By Abel Merawi
April 15, 2021 (Ezega.com) -- What I am about to say may come across as an insult to our civilization, but I pray that you read the article in light of recent disastrous events which make us lose heart in humanity. I promise to expound on it but the basic argument runs like this. Contemporary human beings remain primitive in morality, spirituality, and rationality while possessing the technology par excellence of a great civilization. To avoid misunderstanding, civilization is used here in the strictest lexical meaning that denotes social development and organization manifested in the excellence of thought, manner, and taste. In other words, we are primitive beings without such refinement. Being primitive expresses an archaic and lower form of civilization, characterizing compartmentalized tribal tendencies, imprudence in action, devout respect to demagogues, and the numerous proclivities identified with barbarism.
With this in mind, consider what a primitive human being and society would do with unparalleled technological advancement. What would the primitive do with smartphones, social media, or cutting-edge weaponry? No doubt, such a person can learn how to use it because even monkeys can. The inquiry is on the purpose assigned to it by the uncivilized. I contend that technology possessed by the primitives has always been (and will continue) to wreak havoc.
In labeling modern people primitive, I am not placing myself on a pedestal and hope you too don’t feel superior. The accusation is on each and all of us because we all have such tendencies with a variation only of degree. If you find it hard to swallow this statement, I implore you into a self-examination with a series of questions that may indicate tribalism. Here are the simple questions: Who is in the circle of your social media? What kind of information do you seek – biased or impartial – from the internet? In your interactions, do you perceive fellow humans in-groups and out-groups? I have harder questions still. Do you identify yourself with all human beings or find your identity in creeds and natural accidents, such as ethnicity and even nationality? Do you feel the suffering of humans or only of those who belong to your particular group? Personally, I find some remnants of primitivism in myself and constantly struggle to purge or mitigate them. This process calls for reflection, but some technologies insist on urgency.
The internet is truly a human leap into advancement only in the hands of advanced civilization. Sadly, it is in the hands of the primitives. When tribal inclinations are aroused, subduing them requires a level of rationality and a meditative pause before action. Yet, the internet and the platforms it begot, especially social media, interrupt that rational pause. For instance, you may be insulted by some bigot and your first reaction becomes posting a racial slur on Facebook, which then takes a hideous life of its own on the comment section. Or you may have witnessed a racial crime while browsing and you, filled with rage, condemn a supposed group without taking the time to discover all the facts. In addition, the internet contains every narrative, and so what you find depends on the words you typed into the search engine. In other words, if you type in your prejudice, you get endless information to confirm your presumption while remaining ignorantly blind to other perspectives. And the danger of such tendency in the individual is immensely multiplied in the hands of the opinion or political leaders.
The tribal leader in the past could only poison only those around him, sometimes to catastrophic effect. The modern yet tribal politician has a media platform to spread one’s ideologies like a wildfire, a pandemic. The tribal lord who stood amidst the crowd and preached bigotry can now sit with a phone in a comfortable office or in the safety of one’s home and preach the same prejudice day after day. The Trump Presidency with his Twitter account to the point of rallying a white supremacist mob to raid the Capitol is a textbook example. The current maelstrom in Ethiopia shows what happens when ethnic politicians exchange chauvinistic comments through the media. The ancient tribal leader could spread hatred to followers without risking the possibility of being heard by other tribes. Currently, information travels fast, especially the wrong kind. The tribal stupidity of one ends up arousing the archaic instincts in other tribes. This modernized barbarism consumes the life of innocent people all over Ethiopia. The disaster persists because ‘politicians’ who belong in prison or mental hospital are granted internet access to reach equally deranged followers. To make matters worse, the modern primitives possess weapons of destruction.
