Don’t let a day go by without answering who you are.
Don’t let a day go by without answering where you are going.
As humanity, we are living through a series of global crises, between the covid pandemic, the erosion of neoliberal imperialism, and the current conflict between Russia and the United States, a conflict that implies the emergence of a new multipolar world, the possibility of building a new system is opening up.
By Nahuel Tejada
In this changing human world, the emergence of a new system of relations between the forces of capital and the forces of labour is a necessary condition for a radical change in the old and familiar dialectic between oppression and liberation, capital justice vs. social justice. It is therefore necessary for a new system to eliminate social contradictions such as the centralisation of wealth in the hands of privileged minorities while the majority live in poverty. There are many authors who have criticised the system, for example, this paragraph from the early 1990s by Silo:
I am saying that the world situation and the particular situation of each individual will be more conflictive every day and that leaving the future in the hands of those who have led this process until today is suicidal. These are no longer the times when you can sweep away all opposition and proclaim the next day: “Peace reigns in Warsaw”. These are no longer times when 10% of the population can dispose, without limit, of the remaining 90%. In this system that is becoming globally closed, and with no clear direction of change, everything is left to the simple accumulation of capital and power. The result is that in a closed system nothing other than the mechanics of general disorder can be expected. The paradox of the system informs us that in attempting to order growing disorder, disorder will be accelerated. There is no other way out than to revolutionise the system, opening it up to the diversity of human needs and aspirations. Put in these terms, the theme of revolution acquires an unusual grandeur and a projection that it could not have had in previous epochs.
To speak of a better economic, political and social system implies that the new planetary regional configuration must be based on the values of solidarity between peoples and not on the desire for accumulation and supremacy of one country or region over the others.
If these, or more modernly the “progress” of a country, require extra-territorial sources of supply, undisputed maritime navigability to protect the movement of goods, control of strategic points for the same purpose and occupation of foreign territories, we are dealing with colonial or neo-colonial theory and practice. In colonialism, the function of armies consisted of making way first for the interests of the crowns of the time and then for private companies that obtained special concessions from political power in exchange for convenient returns. The illegality of this system was justified by the supposed barbarism of the occupied peoples, who were incapable of administering themselves properly. The ideology of this stage enshrined colonialism as the “civilising” system par excellence.
At the time of Napoleonic imperialism, the function of the army, which also held political power, was to expand frontiers with the declared aim of redeeming peoples oppressed by tyrannies through warfare and the establishment of an administrative and legal system whose codes enshrined Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. The corresponding ideology justified imperial expansion on the basis of the criterion of the “necessity” of a power constituted by the democratic revolution against illegal monarchies based on inequality, which, moreover, were united to suffocate the Revolution. Such an imperialist form has already been dismantled.
Such an imperialist form has already been worn out and tested over thousands of years, yet the discourse and practice of fomenting coups, invading peoples and establishing puppet dictatorships that carry out imperial mandates in the name of democracy still persists. The peoples do not advance because of imperialism, but because of the wearing down of imperial power, because of the struggles of resistance and opposition of women and men of all times who sometimes organise themselves as a people and sometimes face the battle alone, leaving in their actions the inspiration and the factual demonstration for future generations of the value of the human spirit which cannot be imprisoned or silenced, but which rebels against any unjust and oppressive system. Anti-system struggles are expressed in all branches of human endeavour, from politics, science, philosophy and its ideological expressions, to art, culture and spirituality.
With respect to the concept of “system”, from classical philosophy until the 20th century, the meaning of system became more complex, acquiring greater breadth and diversity, and was used in different fields of knowledge to understand and explain various objects of the sciences (natural and social).
In the meaning given to the term by the Stoics, the σύστημα primarily meant order, i.e. order of the world according to which not only everything real was subject to a law, but also thought followed, or had to follow, the law of systematic order. The conceptual system was thus a translation of the real system. We cannot here go into the questions which, in connection with the relation between thought and reality, always imply a certain idea of what the system is; let us only say that, whatever the particular form assumed by the systematic order, three forms of relation are usually considered: 1. The conceptual system is derived from the real one. 2. The real system is the product of an order imposed by the conceptual system. 3. Real system and conceptual system are parallel and, for some reason, coincidental.
