Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 1 of 21)

0001 The book before me is Dr. Glenn Diesen’s contribution to Routledge’s Series, Rethinking Asia and International Relations.  The text carries the full title of The Decay of Western Civilization and the Resurgence of Russia: Between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft.  The series editor is Emilian Kavalski, the Li Dak Sum Chair in China-Eurasia Relations and International Studies at the University of Nottingham in Ningho, China.  At the time of publication, Dr. Diesen is a Visiting Scholar at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and Adjunct Research Fellow at Western Sydney University.  Diesen’s research interests are in international relations, political science, international political economy and Russian studies.  Say nothing of history.

0002 So… um… how does this book overlap with my interests?

I am interested in civilization.  The persistent question that arises in Razie Mah’s masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall,is, “What potentiates civilisation?”

0003 Consider the hypothesis of the first singularity.

The evolution of talk is not the same as the evolution of language.  Our capacities for language evolve in the milieu of hand talk.  The ancestor to our own species practices fully linguistic hand talk.  Very successfully, I might add.  The voice is recruited to assist in synchronizing large groups (plus, a little sexual selection gets thrown in).  Once the vocal tract is under voluntary neural control, speech is added to hand talk at the start of our own species, Homo sapiens.

Homo sapiens practices a dual-mode of talking, hand-speech talk, for over 200,000 years before the first singularity.  The first singularity starts with the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.

As the ocean levels rise at the start of our current interglacial, two hand-speech talking cultures in the then dry Persian Gulf are forced into the same territory.  One is a Mesolithic fishing culture occupying the river ravines and coast.  The other is a Developed Neolithic culture (agriculture mixed in with stockbreeding).  These two cultures meld, forming a pidgin then a creole language.  That creole language turns out to be the first instance of speech-alone talk.

0004 The semiotic qualities of speech-alone talk are significantly different than hand-speech talk (and hand-talk).  I won’t get into the details, but the consequences are enormous.

Hand-speech talk facilitates constrained social complexity (which, to me, calls to mind Diesen’s term, “gemeinschaft”, literally translated into the “rod of generality”, coinciding with tradition, intuition and, what modern scientists deride as “irrational thought”).

Speech-alone talk permits unconstrained social complexity.  Spoken words can be used to label things that cannot be pictured at pointed to, such as the term, “gesellschaft” (another one of Diesen’s key terms, literally translated into the “rod of the journeyman”, coinciding with specialization, analysis and, what scientists misleadingly call “rational thought”).

0005 The Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia starts, say, 7800 years ago, which I label 0 Ubaid Zero Prime (0 U0′ or “zero uh-oh prime”, with “uh-oh” expressed as if reacting to an accident or a mishap).

At 0 U0′, the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia is the only culture in the world practicing speech-alone talk.  All the other Neolithic, Epipaleolithic and Mesolithic cultures of the time practice hand-speech talk.

Today, all civilizations practice speech-alone talk.  The only (now dying) cultures that remember their hand-speech traditions are the Australian Aborigines and the North American Plains Indians.  Both are losing the hand-component of their hand-speech talk, due to exposure to speech-alone talking cultures and civilizations.  The receding of original justice, when all social circles work in harmony towards human flourishing in a world of signification, is nearly complete.

0006 Weirdly, that recession lies beneath the surface of recently examined books in anthropology.

Consider the following reviews, appearing in the Razie Mah blog.

Looking at Ian Hodder’s Book (2018) “Where Are We Heading?” (June 2023)Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origins” (March 2023)


Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 2 of 21)

0007 Diesen builds his theory on two key terms, gemeinschaft and gesellschaft.  These terms are distinct.  These terms are separate.  Both terms rely on the capacity of speech-alone talk to apply labels.

These terms cannot exist in the world of hand-speech talk.  What is there to picture or point to in hand talk?  Oh, the most elder woman in the band can carry the rod of tradition.  The smartest young man in the band can carry the rod of complexity.  Okay, but how does hand talk image and indicate the qualifiers, “tradition” and “complexity”?  These terms cannot be articulated in hand talk, the semiotic foundation of hand-speech talk.

0008 So, what am I asking?

Does the distinction between these two terms precede the first singularity?  Is the distinction present before our current Lebenswelt?  How does the distinction express itself in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in?

0009 May I suggest that the distinction is built into the unity of hand-speech talk?  One language manifests in two modalities.  Here is way to appreciate hand-speech talk as it was most likely practiced by Homo sapiens before the first singularity.

Figure 01

0010 Hand talk pictures and points to its referents.  In this way, the relation between parole (gesture) and langue (mental processing of signification) is motivated by the semiotic qualities of icons and indexes.  Hand talk has been evolving since before the start of the Homo genus.  Hand talk becomes linguistic when the semiotic qualities of symbols start to operate beneath the surface of the iconicity and indexality of hand talk.  Language involves automatic symbolic sign processing.

Speech, in hand-speech talk, relies on the innate semiotic properties of hand talk. When speech talk is added to hand talk, it pairs with manual-brachial gestures as an adornment.  A sing-along, so to speak, which Neanderthals and Denisovans can appreciate but not perform well.  Slowly, but surely, since the advent of our species, speech talk becomes more and more independent of its manual-brachial counterpart. Spoken words start to take on a lives of their own, while remaining grounded in hand talk.  Consider the paleolithic art of the Lascaux caves and tell me that the artists were not singing as well as gesturing, as they spit paint upon the fat-lamp lit walls?

