Japan and the Shadow Side of Technology

By Edward-Yemil Rosario

 

That which we do not bring to consciousness appears in our lives as fate.
— C.G. Jung

For many, society’s ultimate raison d’être is to serve the individual. Government, religion, social institutions are filtered according to where the individual stand in terms of personal growth. However, the hyper-masculine, pathologically self-centered consciousness has outlived its usefulness and instead threatens to destroy us all.

 

We stand at the cusp of a major human evolutionary period. I think we will make leaps into the vast human potential or become the first species to make ourselves extinct. There’s no turning back. The nuclear crisis in Japan is a prime example. Nuclear power is a product human technology — an evolutionary product, if you will. It is also increasingly promoted because it is safe. Which it is, except when it is not. Chances of a major disaster are tiny, one in a hundred million. But in the event of a statistically improbable major disaster, the damage could result in the destruction of a city or a country or the poisoning of the global food chain. As we are about to learn in Japan, the true costs of nuclear power are never reflected even in the very high price of plant construction. I mentioned last week that one cannot solve a problem utilizing the same consciousness that created the problem in the first place.
I’ll come back to the horrific events unfolding Japan soon enough, but allow me to clarify…

 

Abraham Maslow was one the first to explore the higher stages of human potential. He found that in addition to the basic human needs — physiological needs, safety needs, belonging needs, and self-esteem needs — there were higher stages of self-actualization and self-transcendence needs. He called these latter stages, being needs, in contrast to the lower level deficiency needs. These higher stages represent an inherent potential all human beings possess, although not everyone lives up to them.

 

Before Maslow, Lawrence Kohlberg proposed distinct stages of moral reasoning, which Carol Gilligan (in her feminist critique) would later expand upon. In her seminal work, In a Different Voice, Gilligan outlined four major stages of moral development, which she called selfish, care, universal care, and integrated. Another way of articulating these stages might be egocentric (I care only for myself); ethnocentric (I care only for my tribe, my country, my nation); worldcentric (I care for all human beings, regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, or creed); and finally what can be called kosmocentric — where the masculine and feminine are integrated individually and collectively; and, I would add, extend care to all sentient beings without exception.

 

As in all development, the evolution (spiral) from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to kosmocentric is a movement of increasing consciousness, adopting and building on the previous stages. What the human potential movement discovered was that this embrace goes all the way to infinity. In the farther reaches of human nature people find themselves being one with a Ground of Being, one with Spirit, one with infinity, a radiant riot of the all-encompassing — whatever you want to call it.

 

My point is that you can have powerful states of consciousness — a powerful feeling of unity with a teaching or body of knowledge, for example. However, states are temporary while stages of development are permanent. Therefore, you can experience powerful altered states of consciousness or peak experiences and still not manage to grow or change. I think we’ve all experienced peak experiences of some type. Perhaps while writing, or otherwise engaged in a creative endeavor. Almost all my writing on recovery from addiction describes various states of consciousness.

 

I learned personally that experiencing peak or altered states alone don’t work. If you’re at an ethnocentric developmental stage, having a peak experience will only make you more ethnocentric. In other words, peak experiences tend to reinforce states of being. Not a good thing.

 

A common example is that if you’re at an ethnocentric stage of development and you have peak experiences of being one with everything, you might interpret that as an experience of oneness with Jesus and therefore conclude that nobody can be saved unless they accept Jesus as their personal savior. In other words, a peak spiritual experience for an ethnocentric Christian will be interpreted as having to belong to this group in order to be saved. To further elaborate, if you’re at an egocentric stage of development and have the same experience, you might interpret that as a belief that you are Jesus Christ. Using the same reasoning, if you are at a kosmocentric or integral stage and have that same spiritual peak experience, you will likely conclude that you and all sentient beings without exception are one with Spirit in the eternal here and now. The same can be applied to politically ideology. In fact, many people have died as a result of a social consciousness stemming from egocentric or ethnocentric states of being. People operating from lower levels of moral reasoning will even rationalize the senseless murder of women and children.

 

Still with me?

