The Golden Soul of Patriarchal Order
Burgers’ Religious Revolution
Shuffling feet whisper into the marble halls
cathedral ceilings, houses of worship to the intangible
that great entity describable,
only in part
only by imagination
only when its time to cash in.
An estimation that dominates
a projection that motivates
a fear of loss
a desire to accumulate
and acquire the impossible fusion
of essential integrity--
that replaces blood’s entitlement
with faithful servitude
trumping fortune with calculation
forsaking love of sisters and brothers
to the house
of the almighty.
The Golden Soul of Patriarchal Order
The acceptance of Monarchy came from the Catholic Church’s institutional legitimacy as truth barer and instrument of God’s will, a will expressed through it in the placement of a sovereign monarch over a people and a land. That order was replaced in the XV Century by humanism, and the direct individual-to-God relationship proposed in the protestant reformation. The time when the Earth became one planet among billions of solar systems and galaxies through the eyes of Galileo and Copernicus coincides with the replacement of the hegemony of the sacred for the rule of the secular. The secular is the triumph of action and planning over fortune (fate). Machiavelli understood this in Florence (at almost the same time Columbus was landing in the Caribbean), giving birth to modern politics: the problem faced by the modern ruler was the lack of metaphysical legitimacy for his actions. He must rule without the official back up of God; he must overcome the lack of divine fortune with administrative skill.
Since the brake from the rule of theocracy and the Church, the secular government was made possible by the irrefutability of scientific observation. As Marx says, a qualitative jump occurred and Science almost overnight became the ideological substitute of religion. Science became the barer of truth and thus the hegemonic episteme in the world through its role as a libratory tool in relation to the Catholic Order. The new modern order found its raison de etre in Western Science and Reason of State. From the connection between the anthropocentric and individualistic ideology of humanism, the right of power of the fit Prince, and the experimental method, the capitalistic modern paradigm creates its central meaning. Science is at the core of the mythical foundation of modernity and modern oppression.
As an epistemological consequence of this foundational influence, science fulfills a greater purpose in the modern society than what we ordinary perceive, since this perception tends to reduce its influence to the utilitarian reason. Notwithstanding, the least important function of science in society is given by its scientific results, since the scientific results are, although strategic, secondary devices of influence and control, and the beneficiaries of science are the elite—as is the case of the lack of availability of modern medicine to the vast majority of the people of the world. In a broader perspective, science represents the validation of the fundamental rationale of the social order we live in, which is the main filter through which we represent reality in a civilized society. Obligatory vaccines, hygiene and beauty products that must be bought repeatedly throughout a lifetime, missiles, biological weapons, surveillance equipment, electronic and digital media that create distance among human beings and turn cultural activities into commodities, and other such artifacts built and sustained by science and its ideology help the State achieve greater efficiency and consolidate its domination.
In the same way that the Catholic Church owned the theocratic paradigm in the middle ages and profited from it in human affairs, Western Science achieves both sides of the power equation: the truth (ideological control) and techne (material manipulation).
In fact Machiavelli’s contribution, in his own words, was not more than to put in writing the silent knowledge that the elites were understanding and using for centuries before the advent of modernity. That is to say Machiavelli--and consequently the modern approach to power--is not qualitatively different from the past from which it grew. As a corollary then, there is not a rupture, but rather, a continuity between the Medieval approach to government and the modern one. The reason is that they share the meta-paradigm that structures all vertical societies, the meta-paradigm of Patriarchy. This means in practical terms, that due to the loss of the credibility of the Church, which imagined the Earth as the center of the creation, the elites looked and found a new ground for their legitimacy. This legitimacy is Western Science. Effectively science becomes the new tool of popular manipulation, replacing divine fortune.
The fortunes accrued for centuries overcome the mortal beneficiaries of the vertical structure of oppression. These fortunes, in fact, will find new ways for survival to keep the necessary control over the non-political classes: the servant (or energy) class and the overseer class. Functioning as golden scepters, these fortunes may or may not continue in the same hands, and they must find a way to maintain their existence as fortunes or else disappear, fragmented into the millions of open hands of the poor. In part, the Catholic fortunes shifted to the north, particularly from Spain and Portugal to England, Holland, France, Austria and Germany. The Protestant world became the beneficiary of the Iberian empires’ spoils of conquest (African, American), and humanist and Machiavellian thought found a richer ground to grow and flourish. Fortunes may have changed hands during the Reformation, but not their capacity of being power-making scepters, scepters of a cultural kind.
