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The triad of life, or, what is the meaning and the goal of life?

In a recent interview Mikhail Gorbachev expressed his full support for Vladimir Putin’s speech in Munich (10 February 2007) and proclaimed: «New centers of power have emerged: China, Brazil, India. The dependence on a unipolar world, on unilateral actions, on force is being proven futile». (Argumenty I Fakty, 21.02.2007)

One of my acquaintances in Paris advised me persuasively to visit the Dali museum. “What for?” – I asked him. «Why, he was a painter of genius, with such an unusual vision of the world; it is a crime not to know his work.»

In an opinion poll in the West, when young people were asked about their goal in life, the vast majority answered: to become rich. Many added in the sub-question space: preferably to be a billionaire.

These three different stories are tied together by the ultimate outcome: they are all directed in their idea against life, against mankind as a unique phenomenon in the Universe; they all serve the law of entropy growth, i.e. the law of death. This is because they are all three aimed against the triad of truth, beauty and goodness. Gorbachev’s answer contains falsehood – not truth. My acquaintance’s recommendation reflects admiration for ugliness instead of beauty. The quest for riches brings evil to the world – not goodness.

The entire history of mankind is filled by the struggle between the two triads, where each link of one is inseparable from its antipode in the other: truth – falsehood, beauty – ugliness, goodness – evil. The fact that mankind exists to this day is evidence that the former triad is prevailing over its antipode. That is the general trend, though; during some historical periods in some areas of man’s habitation the anti-triad often had the upper hand. At such times whole tribes and peoples – and in later times, empires – were annihilated, or else development was abruptly halted - as, for example, in Europe during the obscurantist Dark Age. In order to prove this idea, let us examine each of the stories separately.

Truth – falsehood

It is clear from Gorbachev’s statement that this “sage” sees no difference between the concepts of “center of power” and “pole”. It just doesn’t occur to him that there is a difference; this is due to his illiteracy. Neither does it occur to Russia’s present leaders: Putin, Lavrov and many others involved in the foreign policy process. It seems to them that when a country’s economic potential is large, that makes it automatically a center of power. It follows that the bigger a country’s economic weight, the stronger it is. This is the same as saying: a man weighing 100 kg is stronger than one who weighs 75 kg. Practice confirmed many times, though, that a less-bulky man is capable of overcoming a heavyweight in a fight. Therefore there is no direct proportional relation here. In the same vein a country can have the world’s biggest economy and yet not be a center of power. This was the case of China for several hundred years until the middle of the 19th century. During that period it practically did not conduct foreign policy, therefore it did not impose its power on anyone. When the politicians in power don’t realize the difference between economic might and power, their policy is ultimately doomed; they lead their countries to the precipice.

Messrs. strategists: in order to conduct literate policy, you are well advised to know at least the ABCs of political science. Economic might is relevant to the concept of “pole” only in that case when the state’s might exceeds the might of the next strongest state by a factor of at least two. (This might is usually estimated on the aggregate level through GNP or GDP.) In 2005 (the last year for which verified figures are available) the GDP of China in current prices was $2.2 trillion, Brazil – $794 billion, India - $785.5 billion. South Korea and Mexico had GDPs of $787.6 billion and $768.4 billion respectively, i.e. their economic potentials were very close to those of India and Brazil. Moreover, Germany’s GDP exceeded that of China, while the UK and France were close to China on this indicator. Italy and Spain had bigger GDPs than India and Brazil respectively. The GDP of Japan was $4.5 trillion. The logic of Gorbachev and Putin leads one to conclude that there are more than ten centers of power in the world, therefore there is no unipolarity, and then the accusations against the USA lose meaning.

In actual fact the USA with its GDP of $12.5 trillion exceeds second-place Japan by a factor of more than two, to say nothing of Germany or China. This is why it is the only global pole in the world. On the regional level, Japan is an economic pole in East Asia, the SAR is a pole in Africa. There are no poles in Latin America, in Europe, in the near and Middle East, since the economic potentials of those regions’ biggest countries are on approximately the same level.