Speech does not replace hand talk.  Rather, the speech component of hand-speech talk expresses hand talk in a different register, conveying the situation in addition to word-content.  It adds a musical accompaniment.  It adds… how shall I say it?.. a variety of tones.

0011 The hand-talk component of hand-speech talk associates with content, tradition, and the physical presence of people in community. 

The speech-talk component of hand-speech talk associates with situation, adornment, and the relational presence of people in community.

0012 Consequently, certain ironies about our current Lebenswelt become obvious when I draw the following associations.

Figure 02

0012 At present, gesellschaft is called, “rational” and gemeinschaft is called, “irrational”.

Yet, as Diesen points out over and over again, whenever the rational orders the irrational without appreciation of the irrational, a civilization enters its autumn season.


Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 3 of 21)

0013 Already, the hypothesis of the first singularity enriches Diesen’s theory that civilization generates, maintains, distorts and loses balance between gemeinschaft and gesellschaft.  The distinction between hand talk and speech talk is built into the unity of hand-speech talk.  Distinction within a unity is natural to us. But, it is impossible to convey using speech-alone talk. Once both elements of a distinction are labeled, one has difficulty visualizing the unity.

For example, in Razie Mah’s May 2023 blog, Looking at Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein’s Book (2020) A Hunter Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century, Diesen’s distinction is described as between culture (gemeinschaft) and consciousness (gesellschaft), rather than irrational tradition and rational bureaucracy.

0014 Why is it so easy to attach labels to two sides of a distinction, then forget the unity?

Our kind adapts to a distinction within unity, not to each separate element.

Yet, only the distinct elements are labeled using speech-alone talk.  Subsequent explicit abstraction in our current Lebenswelt takes only the separate, labeled elements into account.

The unity is no longer apparent.

0015 The hypothesis of the first singularity proposes that hand-speech talk characterizes the Lebenswelt that we evolved inand that speech-alone talk associates to our current Lebenswelt

Here is a picture of talk, before and after the first singularity.

Figure 03

0016 In the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, the technical terms, “gemeinschaft” and “gesellschaft” could not be imaged or indicated using hand talk.  Yet, the distinction between them are built into to the nature of a dual-mode for talking.  The hand-talk component primarily delivers meaningful content, but also conveys emotion and personal presence.  The speech-talk delivers the same content as hand talk, but adds something that is um… like a message.  The message concerns intention.  Hear me as well as see me.

Hand-talk may say, “OLAF BOAR GORE”, and the utterer may appear shaken. But, the reply, in speech talk, “Olaf boar gore.” transubstantiates the content, without distortion, to a musical register, singing of an alignment, which must be accepted.  A boar has gored Olaf.  The One Who Gives, Without Us Knowing Why, is also The One Who Determines What Cannot Be Imaged Or Pointed To.  That is our “fate”.

The term, “fate”, cannot be pictured or pointed to in hand talk.  

Our kind adapts to ‘something’ in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

We label that ‘something’, “fate”, in our current Lebenswelt.

0017 Likewise, in our current Lebenswelt, the technical terms, “gemeinschaft” and “gesellschaft” seem to image and indicate their referents.  But, those references really exist in the realm of possibility, rather than actuality.  In hand talk, an actual referent precedes the manual-brachial word-gesture.  Not so in speech-alone talk, where speech-alone words are purely symbolic.  They can label anything.  But, that reference is not guaranteed.  It always remains in the realm of possibility.

0018 A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form allows me to depict the the nature of spoken words as a triadic relation.  This particular depiction stands in the introduction of Razie Mah’s masterwork, How To Define the Word “Religion”.  These works are available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

Figure 04

0019 When Diesen writes these technical terms, it seems to me that, in his mind, he actualizes the possibilities.  He knows what “gemeinschaft” and “gesellschaft” mean.  And, I wonder, “Do they mean what I am suggesting here?  Are these labels attached to something that cannot be pictured and pointed to?”

Well, no… and… yes.

Gemeinschaft is not like hand-talk.  Gemeinschaft is primal, body-oriented, directly connected to emotions, working and looking at others… well, maybe gemeinschaft is like the gestural-component of hand talk.

Gesellschaft is not like speech-talk.  Gesellschaft is adornment, song-oriented, directly connected to the congregation… er, social circle, breathing and sounding in unison… well, maybe gesellschaft is like the spoken aspect to hand-speech talk.

0020 Speech-alone talk changes our Lebenswelt.

Gemeinschaft includes people who work with their hands, people who walk and eat and live together, and people who worship the same God, the God Who Gives, Without Us Knowing Why and the God Who Establishes My Fate.  This God has a spoken name.  In our current Lebenswelt, this God can turn to you or me and ask, “Who do people say that I am?”

Gesellschaft includes people who work with their… tongues?… well, how about this?… people who work with their minds, such as inventors and bureaucrats, entrepreneurs and accountants, honest brokers and lawyers, pastors and politicians, mentors and professors and on and on.  The range of specializations, both labor and social, boggle the mind.  These professionals are educated.  They are often very interested in controlling the language, because spoken words order reality.  Plus, the experts are fully capable of destroying tradition, community and solidarity on the basis of their “rational” theoretical schemes.  Today, in 2023, Russians know all about that.  Americans are just learning.

