By Xavier Bartlett
The truth is that at present we are subjected to a constant ideological bombardment that praises the concepts of modernity and progress, and very especially by political parties. So, from left to right, from nationalists to non-nationalists, from conservatives to radicals, etc., everyone insists on the idea that they are going to bring progress, advancement, development, growth ... AND Logically, the population is delighted because it seems that we are going to enter directly into paradise hand in hand with economics, science and technology. But by the way, where do we progress?
If one looks back and examines what the history of mankind has been, at least since the beginning of civilization, one will see that people's living conditions have always been relatively harsh, inasmuch as mere subsistence has always been an arduous task for the general population (except, of course, for the political-economic elites who have always been at the top). However, today they want us to believe that we have advanced a lot in the social, political, economic, cultural fields, etc. and that we enjoy a standard of living - at least in the West - notably higher than that of the ancient Romans, for example.
In this regard, I have often asked myself the question of historical progress, and I can say that our lives are possibly more "comfortable" in many ways than the lives of our ancestors 2,000 years ago ... But are we really happier, or Rather, are we a humanity as - or more - lost and deranged than that of several centuries ago? The stories of the past and the archaeological remains themselves show us that people of thousands of years ago went through problems very similar to those of today, or other types of problems that they handled in their own way. They did not live "worse", they lived "differently." Of course, his material aspirations were modest and did not have the avalanche of "needs" (actually, "desires" that have been instilled in us) that modern man has today, which make him live in a state of constant anxiety and dissatisfaction despite have more and more things, artifacts, objects, and goods of all kinds.
In ancient times, humans lived more simply and much more in harmony with nature, which they enjoyed almost unconsciously. Instead, today we complain about the mistreatment of the environment, pollution, toxic waste, etc. but almost no one complains about cars, mobile phones, airplanes ... Are they absolutely necessary to live? Well, not really. Perhaps a Roman would die of fright and madness in today's "civilized" world if he could take a leap in time. The Romans, in times of peace and prosperity, were as good or better than us, even the most modest classes, but of course, they also suffered from diseases, wars, crime, abuses of power, injustices, food shortages ...
But let no one be deceived. We have relatively "progressed" in what could be a society based on material goods, but perhaps things are not as positive as they would have us believe. To all this, I must add that it is not good to idealize the past either, for all comparisons are hateful and it is clear that suffering and hardship have been a constant leitmotif throughout the ages. We could say that what changes is the form, but not the bottom. It is as if a prisoner were being changed from prison or cell, but he would remain a prisoner, sometimes better treated and sometimes worse.
Be that as it may, I would not like to get lost in abstract musings and for this reason I propose to expose below a series of situations in which we can see that these values of modernity and progress are really empty ideas at best, or a direct route to precipice, in the worst of them.
Health and sanitation: It is said that in ancient times, men were much longer lived than now, but in historical times they lived like us or a little less, with high rates of infant mortality. The life expectancy was not very high, but the diseases were similar to the current ones (although some of ours were unknown) and there was a rudimentary medicine that basically worked with natural remedies, although several cultures and civilizations developed a more advanced medicine (such as in China, India ...) and remarkable surgical techniques. All in all, it might seem that our modern, completely chemicalized allopathic medicine is far superior and gives us a better quality of life. But the wonderful progress, once again, has a very sinister face. Millions of people are subjected to aggressive tests and therapies, and lots of inoperative or directly harmful drugs (in the US there are statistics that speak of hundreds of thousands of deaths from drugs). In general, we see a medicine that interferes with people's lives and makes their illnesses chronic. The result is that we neither live nor die in peace, but dependent on a system of disease. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical companies spend billions in creating medicines so that the inhabitants of the developed countries remain ill, and abandon the Third World population, who are not "business", to their fate.
Work and economy: we have an image of the past of slavery and vassalage, of people exploited and subjected to nobles, bourgeois or bosses. We believe that, with social conquests, our world is fairer and wealth is distributed more equitably. But it turns out that banking, which was born in Sumeria and "progressed" over the centuries, has been collecting its dividends and enslaving people, companies and countries through debt, while the states have collected every more and more taxes, supposedly "for the common good." There were good times or bad times in the past, and even the slaves of Rome could live reasonably well under what conditions. In turn, free people had their land, their small business, their shop, etc. and with effort they could get ahead. With industrialization (the maximum exponent of progress), people were put into factories and companies, without rights, with paltry wages, with inhumane working conditions ... And then, without eating or drinking it, they could be left without work because the system had created the "strike." Looking at the situation in the world in general, it seems that resources, money and even work itself are still in the hands of forever, driving entire countries to despair. Good for the progress ...