One way of destroying the world is to equip primitives with advanced weaponry. The ancient savages menaced people with spears and machetes, but, thanks to technology, the modern-day brutes pursue their tribal ambitions through machine guns, bombs, and missiles. In Ethiopia, barbarism persists because the savages kill both with machine guns and machetes. Intelligence is not required to pull a trigger, nor bravery to kill women, children, and an entire family that struggles to make a living. The savage murderers are remnants of a shameful past, who struggle to salvage the inhumane mentality of the past. Such brutes remain unimaginative to create this weaponry, but the world is filled with indifferent technocrats and greedy suppliers. All over the world, governments use technology for causing misery and rarely for creating a better world. In ‘Beyond the Chains of Illusion’, the psychologist Erich Fromm rightly said, “There is no rationality or sense in it. But the fact is that while we are living technically in the atomic age, the majority of men live emotionally still in the stone age, including most of those who are in power.” Our creativity in destruction is equally shameful to our primitive mentality, which spreads like a wildfire by summoning the evil in us.
The world of the primitives just grew bigger into nationality as we haven’t matured to conceive universal humanity. While striving to control nature through technology, we have forgotten to master self-control in our dealings between us. We have made a global market but we still operate with protective and discriminatory policies. We have made democratic elections possible but without the democratic mindset in both the candidates and voters. In our country, we have grotesquely demanded a democratic election only to vote for ethnic leaders. Sadly, tribal leaders can’t rule a nation to greatness. Our existence is threatened when advanced technology is available to primitive humans – a harbinger of global catastrophe. The problem will not disappear by destroying technology because we are the problem. We just have to strive to grow into civilized beings who are worthy of such technological advancement before we are all doomed.
Abel Merawi is Addis Ababa-based contributor for Ezega.com. He can be reached through this form.
Other articles by Abel Merawi:
Adwa – Triumph of Unassailable Humanity
Democracy and Democratic Institutions
Democracy and Democratic People
Paideia or Deep Education
Educational Purpose: Good Citizenry Vs Rational Autonomy
Crowd Leaders as National Enemies of Ethiopia
Ethiopia Under the Threat of Crowd Mentality
Conformist Realism in Ethnic Federalism
Alternatives to National Identity
Ethiopia in Conflict - Part II: A National Stand for Unity
Ethiopia in Conflict - Part I: EPRDF and the Creation of Ethnic Division
Forms of Human Violence (Part II)
Forms of Human Violence (Part I)
The ‘Having’ Mentality
Free but in Chain, Part IV: Personal Bondage
Free but in Chain. Part III: Economic Bondage
Free but in Chain. Part II: Social Bondage
Free but in Chain. Part I: Bondage of Worldview
Unemployment and Economic Growth in Ethiopia
The Underestimated Human Ignorance
Is America the Land of Freedom? (Part II)
Is America the Land of Freedom? (Part I)
Capitalism Becoming an Impediment to Morality
Ketman: Living in Disguise to Gain Acceptance
The System and the 'Criminal'
Trust as an Economic Force
Do You Trust the Government?
Our Online World
Fame Mistaken for Expertise
The Heavy Burden of Healthcare Workers
A Time to Reflect
The Plague by Albert Camus: Fiction Becomes Reality!
History of Pandemics in Ethiopia
Human Struggle Against Pandemics: Historical Perspective
You Can Make a Difference
Rule of Law for a Free Society
The Origins of Law
Determinants of Market Value: Part II
Determinants of Market Value: Part I
Your life Matters Too
Manifestations of Artistic Expression
Achievements vs Natural Accidents
The Grip of Sacrifice
Injustice is Never Justifiable
Education Demands of the Future
Job Security, Life and the Unpredictable Future
The Shift From Racism to Culturism
Sacrificing Meaning for Power?
Culture and Market Forces
Seeking Cosmic Justice
National Myths: Makers and Destroyers of Nations
Are We Truly Free?
Maturity: The Prerequisite to Freedom and Democracy
Loyalty to Truth, Not to Group
The Value of Work
The Flaws with Ethiopian Political System
Intellectuals and the People
Where Are Our Pathfinders?
The Allegory of the Cave and Its Lessons to Leaders
The Truth Behind Humanity
The Seven Virtues
The Seven Deadly Sins
What is the right thing to do?
Building National Identity
Adey Abeba and the Spirit of Change
Living the Truth as a Human Being
Hubris - The Tragedy of Not Learning from Others
The Era of Group Mentality: Us vs Them
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