0021 Here is a picture of the actuality2 and potential1 for Diesen’s key terms.

Figure 05

0022 Diesen describes civilization as a balancing act between the potentials underlying these two spoken words.


Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 4 of 21)

0023 What is the difference between irrational and rational?

Irrational thoughts are hard to put into speech-alone talk, because our evolved mental modules are adaptations realized in the milieu of hand talk.  They are spontaneous, yet responsive to training.  Character-building cannot be brought about by someone speaking precepts.  Instead, character-building relies on implicit abstraction, which may involving imagining how to live the precepts.  Good habits build character.

Rational thoughts rely on speech-alone talk.  Speech-alone words can label all the parts of a whole, then name relations among the parts, then be used to build mathematical and mechanical models.  Diesen defines the words, “gemeinschaft” and “gesellschaft”, as part of his sociological modeling of civilizational trends.  Yes, Diesen builds a model using the specialized terminology of German Sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies, who publishes Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft in 1887. The book is translated into English as Community and Society.

0024 Remember, the full title of Diesen’s book is The Decay of Western Civilization and Resurgence of Russia: Between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft.

0025 What about the potentiation of civilization by the first singularity?  How does that enter the picture.

Speech-alone talk spreads, through mimesis, from the Ubaid to neighboring hand-speech talking cultures.  Why?  Talk about gesellschaft.  Speech-alone talk facilitates labor and social specializations.  So, the Ubaid quickly becomes wealthier and more powerful than surrounding hand-speech talking cultures.  When the Ubaid sends their emissaries, the difference must be obvious.  The neighboring cultures realize that all they have to do to become wealthier and more powerful is to drop their hand talk.  After some adjustments (like getting rid of the old shamans who resist progress and predict disaster if the people follow the ways of the Ubaid), neighboring cultures are soon practicing speech-alone talk and enjoying a strange blossoming of what gesellschaft can deliver.  They enter our current Lebenswelt of unconstrained social complexity.

0026 Social and labor specialization complexity adds more vocabulary to speech-alone talk.  Each specializationgenerates its own particular vocabulary.  Diverse specialized languages reside within each “mother tongue“.

How do specialized terms work?

0027 At the turn of the 1900s (AD, or should I say, the 7700s U0′?), the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure comes up with a new definition of spoken language.  Spoken language consists of two arbitrarily related systems of differences, parole(talk) and langue (what goes on in our minds when we talk).  Saussure’s new definition implies that each spoken word is merely a placeholder in two arbitrarily-related systems of differences.  So, spoken words have no intrinsic meaning, presence or message.  Decades later, “deconstruction” is the latest academic fashion to capitalize on this misinterpretation.

0028 Why do I say, “misinterpretation”?

Well, I already noted that we have an innate expectation that words (in hand talk) picture and point to their referents.  But, spoken words cannot picture or point to anything.  So, the question of how a spoken word works becomes significant.

Already, in point 0018, I showed one approach.  Each spoken word may be considered an actuality2 within the normal context of definition3.  The potential1 describes the meaning, presence and message that is projected into the actuality2.  This approach is similar to a dictionary’s approach, but nonetheless different.  How so?  Each actuality2 is undergirded by elements corresponding to Peirce’s categories of thirdness (meaning), secondness (presence) and firstness (message).

0029 Another approach uses the Greimas square.  Algridas Greimas (1917-1992 AD) is a French-Lithuanian semiotician concerned with how people conceptualize their world.  To me, that sounds like Diesen’s “gesellschaft”.  Conceptualization brings order.  The Greimas square is valuable because it is a purely relational structure that illuminates spoken-words that occupy positions of similar meaning, presence and message, and are essential to a focal word’s place in the economy of a system of differences.

Remember, when discoursing in a specialized language, one must choose the right words.

0030 The general Greimas square is a purely relational structure expressing a geometry built on four rules.

Here is a picture.

Figure 06

0031 Here are are the four rules, along with their application to the topic at hand.

0032 A is the focal term.  For Diesen, the focal term concerns civilization and its attributes (including international relations, political systems, historical changes and so forth).

0033 B is a term that contrasts with A.  For Diesen, gesellschaft and its attributes occupies this slot.  When I think of civilization, I conjure images of bureaucracies and politicians, temples and palaces, the transportation of goods, and so on.  All these images associate with gesellschaft.

One should never say, “civilization”, when one means politics, economics, philosophy, the arts and sciences (that is, “gesellschaft”).  The contrast is palpable.

0034 C is a term that contradicts B and complements A.  For Diesen, gemeinschaft and its attributes occupies this slot.  When I think of the people who live in a civilization, I conjure images of artists and their patrons, the architecture of temples and the solidity of palaces, how people cook and how they dress, and so on.  In this imagery, gemeinschaft (C) contradicts gesellschaft (B) and complements civilization (A).

0036 D is a term that contrasts with C, contradicts A and complements B.  This is the hardest term to locate in Diesen’s theory.  But, take a look at what Diesen asserts:

Civilization is a balancing act between the potentials of the spoken words, “gesellschaft” and “gemeinschaft”.

D must have something to do with “balance”.

0037 Here is a picture.

Figure 07

0038 Diesen does not stop there.

In chapter two, Diesen discusses the cyclical rise, decline and rebirth of civilizations.

He uses the metaphor of seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.

If I take a look at the above figure, where would the cycle turn?

To be, it turns on D, the foundational balance, and manifests in A, the attribute of civilization.  The other elements, B and C, operate as two independent poles within the unity of the Greimas square. B and C adjust to the season.

