The specter of chaos

The fairest Cosmos is merely a rubbish-heap poured out at random.

Heraclitus, Fragment 124

To share, from lundi.am (#171, 29/12/2018) …

The specter of chaos

Imminence of chaos or chaos of immanence? Loosely: another order of ideas or ideas of another order.

Spontaneously, it seems obvious to us that order succeeds disorder, that the Cosmos succeeds Chaos, that Creation follows Darkness. We think of the world as the result of a process, a transition from less to more order, a growing arrangement.

This process is supposed to be intentional, it is supposed to come from an ordering power, that of a great organiser who gives birth to the world ex nihilo and whom we call God. Fiat lux, let there be light! From the obscurity of the original darkness, a vertical, transcendent power brings forth the light, an orderly, enlightened, visible and tangible world, understandable.

We carry within us this magical thought, this long religious atavism, this Judeo-Christian heritage. As a result, we can not help but conceive the Cosmos, Nature as the result of an arrangement. The layout of the one who knows. Indeed, any intentional process seems to suppose a prior knowledge, a plan of construction, a technique, a scholarly will that achieves an objective. It seems that every act requires previous deliberation.

We project this way of thinking, this narrative scheme, on the current order of things, on social relations, institutions, the field of politics or government of the ordered political body. We indeed suppose, and this in spite of us, automatically, unthinkingly, that this order results from a creative intention, that it supposes a legislative, ordering knowledge, that a vertical and executive power implements. In this we are still heirs of the biblical texts for which the Word precedes the Act.

Now, I believe that all these pseudo-evidences lead us to multiple errors of judgment. We must therefore try to destroy them and so, as Nietzsche would have said, to philosophise with a hammer:

The act is self-sufficient. A prior plan can only be dogmatic and anti-democratic, presenting itself as the program of the one who knows. The question “and after?” is a brake for action because the certainty of the merits of a tactic, a strategy and its consequences is never acquired, indubitable. When Caesar crosses the Rubicon, he can not know with exactitude and certainty the consequences of such an act, the precise causal series that it will entail. It is a “retrospective illusion” for Bergson to think that the possible exists before the real. It is as if the actual act, what happened, might not have happened that way. We reject the real in the past by pretending that it was possible before existing.

Order precedes disorder. Indeed, the illusion that Bergson denounces is the same concerning the relations of order and disorder and of being and nothingness. Indeed, disorder is second, not first, it is the negation of order. There is more in the idea of disorder than in the idea of order, disorder being order plus the act of denying it. To suppose that disorder or chaos is first is therefore what Bergson calls a “false problem”, a “nonexistent” problem for which we take the most for the least. The negation of the current order does not bring about chaos, that is, the negation of order in general (which does not exist!) But that of an order in particular, that of those whom it benefits.

The destruction of the current order does not bring chaos but a different order. It is quite Parmenidean: non-being is not.

The specter of chaos or anarchy is brandished by those who rule the world and benefit from it. Anarchy and chaos are identified and this identification is an illusion that the negation of order leads to chaos. What is denied by revolt or revolution is not order in general but this particular order. Proudhon rightly declares that “anarchy is order without power”, it does not oppose order but the power that institutes it. The latter, therefore, seeks to deprive those who present themselves as those who know, the shepherds of the people who in fact do not know what is good for them. If necessary, writes Rousseau, one can even “force” a recalcitrant individual to be free. And this for his good! In the same way that a child is forced not to swallow a packet of candies before going to dinner. It is well known: the people are a big child!

However, democracy is at the origin an admission of ignorance: this type of government rests on the principle according to which no one knows which is the good sought, nor how to reach it with certainty. Politics is not an exact science. Democracy thus assumes the sovereign people and is then supposed to rely on consensus or, by default, on an unavoidable act of violence to make acceptable the choice of the large number of the majority, who will then exercise this authority over a minority that it will be necessary to constrain.

It is up to the people to indicate what they want, where is their good is to be found, and to their representatives to execute. The only one who knows is the sovereign people, but it does not know by means of a knowledge that stands above the act. It knows, so to speak, in action, through its movement, the historical process.

The idea that without law and police, coercive power, we would all become beings delivered over to criminal instincts, destructive impulses, is only a belief in the service of those who benefit from the current order. This is an essentialist vision: Homo homini lupus is man is a wolf to man. The manipulation of the famous “human nature”, which is the breeding ground of totalitarianism, is to be handled with delicate precautions.

The only legitimate order is immanent (it does not belong to a transcendence, to those who know) and horizontal. It is the result of relations between the individuals of a community, relationships that are necessarily created in response to the constraints inherent in our condition. We must feed ourselves and work, reproduce and think about marriage, organize social life, etc.

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One Response to The specter of chaos

  1. Pingback: Lundi Matin: The specter of chaos – Enough is Enough!

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