A Thermodynamic Interpretation of History
A theory of the cosmic origins of power, gender relation, and modernity

Being Part One of
The Path Toward Scientific Enlightenment

(1999, 2003 - 2006)

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PART ONE: The Context for the Formation of Modern Women: Modernity and the Rise of Nation-States and Their Thermodynamic Origins

CHAPTER 1: The Material Meaning of History:

CHAPTER 2: Foucault's Bio-Power:

CHAPTER 3: The Truth of Nation-State:

CHAPTER 4.A.: The Liberation of Women:

CHAPTER 4.B: The Cessation of Racism in American Society:

CHAPTER 5: The Origin of Democracy and Totalitarianism:

PART TWO: The Origin of Women's Oppression

CHATPER 6: The Origin of the Sexual Division of Labor and the First Stage of Supraorganismic Formation

CHAPTER 7: The Elementary Structures of Kinship

CHAPTER 8: The Origin of Classical Patriarchy in Noosphere Consumption and the Interaction Sphere: the Case of China (the Eastern Ecumene)

CHAPTER 9: The Origin of Western Nation-State (Minor) Patriarchy (Unfinished manuscript)

CHAPTER 10.1: Conclusion to Part Two (1): The Progressive Bildung of Open Dissipative Structure From Cell (Plastide) to Multicellular Organism (Person) to Nation-State (Cormus)

CHAPTER 10.2: Conclusion to Part Two (2): Power, The Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Problem of Evil:

PART THREE: "The Feminist Ethic and the Spirit of Consumerism" (An Archaeology of the American Feminist Intraworldly Messianism)
Within the context of the investigation of the problem of the degeneration in Western modernity of the human pursuit of the spiritual meaning of life as preparation for global consumerism; and the possible (re)turn toward the spiritual meaning of life

CHAPTER 11: A Genealogy of Feminism:
Power's inversion of the traditional pursuit of the spiritual meaning of life into that of the material meaning of life.

CHAPTER 12: The Problem of Feminist "Liberation":

CHAPTER 13: The Feminist Work Ethic and the Spirit of Consumerism in the Case of Betty Friedan:

EPILOGUE 1: The Background for the Feminist Ethic: Speculum Americanae:

EPILOGUE 2: The Status of A Thermodynamic Interpretation of History as a Philosophy of History:

Summary of "A Thermodynamic Interpretation of History" (originally conceived as Part One of The Path Toward Scientific Enlightenment; Part Two being "Scientific Enlightenment proper").

The theory is good despite lame titles.

Chapter One attempts to reveal what will be called the material meaning of history. The material meaning of history is set against the "spiritual" meaning of history, which will be dealt with in Part Two. A comment on the purpose of the entire book is necessary beforehand.

The material meaning of history is determined by the second law of thermodynamics (hence the title "A Thermodynamic Interpretation of History") -- while the spiritual meaning of history is a function of the first law of thermodynamics.

Thus the project is essentially a theory of everything in terms of thermodynamic laws, both the first and second; this is not entirely novel with regard to approach. The interpretation of history in terms of the second law of thermodynamics has been hinted at in recent literatures on evolution, as will be seen in the chapter. That human expression of spirituality may have something to do with the law of Conservation has also been noted occasionally. But no complete history of the noo-sphere (in its material and spiritual aspects) in terms of thermodynamics has ever been attempted, until this one. With respect to spirituality may be noted the example of the famous German evolutionist, Ernst Haeckel who, seeking to transcend the positivism within which he worked to arrive at spirituality, eventually had to seek it, in his Welträtsel (The Riddles of the Universe), in the so-called Substanzgesetzt (the "Substance Law") as the pivot around which everything in the Universe is ultimately ordered, as the ultimate principle underlying the entire phenomenon called the Universe; and by Substanzgesetzt he means the first law of thermodynamics, the law of Conservation (of energy, matter, and momentum). This immature piece of "scientific spirituality" of his, however, teaches two lessons: first that indeed the search for spirituality (and eventually salvation) in this scientific age (the structural perspective) where the older symbolisms (of the pre-modern functional perspective) no longer hold meanings ("soul", etc.) may have to conduct itself in the thermodynamic laws, in the first as behind the second -- because consciousness of the thermodynamic structure of the Universe did form the motivating core of the human pursuit of spirituality in the past; second that the spiritual meaning of the history of the Universe has to be delineated from its material meaning, so that not just the first but the second law as well of thermodynamics are to serve as its pivot. Many an attempt at formulating spirituality in the scientific perspective fails because of non-distinction between the two types of meaning.