From our particular approach we conceive the system as a further abstraction of thinking that allows us to act on reality, making it more complex in the sense of recognising how the different objects, individuals or events that occur both in the phenomenal field and in the world of objects outside consciousness are related. In other words, a simultaneous, holistic and systematic relationship between the inner world of each human being and the outer world.
We say then that every system, in order to be recognised as such, must present different characteristics:
Organisation of its components, that is how they relate to each other and to objects located outside the system, to other smaller or larger systems.
Form, the spatial and temporal arrangement in which these components are located.
Structure, the material characteristics of the components (in the case of objects of consciousness, materiality is relative to the perspective or purpose with which such a system is analysed, e.g. we can say that the raw material that allows me to formalise this or that system of thought is a “solid knowledge about the human soul”, etc.).
Energy, every system needs energy to function, hence they can be open or closed. Open systems are permanently receiving and delivering energy to the outside, with a marked tendency to evolve between an unstable equilibrium that allows its constant modification, while closed systems are isolated without any kind of interaction with the outside, with a marked tendency to wear out and later dissolution. On the other hand, there are no totally open or totally closed systems, since every system is in relation to a larger system that contains it, while the slightest variation between one of its components has the possibility of modifying the system completely, producing transformations and generating new relationships. Already in Bergson at the beginning of the 20th century we can find this descriptive tendency about systems, specifically in science and as a human instinct in relation to the development or evolution of intelligence:
But against this idea of originality and the absolute unpredictability of forms our intelligence revolts. For it is precisely our intelligence, as it has been shaped by the evolution of life, whose essential function is to enlighten our conduct, to prepare our action on things, to foresee for a given situation the favourable or unfavourable events which may follow from it, It therefore instinctively isolates, in a situation, what is similar to what is already known; it seeks the same thing, in order to be able to apply its principle that “the same thing produces the same thing”.
Certainly, the operation by which science isolates and closes a system is not an entirely artificial operation. If it had no objective foundation, it would not be explicable that it is indicated in certain cases, but not in others. We shall see that matter has a tendency to construct isolable systems, which can be treated geometrically. We will even define it by this tendency.
But it is only a tendency. Matter does not go to the end, and isolation is never complete. If science goes to the end and isolates completely, it is for ease of study. It assumes that the system, in isolation, remains subject to certain external influences. It simply disregards them, either because it finds them too weak to be disregarded, or because it reserves the right to take them into account later. It is no less true that these influences are like so many other threads which link the system to a larger one, the latter to a third which embraces the two, and so on in succession until we arrive at the most objectively isolated and most independent system of all: the solar system as a whole. But even here, the isolation is not absolute. Our sun radiates its heat and light beyond the furthest planet. And, on the other hand, it moves, and pulls the planets and their satellites with it, in a certain direction. The thread that binds it to the rest of the universe is undoubtedly very tenuous. However, along this thread is transmitted, down to the smallest patch of the world in which we live, the immanent duration of the whole universe.
Already in the 1970s, Edgar Morin developed an interesting work in which he describes exhaustively different approaches to physical, biological and anthropo-social systems, while at the same time introducing and highlighting the theme of organisation among other important aspects.
Along the way, we have come up with a flying definition of a system: an interrelation of elements that constitute an overall entity or unity. Such a definition entails two main characters, the first is the interrelation of the elements, the second is the overall unity constituted by these interrelated elements. In fact, most definitions of the notion of system, from the 17th century to the systemists of the General Systems Theory, recognise these two essential features, emphasising either the totality or globality feature or the relational feature. They complement and complement each other without ever really contradicting each other. A system is “a set of parts” (Leibniz, 1666), “any set of definable components” (Maturana 1972). The most interesting definitions unite the global character and the relational feature: “A system is a set of unities with relathionship amon them” (von Bertalanffy, 1956), it is the “unity resulting from the parts in mutual interaction” (Ackoff, 1960), it is “a whole that functions as a whole by virtue of the elements (parts) that constitute it” (Rapoport, 1969). Other definitions indicate that a system is not necessarily and principally composed of “parts”, some of which can be considered as a “set of states” (Mesarovic, 1962), even a set of events (which is true for any system whose organisation is active), or of reactions (which is true for living organisms). Finally, the definition of Ferdinand de Saussure (who was a systemist rather than a structuralist) is particularly well articulated, and above all, by linking it to the concept of totality and interrelation, it gives rise to the concept of organisation: the system is “an organised totality, made up of solidarity elements which can only be defined in relation to one another according to their place in this totality” (Saussure, 1931).