These golden scepters require a symbolic system in which to exercise the social motion process. Fortunes are malleable, and they do not have an essential ownership. Consequently they can be appropriated by business transactions or war. In this fashion the movement of fortunes in the Renaissance allowed new tenants of fortune to emerge. By changing method and replacing certain parts of the patriarchal ideology, lets say from Theocracy to Republicanism or liberal democracy, fortunes ensured their survival by means of articulating a new discourse, the discourse of Western Science--also known plainly as Science because of the auto-universalization of the West. While science contributed to the Catholic Church’s loss of authority in determining rulers, truth, and God’s will, the city merchants and entrepreneurs (the bourgeoisie)—which provided the political and economic support for the protestant revolution—emerged as a political class that would compete with the aristocracy. The overall effect of these changes was the displacement from the sacred to the secular as official world-view on the one hand and from the feudal system to the capitalist system on the cultural-economic-power hand. The scepter of fortune changed hands, and at the same time the principle that sustained the basic assumptions of society changed. Fortunes and ideology found again their way together, founding a new social hegemony.
Western science, as any other science, chooses its object of study and the allocation of its energy and efforts because behind any science there is a set of priorities, interests, and values that will decide what will be studied and what will be dismissed. Science is not neutral; it does not have the idyllic constructive character imposed to our imagination because it is selective and value driven. Objectivity (an impossible construction as well as an unethical value) as the supreme goal of Western Science is the central value of this particular kind of science. Adhering to the objectivity implies that any criticism against, for example, the cruelty of scientific experimentation against animals, or the pollution of the air by nuclear experiments or chemical particles, is dismissed under the ground of anti-progressivism or sentimentalism. In this particular case, Western Science piggy-backs on the patriarchal atavistic concept that perceives the earth and the universe as a resource that humans must manage and dissect, and not as family that humans must respect, share with, and observe. Patriarchal religion and patriarchal science share the idea that the universe belongs to man instead of humanity belonging to the universe. Unlike non-expansive horizontal cultures, which prioritize a concept of harmony and reciprocity to sustain life on earth, the patriarchal paradigms—due to their vertical and expansive conceptualization of the world—are linear and thus apocalyptic. For Religion the world is waiting for the end of times, promising mercy or salvation to believers and followers. For Science, progress and the conquering of frontiers like the atom, the moon, and the animation of synthetic or genetically altered tissue promise to stave off the accepted inevitability of the end of the world.
The scientific paradigm is the continuation of Patriarchy after the decay of the unbearable religious epistemology. The astronomical discoveries that catapulted the Renaissance into a new “sensibility” made religion unsustainable in terms of its promise as purveyor of truth, and thus its authority. But the state—the geo-political entity that had been legitimized by the church (1492)—now adopts the new truth paradigm. The peculiarity of the scientific paradigm consists in its claims that sovereignty rests in the hands of the people (not the monarch) since Church/God had fallen into disgrace. The replacement of the Church with the scientific method as purveyor of truth combined with the removal of the clergy’s position between the individual and the divine make sovereignty the logical province of the people under the new paradigm. The democratization of sovereignty itself then becomes the justification for Reason of State, the hegemonic right that the state reserves to act against the popular will for a supposed collective good. “We the people,” said the authors of the United States Declaration of Independence for example, when in fact they themselves were slaveholders, declaring their sovereignty to the exclusion of the million slave-people and the millions of dispossessed indigenous people that lived in the colonies at the time. The new, secular, “democratic” elites with a new discourse became the new face of patriarchal power. In terms of Traslatio Imperii, the liquidity of fortunes required by Patriarchy allows its capacity of adaptation, its capacity of adopting new radical forms, dressing-up the old hierarchical order for new sensibilities.
Today’s hegemonic paradigm is sustained by the mythical scope of science (without using any descriptor); its supposed objectivity and its status as purveyor of truth are ideological (dishonest) characterizations of its meaning. As much as the Church had ideological hegemony over the Middle Ages’ world view, being only one of many faiths and beliefs available at the time, Western Science is one of many epistemologies in the modern times, although the hegemonic one. In essence, the one selected by the establishment to serve the goals set by themselves. To illustrate this point some specifics of Western Science are as follows:
1. Western Science conceives the universe as separate from the observer, 2. Interventionism is at the center of its methodology, and the consequent obsession for decontextualization and analysis cause the fragmentation and often death of the object of study, 3. Western Science understands research for practical purposes in a hierarchical society, 4. Western Science is a tool and works for whom can finance it, 5. Western science does not have ethics but its scope only is limited by objectivity, no matter how big is the damage or the consequences produced in the natural or social world, 6. Western science is a commodity.