 

As I write, reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station have gone off the rails — to use an obsolete metaphor. The latest NYT banner headline is “Taming Reactors May Take Weeks.” There have been several explosions and no one really knows the true extent of the damage, because, humans being humans, those in charge are right now more concerned with public relations than human lives.

 

Yet Japan’s nuclear power stations were designed with the utmost care and precision. More precisely, as the only country in the world to have experienced true nuclear catastrophe, Japan had an incentive to build well, as well as the capability, laws and, regulations to do so. Which leads to an unavoidable question: If the technologically brilliant Japanese can’t build a completely safe reactor, who can?

 

But more importantly, is nuclear energy a viable alternative/ solution to anthropogenic global warming (AGW)? Of course it isn’t. From an economic perspective, it’s prohibitively expensive. The most rigorous costs/ benefits analysis puts the approximate cost of nuclear energy at 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt hour, which is triple the cost for electricity rates in the United States. Right now, nuclear energy supplies about 20 percent of our energy needs. There are approximately 104 nuclear plants (quite a few sitting on the San Andreas Fault line) — you do the math.

 

Here’s a great example I found at the Washington Post while researching this essay. Reporter Anne Applebaum writes:

 

“In an attempt to counter the latest worst-possible scenarios, a Franco-German company began constructing a super-safe, ‘next-generation’ nuclear reactor in Finland several years ago. The plant was designed to withstand the impact of an airplane — a post-Sept. 11 concern — and includes a chamber allegedly able to contain a core meltdown. But it was also meant to cost $4 billion and to be completed in 2009. Instead, after numerous setbacks, it is still unfinished — and may now cost $6 billion or more.

 

Ironically, the Finnish plant was meant to launch the renaissance of the nuclear power industry in Europe — an industry that has, of late, enjoyed a renaissance around the world, thanks almost entirely to fears of climate change. Nuclear plants emit no carbon. As a result, nuclear plants, after a long, post-Chernobyl lull, have become fashionable again. Some 62 nuclear reactors are under construction at the moment, according to the World Nuclear Association; a further 158 are being planned and 324 others have been proposed.”

 

But my argument doesn’t rest on economics alone. Building nuclear plants and regulating them — making sure the rules are followed and safety insured — that is an iffy proposition at best. Even if nuclear plants were perfectly conceived, in a perfect world, there would still be a major risk involved. But we don’t live in a perfect world and humans will cut corners, concoct sweetheart deals. In short, the reality is that there’s no “ooops” factor in nuclear energy, no “do over.” Oh yeah, and there’s that thorny problem of what to do with the “spent” rods and nuclear waste.

 

The question begging to be asked here is, when it comes to the potential of nuclear catastrophe, is there any level of risk that can be written off, like the death of a city, a nation or the destruction of a fragile ecology as unfortunate but just a cost of doing business?

 

Think about the extraordinary combination of circumstances that led to Japan’s current nuclear catastrophe and you have to question how people can be so complacent where the possibility for such devastation is in the hands of people infinitely more thoughtless and corrupt. Have you noticed all the corporate shills insisting that the current crisis should have no bearing on American plans for increased investment in nuclear power generating capacity?

 

Of course they’re by the same voices that have prevented the country from doing anything to reduce the known peril of our potentially catastrophic over reliance on fossil fuels. Remember Dick Cheney sneering at talk of conservation and holding secret energy meetings composed of the same people who rob us blind and pollute our environment with impunity?
And this brings me full circle to the issue how does a vision of society manifests itself for someone at an egocentric stage of development versus someone who’s at the worldcentric level? How do different levels or stages of moral reasoning affect global village?

 

With technological advancement, the social system we inhabit has repeatedly favored technologies that move us away from the communal (the higher forms of moral reasoning) that honor life the inherent interrelationships in human culture. In their place, the values driving our modern concept of “progress” as unchecked technological development have become the moral imperative of the postmodern age — and its curse.