Education: it could be said that the vast majority of the ancients were rednecks, illiterate, illiterate, and little less than brutes who did not understand the world that surrounded them. Education was a matter for minorities and that way it was much easier to exploit people. But ... what has happened to progress?
The ancient wisdom and tradition, which remained outside the mental imposition of the elites (that is, education), was lost and in its place came public and universal education. And yes, illiteracy is eradicated in the civilized world, but is there true knowledge? The education we receive is simply just enough and necessary for us to function in the modern machine world, especially as good workers. Children and young people are bombarded with a large amount of content, but they barely know how to write correctly, understand what they read or write decently. The knowledge is immense and complex, and it is divided into multiple specialties that only a few experts understand. There is a lot of information available, but ... is it really useful? Can we digest or contrast it? The result is that the man of today does not understand the ins and outs of the world in which he lives, he simply lets himself be carried away.
Politics: Greek and Roman citizens were already voting more than 2,000 years ago. Did such votes serve any purpose? Could society or the established order be changed? Those "eligible" were always from the ruling caste, which was apparently divided into factions, sometimes more popular, sometimes more elitist. Then came the autocracies, the feudal regime, the absolute monarchies ... and with the French Revolution it was believed to establish democracy, freedom, national sovereignty, etc. There was no progress. This is already very old, the same system. Nothing is going to change the substance, only in the form, in the appearances. Remember that of "that everything changes, so that everything remains the same." The vote is the instrument that allows to "legitimize" the designs of those who really rule. There is no progress, only a smoke screen to avoid seeing the obvious. The entire western population is herded to slaughter by those in power, and deep down the people remain as enslaved as the Roman population was, overwhelmed by law and rule. (But, in fact, never in human history were people as regulated as they are today by thousands of mandates of all kinds.) We are subjects, property of the states and the economic powers, which are the same thing. And by the way, make no mistake: the regime that spoke the most of progress and liberation of the human being was the Soviet communist dictatorship, which neither gave freedom nor peace nor material prosperity. Sooner or later, the myths of ideologies and false oppositions will eventually fall.
Wars: Here we can get our chest out and say that we have "progressed" a lot. Over the centuries we have increased the number of conflicts and their dimensions. We have created increasingly powerful and deadly weapons and we have developed mass murder, especially of civilians. From fighting with arrows and swords, we turned to rifles and cannons, and we ended up with machine guns, toxic gases, tanks, fighter planes, missiles, atomic bombs, etc. Scientific, technological and industrial progress has largely been the cause and effect of war, and the most “advanced” and “civilized” countries have been the first to arm themselves to the teeth to defend… what? Without going very far, just over half a century ago, the very free and democratic Western nations massacred the German civilian population with massive indiscriminate bombardments that caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. Not to mention the nuclear genocide in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, perpetrated with the excuse of "ending the war." It's hard to find better examples of barbarism at its finest. Ah! What was this not the ethical progress that we wanted to present? Oh my God ...
We could go on with more examples, but we would insist on the same messages. There are already many people who say that this indefinite economic growth and development is not only impossible, but that it is absurd, harmful and inhumane. The human being is involved in a materialistic and egoic race to nowhere, following the banner of "progress". Thus, anxieties and goals are constantly injected into him to believe that "we must progress", but more and more people see that this is a bottomless pit, that we are in free fall and that the goodness of progress is a mere instrument of control of the masses. What does this future of progress hold for us? Is it a kind of bio-robots, controlled by a micro-chip, living for hundreds of years, enslaved in this material world? Soulless beings, connected to the machine that gives us sustenance and at the same time preys on us? (Let's remember the metaphor of the Matrix ...)
Unfortunately, true progress, embodied in human self-knowledge and spiritual transcendence, has been erased and silenced by the noise from "civilization." Thousands of years ago, various ancient traditions told us about cycles of spiritual evolution that we go through over and over again. Sanskrit texts already told us that the supposed real or material world ("Maya") is nothing more than an illusion and that the true essence of man is the "Atman", the spirit. But none of this seems to be part of our daily progress. As long as we think that new communication gadgets, electric cars or kitchen robots are modernity and development, we will continue on the wrong path.
In order to truly advance, we will have to disconnect our mind from those deeply ingrained concepts, look within, find who we really are, and act accordingly. And that is our responsibility. Let's not expect the world to change on its own. Power has always been in there, waiting for consciousness to activate it. And when that happens, we will really understand what progress is.