0039 Here is a diagram of the Greimas Square version of Diesen’s approach to theorizing civilisation, presented in part one (chapters one and two) of his book.

Figure 08

Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 5 of 21)

0040 In chapter two, Diesen offers several applications.

One paragraph catches my eye.

This paragraph demonstrates that Diesen’s Greimas square has relevance to our current Lebenswelt, all the way back to the first singularity.

How so?

The paragraph recounts one of the written origin stories of the ancient Near East.  Since Marduk is the primary actor, I associate this story to the Babylonians, who flourish thousands of years after the start of civilization in Mesopotamia.

Here is Diesen’s Greimas square, once again.

Figure 09

Allow me to recapitulate Diesen’s telling, adding a postmodern flavor.

0041 In the spring, Absu the father (representing order) and Tiamat the mother (representing chaos) comingle.  Any adult knows what that means.  Children may inquire and get the general impression that the two somehow get mixed up and offspring arise from the confusion.

Figure 10

0042 In the summer, the offspring conjure their own self-anointed revolution and murder the primal order, Absu, who is also their father.  They build a house upon his grave.  But, since it is summer, this is not any old house.  This construction is a party palace.  Without the old order to inhibit the offspring, the party house has many chambers.  Tiamat, absent Absu, changes from the chaos typical of nature to an induced chaos.  Soon, she wearies of all the racket.

Figure 11

0043 In the autumn, the house is assaulted.  I presume from within as well as without.  Who will impose order over Absu’s dead body?  An answer comes from within every chamber.  Every party room offers a replacement for Absu’s primal offspring-spawning order.

While everyone is busy naming their substitutes for Absu, a monster, Kino, arises from the tradition that… um… conspired to murder in the first place.  This monster (C) contradicts the naming of the one who will impose order over Absu’s dead body (B), while at the same time complements the fact that every offspring in every chamber in the party house screams their substitute in the echo-chamber of their own room (A).

Tiamat, the offspring’s mother, weighs in on the assault upon (and within) the offspring’s party palace (A).  Tiamat becomes Chaos Incarnate (D), which may be a harsh way of describing a total control freak.

Think of the second law of thermodynamics and ask the question, “What do control freaks accomplish?”  The answer? They create a bubble of anti-entropic perfection (a complex and apparently crystalline order) at the cost of dramatically increasing entropy outside the system (that is, producing disorder that is greater than the energy required to maintain the intended order).

Each chamber of the party house is ruled by a busy-body control freak…

…who is totally weirded out by Tiamat, the control freak of control freakdom, outraged by the clatter of the little busy-bodies.

Kino’s job is to tell the little control freaks to shut up.

Figure 12

0044 In the winter, a god, Marduk, answers the question of who will restore order.

Figure 13

0045 Marduk fights Kino and wins.  Then, Marduk makes humans from the undead blood of the monster.

Marduk restores the temple (the home for the gods) and the palace (ah, is that the architectural structure that goes over Absu’s grave?).

At the end of winter, Tiamat has been transformed into an enclosure of her former self.

Figure 14

0046 What does this imply?

Diesen’s Greimas square offers snapshots of civilisational cycles. Plus, some of the written origin myths of the ancient Near East depict civilizational cycles.

His two keywords, “gesellschaft” (rational analytical order) and “gemeinschaft” (irrational traditional community) command slots B and C, respectively.

The concept of civilizational cycles clarifies A (the manifestation of a civilizational balance) and D (the fulcrum, the balance point that dwells beneath the manifestation).


Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 6 of 21)

0047 The seasons tell a story that revolves around a theme (D).  This theme (D) contrasts with gemeinschaft (C) and complements gesellschaft (D).  Gemeinschaft (C) embodies the theme (D) in intuition, tradition and community. Gesellschaft (B) tries to frame the theme (D) analytically, using specialized disciplinary languages.

The theme (D) contradicts its manifestation (A), because other manifestations are possible for any particular civilizational theme.  By focusing on what is manifest (A), the inquirer cannot formulate the grand theme (D) that it (A) manifests.  Indeed, academics may label what is manifest (A) as the grand theme of a civilizational cycle, thereby veiling the implicit grand theme (D).

0048 Here is a picture of the mythic civilizational cycle for what manifests (A).

Figure 15

0049 In spring, A is empty.

What does this imply?

The storyteller cannot label the initial manifestation (A) of the theme (D).   But, all the elements for labeling the manifestation are present.  Absu is order (B).  Offspring result from the comingling (C).  Tiamat is chaos (D).

Why can’t the storyteller label the initial manifestation?

The particular civilisational cycle that precedes the comingling of Absu and Tiamat is more primal than the our current Lebenswelt, which (for the Babylonians) begins as offspring of the comingling.  Perhaps, A may be labeled, “the comingling”.  That implies that the prior civilizational cycle is occluded.  It cannot be discerned.  Additional clues come from the fact that Absu and Tiamat are already divine existents that represent the explicit abstractions of “order” and “chaos”.

0050 Summer covers the murder of Absu, the father, who represents an order that precedes the order that is constructed by the offspring.  Absu is an order that is not well articulated by disciplinary languages.  The offspring, birthed from both order and chaos, have diverse disciplinary languages.  Some of these groups desire to articulate a vision for the entire community, resulting in Absu’s murder (or perhaps, his deconstruction).  Upon the grave of Absu, the offspring build a house (a palace with a room for each specialized language group).