However, the economic potential in itself does not say that this or that state is a center of power. “Pole” is a concept that reflects a country’s economic status in the world, and it functions in the geo-economic structure of international relations. “Power” is a concept of geo-strategy. A “center of power” is a subject that has the capacity for subjugating the activities of other subjects of international relations to its own national interests. This requires corresponding financial resources that make it possible to implement such policies of force. This capacity is defined through the state’s foreign policy potential (FPP) which consists of the expenditures on defense, on international activities and on foreign economic activities. Even though it also includes some other means of foreign-policy influence (propaganda, intelligence, etc.), the first three directions (defense, diplomacy and commerce) account for about 80-85% of the FPP resources. According to my calculations, in 2005 the FPP of the USA amounted to about $540 billion for only two components (defense and diplomacy); the FPP of Japan was $53 billion; for other important countries, including China and the main countries of Europe, it was in the range of $20 billion to $40 billion. (The FPP of Russia, for your information, was about $14 billion.) According to theory, the FPP of a global center of power must exceed the FPP of the second strongest state by a factor of at least four (assuming control over four parts of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America); for a regional center of power, the factor is two. It follows that the USA is a global center of power. As for Japan, it can be viewed as an economic center of power in East Asia: although its FPP exceeds that of second-place China by a factor of less than 2, the “foreign-economic” component of its FPP exceeds that of China by more than 2 times. (I didn’t calculate the countries’ FPPs in other regions.)

Gorbachev and other politicians of his ilk not only fail to understand the realities of international relations; they actively try to impose their illusory notion of the world on public opinion. It was this “Gorbo-silliness” that ruined the Soviet Union. Severe illiteracy proved to be more harmful than the Nazi invasion of the USSR; the chief fascist failed to destroy the country, but Gorbachev the social-democrat managed the feat to the joy of the entire West, which is obliged to build him a monument in every capital in Europe and in North America.

In the place of a superpower there emerged a marginal state whose leaders inherited Gorbachev’s intellect; they managed to decrease Russia’s population in peacetime by about 11 million people over the 15 years of “capitalist reforms”. They laid the foundation for further dying-out of the Russian people - whose numbers, according to sparing UN forecasts, will decline to 110 million by the mid-century mark and to 30 million by the end of the century. This is how falsehood is leading to the premature death of a state whose life delta is historically much greater. The second law of thermodynamics, or the law of entropy growth - which objectively functions as the law of death - finds a strategic ally in the lie.

One should keep in mind that in general it has become difficult for truth to fight its way to the surface. Since the end of the 20th century – strange as it may seem, precisely after the so-called “triumph” of capitalism over socialism (meaning the collapse of the USSR and of the socialist commonwealth in Eastern Europe) - the social science in the West lost its scientific character and turned into naked propaganda. The natural sciences came to be dominated by charlatans in Doctoral and professorial robes. Many serious scientists started sounding the alarum, stating that we have arrived in an era of anti-science. There is an explanation for this decline: the so-called post-capitalism has entered a serious systemic crisis, which manifests itself not only in management science, but in science in general.

Beauty - ugliness

Naturally, I had visited the Dali museum some time before my Paris acquaintance made his recommendation, and due to certain reasons I am familiar with Dali’s paintings. It would be silly to deny that he was indeed a gifted man with a truly unusual vision of the world – amorally unusual. His paintings reflect an ultimate disruption of the functioning of the brain. The dominant of all his creations is pathological sexual perversion (The Great Masturbator) or diseased thinking directed at man’s internal anatomy (Family of Marsupial Centaurs). He sings freakishness (Tristan and Isoldе) and masochism (Young Virgin Autosodomized by her Own Chastity). Being sexually and psychologically ill, Dali was unable to create constructive beauty; he recreated the nightmares of his sick consciousness. His paintings bring darkness, not light; instead of elevating the human spirit, they provoke the basest aspects of the human subconscious. This is all the more fearsome, the more talented the man.

