6. Transition and Modernity

The Great Divide


Section 6.3

World History 
And The Eonic Effect

Civilization, Darwinism, And Theories of Evolution
4th Edition
The Book
By  John Landon





6. Transition and Modernity 
     6.1 A New Age Begins  
        6.1.1 From Reformation to Revolution  
     6.2 An Age of Enlightenment  
        6.2.1 The Crisis of The Enlightenment  
        6.2.2 Theory and Ideology: Das Adam Smith Problem
        6.2.3 Toward a New Enlightenment 
     6.3 The Great Divide 
        6.3.1 Revolutions Per Second: The Rebirth of Democracy 
        6.3.2 Econostream != Eonic Sequence          
    6.4 System Shutdown: Between System Action and Free Action  
       6.4.1 The Curse of Mideonic Empire?      
     6.5 1848: End of Eonic Sequence?  
          6.5.1 Last and First Men
          6.5.2 Theory and Ideology: Out of Revolution
     6.6 New Ages
          6.6.1 The (Eonic) Evolution of Religion  
          6.6.2 The 'Axial' New Age
          6.6.3 The Great Freedom Sutra 
          6.6.4 Schopenhauer and The Caveman Buddhas
          6.6.5 Coda: Amlothi's Mill

 7. Conclusion


    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

     6.3 The Great Divide


As noted, our eonic sequence is built around a series of short-acting intervals or transitions, and any such intermittent process will generate a ‘divide’, that is, the rough point at which the intermittent effect wanes and the outcome stabilizes. It is one of the most spectacular confirmations of our perspective that it uncovers this unsuspected aspect of the rise of the modern. We shouldn’t be distracted by the secondary or exponential changes ignited by the new period generated. It is the core emergents, high-level cultural innovations, that are crucial, not their subsequent course. The downfield is something else. We deduce this in the abstract, and turn to our data to see if it reflects anything like this. It definitely does, and we can spot the right point immediately.

Thus, the period of the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century foots the bill at once, and is one of the most fantastic (relative) ‘start-up’ periods of world history (a start-up inside a larger start-up, the transition), as the system crosses a ‘divide’. This crossing point, a divide, comes near the end of the most recent of our eonic transitions. As we move backwards we can deduce the rough points of the earlier transitions and divides, although the divide for the first transition is not yet within the range of observation.

In one way this divide is an illusion created by the greater ‘divide’ of a transition. But the divide around 1800 is very real (we can take 1750-1850 as a broader version). We see one of history’s great evolutionary moments. By definition the system is moving from eonic determination to free action. It is also the moment that the economist W.W. Rostow, in economic terms, called a ‘take-off’. It is essential, however, not to confuse this divide with a purely economic phenomenon, as in the ‘take-off’ of the English Industrial Revolution. The fantastic creativity of the threshold period of the American, French and Industrial Revolutions, the climax of our great turning point, is mirrored in the spawn of neologisms that appear at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Eric Hobsbawm, at the start of The Age of Revolution, a history of this period from the French and Industrial Revolution to its close after 1848, begins his account of this Dual Revolution with a list of some of these terms:

industry, factory, middle class, working class, capitalism, socialism, aristocracy, railway, liberal, conservative, nationality, scientist, engineer, proletariat, (economic) crisis, journalism, ideology.[i]

The retail of current change tends to be smothered by the wholesale of this great divide period, and these words almost tell the story of the modern period of transformation by themselves, and demonstrate very dramatically the way in which something more than transient fashion is coming into existence. They are each miniature examples of what we have called eonic emergents’, growth processes that suddenly come into being, or amplify, or transform from something related, and whose character shows a clear relationship, and therefore correlation, with the overall process of modernization in its broadest sense. The sheer density of social change that ushered in a new world in the period of the post-Enlightenment can be seen in the nature of our daily preoccupations whose structure spring from this period.

In our own age, we are the children of this mysterious ‘divide’ of the generation of the French Revolution, with its cornucopia of accelerated changes. We aren’t being dogmatic, for the effect is relatively fuzzy, and can call this divide the period from 1750 to 1850. But once we suspect an intermittent process, we zero in for this property, and find it in this case (and marginally for our earlier turning points, as we will see). The divide is the climax of the rise of the modern and the scale and depth of the change that occurred in the whole period, especially near this divide, dwarfs all other candidates and is comparable only with the onset of civilization and the onset of the ‘Classical’ World.

In the space of a generation, the Dual Revolution of the English ‘great transformation’ of industrialism and the French political conflagration, as a volcano of the ‘Left’ passing into Socialism and Communism, initiate a global-scale ‘crossing of the divide’ that encompasses the American Revolution, immense cultural changes in politics, class structure, philosophy, religion, science, literature, indeed every category of human behavior. After more than two thousand years, democracy, driven by ‘class struggle’, emerges into universal acceptance after universal condemnation. The final assault on slavery  rises with the paeans of Freedom culminating in the American Civil War.

Awash even after two centuries in a global transformation that dwarfs the memory of the wrathful minutes of revolutionary ardor in the streets of Paris, we arrive in our moment still animated by its momentum with enough distance to review its meaning from a greater perspective, and with an earnest hope, that only some phantom of the ultra-right could challenge, that as its children we will not undo its axioms. In a history of 5000 years we are barely more than a century past one of history’s most terrible institutions, human slavery. And we would be deceived by our briefer time and the immediacy of a nearer moment if we complacently assumed that an action of Freedom guaranteed our future from the reaction of a greater time.  



   Web:  chap6_2_3.htm


[i] Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution, 1789-1848 (New York: New American Library, 1962), p. 17.





Last modified: 09/28/2010