The summer season captures the generation of wealth (from labor specializations) and power (from social specializations) potentiated by the adoption of speech-alone talk.  Speech-alone talk allows disciplinary languages within a common language, creating factions that may use the same words for differing meanings, presences and messages.  One belongs to a group when one automatically processes words according to that group’s potentials.  At the same time, each group must project their terminology outwards onto others, generating subtle conflicts that cannot be easily solved through discourse.

0051 Conflict (A) increases in the autumn season.  The party palace rocks, as the gesellschaft for each gemeinschaft sees no reason to back down.

The winter season engages the battle (A).  Marduk is the god who chooses (or is chosen) to fight.

0052 So far so good.  I have applied the timeline of four seasons to what is manifest (A).  What about the theme (D)?

Here is a picture of the fulcrum point (D), the grand idea (D) that is hidden by its manifestation (A).

Figure 16

0053 In spring, the fulcrum point (D), the grand idea, is Tiamat, mother and chaos.  Tiamat is the oneness of the natural forces of water on the earth.  In nature, chaos and fecundity are conjoined.  So, the addition of a little order (B), a little specialization, with a concomitant increase in productivity or influence, does not seem so bad.  As the comingling continues and the specialized offspring take on lives of their own (C), they conspire against the order that spawned them into existence in the first place.

In summer, the fulcrum point (D), Tiamat, is like a mother of a litter of kids that realizes that something is not right.  The kids have killed her original consort and built their party palace to celebrate his demise.  Like spoiled brats, each wants the largest room of a house that keeps expanding.  Each wants to receive better and better private benefits and impose more and more onerous public costs.  They sow the wind without knowing that they will reap the storm.

Tiamat (chaos and continuity) slowly transforms into Tiamat (chaos and discontinuity).  The latter Tiamat is what we think of when we hear the word, “chaos”.  The transition reflects greater and greater imbalances between gesellschaft and gemeinschaft.

In autumn, Tiamat behaves as Incarnate Chaos.  She empowers Kino, who is so monstrous that every chamber of the party palace trembles.

In winter, Kino is defeated.  Tiamat is subdued and her remains are used to construct the world in which Marduk rules the house of the gods.

0054 To me, the seasonal shifts in focal point (the house as a home) (A) and the fulcrum point (Tiamat substantially changes in the four seasons) (D) indicate that a manifestation of civilization (A) is not the same as its underlying conceptual being (D).

0055 The cycles for B and C work together.

Here is a picture of the seasons for “gesellschaft” (B).

Figure 17

Here is a diagram for the seasons for “gemeinschaft” (C).

Figure 18

0056 In the spring, an initial articulation of order (Absu, father) (B) comingles with natural chaos and continuity (Tiamat, mother) (D) and produces communities (offspring) (C).  What does this imply?  Gesellschaft (B) opens the door for specialized community (C).  Within a generation or two, that specialized community feels organic (C), because practice accrues implicit abstractions and implicit abstraction is how we evolved to live.

Early inventions in civilization offer examples.  The pottery wheel increases productivity in throwing clay vessels.  The Absu figure (B, gesellschaft) sees that making a clay pot involves repetitive circular motion.  The pottery wheel is an invention that explicitly abstracts this circular motion.  I suspect that speech-alone talk is crucial for labeling the circular motion independently of the making of a pot.  Throwing pottery using pottery wheels becomes a specialization, with its own group interests (C, gemeinschaft) that works to corral business and restrict competitors (B, gesellschaft).

0057 In the summer, the spawned gemeinschaft (C) shut down the possibility of further inventions in the specialization(B).  These actions are explained with terminology that is familiar to the originating order (B) and alien to the originating chaos (D).

Why do I say that the offspring build a party palace on the grave of Absu?

Each room in a party house expresses its own theme.  So the murder of an originating order coincides with the elevation of various specialized orders (gesellschaft).  Each justifies its own group (gemeinschaft).

In the case of the pottery wheel, I suspect that specialists in using one type of pottery wheel (gemeinschaft) rule out any improvements or adjustments to the pottery wheel (further gesellschaft).  Plus, they limit who can use the pottery wheel, thus restricting production to the specialized group (gemeinschaft).  These restrictions rely on other specialists, who are devoted to enforcing such restriction.  Then, this feedback loop takes on a life of its own.  Those who enforce restrictions also strive to restrict entrance into their own markets.

Oh, is there an opportunity for another specialization?

This specialization aims to threaten all other specializations, while demanding payment for “protection”.

0058 In the autumn, gesellschaft strives to articulate an answer to the question, “Who is going to provide order?”

Gemeinschaft responds with Kino, a monster among monsters, consisting of an alliance of political groups successfully dominating or co-opting other alliances.

Do I detect a protection racket?

0059 In the winter, Marduk (a figure expressing the order of a general will, coinciding with gesellschaft) battles Kino (a figure expressing an alliance of specialized groups, each grasping for what it needs to prosper no matter what, coinciding with gemeinschaft in the style of Machiavellian political union).

0060 My conclusion?

Diesen is on target in suggesting that his theory of civilization, here re-articulated as Diesen’s Greimas square, applies to the origin mythologies of ancient civilizations.

But, does that validate Diesen’s Greimas square?

What do other contemporary political philosophers say?


Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 7 of 21)

0061 Chapter two, on the rise and fall of civilizations, concludes.

What has this examination contributed to Diesen’s approach to theorizing civilisation?

0062 First, the factors that Diesen (following Tonnies) identifies compose a distinction within a unity.  In our current Lebenswelt, gesellschaft and gemeinschaft are distinct, even though they cannot be separated.  The ability to operate according to a distinction within a unity belongs to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  It is manifest in hand-speech talk,which is practiced from the start of our own species until the first singularity (around 7800 years ago).  Hand-speech talkis the first tool of the intellect for Homo sapiens.

0063 Second, just as hand-speech is a tool for coordinating minds, Diesen’s distinction is a tool for imagining civilizational attributes, such as politics, economics, religion and so forth.  Indeed, terms associating to gesellschaft and gemeinschaft occupy two slots in Diesen’s Greimas square.  The distinction inherent in humanity’s first intellectual tool is reflected in the labels that we apply to civilisational attributes.  Gemeinschaft is like the hand-talk component of hand-speech talk.  Gesellschaft is like the speech-component of hand-speech talk.

For these reasons, Diesen’s key terms command the items occupying slots B and C in a purely relational structure, the Greimas square, which serves as an intellectual tool in our current Lebenswelt for characterizing how a focal word or phrase (A) holds its place in spoken language, defined by Saussure as two arbitrarily related systems of differences.

0064 Here is a picture of Diesen’s Greimas square.

Figure 19

0065 Third, Diesen’s theory includes cyclic time.  The items occupying slots A and D modify or develop during the each season, spring, summer, autumn and winter.  Seasonality, too, is evolutionarily ancient.  The Homo genus is adapted to reading the signs of the seasons.  Our kind lives in a world perfused with signs that we recognize as natural.

Corresponding, Diesen’s Greimas square may be used to construct a vision for each season in a civilisational cycle.  This is important because civilisational cycles commence the moment any hand-speech talking culture fully embraces speech-alone talk.

0066 In this regard, anthropologists may compare early cultural developments in the Ubaid archaeological period of southern Mesopotamia (0-1880 U0′) to cultural developments occurring in North America 4200 years after the start of the first singularity.  See Razie Mah’s blog for March 2023, titled Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why the State Has No Origin” and the Razie Mah’s e-book, Comments On David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Book (2021) “The Dawn of Everything”, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

0067 Fourth, the third point has been demonstrated by imagining the items for Diesen’s Greimas square for the four seasons inherent in a written Babylonian origin story, concerning how Marduk becomes the head of the city’s pantheon.

0068 Fifth, I raise the question, “How resilient is Diesen’s Greimas square?  What do other contemporary theorists say?”

Another theorist working in this field is the Russian political philosopher, Alexander Dugin.

Not too long ago, a Canadian graduate student in philosophy decided to write his dissertation on the works of Alexander Dugin.  Half his faculty committee quit, including two mavens of Leo Strauss.  This establishment reaction to Dugin is currently typical in jurisdictions of American Big Government (il)Liberalism.  The candidate, Max Millerman, only appeared to be free to choose his topic for dissertation.  (Il)liberalism offers the appearance of free choice (liberalism) within its constraints of regulatory control (il-).

Is there another word for (il-)?

How about the word “hypocrisy”?

0069 Nonetheless, in point 0044 of Looking at Michael Millerman’s Chapter (2022) “…Dimensions of Dugin’s Populism”appearing in Razie Mah’s blog on February 17, 2023, the following figure appears.

Figure 20

0070  Surely, this diagram, based on Dugin’s exploration of a fourth political theory touches base with Diesen’s Greimas square.

The focal word (A) is an attribute of civilisation.  The people are the ones who stand before God, rather than a king or a high priest representing the people to the gods and the gods to the people.  This is not about so-called “democracy”.  The “people” is a theo-political construction.

The first contrast (B) associates to gesellschaft.  For example, when Jesus asks his followers, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (recorded in Matthew 16:13), the question obviously asks for opinions fashioned by the various political big-wigs of the day.  Jesus refers to himself using a political term, “Son of man”.

The contradiction to the first contrast (C) associates to gemeinschaft.  According to Dugin, “narod” is a Russian word referring to the pre-political community in our current Lebenswelt.  These folk really do not have the vocabulary to articulate an answer to the second question of Jesus, asking, “Who do you say that I am?”  They are dumbstruck because the obvious answer, “You are the one who we follow.”, is completely tautological.

D, the contrast to C, the complement to B and the contradiction to A (remember, “contradiction” literally means “speaking opposite to”) is Dugin’s theoretical term, “ethnos”.  Ethnos (D) is a grand idea.  Why?  It cannot exist.  Yet, it is crucial for our self-understanding.

Ethnos corresponds to us, in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  Ethnos is us, in a world of… what Saint Thomas would describe as… original justice.

0071 A world of original justice?

See Comments on Daniel Houck’s Book (2020) “Aquinas, Original Sin and The Challenge of Evolution”, by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues. 

0072 So, what does that mean?

Do Dugin’s and Diesen’s Greimas squares complement one another?

The question in point five (appearing at 0067) has an answer, saying, “Yes, Diesen’s Greimas square, which incorporates the key words, ‘gemeinschaft’ and ‘gesellschaft’, as well as cyclic time, is resilient and contemporary political theorists propose similar structures.”

