Consequences of the Wrong Worldview


“The Grand Narrative of our society is the story of mechanistic science; a story in which man is reduced to a biological ‘organism’. A story that also completely ignores the psychological and symbolic dimension of the human being. This view of man is the core of the problem” says psychologist Mattias Desmet in an article published in a Belgian newspaper early in 2020, titled “The Fear of Coronavirus is More Dangerous Than the Virus Itself”

This paragraph reflects the core of Desmet’s analysis of the status of humanity in modern times and the alienation that has taken hold. According to him, the mass hypnosis that took hold in 2020 was merely the climax of a development that has been ongoing for a long time, rooted in the Western tradition of thought that began with the Enlightenment.

The Mechanistic Worldview and Final Solutions

Desmet refers to philosopher Hannah Arendt, who, in the aftermath of the horrors of World War II, described how she believed human society was then facing unprecedented problems. This was right after the Holocaust, the “final solution,” where all morality gave way to scientific precision in the extermination of an entire nation deemed undesirable, a threat to “public health” as it was interpreted by the Nazis. Arendt’s most famous work is an analysis of the mass murderer Adolf Eichmann, a public servant who, in the spirit of mechanistic thinking, believed his sole duty, his only virtue, was to fulfill his horrific role with scientific precision and regretted only that it was not fully successful.

The year 2020 saw the ultimate solution to eradicate the Coronavirus. Everything was up for sacrifice: the poor, children, and teenagers, society as a whole, just to avoid infection by a virus that was harmless to most. Later, those who chose not to participate in the ever more ridiculous endeavours were to be excluded from society. “There really is such a thing as society,” Boris Johnson said as he brought society to a halt. For him, society was not the complex web of human interactions it truly is; rather, his concept of society was a mob, terrified and ready to sacrifice everything to serve irrational fear, and rulers who see it as their prime purpose to nourish and exaggerate that fear.

The narrative of mechanistic thinking breeds ultimate solutions. Many see the latest as an attempt to expel or even eradicate a small national group which – as ironic as it is – seems to threaten the dominance of a nation which at the time was to be exterminated by the Holocaust’s final solution. And some even argue that within the small national group itself, there are those who believe it necessary to conclusively address that very final solution.

Human Rights Sacrificed in the Name of Human Rights

What was the ultimate solution in the “War on Terror” the United States, the UK, and their allies launched after the attacks on September 11, 2001? Its core was an assault on human rights. Hundreds of innocent men were taken to detention camps outside the law, held for years, even decades. And officially, this war was fought to protect those very human rights the warriors assaulted. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re innocent or guilty,” a CIA representative told Mauritanian Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who endured a 15-year stay in Guantanamo Bay’s detention camps, where he was tortured and humiliated, completely innocent, after being abducted by the American secret service. Why? Simply because he was a Muslim, he says.

“Over time, I forgot everything, every single prayer, every verse,” said Mohamedou at one of the most memorable meetings I’ve attended. “I knew the Quran by heart. But in captivity, I forgot everything. The only thing I remembered was what my grandmother taught me, that for every good deed you do, Allah will perform ten good deeds on you.”

“But I’m Not Angry”

When I arrived at the meeting, all I knew was that a man who had spent a third of his life in the hands of merciless warlords would speak there. But when he started speaking my expectations clashed with reality. For what I saw and heard was not a bitter person, full of hatred and self-pity, but a man radiating joy and love. He talked about his experiences, what he had lost, and his life now.

When someone in the audience who claimed to have been innocently imprisoned for two years in a local jail asked him how he coped with the anger, Mohamedou answered: “But I’m not angry. I have forgiven everything.” And he, who had been tortured and humiliated for over a decade, did not let it show for a moment that he considered the fate of the questioner any less severe than his own.

The ultimate solution of the mechanistic worldview for the human condition is an unconscious individual on IV, isolated in a sterilized environment, Desmet says in The Psychology of Totalitarianism. Such an individual is immune to viruses, existential crises do not torment him, he is free from fear and joy, he faces no traumas. And he does not develop or grow; he never experiences the joy of life that comes from confronting suffering with forgiveness and tolerance as a guiding light: He never becomes a human being.

The mechanistic view of the world and its quest for ultimate solutions has failed, for they are ultimately hostile to man as a thinking, moral being. In its place, we need a new vision of humanity, of society. What characterises that vision? I will not attempt to answer that question here and now. But I believe the experience and message of people like Mohamedou Ould Slahi may guide us. Reflecting on this experience and message is particularly fitting now when we celebrate Easter.

Republished from the author’s Substack

  • Thorsteinn Siglaugsson is an Icelandic consultant, entrepreneur and writer and contributes regularly to The Daily Sceptic as well as various Icelandic publications. He holds a BA degree in philosophy and an MBA from INSEAD. Thorsteinn is a certified expert in the Theory of Constraints and author of From Symptoms to Causes – Applying the Logical Thinking Process to an Everyday Problem.

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