Germany rose to power in philosophy through the concept of dialectic.  Hegel's predecessors, Hericlitus and Empedocles, are known through scattered aphorisms; Hegel could publish his work and develop his ideas systematically.   Hegel exemplified the German desire for a "total world system" of philosophy.   We are not going to be intimidated here by this Germanism; so far, in this blog, systematic development is only an aspiration.  "Soft" or casual dialectical structuring of our ideas seems appropriate.   The question has been pondered whether English is as good a language for philosophy as German; Heidegger made the case for German, saying that German words are "transparent" (made up of smaller words and ideas).  For our purposes, however, as per my very superficial scholarship, I say that it is possible to carry on serious philosophy in the English language.   As per my latest research, there appears to be no German word that clearly expresses what English speakers mean by "conflict."   German does not in ordinary usage distinguish clearly between "conflict" (Widerspruch) and contradiction (Widerspruch).  I presently lack the reading to entirely understand the difference between Widerspruch and Gegensatz (opposition).  These are points which can be clarified, and I await results; I invite comment from a German on this.   Meanwhile we must move forward with the vocabulary of English and make the best of it.   Widerspruch as I say could be either conflict or contradiction.  We look at the history of Widerspruch in Hegel- and Posthegelian philosophy and see certain confusion which could derive from this everyday usage in German.  To develop a philosophy of history, as Hegel and Engels tried to do, seems to me to suffer under the burden of this vague German word.  The point to be made, and one that can be made more clearly in English than German, is that a conflict is obviously not a contradiction. 

Human history shows both conflict and contradiction.  I am saying that Hegel in aspiring to an absolutely comprehensive system of being tried to make too much of the small conflicts that go on everywhere.  Hegel lacks a clear understanding of what is Widerspruch (conflict) and Gegensatz (opposition).  There is much that human beings do that cannot be counted as history, at all, including the great battles and arguments to which Hegel alludes.    Little or nothing is accomplished, generally, in the sorts of conflicts that there are.  Two countries fight, they back off, and continue as before with nothing changed inside the countries or in the relationship between them.  Thus the dispute between England and France over some small piece of land or a trade route is not going to be "resolved" by some "synthesis" as Hegel proposed; these disputes are never resolved but simply disappear after time.  This is a point I have made several times earlier. Unlike Hegelianism, Force Theory ascribes contradiction to a limited dimension of history and one that is hidden precisely in the small interactions that people have.  It is more important to Force Theory that men shake hands (to show no weapons) and abjure armed conflict, and do so as preperation for even so little a thing as a daily hunt; than, on the other hand, Britian or France or Germany won or lost some "great" battle of history.  Waterloo is of less importance for us than a handshake.   

Force Theory is particularly focused where Engels was focused, on the transition between feudal workshops and modern industry.   The human and animal world is altogether put together through conflict, which is veritably the principle of order itself.  Things cohere and structure themselves by gravitational "empathy" but simultaneously keep themselves apart through a sort of repulsion we may call conflict.  To undertake to find precise distinctions here puts us at risk of falling into a metaphysical muddle; I try to avoid this.  In any case we may say of conflict that, in the instance of primal man, who was embroiled in the small conflicts of his day as we are in ours, the conflicts that there were passed away, finally and simply, to be replaced with new conflicts.  There were disputes over land and women.  The point about conflict that concerns us here is that no party in a conflict has to vanish or perish on account of defeat.  Defeat in a conflict means simply that one party or the other retreats from the field of battle and loses the disputed territory or property.  There is nothing more to conflict than this.  World history is little other than the story of many conflicts; but only a few contradictions.    Real contradictions were however becoming perceptible.  I risk spoiling my argument with bad examples; a few may be attempted.   I refer to earlier sections of this blog where I stated that men facing each other with weapons, which the first human beings had, are in a new a unique relationship in nature.  Earlier these men would be engaged in conflicts that could be "settled" with a blow from a hand or a bite.  There was security in a relationship for all unarmed men just by virtue of the fact, in the pre-technical period, that only small damage could be done in any unfriendly encounter.  It was difficult for humans to murder one another.  The technical age ushered in a whole new group of possibilities.  Murder was now easy through use of a stick or stone.  In this new period men dare not turn their backs upon one another literally and figuratively.  Relationships turned by degrees into contradictions.  That contradiction was that one's own friend--because that friend was physically close--was of most danger.  The threat of annihilation now came from within the familial group rather than from outside.  In closeness--which once engendered a sense of security--there was threat of dissolution and death.  In this development we see, again by degrees and in small stages, the appearance of true Gegensatz or opposition. 