“The arts marketplace” has been overrun by masses of creators - and “critics” aligned to them - who are driving piles of falsehood into the immature heads of people dazed by their work. The values of painting are ground to dust; harmony and beauty as its embodiment are ruined; the spirit is destroyed. This is as a rule; as the exception, there are some un-acclaimed artists “journeying through hell” who sing beauty – and whose market price is zilch. Ugliness and meaninglessness have started their triumphal march in painting. The name of this phenomenon is pop art (with pop-demons in the lead roles.)

Music can claim an even greater scope of the deafened. The great art of feeling is for sale! The classics have shuddered and tilted, barely propped up by librarians and beatific schoolteachers who still use their passes, old-style, to visit the increasingly empty halls. Today in the music marketplace it is the show that rules - pardon my expression - even though that word is the best to describe this kind of music: it is shown. Now even the musically bland Madonna seems classical. On the contemporary pop-music Olympus, hollering bands and diva sirens are caught in seizures of triumph.

However, when the proportion of people who are really into pop music to those who like classical music is shifted toward pop music by a factor of thousands, the nation is degrading. This is particularly obvious in the West. Such anti-culture leads to degeneration of man, turns him into a biological species that retreats back to its ancestors – the Cro-Magnons, or perhaps even to the Neanderthals. This anti-culture is likewise allied to the law of entropy growth – the law of death.

Goodness – evil

I had frequent encounters with people – not only young ones – who, same as the respondents to the above-mentioned survey, sincerely wish to be rich. The question comes naturally: what for? The usual answer is: I will buy a large house, a decent car; I will be able to vacation where I want. And what next? – Next I will buy a yacht, a private jet, a submarine… So what after that?

Unlike the esthetic or cultural form of degradation which takes place sort of objectively, i.e. without visible infliction of mutual damage, ethical degradation – the quest for riches – has its specifics. The social “pop-ness” has perverted the meaning of human life. Acquisition of riches is not just destruction of the personality – it is an economic category with social consequences. Naturally, I am not going to delve deep into the thickets of political economy, for it is obvious anyway: to become rich means to make someone poor. This is the ABC that has been experienced by millions of Russians, as a few hundred rich people in Russia turned 85% of the population into paupers. In the West this process proceeded differently. Initially the wealth of a small part of the society was acquired through exploiting the greater part of the country’s own population. Then thanks to the colonies a middle class started to emerge, owing to the exploitation of millions of Asians and Africans. And in the era of neo-colonialism - which in the last decade took on the form of so-called globalization - a full-fledged middle class came into being that exists quite comfortably on bank interest and on other financial operations which are precisely the nucleus of “the Golden Billion”. The nucleus keeps getting richer, while the Third World is getting poorer. This is normal – that is, normal development of the capitalist system. Everything is under the control of the current form of neo-imperialism. I am interested in something different, though: the portrait of today’s fat-cat bourgeois, “the master of the bowels of the earth and of French cuisine.”

Generally speaking, there is no super-cardinal political-economy difference between the upper strata of the bourgeois class in the West and in Russia. In both places they are normal robbers (meaning businesspeople); only the Western ones are mostly robbing the Third World, while the Russian ones are robbing their own world, i.e. their own country’s population. There is, however, a difference in behavior. This difference is due to the fact that the Western bourgeois accumulated their wealth gradually; they earned it through labor (Morgan, Rockefeller, Ford, Krupp, Tiessen, and others) while creating powerful economies in their countries. The Russian “rajahs”, on the other hand, pulled the Bolshevik stunt, only in reverse. It is known that the Bolsheviks seized the factories and the agricultural lands from a relatively small number of capitalists and “kulaki” (wealthy farmers) and handed all this over to what was then called the working masses. Today’s magnates, on the contrary, seized everything from those same masses and made it their own property. They did not plow or seed, yet in no time at all they acquired enormous riches courtesy of virtuosos like Gaidar, Yasin, Chubais and other masterminds of the privatization. They were later joined by youngsters who hurriedly graduated from Western universities with the major of “robbery”, i.e. finance and management. The former became billionaires; the latter are lagging behind them for the time being, showing respect for their elders.