Thus it will be shown in Scientific Enlightenment that all enlightenment traditions of the humanity past (the great philosophies and religions) have their origin in the human "memory" of the first law; that is, all that the great philosophers spoke in their great systems and all human religious experiences are expressions of (their memory or intuition of) the first law of thermodynamics, which thus constitutes the real content of human enlightenment.

The human traditions of philosophy and religions are expressions of the human pursuit of salvation. If the constant theme of philosophies and religions -- the Source of existence experienced as God, Being, the Infinite, the Boundless, the Unborn -- is conditioned by the human memory of the first law of thermodynamics, then human salvation -- always in terms of the return to this Source -- is the attempt to negate the second law of thermodynamics with the first law -- the theme of all symbolic expressions that constitute all philosophies and all religions. While the first law promises Eternity (because of necessary conservation), the second law ordains necessary dissolution and meaningless, finite, and temporary existence enslaved to dissipative functions (eating and defecating) and which it has thus been human yearning to negate. This negation is the spiritual meaning of life. Since the first step in such negation always consists in the recognition of the source, and therefore the structure, of existence, it is frequently spoken of as the "Universe becoming conscious of itself through human consciousness": the anthropic principle. But one has to remember that the spiritual meaning of life does not exhaust itself in this Self-Consciousness, but in the salvation that results from this Self-Consciousness.

Hence the second law also plays the role of the "ultimate" in the shaping of the Universe, side by side with the first law. Salvation of course presupposes that from which one is to be saved in the pursuit of salvation. And this is at once identified here to be the necessary condition of the existence of human beings -- or all life in general -- as thermodynamic (in accordance with the second law). In other words, the extrication from the material meaning of life is the essence of enlightenment-salvation. This thermodynamic condition of existence consists in: fundamentally, the temporal and spatial delimitations of existence, i.e. existence in the thermodynamic flux; then, consequent on this, the necessary enslavement to the material meaning of life, to consumption (and reproduction), i.e. existence as thermodynamic dissipation; and finally, the sufferings necessarily engendered by this enslavement.

The Path toward Scientific Enlightenment is conceived as the final answer to human salvation; the great enlightenment-salvational traditions of the past (during the [first] axial time, to use Karl Jasper's terminology) happen in the mid-point of the evolution of consciousness (noo-sphere) and, as such, are no longer valid today, because they essentially consist in the transcendence of the mythic worldview (the matrix of the functional perspective) within which they grow. This world view of the functional perspective has since transited to the positivistic, scientific one of the structural perspective; a new transcendence is now needed of this positivistic matrix which repeats the mythic in essential ways: once again perception is bound to things of the empirical world only; once again the devotion of life is restricted exclusively to them as fulfilling dissipative functions (material meaning of life). Scientific enlightenment, the final form of human salvational pursuit, is the formulation of enlightenment-salvation within the matrix of sciences.

A thermodynamic interpretation of history is therefore the search for the origin of (in theological terms) evil, or of (in Buddhist terms) sufferings, of the condition from which enlightenment-salvation serves to effect the extrication. Of the four noble truths of Buddhism, for example, suffering (dukkha), the origin of suffering (dukkha-samudaya) through craving (tanha); the cessation of suffering (dukkha-nirodha), and the path leading to the cessation of suffering (dukkha-nirodha-gamini-patipada), it corresponds to the discourse on the first two. Part Two (Scientific Enlightenment) to that on the last two. But whereas in the past such discourse was formulated in mythic terms (e.g. karma and the reincarnation of the soul) the current one is articulated in scientific terms. It furthermore is oriented toward discovering the origin of evil today for which Part Two serves as the antidote -- the nature of evil or suffering has changed its nature in the past 2,000 years. The thermodynamic interpretation of history is the prelude to scientific enlightenment.

The mutual opposition between the spiritual and the material meaning of life is a reflection of the fact that the state of affairs created by the second law in the "running-of-its-course" of the universe is quite different than that achieved by the first law: just the opposite to the latter. While the first law is responsible for human enlightenment, the second law is responsible for the bad human habit of planet-wasting, mindless and excess consumption. This is the meaning of evil today: evil has evolved into its conclusion. And this evolution is the material meaning of history, in contrast to its SPIRITUAL meaning.

