Story 21 - 'Empty' People
I explained that a parallel to what happened in America, can be found in the history of the Golden Renaissance in Italy, which was itself the outcome of an intellectual tradition of great substance. It started in late 1300s after the Black Death plaque had wiped out half of the population of Europe. In such a depressed situation deep questions are asked, and answered. In this case answers were found that can be traced back to the Greek Classical era, to Plato and Socrates. Out of this background a modern intellectual tradition unfolded that was established by all the great minds of the time, in which Nicolaus of Cusa played an important role. This new tradition in thinking, in humanist terms, came to life almost in the form of a universal constitution through the work done by the Council of Florence in 1439-40. This constitution established certain principles for a higher perception of man than has ever been achieved before. The intellectual tradition that stood behind this constitutional platform of a higher image of man,
eventually created the Renaissance. It became a powerful renaissance force that uplifted all of Europe. When Louis XI in France build upon this intellectual tradition the word's first nation-state, the economic well being of the people of France doubled. In short, a whole new kind of nation was born.
Of course, it is no longer a secret how the Renaissance was defeated by the imperial oligarchy of Venice, how Venice introduced counteracting zero-sum philosophies; several of them, which were set at war against each other, that finally caused eighty years of war which quite literally drowned out the
Renaissance intellectual tradition. But this demise wasn't a failure of the
Renaissance intellectual tradition itself, nor did it destroy that tradition. I pointed out that the collapse of the Renaissance was the failure of people to be honest with themselves, about the best tradition that has been established by the most advanced geniuses of humanity up that point.
I pointed out, that although the Renaissance was defeated, the intellectual tradition behind it was never defeated. It lived on even in the face of the imperial war philosophers,
of people like Thomas Hobbes and Hugo Crotius. Eventually, at the very depth of that war and its resulting destruction, the
Renaissance intellectual tradition was rekindled and advanced further until it finally produced the world-constitutional principle that ended the 80 years of war that the Venetian oligarchy had set up for Europe.
I pointed out that this world-constitutional principle was established as the Treaty of Westphalia which enshrines the greatest world-constitutional principle in history, possibly even the greatest of such principles for all time to come. It put the principle of universal love squarely an the map. All the nations of Europe signed up on it. It became a new breath for civilization. The wars were shut down. All debts were forgiven. The atrocities were forgiven. No reparations were demanded. It created a peace in Europe that lasted almost for fifty years, until Napoleon came along and rejected that principle. Then the bloody wars started all over again.
I pointed out that the Peace of Westphalia was really the result of nothing more than just another paradigm shift, perhaps the first political paradigm shift in history. It represents a shift back to the Renaissance intellectual tradition. The USA itself, was founded on the back of this reverse paradigm shift that revived the Renaissance intellectual tradition, that set up the principle of universal love as a constitutional platform. Out of this universal intellectual tradition came eventually
what is called the American intellectual tradition, since the American people's self government had become consciously founded on what has been established by the ongoing development of the Renaissance intellectual tradition.
I pointed out to the students that the so-called American intellectual tradition isn't really American per see, although it was advanced further in America. Rather, the term seems to refer to the kind of universal intellectual tradition that made America great during the few periods in which it was great. It pointed out that it
is this tradition, this universal, humanist, intellectual tradition, that the whole of humanity needs to shift itself back to. I suggested that it
is imminently possible that this reverse paradigm shift can be achieved, especially when society literally hits rock bottom. This happened in 1648 after half of the population in Europe had been killed.
I suggested to the students that the present world is not much better off, economically and
strategically, than the world was coming out of the dark ages. Occasionally it happens in such desperate situations that people remember their brightest
heritage, their best tradition, their most profound renaissance intellectual tradition.
I also suggested that it is possible to accomplish this kind of a reverse paradigm shift
once again, just as it was accomplished in 14th and 17th Century.