 

What I see are too many people stuck in their ethnocentric cocoons. As a species we stand on the verge of evolutionary quantum leap. A leap that has the potential for creating a more just, more forgiving world never before visualized. But as with every evolutionary leap, we have the dark side and the greatest danger we face today is not from terrorists, it is from an outdated collective consciousness that sits rigid and immobile at the center of a reality whose nature is essentially always changing. We live in a world of increasing numbers of potentially catastrophic technologies — and increasing numbers of people made sick by technology. Today’s technological advancements pose a danger not only to individuals, but to life itself: to the essence and survival of the earth’s waters and soil and air, to you life… and mine. I am not railing against technology. That would be ignorant and entropic — against the evolutionary direction. I am pointing out that our technological development has outpaced our collective moral development. Our technologies are not created and chosen in an open, democratic manner, and we have not demanded that they be so. Rather their existence is, for all intents and purposes, an unchosen fate. We are as children with a book of matches.

 

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

15 Comments on “Japan and the Shadow Side of Technology”

  1. Eddie, thank you for writing this. We’ve lost the definition of morality when dangers are minimized for the sake of profit. This mindset has been going on for awhile, pursuing projects that jeopardize the environment, that are detrimental to natural health, but this latest bland reassurance simply cannot be ignored.

    Who wants to admit we are in the path of dangerous fallout, when the fallout is hitting states highly dependent on tourism, fishing and agriculture as part of their trade and commerce? Japan, the third highest economy in the world, is dying. My heart aches for them. I know it will be difficult for them to pick up the pieces and carry on, but like a person tested HIV positive, Japan needs to tell the truth, and the possible recipients of the disease need to be informed.

    What is the point of panicking when you have no place to go? The global community needs to know that it has been wounded so it can prepare. It doesn’t need lies and false assurances. It doesn’t matter how slowly it’s seeping out, the point is, radioactivity is still entering the atmosphere. Until the reactors are effectively cooled down, we are all at risk.

  2. So much to say – where to begin…

    [Quote=Eddie]For many, society’s ultimate raison d’être is to serve the individual. Government, religion, social institutions are filtered according to where the individual stand in terms of personal growth.[/quote]

    Traditional social institutions are not about the benefit of the individual, they are about the benefit of a ruling class that presides over them – those underneath the elite count as little more than tools for the use of the powerful. The individual is filled with all sorts of “noble lies” (fictions like “morality,” “law,” and the “greater good”) to keep him submissive to the established order.

    The self-aware egoist see through these lies and rebels against them through whatever means are within his power – ranging from flippant displays of disrespect of artificial authority to all-out declarations of war against those that would repress him.

    [Quote=Eddie]As in all development, the evolution (spiral) from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to kosmocentric is a movement of increasing consciousness, adopting and building on the previous stages. What the human potential movement discovered was that this embrace goes all the way to infinity. In the farther reaches of human nature people find themselves being one with a Ground of Being, one with Spirit, one with infinity, a radiant riot of the all-encompassing — whatever you want to call it.[/quote]

    I won’t deny that there are people out there with the capacity to experience some kind “universal love of all mankind” or some such, but they are quite rare – the simple fact is that people in general look out for whatever the social order around them tells them to look out for. By and large, our species has been forged into “sheeple” with a limited ability to think outside the box society imposes on them (and as far as I’m concerned, they are pretty much fucked).

    [Quote=Eddie]The question begging to be asked here is, when it comes to the potential of nuclear catastrophe, is there any level of risk that can be written off, like the death of a city, a nation or the destruction of a fragile ecology as unfortunate but just a cost of doing business?[/quote]

    As much as I don’t like the answer, it is a resounding “yes” – so long as the established order remains in power, it will look out only for the concerns of the elite (and they are the ones that decide what constitute an “acceptable risk” for their ventures). For this to change, centralized power must be destroyed: all other options are mere half-measures that simply delay the inevitable destruction of anyone who opposes the will of those in power.

    [Quote=Motivation Provider]Looks like the End of Days to me Kayle! I’m a little concerned you might not have things right with God, maybe now would be a good time ya think?[/quote]

    This thing you call “god” is a fiction – an idea meant to embody an idealized form of the mores and values espoused by the establishment and its rulers. “Getting right” with this “god” is the equivalent of suicide.

  3. Azazel: the myth of the rugged individualist is part of the cultural DNA of the USA and most of the western world. You yourself, as evidenced through your writings, have totally bought into that myth.