It will be shown that "power", understood truly, is a function of consumption, and so of the second law.1 The second law defines the human experience of time or temporality, and power/ consumption is thus a phenomenon of temporal nature. Temporality (along with spatiality, its concomitant) has always been identified as the origin of evil and suffering: that much has remained constant throughout history. Amidst the passing away of time, certain enlightened souls of the human species have, from time to time, searched for and recognized the a-temporal , the eternal lying behind the coming-into-being-and-passing-away of the temporal things; that is, they have found that negation of time which promises salvation from the destructive power of time which renders everything meaningless. That negation is of course the first law of thermodynamics -- that despite entropy increase, really nothing changes at all: the ultimate fact of Conservation. These enlightened souls spoke of their experience of this salvational conservation in systems of symbols called philosophy or in myths called (testamental) religions. The nature of negation thus will also remain the same. What will change, as said, is the content of the formulation, from myth to science.

In order to continue to outline the general theme of the present work a summary of the ideas in Chapter One on the material meaning of life and of history has to be given first. The material meaning of life is more primordial to the spiritual meaning of life, contrary to the prevalent ideas (such as those making up the anthropic principle). And this meaning, as said, has to do with the second law of thermodynamics. The relationship between the second law and the material meaning of life and history works like this. In the nineteenth century, the discovery of the second law of thermodynamics -- that in a closed system, such as our Universe, entropy, or the amount of disorder, must increase as time passes, so that any order, or the order of our Universe, must eventually degenerate into a disorder of particles moving at random -- seemed to many a perplexing contradiction to the discovery of biological evolution, where order increased and matters complexified in the course of time. In the early part of the twentieth century, the paradox was first resolved by Schrödinger, who emphasized that Earth was a open system, a mere local region of the total, closed Universe, and that in a system unclosed (in a local region of the closed system) order might increase with time as long as there was an influx of energy into the system. After much research, by the end of the twentieth century scientists have realized not only that the second law does not contradict the fact of evolution, but that it actually helps to explain it. The origin of life is actually a function of the second law in that life is a form of open dissipative structure. The fact is that the order of our Universe is disintegrating, and so the sun (an order) is pouring its energy into the earth (the disintegration of this order). This is the dissipation of energy or order. When the influx of energy to be dissipated is too great and the normal way by which Nature achieves the dissipation of energy (i.e. through the random movement of particles) is no longer sufficient, an alternative way of dissipation is often accessed, a structured way, where a dissipative structure (an order!) forms that will dissipate order or energy more efficiently than random dissipation. Hurricane is an example of dissipative structure that forms when the temperature gradient between the hotter and colder regions above ocean has become too great for random dissipation to effectively even out the difference. LIFE is another such example that formed in the early part of the history of the Earth when the energy coming in from the Sun was large enough to encourage the formation of ordered, structured pathways of energy-dissipation. Life, once set going in this way, quickly went its own way and generated the multivarious forms witnessed in evolution as it (or the biosphere) closed itself up and formed its own world away from the inorganic and organic world (the geosphere) below and its forms or variants (species) grew by feeding and interacting among themselves -- while the system on the whole is being supported by the solar energy coming in.

But this thermodynamic explanation of the origin of Life tells us that life evolves as the vehicle of Nature for dissipating order, and so that the meaning of Life in general is mindless consumption (of order: foodstuffs) and defecation (into disorder: waste), which ultimately means the destruction of the environment. (In fact, since it is supposed to be a thermodynamic dissipative structure, the goal of any life is ultimately defecation, and it is only to defecate that life consumes at all.) That an organism does its job so well and destroys its environment, killing itself in the process, has already happened before -- not just a peculiarity of the human species: the most famous being the cyanobacteria that destroyed the CO2 atmosphere of the Earth with their oxygenic waste some 1.5 billion years ago, causing the whole-sale extinction of anaerobic life-forms predominant in the first half of the Earth's history, but incidentally creating the oxygen-rich atmosphere that made us -- the multicellular eukaryotic organisms -- possible today.

This is the material meaning of life. Life, or organisms, are forms of open dissipative structures, and the meaning of life is defecation and, through it, the possible destruction of its environment.

