An extract from Barry Long's book 'The Origins of Man and the Universe' first published in 1984

The newest and most world-shaking extremity of violence and change is what I call paranationalism — any organised attempt through terrorist acts to draw attention to the evils of the status quo anywhere in the world. It aims to destroy the root-attitudes of people supporting the formation of power and privilege — conventions so integral and fundamental to a society that even to the radical political mind the attempts seem senseless and even psychotic. This is especially so since the violent means employed usually involve the death and injury of innocent people.

Pure paranationalism does not preach revolution, anarchy, nihilism or ideological fantasy. It is not idealistic in the least. Using indiscriminate violence against the expectations, values and unquestioned loyalties of western society, its strategic weapon is violence itself. Instead of taking on the police, paranationalists take on the politicians and society's leaders as a means of getting at the people. They know that no one can get directly to the people, who in a modern society are completely shielded from change by the mass media, the authorities and social convention.

For the paranationalist the people are as much the enemy as the objective. This seems a contradiction, but to the dedicated terrorist there are no people in the western world, only positions. In his mind, people act out their positions. Positions have to be destroyed in people's minds for the real person, the individual, to be reached. So the terrorists show no mercy, no compassion of the kind that conventional people in conventional positions relate to.

The paranational terrorists are a new breed of suicide fighters, like the kamikaze warriors of Japan (whose name translated means 'Divine Storm'). To the paranational terrorists death is nothing, and living is ignoble once the evil of positions-without-people is seen.

The terrorists' motivations cannot be comprehended by the conventional mind or western attitudes because they operate at a subconscious level; they represent a new psychological phenomenon rising out of the unconscious in man. Its only purpose is to destroy the certainty of the westernised mind.

Paranationalism depends on the stark terror and horror of its indiscriminate actions to drive home its idea or message like a steel pin into the subconscious of humanity, through the armourplate of the enemy — the contented mass position. It aims at the individual, not the masses. Every terrorist act has a subliminal message that lodges somewhere in the human psyche where it will slowly rise to consciousness among the younger generation, tomorrow's rulers. But from the western viewpoint, the terrorists' motivations, like their achievements, are inscrutable.

There is no conventional power-drive in this kind of terrorism, no personal reward apart from death. As the precursors of an approaching new culture, paranational terrorists tend to come into western civilisation from the geographical East. Where the westernisation process is most advanced and the social conscience is most likely to be outraged is where terrorism will strike most hideously and most often. But paranational terror is not restricted to democracies. As a new expression of power it is currently mixed up with nationalistic and religious struggles on every continent. It has yet to divorce itself from these conventional freedom struggles and realise its independent identity and task — as it has yet to do its inconceivable worst.

The beginning of the end

The first shock-waves of paranationalism, unnoticed or forgotten by the majority almost as quickly as they disappear from the headlines, represent the beginning of the end of western civilisation. The millennium of decline is here. It is difficult to imagine that our familiar way of life can possibly come to an end as a way of progress. The populations of past great civilisations probably felt the same. No civilisation seems able to visualise its successor. And yet all lie in dust apart from a few relics.

The time that is left is virtually no time at all. Just before the end there may be a final, brief cultural flowering, the natural result of our civilising achievements. This flowering will be distinguishable by the feeling in the individual or the society that life has reached some worthwhile peak.

One day it may be said that western civilisation gave more men more years to live in better health, comfort and luxury — so that finally it could destroy more than if it had never existed. Whatever the means of destruction, through terrorism, nuclear devastation or some other cataclysm, the barriers that separate the different nations and peoples will fall down. They are intolerable anachronisms in a world civilisation.

Evolution proceeds on this planet haltingly, in distinct stages of time in which the process stops, gathers, bursts . . . and out of the shambles and chaos leaps the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the era, to seed a new attempt at civilisation containing that which was best of the old.

Decline and fall

All civilisations are attempts at civilisation. All have failed due to an inherent flaw in the social conscience stemming from humanity's inability to grasp what civilisation is for.