Indeed, it is not enough to associate interrelation and totality; it is necessary to link totality to interrelation through the idea of organisation. In other words, as soon as the interrelations between elements, events or individuals have a regular or stable character, they become organisational. Organisatio
elements, actions or individuals.
The influence of quantum physics on the conception of the system in tt of 20th century thought is also notable, the idea of the atom as a particle is beginning to be set aside, now the atom is a system of forces that attract or repel each other, a holistic system of dualities and probabilities.
The old astronomy saw only a solar system, i.e., a clockwork rotation around the stars. The new astrophysics discovers myriads of solar systems, organising wholes that sustain themselves by spontaneous regulation.
For its part, modern biology gives life to the idea of the system, ruining both the idea of living matter and the idea of the vital principle that anaesthetised the systemic idea, which is included in the cell and the organism. From now on, the idea of the living system inherits simultaneously the animation of the former vital principle and the substantiality of the former living matter. Finally, sociology had, since its foundation, considered society as a system, in the strong sense of an organising whole irreducible to its constituents, the individuals. Henceforth, therefore, in all physical, biological, anthropo-sociological horizons, the system-phenomenon is imposed. 
Everything that was an object becomes a system. Everything that was even an elementary unity, including above all the atom, becomes a system.
Now, it is at the basis of physics that an extraordinary inversion takes place at the beginning of the twentieth century. The atom is no longer the first, irreducible, indivisible unity: it is a system made up of particles in mutual interactions.
We now know that everything that the old physics conceived of as a simple element is organisation. The atom is organisation; the molecule is organisation. But we ignore the whole meaning of this term: organisation.
So we can say after the above conceptualisations that the neoliberal imperialist system in crisis today has a structure, a form, a type of organisation and an acting energy that gives it life. The aspect that generates the crisis is not a force external to the system, but the wear and tear produced by the peoples who permanently rebel against oppression and injustice. But that such rebellions are not enough in themselves for a radical change of the system. The form may change but not the structure, the type of organisation may change but the prevailing values of individualism, selfishness and discrimination remain in the mentality of the people. Akop Nazaretian comments on the tendency of peoples to harm themselves when at certain stages of history, thanks to struggles, economic benefits and rights are achieved that favour the welfare of the people, in the improvement of the quality of life. In those historical moments when, logically, the people should defend their conquests, the opposite happens. It is the desire to possess more and more material objects or money so that the growing “middle class” becomes the “rich class”. In this kind of behaviour of the societies is the neo-liberal system acting on the mental form of each person. In Akop’s words:
Finally, the sustained improvement in living conditions generally leads to a faster growth of material needs and expectations, through whose prism the real trends are valued by society in the opposite way. Another paradoxical effect, but repeatedly described, is that the improvement in objective conditions (e.g., economic indicators) is accompanied by growing dissatisfaction. On this observation a psycho-sociological conception of revolutionary situations has been built, as well as a conception of pre-crisis development.
Pre-crisis processes have been most thoroughly studied in political psychology. In the mid-19th century Alexis de Tocqueville, having reviewed a number of concrete historical episodes, showed that an increase in the quality of life, surpassed even by an increase in life expectancy, precedes social explosions. Already at this stage a specific distortion of social perception can be detected, which we have called retrospective aberration. The essence of the phenomenon lies in the fact that, through the prism of rising expectations, everyday consciousness assesses the dynamics of economic and/or political trends in a distorted way. With the growth of objective possibilities, dissatisfaction with the present is strengthened, public opinion sees life as getting worse and worse.
So if we aspire to build a new system that does not repeat the same historical contradictions, it is necessary that each human being first decides to transform his or her mental form, this transformation is not generated simply by acquiring more knowledge about this or that ideology or doctrine, since it is very frequent that erudite or ideologically well-trained people end up being servants or defenders of the system they were trying to eliminate.
