By Chet Yarbrough
Age of Anger
Written by: Pankaj Mishra
Narrated by: Derek Perkins
PANKAJ MISHRA (INDIAN WRITER AND NOVELIST)
Pankaj Mishra shows that today is yesterday in “Age of Anger”. Leaders in America, China, India, and Russia return their countries to the ritual of nationalism, i.e., societies’ position of “all against all”. Mishra’s observations imply either enlightenment is nigh, or an end is coming. The most recent example of course is Russia’s retaliatory bombing and missile strikes in Ukraine.
To some, covid-19 heightens belief that an end is coming. A view of history suggests that is nonsense.
Today’s tribalist anger (aka extreme nationalism) carries the imprimatur of an overheated world from the threat of covid-19, a nuclear holocaust, and climate change.
This is not a new “Age of Anger”. It is the same anger from the same origin. Its origin is human ignorance; i.e. an ignorance existing from the beginning of time.
It is revivified by Mishra’s recount of violence between and among competing cultures.
Mishra focuses on the origin of anger in the world. He offers examples written in the blood of all nations at different times in history. India, China, Japan, Russia, Great Britain, South Africa, America, and other nations with different governments, different religions, and different cultural norms create ages of anger. It is an anger inherent in humankind. Mishra argues that anger is revealed by science and exposed in philosophy.
This anger is not only between nations but within nations. Most recently in America, domestic evidence of the “Age of Anger” are senseless mass shootings that have taken the lives of 19 children, their teacher at a grade school, and a grandmother in Texas, a doctor and 3 hospital workers in Oklahoma, and three adults at a Tennessee nightclub.
It is as though America wants to turn back to the wild west to settle disagreements and act-out at every frustration or depressive circumstance of their lives. The public acts with anger and violence that is made deadlier by weapons of war designed only to murder.
Mishra suggests the “Age of Anger” is reinforced when philosophical interpretation distorts facts (aka Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts). The distortion of facts by Trump’s early comments on the Covid-19 pandemic exemplify origins of the “Age of Anger”.
Mishra offers an example of how lies of those in power and influence magnify the “Age of Anger”. Science can be distorted by philosophical interpretation, e.g., Herbert Spencer captures Darwin’s theory and falsely interprets it as a social construct.
Spenser argues that society evolves and advances because of “survival of the fittest”. He implies it is the same mechanism described in Darwin’s “…Origin of Species”. Darwin’s research and theory of evolution are distorted by Spencer.
Spenser creates alternative facts. Spenser argues that progressive development of society is dependent on ethics, religions, economics, political theories, philosophies, and sciences that are the fittest to survive. Spenser infers survival is the only criteria of what is good for humankind. To Spenser, life is a competition for “all against all”.
Darwin’s theory of evolution has little to do with survival of the fittest. Extinction or perpetuation of an evolutionary line is a matter of happenstance; not fitness for survival. (Hairlessness does not make humankind more fit for survival; i.e. it makes the human body more environmentally vulnerable.)
Mishra explains how concepts of materialism and well-being are interpreted within and among nation-states. As materialism becomes a measure of well-being–money, power, and prestige set a precedent for valuing human existence in a Spenserian creed of “all against all”.
Mishra reviews the beliefs of Voltaire, Nietzsche, and Kant to show how materialism, supermen, and human perception control the course of history. Voltaire ranks wealth; Nietzsche ranks power, and Kant ranks perception as measures of human worth.
Mishra suggests anger has risen through generations, within and among nations, that explain world wars, genocidal acts, and atrocities beyond imagining. That anger exhibited itself in the murder of an innocent woman in Valle Verde Park, California in April of 2019.
Our former President exacerbates American anger that is exhibited by extremists who attack Asian Americans because of an ignorant belief that China purposely introduced Covid19 to the world. If all Americans are not ashamed, they should be.
Extremists embarrass themselves and America by believing Q Anon conspiracy theories.
Pittsburgh Synagogue Murders (11 Dead, 6 wounded in October 2018.)
Poway, Valle Verde Park, CA Synagogue–murder of one and injury to three in April 2019.
It is fair to say that there have been respites from this cycle of violence. But, unless or until human beings see themselves as part of the same society, the world will end in the Armageddon of biblical imagination.