There are several reasons for this construction: first there is a rhetorical, specifically metonymic description since science as a broader concept derived from the greek word for knowledge indicates all sciences, from all cultures and times. Western Science is one of many, instead of one of a kind, and uses “common sense” instead of “Western science” to refer to itself. This indicates the ideological character of Western Science, since ideology requires double speak to do what has been misleadingly said in order to perpetuate the Status Quo. Ideology is a symbolic tool for patriarchal communication. Science as the nick name of Western Science is the first of a large chain of euphemisms necessary to keep the modern order running, other important ones are democracy, liberty, free speech, equality, law and order, justice, education, health.
Western Science has been designed to serve the multiple needs of the modern state in the practical level. The contemporary paradigm holds capitalism as its mode of generating wealth, individualism and competition as the center of its anthropology, and monopoly as the conclusive mode of control. Western Science, the class system and individualism are at the core of the modern paradigm, they intertwine figuratively in the DNA spirals of capitalistic order in much the same way that Religion, the cast system and sin were at the core of the Medieval world view. At the bottom of these seemingly opposite views, fortune and oppression remain the same. A world divided between the ruling and the ruled classes. The fortunes impregnate new agents inventing new ways of keeping them accruing more fortune, while the agents in their perpetual mortality do whatever they can to keep the privilege of possessing the fortunes in the temporal world.
Patriarchy is the servant of the object called wealth. The elites pay the price of servitude to capital only to buy some time to exercise ruthless power. Fortunes are the crusts of history. In them, hundreds of generations have left their lives as slaves, serfs and proletarians; at the same time slaveholders, feudal lords and capitalist tycoons were helping fortunes to grow while they were enjoying the most perverse pleasures including war as their favorite pastime--fulfilling the main advise of Machiavelli: the only duty of the prince is to be concerned with war.
Western Science first is a myth and secondly is a tool. These two aspects of the same institution serve complementary purposes of cultural meaning and control: the creation of an order at the mental level and the manipulation of that order at the material one. Due to the functionality of this double role, Western Science is the most powerful ideology ever recorded in histories. The Church had to fake or show its truth through narratives like the Bible and by the third person testimonies of witnesses of miracles, like Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe. On the other hand, Science shows its socialized miracles (electricity, communications, transport) in the experience of every day. The omnipresence of Western Science allows the myth to be drilled every day in our minds, and as a consequence it is stronger than the faith argument of the Catholic Church. Western Science, in this sense, pretends not to be a religion. Additionally, it does not have any pre-established truth, but rather claims to provide access to truth thus fulfilling the inalienable human right for curiosity. The fact is that Western Science might be a religion if we consider the necessary act of faith that requires its uncritical acceptance. In opposition to Religion, Western Science backs up his claims by the use of his technical capacities when manipulating matter, which renders on a different level the act of faith required to accept science as a religion. This level is the power of the word Science. We see Western Science through the shine of its techniques and gadgets but we cannot see what the market decides and does behind closed doors in the real laboratories. We remember the resonance of the imaginary connotations of the word science in our mind and we give our blessings. We do not see how the Military Industrial Complex is the first client for scientific discoveries across the board. We do not hear the desperate cries from the mother-deprived monkeys that cling to the metal cages. We quickly forget that the objective “Science” of Agassis and other polygenecists in the US, supported by the civil-war-time administration, deemed blacks and indians essentially inferior through skull measurements to the relief of Anglo America. We do not see that, the US-made, polio vaccines killed thousands of people in the Belgian Congo after a compulsory operation of vaccination in the European colony between 1957 and 1959. We do not smell the smoke left behind the state-of-the-art medium-range lazers that turned whole families into ashes in Panama City in 1989. And we do not imagine the state of life on earth after an atomic war between elites, or when a biological weapon gets out of hand like a Frankenstein’s monster in every household.
Nonetheless, in order to stay in our right minds, we surrender to the mystique of expertise and authority, rationalizing that we do not know enough to judge it, avoiding accusations of conspiracy theorism, and turning a blind eye to the whole business. That is the empty space of scientific appreciation that is unconsciously filled with faith. We manage to avoid this issue because we take the fact that Science proves what it says as proof of its intrinsic benevolence. There is no room for arguments, only facts. But in fact, this is a false syllogism, since there is not a necessary correlation between the development of tools of invasion and control of natural organisms or military communications, with the idea that Science (Western Science) should be defended because it represents the hope of freedom for humanity. Freedom from nature? From yourself? From work? From consumption? From war? From fate? The real face of Western Science is only visible if we understand it as we understand any religion or ideology that claims to bring truth and freedom while instituting itself at the center of a society of haves and have-nots.