In times of crisis, when authority breaks down, the masses encounter a fork in the road and an opportunity: throw off the ruling class or continue life under its heel. One finds throughout history at these pivotal moments individuals abandoning establishment norms to think for themselves. Do we go on with the ruling class or abandon it? That is the central question. Yet rarely is it recognized. Instead We encourage the masses to seek “jobs”, free health care, more taxes on the rich. The idea of eradicating them altogether is always kept at bay.
Fortunately for the ruling class, the masses are deeply saturated with establishment norms so that even when contemplating true liberation they often bring with them the baggage of their patriarchal establishment. Witness the Ranters of seventeenth century England. This was a radical but very loose movement of individuals who rejected traditional Puritanism (and thus politics), its stifling ethic, and predestination of the damned. Shockingly, Ranters rejected God but used religious language. Many claimed to be God, and that God was in every individual.
They championed sexual freedom and were more egalitarian about women. Ranter Thomas Webbe said, “there’s no heaven but women, nor no hell save marraige”. But they still retained some patriarchal thinking; spoke and wrote of “man”. A witness, reports historian Christopher Hill (The World Turned Upside Down), heard Webbe claim “to ‘live above ordinances, and it was lawful for him to lie with any woman'”. Very modern sounding.
Another group coming out of this tumultuous period of the English Civil War was the Diggers. They were so called derisively because they tried to farm what was left of the commons. They settled on unoccupied land and cultivated the soil. They rejected private property and money. Their spokesman Gerard Winstanley was a gentle man, and also talked of God in an unconventional way. He called the deity reason and love.
But he could not escape the patriarchal mindset either. Some Ranters had joined his group. But like many who jump on the proverbial bandwagon these Ranters were hangers-on who mostly drank and did not share in the work of the community, or disrupted the work going on there (think fraudulent bohemians and artists, or perhaps they were provocateurs from the Lords?) The gentle Winstanley recommended the death penalty for such individuals for idleness!
Yet how much more advanced would society have been had those ideals been realized in 1650? Have they even been realized today? The ruling class managed to hold on when the dust settled. Thus, society’s masters opted to maintain their advantageous position as a ruling class, though they had to give way a bit on liberalism as the price of continued dominance. But now the ruling class has steered society to another breakdown, once again opening possibilities for the masses. This is the choice before the lower orders now that more individuals than ever are seeking answers: continue with the ruling class or choose the untread path of true liberation?
Paradise or the status quo. Is it possible? Yes. It is really simple. One must realize that humans of all animals have the privilege of escaping the brutal cycles and circumstances of nature. Therein lies the difficulty: paradise is a choice. Paradise is there, a ready-made universe at the nexus of nature and human consciousness.
The human capacity to create paradise is the same capacity to create hell on Earth. Left to the ruling class, your “choice” has been made for you. Today, there is much more hell on Earth than decent societies, even in the First World. Today possibilities are opening up thanks to that hell. Will the masses take it?