The material meaning of history continues the story of the material meaning of life. The effect of the second law (the pressure for entropy-increase) is now traced from the bio-sphere to the noo-sphere. The resulting thermodynamic interpretation of history treats the history (of human society) as the progressive growth of supraorganism -- i.e. a metabolic, or open dissipative structure formed of multiple multi-cellular organisms (in this case, Homo sapiens sapiens) just as each multi-cellular organism, as an open dissipative structure, is formed of single cell organisms, each also an open dissipative structure -- and the growth of this supraorganism consists precisely in the progressive enlargement of its metabolic capacity, i.e. its dissipative or defecative capacity. The meaning of history (or, in Hegelian terms, the Reason [Vernunft] of History) is thus the progressive increase of the environmentally destructive defecative capacity of human societies. Hence we see that in the progression of human history from tribes through tribal confederacies and kingdoms to today's nation states, the consumption and defecation rate of the human collective has been progressively increasing, making the human species the most lethal to the natural environment. The thermodynamic interpretation of history then traces this development: at the tribal stage the first extra-body metabolism took shape, as in the beginning of the consumption of art objects, rituals, and the construction of hut dwellings, etc. (Note that at this stage the material and spiritual meaning of life have not yet disengaged from each other.) During the confederacy and early state period the consumption/ defecation rate of the human supraorganism increased via the luxury life-style of the aristocracies, still only a minority of the social collective. Finally, in the modern age of matured, nation-states, the consumption rate of the supraorganism reaches its maximum height via the ideology and practices of capitalism and consumerism, i.e. by recruiting the entire human masses into the luxury life-style formerly reserved for aristocracies only. The mechanism of this recruiting is the ideology of "equality", "human rights", "sanctity of human life", "freedom", or other such slogans for the revolt of the masses as these -- but most importantly, feminism (below). Such would be the basic outline of the thermodynamic interpretation of history, which ends its analyses in the anticipation of extinction-causing environmental destruction that modern consumerism aims at.

"The Layered Structure of the Universe" exposes the basic outline of the evolution of the Universe: (a) radiation-dominance period, or the period immediately after the Big Bang, when matter (atomic particles) did not yet exist but only in the form of energy due to high temperature; (b) matter-predominance period, when the temperature of the Universe were low enough to allow for stable existence of atoms (hydrogen and helium); (c) the geo-sphere period, during which the first generation of stars was formed, heavier elements (such as the life-essential carbon) synthesized therein, galaxies, and eventually our Earth were born; (d) the bio-sphere period, when Life emerges on Earth (or elsewhere in the Universe) under thermodynamic pressure; and (e) the noo-sphere period, when consciousness, supraorganism, and extra-body dissipation appear in local regions of the biosphere. This outline of Time or Universe provides the background against which the significance of human history in the Universe becomes visible.

In "The Layered Structure of the Universe" the reason is also given of why the second law at all, why disorder must increase with time (in a closed system). The surface answer given is in simple mathematics, or rather statistics. Order is statistically unlikely because it requires all particles to work in concert -- and what's the chance of, say, 100,000 particles moving in the same direction in a closed chamber to produce order? It is simply more likely that each particle moves in a particular direction of its own, independent of others, so that a disorderly state of 100,000 randomly moving particles results. Similarly, it is much, much more likely, in a closed environment, for atoms to disperse randomly rather than assemble into something as complex as a human being. But the fact that entropy-increase is a statistical consequence means also that, given enough time, it will eventually be violated (even in a closed system, that is). Given enough time, one will observe particles in a closed chamber coming together to form a complex organization, instead of dispersing randomly as usual, simply as a matter of chance. But the time required to finally have the chance to observe such rare (very rare!) event would be longer than the life time of our Universe -- so don't count on it. This is related to human pursuit of salvation in eternity, which is conditioned by Conservation of the first law, not by chances of the second law.

But the deeper answer is that the formation of unity above the microscopic level is never perfect: if a spring in vibrating motion in vacuum (e.g. in space) were a perfect, solidly tight unity, for instance, it could vibrate for ever. But since it is only an aggregate of molecules which do not move in complete concert with the macroscopic whole, they will eventually dissipate away (convey away) the kinetic energy they carry so that the spring will eventually stop vibrating: hence entropy-increase.

