Back to Blog

Universal ideology?

Some thoughts that have been brewing in my head for a while. I want to write them down, partly to help myself articulate my thoughts, but also to see if netizens have anything interesting to say.

Politics and the way the world is organised (i.e. into nation states) are inherently nationalistic. However, the biggest challenges facing humanity are global, e.g. nuclear threats, climate change (ecological destruction) and technological disruption (e.g. AI). The collision between global problems and local identities signifies a need to deconstruct and reimagine how we conduct our lives. In order to unite the world, perhaps we need a new type of “universal ideology”. A sort of spiritual globalisation.

An ideology based solely on facts, unfortunately, does not resonate with the masses, nor is it conducive to building shared identity. Humans are emotional beings. Otherwise we would be no different than robots. Humans are largely driven by unconscious irrational desires. So science, or “sciencism” is not a suitable candidate. Neither is religion, which, as history has shown, serves to divide more than unite. Religion is more often used to justify actions, rather than to guide or drive them.

“Humanism” doesn’t really cut it either, it is based on individual humans, i.e. “a rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.”. It privileges humanity above all other forms of existence. It has been criticised on the basis of excessive rationality and excessive individualism [prioritisation of the actions of individuals above the collective]. If humanism is what its name implies, a religious attitude that places humans in the centre of the universe, then we can critique humanism from an ecological point of view. Humanism is by definition anthropocentric. This might well imply that humanism supports the exploitation of natural resources for human needs without concern for other living beings.

Buddhism is perhaps the closest. The idea of harmony with nature and respect for all living beings (not just humans) appears to be closest to what I have in mind. This ideology – for convenience let’s call it “Earthism” – emphasises our shared fate with all living beings on the planet. It does not put humans front and centre in all matters, or rather, it understands that in order for humans to survive, let alone thrive, we need to take care and protect species other than our own. Our fate is intertwined with our environment and all other living beings that it sustains. Secondly, Earthism also prizes spiritual wealth above material wealth. Because profit and market-driven capitalism and the inexorable consumerism that it promotes is not sustainable. It eventually brings about the destruction of nature, which all lives, including ours, depend on. Worse, it makes people unhappy. So this new ideology is based on the idea that true happiness and wealth stems from within. That our mental, emotional, and physical well being does not depend on worldly possessions, status, and power.

Does such an ideology already exist? I am certain this is not an original thought or sentiment so I am curious to learn more about this topic. Should it have a label/name? Is label/name even a good thing? Perhaps it should just be a tacit understanding of how we ought to live our lives?


One comment

Chong kheow, December 1, 2019 Reply

Thought provoking. The name Buddhism mustnt be used to avoid misunderstanding. Brought to mind :an injured horse is shot for humanistic reason. Similarly injured human beings be shot too ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *