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”. President Trump in America, Xi in China, Modi in India, Putin in Russia, and other world leaders, 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.
To some, covid-19 heightens belief that an end is coming. A view of history suggests that is nonsense.
Today’s tribalist anger (aka nationalism) carries the imprimatur of an overheated world; not only from the threat of covid-19, and a nuclear holocaust, but from 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.
Mishra suggests the “Age of Anger” is reinforced when philosophical interpretation distorts facts (aka Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts). More recently, Trump’s early comments on the Covid-19 pandemic.
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.
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.