We can now come back to the problem of the evolution of evil. That particular strand of the thermodynamic condition of existence from which we should be saved in salvational pursuit, the necessary enslavement to the material meaning of life, has shifted however in meaning throughout history. As we have spoken of power, here we shall speak of modernity. In the tribal time this enslavement, as expressed frequently in myths, was articulated in terms of the frustration with the precariousness to obtain the necessary amount of consumption. Since the modern time this enslavement has evolved into a problem of gluttony, of over-consumption, not just intra-body (food stuff) which endangers the body (as in obesity), but extra-body as well (consumer products) which endangers the environment through pollution. (The budding of this reversal, of course, can be already seen in the primitive time.) This is the phenomenon, noted, of noo-spheric consumption: the substitute food. But recently the nature of the substitute food (noo-spheric consumption) is itself shifting more and more from concrete consumer products to "information" or pure "noospheric food", the mindless junk movies and music, etc., which not so much threaten the environment as destroy (dissipate) the mind. The change from insufficient consumption to over-consumption is in fact the essential meaning or function of "modernity". The origin of this shift is the main thread of discussion in the thermodynamic interpretation of history, the topic from chapter 1 to 5. All social phenomena of modernity have their meaning, function, in contributing to this shift: bio-power, nation-state, democracy-totalitarianism, racism and the disintegration of racism, and, most ironically, feminism. These are called "ideologies" in this sense, in opposition to "true knowledge" such as the content of enlightenment-salvation. Feminism receives special attention here because, firstly, its revelation as actually the mechanism, and the most powerful at that, for the enslavement to the material condition of existence is the least discussed due to the tremendous deceitfulness with which consumerism is able to clothe anything within its boundaries; and, secondly, because, as our analysis will show, human gender relation contains the key to understanding the problem of consumption -- and, unfortunately, feminism has been the only serious "gender studies" available. As a study of gender relation is central in the thermodynamic understanding of human life as dissipation of order and energy into waste matter, we have to deconstruct feminist discourse, not just to understand how power produces ideologies of "liberation" to reinforce itself, but also to delineate an authentic discourse on the structure and history of gender. Let us outline briefly here then our analysis of feminism and human gender relation within the framework of a thermodynamic interpretation of history.

A thermodynamic interpretation of history as a philosophy of history revolving around the meaning of feminism and the question of women

The question to which answers are sought in this project in particular concerns the "real" meaning of American feminism and "women's liberation" in America. Such project must in its analysis go beyond the usual boundaries of feminist discourse (or of the critique of feminist discourse) -- issues such as "liberation", "justice", women's "rights", oppression, cultural harmony or dis-harmony, the evil and phallic subjectivity of men and the maternal nurturing subjectivity of women, etc. -- and take as primary both the historical and sociological contexts in which feminism arises and the effects feminism and the liberation of women have on these contexts in turn, for a central thesis of this work is that the aforementioned terms in which feminist discourse and counter-discourse have been framed are essentially illusory and meant to cover up the "real" meaning of feminism. The answers (conclusions) arrived at here are rather unconventional and extremely offensive (i.e. contrary to political correctness). But according to the theory here, a discourse's offensiveness to common sensibility -- its contrariness to the dominant "trend" -- in fact constitutes a partial measure of its truth-value. As will be explained (Ch. 12, "The Problem of Feminist Liberation"), insofar as power is within the noosphere just society itself (below; its ultimate origin in the geosphere lies in thermodynamics), people, when it comes to social reality, must by necessity only believe in the opposite of reality. Therefore, if someone utters a speech on gender, the relation between women and men, race, politics or whatever social reality concerns us, and receives a certain degree of widespread applause (i.e. if the speech fits the trend), then the speech cannot possibly be true. If the speech engenders widespread hatred among the audience toward the speaker, then the speech can either be false but offensive because it is out of date -- such as is the case with white supremacism, whose Aryan ideology remains false but becomes marginalized nonetheless in postmodern America because it no longer serves the interests of the supraorganismic formation of the American republic -- or it can be true and offensive because it is true - which scenario we hope characterizes our thermodynamic interpretation of history and feminism. Only when someone says something completely trivial (e.g. "2 + 2 = 4") or about for example the geosphere that has no relevance for the social reality in the noosphere (e.g. "The earth revolves around the sun") can the person be truthful and receive general applause at the same time. (In the religious context such phenomenon has been for example noted in the beginning of the Gospel of John -- that most people almost by necessity must reject the light that Jesus represents -- and in the philosophical context in Plato's allegory of the cave -- that most people almost by necessity prefer the shadows of things on the wall to the real things behind them casting the shadow.) The present work seeks to explain, through an analysis of consumption grounded in thermodynamics, how a postmodern society such as the American has, when coming to its logical conclusion, reversed male-domination and become female-dominated today, and what this female-domination really means. Female domination on the whole, which is not contradicted by the fact that, as feminists or others might like to point out, the majority of politicians or the top-level CEOs in America remain (white) male, just as a Catherine the Great or a Empress Dowager do not indicate that the eighteenth century Russian society on the whole or the nineteenth century Chinese society on the whole were female-dominated. Most people in America would not recognize that American society is (white) female-dominated (white females holding the majority of wealth, enjoying the highest living standard, and most able to command other people's actions) just as people in a traditional male-dominated society or patriarchy were transparent to the fact that they were living in a male-dominated society. (No white men in 1950's America noticed the peculiarity of their domination of society, and men in pre-modern Chinese society called women "the fountain source of the waters of disasters", as if the female folks there had so much influence in societal affairs.) In other words, in this work what is usually regarded as a revolutionary reversal of the unjust dominant trend of the past is simply and consistently recast as just that unjust dominant trend's new face. This is Foucauldian, as will be seen. The nature of society will never change, and people will always live in illusion by necessity. Now to briefly summarize, the question of the "real" meaning of feminism is answered on multiple levels of analysis:

Level One

(1) At the most superficial and common sense level, the meaning of feminism and women's liberation lies in the formation of modern nation-state and the industrialization associated with it: the suffrage (liberal feminist) movement of the first wave is essentially the attempt to directly integrate women into the nation-state, bypassing the intervening husbands, while the purpose of women's movement of the second wave in general is the mobilization of women to increase production and consumption of the capitalist system now turned consumerist (the second-wave feminism as rather work-oriented).

(2) This then leads to the "true" meaning of cultural feminism (the dominant form of feminism in American academia today): to cover up the adverse effects of such mobilization (foremost: environmental destruction) with an ideological discourse pronouncing the opposite of reality ("Women's participation in the public sphere will purify the male-dominated society and save the world"): a very typical technique of power. Rather than a resistance against power, feminism then is really a mechanism of power to achieve its metamorphosis and to cover up the destructive effects of such metamorphosis.

(3) The feminists have always mis-understood power. Power is not "male" but just society itself (a twist on the Durkheimian dictum: "God is society"). At the deeper (second) level, thus, one must understand the phenomenon of the nation-state itself (the modern form of human society) in order to understand more than superficially the meaning of feminism as the operation of power: the project of nation-state usually summarized as "modernity" (even including its fruition, "post-modernity"). The analysis of modernity here examines Foucault's bio-power (but bio-power not just in the production-phase of capitalism -- capitalism as traditionally conceived: Foucault's interest -- but also in its consumption-phase); the sexual dispositives of bio-power including also their new forms in the consumption-phase of capitalism, and feminists' special contribution in their constitution during this phase; the "real" meaning of democracy and totalitarianism as two competing methods for the nation-state to integrate and generate power; racism (during the production-phase) and the cessation of racism or racial equality (during the consumption-phase) as the mechanisms a democratic nation-state puts into service to enlarge its metabolism (economy) and increase its power; and consumerism itself (the consumption-phase succeeding the production-phase) as the latest metabolic mode of the nation-state. Feminism is part of this package of modernity, the nation-state's metabolic, power, and integrative mechanism. This is the study of the formation of nation-state in the "center regions".

(4) Since the second wave of American feminism and women's movement occurred in the context of capitalist nation-state during its consumption-phase (to increase service-production and consumption especially of cheap consumer products among the population), and since this "consumerization" of the nation-state in the center regions (i.e. America) initiates the formation of nation-states and the associated beginning of industrialization (the production-phase) in the peripheral regions (especially the East Asian Pacific Rim) - peripheral production to feed consumption in the center: globalization - the strange conclusion is reached that American feminism is a mechanism (dispositif) of globalization and seems like an Asian capitalist conspiracy.

Level Two

So far the analysis of American feminism is rather "Marxist"; it has to be complemented by a "Weberian" approach explaining how the idea (ideology) of feminism may have arisen of its own accord to become a historical force. This is to understand the experiential origin of American feminism. This section bears the special title "The Feminist Ethic and the Spirit of Consumerism".

(1) The experiential or ideational origins or conditions of possibility for liberal feminism during the Enlightenment are: (a) the historical sensibility resulting from the secularization of Christian eschatology; (b) the differentiation of a genderless subjectivity completing the Cartesian differentiation of the cogito or the Lockean differentiation of the tabula rasa.

(2) The experiential or ideational origins or conditions of possibility for cultural feminism during the first wave are to be sought in Romanticism in particular as reactionary against Enlightenment rationalism, and in the general climate of revolutionary gnosticism that has crystallized from the secularization of Christianity.

(3) Then follows an examination of how this "gnostic structure", now incorporated into feminism, generates many of the negative manifestations of cultural feminism of the second wave, such as "victim feminism", "gender feminism" or feminist fear-mongering: especially through a comparison with Aryanism (e.g. Nazism) where the same gnostic sentiment has generated the same manifestations. But, in the end, it is shown that the ideological construct of women as always victims is nonetheless a mechanism to increase production and consumption through the mechanization of individuals.