MENTAL FORM: 1) System of assumptions and beliefs specific to an individual, group or people, given by the generational level in a given culture. 2) Personal belief system that acts as a social reflex. 3) Type of logical sequence of reasoning specific to the cultural environment in which one lives. 4) Non-rational intuition of the world on which an ideology or a doctrine may or may not be elaborated.
The transformation of the mental form for the construction of a new system implies a profound personal and social reflection and meditation on the purpose, the meaning of such a construction. It is social because a new system cannot be built in solitude; it is necessary for the great majorities to decide in their diversity and in their joint intelligence. It is personal because the decision to transform society and to transform oneself is an intimate one; no one can really decide for other people in the intimacy of their conscience.
Although the idea that the majority of people detect a mental system of frivolous, inhuman and individualistic values acting in their own consciences and that thanks to this realisation they decide to take responsibility and modify their own mental form, their own way of thinking and feeling… although this pretension is utopian, it is the only possibility of real transformation. Otherwise, technological, scientific, political and legal advances will fall, as they have in the past, to the service of entertainment on the one hand, and violence, injustice and oppression on the other.
It is common to think or to have the attitude of waiting for governments to solve the problems that afflict humanity. But as we have already mentioned, the phenomenon of retrospective aberration is a fact that prevents any profound and structural transformation.
The system has its defences, one of which is the degradation of thought, reflection and meditation. From the system it is correct to act without much reflection, “if you think you don’t act”, so that the ideological work of every revolutionary intellectual is denigrated precisely because of its “ideological” content. On the other hand, any group of people who take organised action to transform the system according to a well thought-out and coherent project is itself very dangerous for the system.
Then meditation, it is claimed from this system that meditation is not to act but to isolate oneself from the world and forget about the problems. Real meditation is a necessary state of mind from which it is possible to transform one’s own mental form beyond any imposition of the system. Meditation is dynamic, it is observation and self-observation of oneself and one’s environment. In order to think, act better and more resolutely, it is necessary to observe every system and the relationships that exist between its components. In fact, there is a philosophical meditation, a scientific meditation, a spiritual meditation, a political meditation, an artistic meditation, a transcendental meditation. Meditation is a state of mind where the intelligence brushes its limits in search of responses and inspiration in its different forms in order to solve increasingly complex and profound problems. (Do not confuse intelligence with reasoning. Intelligence in this 21st century is a broader concept than logic and reason).
Anyone can meditate, it only takes a few minutes of calm during the day, meditating on the solution of problems, on questions, on searches or needs. The problem of system change deserves to be approached with the best actions and thoughts that we can develop. Otherwise the world’s economic and political situation may improve, but humanity itself will not be up to the task.
So, to the extent that each person decides to take responsibility in solidarity for the transformation of the world by acting in their immediate environment, seeking to transform the system of unjust and violent relations for a more humane and non-violent one, to the extent that each person simultaneously with their actions in the environment, decides to transform themselves, that is, by raising and developing their best virtues to help others, then to that extent we will be building a new network of hope and we will become, without wanting to, an inspiration for other people to make the same decision. In the same way we realise that someone has inspired or inspires us. We recognise then that these aspirations for a better world are very ancient, ancestral and yet they continue to press us from a remote past into a luminous future.
- Silo (2008). The Message of Silo. ed. EDAF, S.L. p.145
- Silo (1993). in Silo, Obras Completas, Volume I. ed. Plaza y Valdés. p.597.
- Ibid, p. 612.
- Ferrater Mora (1964). Dictionary of Philosophy. Ed. Sudamericana. p. 687
- Bergson (1907). La Evolución Creadora, in Obras Escogidas. Ed Aguilar. p. 463
- Ibid, p. 446.
- Morin (1977) The Method I. ed.dig. in www.edgarmorin.org. p.123
- Ibid, p. 120
- Ibid, p. 121
- Ibid, p. 119
- Ibid, p. 115
- Nazaretian. (2015) Futuro No Lineal. ed. Suma Qamaña. p.106
- Van Doren. (1972) Siloism, doctrine, practice and vocabulary. ed dig. in www.elmayordelospoetas.net p.36
Nahuel Tejada, humanist, musician, writer, political and social activist in the group Colectivo Nacional de Chaco-Argentina.