These “fighters for the Fatherland” can talk volumes about how they saved the dying Soviet economy. Now they are supposedly creating jobs in the wilderness of desolation, i.e. performing a historically positive mission for Russia. In response to all the nonsense they spout, it suffices to quote just several figures that encompass the end overall results of any economy. Though I mentioned them already, I shall repeat them again: over the years of the “reformers” rule, the country’s population declined in peacetime by 11 million people, and in the perspective it will decline by an even greater amount unless the mass murder is stopped. The second fact is this: average life expectancy declined from 64 to 58-59 years for men and from 74 to 71 years for women. Should that change seem insignificant to some, I will have you know that by the start of the 21st century Russia’s lag behind other developed countries in life expectancy – especially for men – became about the same or even greater than in the early 20th century when Russia was still a backward agrarian country. In 2006 Russia was in 118th place in the world by this indicator.

So what is he like – this current Russian “developer” of the economy, as they say in Russia today? I have no intention of presenting here his summary portrait, for it has been given in detail many times in the mass media: by the left-wing – with condemnation; by the right-wing – with approval. Let me just present my personal observations with no pretension to creating a summary image of Russia’s entire top stratum – or that of the West.

Ordinarily these are pampered people, impeccably clothed and shod, extremely sensitive about appearances: “the corporate appearance” is an important indicator of belonging to the caste of the chosen. A similar role is played by the already boredom-inducing locations of their vacations, their wives and mistresses, their leisure pursuits and their “way of thinking”. It is considered “improper” not to possess the above-listed “virtues”. In essence, however, these “chosen ones” are social pop-characters. The scope of Russian pop-ness is evident all around the world. They don’t count money since they don’t earn it. It is perfectly obvious that no kind of giftedness can enable a man to earn several million dollars per year – much less several billions, like Oleg Deripaska. This kind of money can only be stolen. It is these VIPs that are the main achievement of Russian capitalism. Should one calculate the amount of financial resources used to support these kinds of lives enjoyed by the rich, it would turn out that 3 to 4 billion people could survive on these funds. The same idea, albeit in a somewhat different vein, is illustrated by the following figure: the world’s 500 richest people have more money than the total annual earnings of the poorest three billion. I once came across an article about restaurants (I don’t remember if it was about Tokyo or about London), where it said that the “leftovers” from these restaurants would suffice to feed all of the poor in the country. It must have been about London, come to think of it, for in Japan there are practically no poor people.

A distinctive trait of the “chosen”, including some people I know, is their unique profligacy and irrationality in food, in dress, in consumption in general. What goes on in the country is of no interest to them; it cannot interest them by definition. The values of the newly-minted system in Russia are entirely different – they are far removed from the essence and the culture of the Russian people. Such notions as good-evil and morals in general are entirely absent in the consciousness of the “conquerors”. Fairness, conscience and even elements of rationality are unknown to these differently-learned demons. Perhaps some individuals among them do understand this; however, the great majority of them give no thought at all to such “trifles”. Small wonder, since the psychology of wealth accumulation made them unlearn thinking. They read no serious literature – only jokes. Their definition of beauty and harmony is captured in the parameters 90-60-90, and their answer to the main philosophical question is: to be free. Free of what? Of everything. Such is the social pop-ness, the conqueror of masses!

Lenin in his time wrote in his essay Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, in the chapter «Parasitism and Decay of Capitalism» about the stratum of rentiers, «i.e., people who live by “clipping coupons”, who take no part in any enterprise whatever, whose profession is idleness.» In Russia all the oligarchs and the people clinging to them are proving to be such “rentiers”.