(4) So far feminism is only examined in the academic world. The feminist spirit or consciousness of the female masses is studied under the designation of "vulgar feminism", and under the rubric of "Betty Friedan and the feminist work ethic". The feminist work ethic is the consummation of the essence of modernity, Arbeit macht frei (somehow women come to believe that working like a slave makes them "free"), or of the Protestant ethic. The origin of the spirit Arbeit macht frei is traced: the rise of empiricism -> the Protestant notion of disciplined and specialized working as index of salvation -> the feminist notion of working (and consumption) as index of liberation (vulgar feminism).

The title "The Feminist Ethic and the Spirit of Consumerism" is meant to indicate: (1) that the particularly female epistemology and ethic (the female culture) that the cultural feminists of the second wave espouse is simply a superstructural reflection of the substructure of the consumerist mode of production and consumption; and (2) that the work ethic (work and consumption as index of liberation) of vulgar feminism has given rise to the pursuit of production and consumption for their own sake, more than is ever necessary to survive and without any supranatural connection.

Level Three

At this level is the study of the thermodynamic ("cosmic") origins of feminism in particular and modernity in general (nation-state and industrialization). Although the present analysis has already tried to unearth the "real" meaning of feminism by locating it within its proper context (modernity: the formation of nation-state and global consumerism), it is felt that this meaning cannot be exhausted still until modernity itself is appropriately located in its ultimate context, the structure of the physical universe (the geosphere), through the intermediary contexts of the noosphere and the biosphere, and seen in light of these. The recent researches into the thermodynamics of complexity and self-organization help in this attempt. Human society is then recast as "supraorganism" (or supraorganismic open dissipative structure) formed of multiple multicellular organisms (in this case, human beings) just as each multicellular organism is formed of multiple single-celled organisms. The metabolism of this supraorganism ("economy") is recast as "noosphere consumption and defecation". "Totalitarianism" of one form or another is also herein revealed as the goal of the evolution of any society, whether democratic or totalitarian (in the traditional sense). (The former revelation of the meaning of democracy as the mechanism of a nation-state for integration and power-generation henceforth finds its ultimate ground here.) The dictum "power is society" also becomes intelligible here as power is at last understood as the pressure of the second law of thermodynamics extending into the noosphere from the biosphere and geosphere below. Feminism then appears in this light as a dispositif of the latest phase of the thermodynamic formation of an open dissipative structure on the noosphere level.

The Origin of Women's Oppression

The reason why so many activists have bought into the illusion of feminism as some sort of liberation is their misguided historical sensibility, their subscription to the trinitarian conception of history as consisting of an original paradise, the Fall (here, the oppression of women), and then final redemption (liberation of women). Hence the final step in the deconstruction of feminism is to understand the "real" meaning of women's oppression in the past. Within the total (cosmic) context already isolated, the meaning of the oppression of women is revealed to be fundamentally the same as the meaning of the liberation of women: traditional male-dominance ("classical patriarchy") is a dispositif of a new efficiency in thermodynamic debt-paying through the noosphere consumption of the supraorganism on the second stage of its growth -- and so ordained in the teleological course of the universe in this sense (the Reason of History) -- just as the "liberation of women" is the dispositif for the next level of this efficiency, the third-stage of supraorganismic formation. "The origin of gender relations -- whether subordination or final equality -- lies in the stage-wise expansion of noosphere consumption as the metabolic mode proper to supraorganism... and so ultimately in thermodynamics, or in the thermodynamic structure of the universe."

It will be seen that the manner in which this thermodynamic interpretation analyzes society looks most like that of typical Marxism, in that it also sees culture with its discourses and beliefs as doing no more than serving the interests of the current modes and relations of production and consumption (i.e. the metabolism of the supraorganism). Only, the strange thing here is that, whereas Marxists and the Leftists usually associate male-domination with capitalism and feminist resistance against male-domination with socialist resistance against capitalist interests, this work associates feminism (and surprisingly, perhaps, "the Marxist revolutionaries") with capitalist interests themselves. According to the perspective of a thermodynamic interpretation of history, in fact, the dominant Marxist and Leftist trends have to be perversions of themselves, and any consistent Marxist should realize that the Marxist revolutionary ideology is itself a superstructure of the capitalist substructure and so has as its goal the reinforcement of capitalism. This issue is examined in Chapter 10, "Power, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the Problem of Evil". As said, only a marginalized belief system that has no effect on society and people can escape the fate of being merely a superstructure reflecting and reinforcing the substructural economics (the metabolism of the supraorganism). A mass-revolt such as envisioned by the Marxists and the feminists can only bring about oppression by oppressors with a new face, rather than any paradise of an universalist pretense within the framework of some secularized Christian historicity. In other words, any revolution that has succeeded cannot possibly be genuine, and a genuine revolution must fail -- by the very laws of thermodynamics!

