technocratic style of modernity? Isn’t a battle between good and evil for the rule in every human soul a spiritual source of the rise and fall of civilizations?

And didn’t the Industrial Revolution begin with the words of Pierre Chaunu, with the rapid growth of the power of man over things, when “more and more rich, and always, basically, poor humanity after the 1620 desired the spiritual fullness”? And who could have foreseen that this desire will lead to the civility of the 20th century, with the smell of oil, blood and money?