    THAT’S my point.

  4. Azazel: you make many general/ absolutist statements, but show no documentation. SCIENCE would disagree with your contention that humans can’t feel for one another. The exact opposite is true. I would strongly suggest you challenge your own assumptions. You’re confusing social institutions for human nature. For example, racism is a institutionalized construct. It is embedded in our laws, the way our social institutions are created, etc. In fact, racism would exist even if there weren’t any racist people. Your narrow way of looking has some glaring defects.

    Finally, I would reiterate that your army of “John Galts” is exactly the hyper-masculine, hyper individualist mindset this society is predicated on. You’re actually a pawn of the faulty, outmoded “super-individualist” Kool Aid. BTW, history is littered with the wreckage the laughable idea that a small group of “egoists” will save the world.

  5. Motivation: God has nothing to do with this. And if you believe in a God that would consciously do something like this, then your God is a sociopath.

  6. Karlsie: This is what rampant egoism does: it’s more concerned with the myth of an independent self than it is for the concerns of the global community. That’s why I’m saying that the same consciousness (hyper-masculine/ pathologically individualistic) that has created the global crisis cannot be used to solve the problem. A new consciousness needs to be applied.

  7. Eddie, I appreciate your passion. And although I’m an advocate for moving toward a world-centered orientation, I’m also aware of the necessity for an egocentric and ethnocentric orientation. I want to be careful not to set an unrealistic expectation that we can merrily skip over those stages of development.

    From my perspective, we will never evolve to a truly world-centered orientation unless we learn to change the way we use language. Of course, I’m biased, because I teach Green Speak, which comes from Green Psychology and is the only pluralistic language structure I’m aware of. It is a way of speaking that makes perfectly clear that what we are saying is subjective. This eliminates the tendency to objectify things that aren’t objective. It allows us to respect people’s differences, not be threatened by them.

    If you are serious about living in a world-centered stance, I encourage you to explore the use of Green Psychology and in particular Green Speak.

  8. Excellent piece. Thank you for articulating the serious consequences of nuclear energy. I did notice this was not the area anyone chose to address.
    I had a thought about achieving consciousness, if one was fortunate enough to even briefly experience a higher level of oneness, don’t you think that may be the motivation needed to experience it not only again but continually? I’m not referring to a specific body of religion, just one’s own desire to reach the next level.
    Unlike one of the comments, I believe that human are very capable to reach higher consciousness. We need to support their curiosity and promote critical thinking. Then we will be informed and able to make decisions for the benefit of all, not only for a few.

  9. Eddie, i noticed that you began your piece with a quote by Carl Jung, who happens to be one of my favorite philosophers. He didn’t actually introduce me to the concept of collective consciousness; i had suspected it all along; but he did articulate the concept into words that made sense. I believe in self-determination. This does not mean i feel i stand alone in a drive to get all i want to satisfy personal ambition. It means i belong to a collective group of people with a similar view of ethics and self-determined morality. It means that when one member of this collective group acquires an awareness of what is good for the whole, the others; almost simultaneously; arrive at the same conclusions.

    It’s not hocus-pocus. Scientists, following the same path of theories, often find themselves producing the same inventions or same technological formulas at the same time. The one who rushes forward first with his/her announcements is the one who receives the credit. It’s the simultaneous connection of synapses within the brain meeting together to form a new area of understanding. The initial lessons are complete. The synapse forms its diamond shaped pattern, and the neuron transmitters move on to form another one.

    Our signals, as thinking beings, manifest themselves in outward attractions or repulsions; pheromones, electrical energy, scent and conscious/sub-conscious analytical response. These manifestations are not physical. They only lead to the physical identity of other conscious beings putting out the same or opposing signals. We respond positively when the road maps of our brains move in the same direction. We respond negatively when the synapses do not correspond. This is our collectivity, with roots in our early learning abilities to process information. Two children raised exactly the same, will still not process the same information and experiences the same way unless they had already formed the same processing abilities; a collective mind, bouncing its information back and forth until it produces a collective answer.