A thermodynamic interpretation of history is therefore a philosophy of history in the pessimistic style, seeing history as linear degeneration without the possibility of redemption as dictated by the very structure of the universe. Whatever is identified as the ultimate axis of what is bad about existence -- as history progresses this will get worst. If, for example, the oppression of women is identified (such as by the feminists) as the ultimate axis of evil, and yet women's situation can actually get better, then the oppression of women is wrongly identified as the ultimate axis of evil: another of our measures of truthfulness.

With the general theme of our thermodynamic interpretation of history delineated, we can now proceed with the summary of individual chapters in more detail than the previous indication of their relationship to the theme of feminism could have allowed.

Chapter 2 is an exposition of Michel Foucault's concept of bio-power. Foucault first puts forward this concept in his Histoire de la sexualité, (vol. 1) where he uses this concept to trace the origin of racism and psychoanalysis, the two very important movements in the Western world in the first half of the twentieth century. However, we are interested in the general relevance of the concept of bio-power to a thermodynamic interpretation of history. Overall Foucault claims that the institutions that permeate modern life (prisons, medical and psychiatric institutions, schools, factories, state interventions and administrations of family life, etc.) have their origin since the end of the Classic Age when the European states, under pressure from mutual competition, began to intensely administer and regulate their populations as "national resources" in order to maximize the latter's contribution to the power of the state, thereby increasing the state's competitive edge. (The European Interaction Sphere.) This is the modern form of power: the state's positive intervention in its citizens' life to further their health, productivity (and in case of women, reproduction), and contribution to society in general. The (aforementioned) institutions of bio-power normalize individuals and maximize the overall regularity and productivity of the population, and are derived from the secularization of "pastoral power": "intraworldly salvation" much like Max Weber's "intraworldly asceticism" (innerweltliche Askese). This new, modern form of power also has increasingly the ability to fool us into thinking that our submission to its control constitutes our "liberation". This is relevant to the thermodynamic interpretation of history since power here is identified as the pressure from the second law upon the (supra-)organism (open dissipative structure) to always increase its metabolic capacity and build its internal structure more tightly, which is what bio-power attempts to do with respect to society.

This is discussed as the "remote" origin of bio-power in Chapter 3. In Chapter 2 bio-power is discussed in its "immediate" origin, as Foucault originally conceived it in Histoire de la sexualité. This immediate origin is the rise of the middle-class in the nineteenth century, which invented the chain of institutions of bio-power to discipline itself, to increase its own productivity so as to guarantee its newly acquired hegemony in the Western society. In this way racism came into being, with a pseudo-scientific base, which distinguished Western racism from the ethnic prejudices of other cultures. Not for long, however, before the institutions of bio-power trickled down to the lower classes and became nationalized. The middle-class reaction to this "trickling down" was psychoanalysis, a strange secular religion (secular salvation; particularly strange because it is the "second" mode, in contrast to the institutions of bio-power which are the "first" mode).

It is in Part Three that the peculiarly modern phenomenon of "intraworldly salvation" in its perfect form, cultural feminism, will be examined. For now it is merely to be mentioned that this thermodynamic interpretation of history eventually attempts to unify the insights of Max Weber ("intraworldly asceticism" and rationalism), Michel Foucault ("intraworldly salvation" where the salvation of the soul for the next world becomes the health of the body and the psyche in this world), and Eric Voegelin ("intraworldly Messianism", where the Christian world-historical salvation becomes, with the Aryanists, the Marxists, and the cultural feminists, the perfection of this earth) when it comes to understanding how, in the course of history, power is able to bend the human salvational traditions (exactly the negation of the material meaning of life determined by the second law of thermodynamics) into secular forms that reinforce this material meaning of life.


1. Power is defined here as the ability to influence others to do what they otherwise would not do. Foucault's revolutionary studies on power (his later works), which this work wishes to continue, did not change this definition of power, but only demonstrated that, when traced to its source, power in modern societies is not embodied in particular persons of authority as it was in traditional societies, but spread throughout the society, and thus becomes an impersonal and omnipresent "situation", and so more effective in influencing our actions. The technology of power has "advanced", in other words.

Proceed to Page 2 of this document.

Lawrence C. Chin.

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