Nihilism and purpose
It may seem a contradiction to some, but nihilism is a path far more likely to lead to a sense of purpose than anyone is likely to experience, without having first gone through this devaluation process. Far from being "a belief in nothing", nihilism is rather a process of rejecting "belief", in the same sense that believing in something involves a faith and adherence to an idea that does not require any careful consideration. "Belief" is distinct from knowing something, or the taking of a position on an issue that is based on a realistic summing up of the probablility that it is accurate.
This is why the word "belief" is an awkward term when applied to values reached by nihilists. Having swept aside all the values that have been inculcated into us externally, by social pressure and influence, the conscious nihilist experiences the liberating state of mind brought by realising nothing has any intrinsic value. At this point, we begin to construct values once again - this time attempting to bring meaning to our lives and meaning to the universe. We are determined never to adopt "beliefs" - never to surrender our minds to convictions that bear little relation to a continual assessment of the facts of reality, as they appear to us when we think freely.
It cannot be expected that the majority would be capable or willing to undergo a nihilistic thought process. Confidence in one's own judgement and intelligence are essential, as well as an antipathy towards the values espoused by society. Most people live lives that they never examine, and they look to religion or other social codes of conduct for personal guideance. Any purpose that they attribute to their life is derived from these sources. Whereas the nihilist finds himself in a position where he must find a purpose for his life, because only he can give it a meaning, the non-nihilist does not normally feel any requirement to search for a purpose. Belonging to the crowd itself is enough. From this they can derive a sense of belonging that involves being led by the nose. This is a lot more secure and comforting to such people than voluntarily plunging oneself into a state of skepticism about everything that one has formerly taken for granted.
Believing, having faith, surrendering the mind to an externally imposed world view makes easily manipulated slaves of people. Other people influence the crowd by use of mass media, control of education, politics, publishing, radio, television and religion. We can assume that these people know very well what they are doing, which is a frightening thought. But, regardless of whether there is a sinister hand upon these systems of influence, or whether they exist rudderless and chaotic, as manifestations of the mass whim of the crowd, they still exert a strong influence. This influence should not affect the nihilist, because he does not let any value enter his worldview without first subjecting it to careful scrutiny. Questions such as: who is saying this; what evidence is there for it; who benefits from the consequences of this idea - are asked by the nihilist in his mind. Nothing is accepted without these considerations.
In ascertaining what meaning to give to life, one searches for realistic observations about how the universe functions. The laws of nature, as explained by science, provide us with the information that all life is clearly concerned with the imperatives of: survival, segregation and expansion. We can use this knowledge to provide a foundation for newly constructed values. At the same time, it goes a long way to providing us with a sense of purpose and an understanding that there is a mechanism governing behaviour that is innate and cannot (or should not) be escaped from. Nature should not be escaped from. Attempting to do so is perhaps the biggest mistake humans make. As Adolf Hitler says in "Mein Kampf": "Man's effort to build up something that contradicts the iron logic of Nature brings him into conflict with those principles to which he himself exclusively owes his existence. By acting against the laws of Nature, he prepares the way that leads to his ruin."
Creationists criticise the idea of evolution through natural selection, saying that it is taking away value from life. They especially dislike the notion that all living creatures are so driven by the genetic urge towards survival, segregation and expansion that they are "no more than" gene machines. In fact, people of all faiths, and even athiests, make the accusation that this way of thinking takes the wonder out of life. And yet, to those who do accept that natural mechanistic laws govern the universe, this is in itself a fantastic revelation. It is far preferable to a religion that seeks to make us dream of an unattainable and inconceivable afterlife such as Heaven.
A sense of purpose must be grounded in a desire to justify one's existence, to know that one has made a positive contribution and is worth something. There are so many millions of worthless morons in the world, who use resources, pollute and bring misery onto themselves and others. Their perogative is simply to exist and to enjoy themselves in pointless pursuits. Even a minimal aspiration such as to learn one new fact every day, does not appeal to most of them. To such people, the kind of nihilism I'm discussing, is a total anathema. Bearing in mind only a tiny minority can be capable of undergoing such a process in their minds, perhaps a tendency to leadership qualities is a feature to some extent in a nihilist - certainly a dislike of sheepish conformity is a given. Independent minds do not subject themselves to peer pressure enforced conformity. In order to cooperate with others, they must agree with and fully understand the aims of the group.
Unless or until a population full of such nihilistic personalities could ever exist (perhaps even some of the most intelligent people are not guaranteed to think this way) and we are only ever a minority, how are we to treat the others? Should we leave them to their crowdist delusions, or even to be manipulated by those well practiced in exploitation of the gullible, but who we have reason to be concerned about because they also oppose our values and resent our free thinking? We can't make realists of the crowd. They seem to need their beliefs. It seems that the only way to deal with them is to provide them with beliefs that are more favourable to us: the truth (as we have evaluated it) perhaps - or maybe something not truthful but pragmatic. What the crowd needs is dogma - to be told what to think. This realisation is at the core of the origins of religions. They are constructed for the crowd's consumption, by those who wish to excercise control over them.
No nihilist can be religious, but could be able to invent a religion - or political dogma. In fact, the creators of religions rarely believe in those religions themselves. They are composing belief systems for others. This is not to suggest that the originators of all religions were nihilists, only that the values within religions did not come from divine revelation, but are man made.
Judaeism was concocted to give group cohesion to these people, who were living amongst other races, under Persian and Egyptian rule. The values chosen, such as that the Jewish people are God, a dedication to materialism, an ambition to own all the world's wealth and the need to dominate other nations for their own protection, have all been deliberately chosen after careful consideration. The advocacy of certain behaviours that would be revolting to others, helps to maintain the exclusivity of the Jews.
Christianity was invented by the Jews, as was Islam, with particular strategic aims in mind. Not for the benefit of the gentiles.
Roman Catholicism was a consciously altered (under Constantine) form of Christianity. Two gospels were ditched, and obedience to the State and rulers put in. The Bible was only permitted in Latin, to hide its teachings from those who could not understand it. Non Latin Bibles were considered heretical right up until 1966! It's all about herd control. Protestantism was intentionally formulated to destroy Roman Catholicism.
In the pagan Roman religion, preceding Christianity, emperors were titled Pontefex Maximus, (Bridge Builder - or Pathfinder - in Chief to the Gods). Pontifex Maximus or "Supreme Pontif" also means "Pope". The emperors would cynically read entrails of birds etc, in order to influence the masses.
Hinduism and Buddhism played a role in the control of other ethnicities within their society by the Aryan conquerors. Shintoism modified Buddhism in order to preserve military order and the castes in Japan.
What we can see from this is that even the origins of cultural values that people take for granted are very often tools of control, deliberately thought up by others who may have a partially nihilistic outlook. These values are sometimes created to help the group survive, and sometimes created to make a group self destruct.
Most of the values of modern society can be seen to be destructive. These values are both liberal and secular as well as Judeo Christian: suicidally obsessed with liberty, equality and humanitarianism (until such time as it becomes more useful to our tyranical governments to cease this charade) while promoting materialistic exploitation of the planet's precious resources. The conscious nihilist wants to stop the crowd following their destructive values, yet clearly cannot expect the masses to embrace nihilism. The solution is to set to work eliminating the undesirable elements that make up the crowd, while imposing new values as beliefs in much the same way that religions do. It was in this kind of situation (a need to impose order by way of telling people what to think) that religions have been devised before. Strange as it may seem, perhaps one of our purposes as nihilists today could be to get others to accept our values as beliefs rather than as reality-based conclusions, and to replace one faith with another faith in their tiny minds.
26 September, 2006
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