    In all fairness, there are many who have reached this higher level of consciousness, or we would not be aware that it exists. It’s not only our technology that stands at the cusp of delivering a world of plenty and great achievements in medical care and science physics, or a poisoned earth. It’s our ability to collectively evolve mentally in awareness of our own bonds with humanity, or to fall away into abject barbarism.

  10. {Quote=Eddie]the myth of the rugged individualist is part of the cultural DNA of the USA and most of the western world. You yourself, as evidenced through your writings, have totally bought into that myth.[/quote]

    I’ll be the first to admit that what passes for “individuality” in this culture is a sham – the reality is that the establishment sets the goals and convinces the average person that it’s in their best interests to persue them. This nuclear power infrastructure you wrote about is a prime example of this: society tells everyone that it will be a boon to all, but in reality such things exist to serve large industrial facilities that consume ridiculous amounts of power to operate – the avergage home can power itself with a windmill or solar panel and some batteries, but no one in the city is ever given that option, forcing them to rely on whatever energy infrastructure society deems fit.

    The brand of individualism (that of sovereignty) will never be endorsed by society at large as long as power remains centralized – it’s incompatible with an exploitative elite. So stop trying to associate me with an institution that is my sworn enemy.

  11. @Jake Eagle – this is the first time I have seen the term”green psychology” at least used in this way, please do tell us more.

    Eddie, the fundamental misunderstanding between Azazel and yourself points to the fact that neither of you can see around the constructs you have both created. You are in essence on a similar course but cannot see the similarities.

    I agree with you entirely however when it comes to our moral reasoning. We are as a whole growth stunted and as such susceptible to those on the lower end of the bell curve who can and do pretend to be functioning higher, all the while they are eating our future with no compunction.

    Anytime we are denied viable (not to mention cheaper ) options such as solar and wind; and I do mean denied, try getting these in rental situations, we need to be concerned. It means someone, often many someones are committing super-villian sized crimes against us and we are aiding them if we do not work harder against it. At this point, if you can afford satellite t.v. You can afford solar power.

  12. I receive a lot of circular talk, even among those who advocate for more cost-efficient energy. When i point out that Alaska easily has the capacity for geothermal energy, i’m asked, but “what about in the states?” If i say, solar power is viable for them, they answer, “what about the ones with winters?” They can’t get it out of their heads that one answer isn’t the unified answer. The answer lies within your particular environment and the most easily accessed use of renewable resources; wind, solar, water, geothermal, and the incorporation of fuel cell technology.

    I’m also just a little mystified by the term “green psychology”, and am very interested in an article that clarifies the differences between subjective and objective word use. Certainly there are earmarks to subjectivity; the personal pronoun, the formal “in my opinion”, the passionate use of labeling oppositional views, but it would be interesting to learn what other clues could be provided for when the person is taking a subjective or objective stand. It would help us all in developing a consciousness of when we are being subjective or when we have formed a logical conclusion based on available evidence; a conclusion that should be able to bend or transform with the introduction of new evidence.

  13. You may be correct grainnerhuad – we do have a number of similar goals, but we certainly differ on social theory and means of attaining said goals.

    Oh, and Eddie I just noticed your second comment – and I just wish to say that I never made the claim that people can’t feel empathy for one another, only that the notion of some kind of “universal love for all men” is not common. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone with offspring just which child they will save in situation where their own offspring that that of some one else is threatened: I’ll bet 99 out of 100 times the answer will be their own – at the end of the day their own interests (in this case one of genetic legacy) come first.

    Also, the militia members I associate with have less in common with the likes of John Gault and more common with Tyler Durden – we don’t look to build a “utopia of greed” (as utopias are for dreamers, not those looking to survive an oncoming resource crisis) but rather to simply flatten the playing field by destroying the centralized power structures that dominate our lives. We don’t have any crackpot notions of “saving the world” because the world does not need saving: we focus on meeting our own needs as the world arounds us transitions into a post-industrial one (i.e. one of limited resources as the factories and agro-instustrial farms shut down from lack of the necessary fuels to keep them going).

    Nothing personal buddy, but you seem to have a huge misconception of what people like myself are all about…

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