0073 Thus, I conclude my examination of part one of Diesen’s book.


Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 8 of 21)

0074 Part two of Diesen’s book concerns the rise and fall of political liberalism.  Chapter three opens with a discussion of Western civilisation as an amalgam of political liberalism and nationhood.

What is another word for political liberalism?

Does “pluralism” suffice?

0075 In 1828 AD, French politician and historian Francois Guizot publishes A General History of Civilisation in Europe,in which he proposes that the unity and the advancement of civilisation are founded on conformity to a great idea.

Surely, such a great idea goes into slot D in Diesen’s Greimas square.

The fulcrum point is a great idea.  The fulcrum point balances on a theme.

0076 What about Western civilization?

Diesen suggests that the idea is pluralism, as defined by a balance between liberalism and conservatism.

But, I don’t think that pluralism is the great idea (D).  I think that is is a focal point (A).

Correspondingly, liberalism slides into the slot for gesellschaft (B) and conservatism goes into the slot for gemeinschaft(C)

0077 How so?

Liberals fixate on rational choices.  People are rational actors.

Should I correct myself?

Liberals (B) fixate on opportunities that appear to be rational at the time.  So do illiberals, such as fascists and communists, as well as (il)liberals, such as American big government (il)liberals (“bigilibs”, for short).

Also, conservatives (C) fixate on apparently irrational, religious and cultural traditions that are familiar to their communities.  The conservatives may go so far as to insist that there is an object that brings everyone… oh, more than that… all creation… into relation.  God brings all things into relation, including and especially us, because we are the only creatures in the universe who seem to be aware of this ultimate relational being.

0078 So, if pluralism is the focal word (A), then what would be the theme, the great idea (D), that satisfies Guizot’s vision?

Whatever the theme is, it would enter the slot for D.

0079 Here is a picture of Diesen’s Greimas square, at this moment.

Figure 21

0080 According to Diesen, the purpose of chapter three is to explore the rise of Western civilisation (spring and summer) and threats from contemporary dogmas of liberal absolutism, universalism and civic nationalism.

0081 His declaration of intent inspires me to ask, “Who is sovereign?”

The individual is sovereign in liberal absolutism.

A political idea, what Dugin calls an “-sim”, is sovereign in universalism.

A nation-state is sovereign in civic nationalism.

Oh, lest I forget, international corporations are sovereign in globalism.

0082 Ah, I now know what goes into slot D.


Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 9 of 21)

0083 Here is Diesen’s view of Western civilisation, since the time of who?  Machiavelli?  Martin Luther?  Thomas Hobbes?

Figure 22

0084 For each of these figures, Western civilization, often called “Christendom”, is already old.  The longest living institutions are ethnic and religious.  Both contribute to the sovereignty of the nation-state, along with a wide range of other loyalties.  Loyalties extend to the church, the king, the barons, the trade guilds and other political actors.  The word, “religion”, is used to describe competing Christian (but also political) factions.  The (so-called) thirty years war resolves the contested loyalties with the Peace of Westphalia (1648 AD).

The Peace of Westphalia concludes the spring of sovereignty (D) with a treaty elevating the king as sovereign within each jurisdiction.  Plus, jurisdictions are primarily territories of common ethnic, religious and linguistic traditions.

0085 Here is the spring of sovereignty for the West.

Figure 23

0086 The summer starts with the so-called “Western Enlightenment”.  Pluralism enters the picture as the balance between liberals (we, the individuals) and conservatives (we, the people).  The summer of pluralism peaks during the time of the French and American Revolutions.  After that, the West rushes into the mechanical revolution, which empowers individuals and disempowers the people.

Individuals gain sovereignty.  Liberals insist on the rights of the individual.  Rights are often enumerated in constitutions.  Constitutions exemplify gesellschaft.  Prepolitical ethnic religiosity erodes. The term, “secular”, as a way to label irreligious liberals, appears in the English lexicon around 1860, at the end of the summer of sovereignty.

Figure 24

0087 In Western Europe, autumn begins with the consolidation of Germany and Italy, as well as the rise of divisive political movements (including Marxism).  In America, autumn opens with the War of Southern Rebellion and the War of Northern Aggression.  The war is anything but civil, which is the label that gets attached to the conflict, fifty years later.  With this precedent, I re-label the First and Second World Wars as the First and Second Battles of the Enlightenment Gods, the Unexpected War Among Naive Mercantilists (Who Should Have Known Better) and The Hot War Among Fraternal Ideologies.

The natural and social sciences advance.  Educated secular liberals propose rational organizational objectives that demand sovereign power in order to implement.  Religious conservatives are more and more regarded as throwbacks to the superstitious attitudes of pre-scientific ages.

When Pope Leo XIII issues an encyclical decrying the errors of modernism, secular know-it-alls laugh.  Science demonstrates that ancient and Aristotelian explanations of the world do not withstand scientific scrutiny.  Fare thee well, Saint Thomas Aquinas.  It is too bad that you are no longer relevant.

Pluralism operates in name only, because both liberal and conservative elites share a common conviction that a centralizing government is the only authority capable of pursuing rational organizational objectives, such as urban planning (getting rid of ethnic Catholic neighborhoods in urban cities in USA’s “North”) and value-free education(replacing an apparently irrational Bible with principles that every rational agent would agree with).  The revisionist historian, Dr. E. Michael Jones, writes book after book on these topics.  All are entertaining.  All describe how both liberal and (so-called) conservative elites operate against religious folk, of all stripes, during these times.