Within the more impressive achievements of each great civilisation is the means of its inevitable destruction. Where it was thought to have succeeded most is where the poison will be found. It is like a parasite that gets into the flower in full bloom and infects the fruit before it has formed. The Romans' genius for colonisation and government was the means of their downfall. For the earlier Mediterranean peoples it was rampant curiosity about the external world; seeking distraction, they gradually forgot man's astonishing origins which were the foundation of their culture. They subverted the power of that knowledge — original art — and created beautiful ideas and things instead of excellent men. This ignorance and moral laxity finally allowed the barbarians to invade their territory, as well as their psyche, and eventually destroyed them. Vandalism in all ages lives on in the hills of the mind.

Many other civilisations, such as the Inca and Aztec cultures of South America, collapsed because the people were indoctrinated by priests who turned their myths into superstition. Rule by priests prevents the necessary development of discrimination and common sense in worldly affairs which is part of survival and the struggle for civilised excellence.

The destruction of our civilisation, Western Civilisation, will come through its super-technology, probably in some form of almost instant wipe-out as a logical improvement on the older, slower process of degeneration and decay.

The means of destruction of a civilisation must not be confused with the cause of destruction. Moral failure has been the cause of every civilisation's downfall. Our moral failure, the worm in the western flower, was cultured by the drive among the privileged to have more while the many by comparison had little or nothing.

Ours is the first world civilisation. In that we are unique and represent the end of a phase in man's development. Western civilisation is an extension or culmination of all earlier civilisations and their aspirations for ever-more conquest, wealth and influence. But now western civilisation has gone the limit and conquered the globe. The conquest has yet to be consolidated and consciously realised, if there is time. But the pattern of consolidation is inevitably established and there can be no major changes, just modifications. Any pockets remaining of the ancient cultures are already regarded as backward or underprivileged; and by their own consent and connivance are being eroded further every day.

Our main civilising achievement has been to bring humanity together through our technological and intellectual genius without anyone needing to change their position on the globe. Through western thought, politics, weapons, transport, finance, science and telecommunications we have created a westernised world civilisation, exciting everyman's wanting and ensnaring him with his own expectations. Each day the world gathers more solidly under the flag of intellectual materialism, in spite of its ideological differences. Never has there been such solidarity. The common aim is for more, more of everything, more freedom, leisure, government, power, peace, military hardware, information, travel, flush toilets, drugs, computers and unlimited credit. There is no other way to go and no evidence of any meaningful demand for an alternative. The remaining obstacles to the completion of the westernisation of humanity are not due to any outraged opposition but to sheer lack of the resources to satisfy the universal scramble, whether white, black, brown or yellow. The world is populated by westerners: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh-class citizens; in other words man's privileged rulers, the super-rich or powerful, the wealthy, the workers, the poverty-liners, the exploited and the abandoned. These are the schisms of failure in western civilisation.

Ours, like all the great civilisations before it, has served the planet's evolutionary cause. As a part of the cosmic earth experiment it has succeeded. But its failure, and unfitness to endure as the permanently civilising way of life, lies in the expediency of its shifting values. Our particular failure is intellectual duplicity, our double standards. In two thousand years western civilisation has not been able to be honest to itself, to its people. The times we lived in would not permit it. By the 'times' I mean the power mankind has attained in any age to control matter, or circumstance, morally. Man who can control matter morally is a man who puts man first.

We have not possessed the moral strength to stand against the pressure of wealth and self-interest, to uphold in practice the worthy ideals we protested. Where men rose to rule, the ruled became the sacrifice. Now, after two millennia of opportunity, no man or men can ever again rule in this civilisation. The 'rulers' are ruled by circumstance, the force in matter. They are powerless to change anything significantly, as previously was possible — and the thoughtful ones know it. The privileged position of rulership on this planet in this civilisation has been forfeited and withdrawn.

Barry Long

An extract from 'The Origins of Man and the Universe'

© The Barry Long Trust