Humans are conscious beings; they are able to treat their won lives an an object, something they can consciously change and affect. They can consciously change and affect. They are therefore able to imagine possible futures and strive to achieve them. Their consciousness of the possibilities of their won existence fives them a practical, individual freedom.
This freedom is determined and restricted by material circumstances. In the present day, the activity of humans is bound within the parameters set by the way that humans must secure a means of living. The activity if humans in the present day is, therefore, not free activity.
In pre-civilisation societies humans were also restricted in their ability to pursue free activity. They made their own history, their own lives, but within a certain framework. Their activity was not free either.
The human mind is a creature of the material circumstances in finds itself in.
Since humans are conscious of their activity and life (even if they are often misguided about what is really happening) they are able to stand apart from it. Unlike animals, which are defined largely by their activities, human activity is not what defines them. It is the consciousness of their activity which defines them.
The chances they have to change their way of living, however, are not to be found in their ideas because their ideas are always bound by the parameters determined by material circumstances. The only successful genuine revolutionary event that has been well documented is the revolution from the Medieval mode of production of the Capitalist mode of production. Capitalism was a burgeoning economic force, which was already superseding Feudalism by the time of the 1688 English Revolution, the French revolution and the Russian Revolution which were all instances of the economic order overturning the established political regime.
These revolutions did not happen because people had ideas; they happened because of economic forces.
But we have misled ourselves about the power of ideas. We now think that ideas can change the world. But they don't. The only thing they can do is strengthen the current economic system. Thus, plans for the new world, as drawn up by the traditional left revolutionaries will reflect current economic modes. Their revolution is more likely to be a self-managed counter-revolution than anything else.
Both types of society, modern and pre-civilisation, lack the individualist freedom that is so highly valued in modern civilized society. Freedom is a concept coming out of the era of the bourgeois revolutions.
Freedom did not exist in pre-civilisation times. The modern ideals of individual freedom, or love or friendship, have developed in a society that is based on the alienation of humans from their daily existence and from each other. They are romantic ideals conceived to alleviate the existence and from each other. They are romantic ideals conceived to alleviate the existential despair of living in a society which champions individualism over commodity.
What pre-civilisation societies retained was a conscious symbiosis with the land that made their existence closer to that animals. Although the parameters of their thought were constrained by this symbiosis, they had more than us. They existed as part of something, whereas we exist in isolation from any reference points apart from those given by the economic system.
We can no longer feel and know the earth, even as it falls through our fingers. We do no longer look around us and know the trees and the hills as our real home, our real parent. The high points of human culture and sophistication, which are only to be found in pre-civilised society, have long gone.
Every opposition we throw against the dominate social and economic organization of our lives only feeds into that structure and makes it stronger.
We are caught inside an existential loop from which there is no escape.
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