0088 Here is a diagram for autumn.

Figure 25

0089 In chapter four, Diesen discusses the winter.  He calls it, “the graveyard” of sovereignty.


Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 10 of 21)

0090 Diesen starts chapter four, titled “The Postmodernist Graveyard of Western Civilization”, with the claim that postmodernism is the epitome of excessive liberty.

But, what is “liberty”?

What is the meaning, presence and message1 underlying the spoken word2?  Can one have too much liberty?  What about responsibility?  Does “liberty” without “responsibility” equal “an excess”.  Or, does it equate to a gesellschaft-based manipulation of a term as a way to deceive those who regard the term according to gemeinschaft-based tradition.

0091 An educated person stands in the university hallway.

I address the authority, saying, “Oh, most academically certified person, what is the message of liberty?”

The warlock replies, “Do what thou wilt.”

Postmodernism takes liberty with language itself, the foundation of gesellschaft.

0091 Pluralism has a new name.  Diversity excludes those who do not celebrate the transformation of the word, “pluralism”.  It is not enough to accept the substitution.  One must “celebrate” it.

Here, I launch from Diesen’s platform, with a scholastic version of a triple-twist.  Let us see whether I can land this feat of mental gymnastics.

Here is the picture.

Figure 26

0092 I speak of the USA.

In the current winter of sovereignty, “diversity” replaces “pluralism” (A).  This implies that one must accept the gesellschaft’s linguistic game in order to even address the focal word, the civilizational attribute, under consideration. Those who do not embrace “diversity” are bigots, phobes, supremacists, and otherwise deplorable (C).  These labels come from bigilibs (B), who cannot rationally defend their postmodern ideologies, which are founded on a new style of science, which I call “interventional science”.  An interventional science promotes models of nature and society that support organizational objectives.  These organizational objectives demand sovereign power.  Otherwise, they would never be implemented.  They do not arise spontaneously.  Instead, these objectives must be broadcast and cultivated, before conformity is harvested.

“Deplorables” (a term coined by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016) labels those who were ridiculed, by president, Barack Obama, as stupid and backwards people who cling to their guns and religion (the second and first amendments to the American Constitution).

Both of the named bigilibs are globalists, suggesting that sovereignty no longer resides in the individual or the people or the state.  Instead, sovereignty rests in international actors who finance political campaigns and ballot-counting operations in a rigged exercise of so-called “democracy”.  Just like the word, “liberty”, holds a novel, technical definition, so does the word, “democracy”.

0093 Ooof!

That was my landing.

0094 Now, for a little humor.

Comedy is frozen in the winter of sovereignty.

The funny part is that there is no humorous name for bigilibs, because even to say the word, “bigilib” is to identify oneself as incapable of the conformity required by postmodern ideologues.  The adjective, “secular”, will not do, because “secular” means “I am not religious”.  There is no label for “I am religiously not religious.”, especially when the second word, “religious”, means “claiming membership in a Christian faction”.

This comedian has a suggestion.  “Judeo-Pagan” sounds just as legitimate as the term, “Judeo-Christian”.  Plus, the term fits the conceptual claim that “I am religiously not a member of a Christian faction”.  Additionally, the Judeo-prefix adds the Old Testament theme that God (whoever that is) will take retribution on His Enemies, which, for Judeo-Pagans, are Judeo-Christians.

This uncanny logic is on display in the March 2023 issue of the magazine, First Things, where a columnist, Liel Leibovitz, contributes an opinion piece titled, “We Are All Jews Now”.   His point of view coincides with Diesen’s use of the term, “gemeinschaft”, as well as the term, “Judeo-Christian”.  Indeed, Liebovitz writes that America’s Judeo-Christians currently are in the same alienating situation that Jews have found themselves in, over and over again, since the um… well… how should I say it?… theodramatic incident.

You know, the one that the prophets warned about.

Notably, writing from the gemeinschaft stance, Leibovitz cannot see that the other side of the “holy war, waged by fanatics who won’t stop until their chosen beliefs are the only ones permitted to be proclaimed”, also contains of Jews. Very wealthy “secular” Jews patronize amazingly deviant pagans, such as the mavens of social justice, critical theory and social construction.

Judeo-Pagans ride the wave of unfettered financial capitalism, which will be discussed shortly.

Judeo-Pagans are the new gesellschaft, who, in the winter of sovereignty alienate their corresponding gemeinschaft.  Their (il)liberal policies aim to convey the impression of individual autonomy while maintaining censorial regulatory control of public discourse.

Judeo-Pagans are the new gesellschaft, who, in the summer of geoeconomics, support big government programs that impoverish people who work for a living, elevate people who comply with their system by pursuing careers requiring certification, and insisting on open borders.

If Americans are “All Jews Now”, then they are divided into a dominant gesellschaft and a reactionary gemeinschaft, that is, Judeo-Pagans and Judeo-Christians.

0095 Is humor is a dish best served cold?

Figure 27

0096 In 2023, when gesellschaft experts label gemeinschaft as reprehensible, using all sorts of nasty terms, well-funded corporate broadcasters and other minions of big government (il)liberalism take the accusations seriously, even though they are only true in the novel technical senses of the words.  

When gemeinschaft-loving comedians label gesellschaft-certified experts, as “Judeo-Pagan”, everyone is supposed to smile and chuckle.  But, not everyone is amused.