According to the figures in the magazine Finance (12.02. 2007), the combined wealth of Russia’s richest 500 citizens in 2006 reached $425.1 billion. This sum is nearly half of Russia’s GDP. The 44 billionaires (there are actually 61 of them, according to the newspaper Zavtra) have “earned” $310 billion. No country in the world has ever seen such rates of “earnings” and such proportions. Neither can you find anywhere in the world billions of dollars working not for the sake of the economy, but rather precisely to fund the parasitic existence of Russia’s “rentiers”. They have exceeded in their parasitism all the parasites of the world’s capitalist countries.

The problem, however, is this: the virus of parasitism is not just destroying themselves – it is destroying the entire society. In a public opinion poll conducted by the Russian Centre for Studies of Public Opinion, the thesis “rich people should not be ashamed of their wealth” was supported by 59% of respondents and opposed by only 27%. 44% of respondents were indifferent to “the conduct of the rich in Courchevel”, and only 35% were outraged at it (NEWSru.com, 8 February 2007.) This means that a large part of Russia’s population (young people for the most part, naturally) have an attitude of “understanding” toward robbery and amorality. Such is the moral climate in today’s Russia.

In the West this virus functions less conspicuously, but no less destructively, since the parasitism affects there the middle class as well – the people working in the tertiary sector of the economy (the state, banking, the service industry), i.e. the non-productive spheres of labor (“clean work”.) Thanks to this “by the day” work arrangement (in fact, most of them enjoy a shortened workweek) they have lots of free time which is filled by consumer “culture” – meaning entertainment, of course. Any kind of entertainment: sports, fan-concerts, staring at sunrise-sunsets, at birds in flight, etc. - it doesn’t matter; the important thing is to kill somehow a lot of unneeded time. In the process, however, they are killing themselves. This class is degrading right before our eyes and dying out. If not for the migration from Africa, Asia and Latin America, the population of European countries would have been much smaller. Despite even this immigration, even in Germany – one of the countries that have real production – the population will decline by mid-century to 75 million people.

In other words, when social evil – such as the overripe capitalism is today – vanquishes goodness, then death vanquishes life. In the system of today’s capitalism the anti-triad of falsehood, ugliness and evil has come to prevail over the triad of truth, beauty and goodness. Death is enjoying the fruits of victory.

The law of entropy growth and the life delta

The reader may be itching to ask for some time now: what does everything said above have to do with the meaning and the goal of life? And anyway, the notions of truth, beauty and goodness are all relative, especially since one thing may be the truth today, another thing may be the truth tomorrow; beauty is subject to fashion; and goodness does not even belong in our century – it is a word, so to say, from “primordial mentality” (an expression used by some Russian political scientists today.) All of these arguments come from the arsenal of “common sense” – that main weapon of the militant philistine. In actual fact there exist scientific criteria for distinguishing clearly one from the other.

For starters let us memorize: all these pairs named above are interconnected in the sense that one does not exist without the other. There is no goodness without evil, there is no truth without falsehood, there is no beauty without ugliness. We would not be able to tell one from the other if the other did not exist. If there are no fools – there are no clever ones. This, however, is all on the level of philosophy or philosophical logics which reflects being on the conceptual level. The goal of mankind is to eradicate evil, falsehood and ugliness from being, from life, leaving them only in concepts (so that there would be reference points for comparisons.) If this is not clear, let me clarify. We all operate with the concept “god”. There is no god in being, he does not exist as a substance. However, god does exist in our notions. We argue about him, many believe in him, and this faith is equivalent to belief in Grandfather Frost, Kaschei the Deathless or Baba Yaga. Mankind had need of the myth of god for certain historical reasons; some people have need of it even now. So god does exist in principle – as a concept. If he existed as a substance, mankind would not be developing in accordance with its own goals – it would have been a toy in this substance’s hands. However, since god does not exist as a substance, while cognizable nature does exist, mankind has walked a certain path of development – that is, it progressed from the animal condition to homo sapiens (intelligent man), and some individuals even reached the stage of homo gnosis (knowledgeable man). I repeat: mankind’s goal today is to destroy the anti-triad in being, transferring it into consciousness, i.e. to the level of concepts. What for, though?

