Meng-hu writes at hermit’s thatch:
The folly of society attempted to change itself and its course using the same contrived tools that brought it to its present precipice is an important lesson for the solitary.
Intrinsic to power and authority are the means of retaining and replicating itself, and these tools cannot be relinquished without self-destruction. Even such a devolution would not last. Some other aspirant to power and control would quickly fill the vacuum. This process could be described as an evolutionary instinct: the instinct of self-preservation and reproduction. Except that we are not speaking of individuals but of social and political institutions, of cultures and circles of power. Hence, the analogy of instincts is not accurate, but the desire for power and the extension and preservation of power is a good description.
The solitary already senses that institutions and organizations are not authentic beings. Indeed, they are abstractions, projections of individuals holding power, extending their power into families, associates, dynasties, cultural institutions, and ultimately into strong political, social, economic institutions, organizations, and structures. In turn, these entities can manipulate material conditions. Since these conditions include resources and infrastructure that moves them through society and provides individuals with consumable products and services, the abstractions then take on an aura of necessity and even a contrived naturalness, so that people assume they cannot live without them and that they evolved naturally and inevitably.
But the solitary looks at them with bafflement. These entities do not exist, epistemologically speaking. They appear to exist because countless individuals have acceded to their creation and renounced their autonomous spiritual status to them, transferring it to larger abstract entities (that is, to those behind the entities).
These entities (and they are familiar enough as institutions, organizations, groups, and collective legal fictions) are abstractions in the sense that they are arrangements and relationships between and among people. They are not concrete things. The material conditions in which we live appear as they do because of human inventiveness — or exploitation. The entities or structures themselves are no more than power relationships, as Foucault conceived of them. To the solitary, they are not inevitable in the epistemological sense.
That part of human relationship which entails a subordination to structures due to the threat of violence and harm does force the hermit to conform to power. We can think of laws that are not just, coercions that are unprovoked, societal and individual uses of power that are motivated by human aggression and vice — all these things force the solitary to conform outwardly, to submission or cooperation.
But understanding their origins helps the solitary to understand their evanescence and their lack of virtue, to understand that they exist out of what most spiritual traditions call the sinfulness of human beings, which might be called the complex web of mixed evolutionary inheritance, wherein human beings cannot distinguish their instincts or desires from a natural fellow-feeling in a social context.
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