For the purpose of answering the question: what is the meaning of life? The answer is: the meaning of life is life itself. There is nothing in the world more elevated or more precious than life – in all times, for all peoples. Ever since it came into existence, mankind dreamed of immortality. The popularity – necessity, even, at a certain historical moment – of all religions was due their promises of immortality – if not in this life, then at least in the “other” one. It is then easy to answer the second question: what is the goal of life? The answer: preferably immortality – and at the least the extension of life, to the longest term possible. (I’m not considering here those extremely rare specimens who prefer death.) The enemy of life, therefore, is death, which manifests itself in the form of the second law of thermodynamics or the law of entropy growth, according to which everything comes to an end – including man and mankind.

However, unlike the inorganic and organic worlds, man is the only being in the Universe who started to resist this law – skirting it in some areas, slowing down the rate of its action in other areas. At the dawn of mankind, man lived for 18-20 years on average; that remained the rule for two or three million years. However, in the last four thousand years, especially starting with the Renaissance epoch, man started to increase gradually his average lifespan which reached 80 years – or even more in some places – by the start of the 21st century. Today the discourse isn’t just about average life expectancy – there is talk of extending the biological lifespan which will certainly be brought to at least 100 – 120 years in this century; some gerontologists are mentioning even greater figures. In any case, the average lifespan (I call it the life delta) will certainly grow and keep growing in the future. It depends on a multitude of factors: economic, social, political, civilizational, etc. The factors themselves, though, depend on the development of science, on the intensity and the depth of cognizance of the truths of nature and of society. Truths are embodied in laws (the conformity of laws to truths is determined by practice), and ultimately they are manifested through man’s length of life. This is where the essence of mankind’s progress is contained.

Truth does not only have an antipode in falsehood. As proven by many philosophers, truth can manifest itself in the form of beauty, the measure of which is harmony. Beauty and harmony elevate a man’s feelings, turn into striving to preserve these feelings for as long as possible and to experience them as often as possible. In this aspiration harmony, beauty and truth morph into a single aspiration: to live longer in order to enjoy the harmony of life.

Since man lives in society, he strives to create the kind of society that would enable him to preserve it – at a minimum – and develop it, at a maximum. For this purpose rules of co-habitation were developed, from which moral norms grew. One of the norms is this: don’t harm your neighbor, don’t inflict evil on him. These rules were built on the basis of practice; science came later. However, the societies in which science did not take root – or which it did not reach in time – vanished from the face of the earth. Goodness is not merely a wish; it is a truth embodied in morals, a truth that works toward continuation of the species. Those societies where evil prevailed – i.e. where scientific understanding of laws was absent – vanished, as a rule.

Thus truth, beauty and goodness are the three pillars of the progress of human society. At different stages in history the absence of even one of these three led either to the destruction or to a sharp slowdown of this or that society’s development. Thus the goal of every man’s life must be service to at least one of the components of the triad of life: truth (science), beauty (art), goodness (society). All other goals will become aligned in one way or another with the anti-triad, i. e. they will be directed against mankind, and their adherents will turn out to be criminals with respect to mankind.

But what about the people? Surely not everyone can create truth, beauty and goodness? In theory anyone can do it on his level; in practice – I’m not so sure. However, when a people is incapable of evaluating - if only intuitively - what is good and what is bad, who are bearers of the life triad and who serve the death triad, such a people is doomed. It is destined for the fate of the Aztecs, the Incas and other peoples and empires that vanished forever.