I want to dwell on a point made earlier.  The great movements of human history that there have been, which have directly and indirectly involved technological development, have been "dialectical" movements in the classical Hegelian sense of the word dialectical.  On the other hand, such great movements have been prefigured by a mentality that is uniquely human and set in at the very outset of human existence.  I said above that human history is dominated by conflict; that is true.  But it is also true that in smalll measure an entirely new disposition began among human beings with the "discovery" of the mere stick as tool or weapon.   The sudden occurance of a stick weilded as a tool or weapon changed human history from one entirely of one conflict followed by another to, as an occasional eventuality, an outright contradiction.  The stick did not resolve any existing conflict, in the way we understand conflict, but parlayed a given conflict into categorical contradiction.  We can see this in very simple perspective if we understand the terms armed violence as opposed to unarmed violence, or mere fisticuffs.  The mere stick and the leveraged relationship of dominance and submission brought with it the idea that humans could become involved in a life and death struggle we call contradiction.  The stick brought with it threat of extermination of one or the other side of a conflict.  The stick had in this sense the effect of making a termporary and passing dispute, that was not so much resolved as forgotten about, into a final and perpetual state of affairs.  Here, at the point of the origin of technology, was the first possibility of "hegelian" contradiction.  We may suggest at this stage of our argument that the stick contains a contradiction within itself, one that parlays itself, finally and in rather clear stages, into new contradictions and new resolutions.  These are the stages of world history in a formal sense of the word history.  I earlier mentioned the Industrial Revolution.  In this case, the fact of machine industruy makes impossible the small workshop based on a clan division of labor.

Modern history has become off and on a process of contradiction.  That a country invades another to win "hearts and minds"--the very soul of humans living there--is, I believe, a contradiction.  The present wars that there are are not conflicts as such but Gegensaetze.The phrase that fits is "hearts and minds."   This is the guiding objective of my country in invading some other country--to win the loyalty of those human beings.  There is no place for sarcasm in this essay and I will not use it now.  I am saying only whateveryone knows, that the purpose of my countrymen in being in a country not their own is not to kill anyone.  On the contrary, the only intent is to "win" or take over the very soul of the country.  This of course is an impossible objective but it is instructive that an attempt is even made.  "Hearts and minds" is what television advertising aims at.   Essentially the idea of "hearts and minds" is to capture virtually the will or volition--the very soul itself--of persons of those foreign countries.  This action does not consign them to slavery, precisely, because people everywhere, confronted with Americanism in all its aspects--its democracy, its material plenty and its force of arms--will simply concede.   This is the theory.   All contrariness will, in theory, disappear.  Any perusal of the facts of history will bear out the idea that this idea--to capture hearts and minds--is not isolated to America or modern history.  What has come about as a result of leveraged or technological violence, perhaps since the time that the stick was first used as a weapon, is that humans try to coerce other humans to do work that they, as weapons possessors, want done.  We have envisioned a man with a stick.  He wants to move a stone.  His first thought is not, we are saying, to use the stick to move the stone.  His first thought is rather to hit another man to force him to move the stone.  Were the stick not present, the man would use his own strength to move the stone.  The second man would not be enslaved; his will or "soul" would remain his own.  The only relation the two men would have would be one of conflict.  Contradiction, on the other hand, which is an entirely different relationship, could come about only with the advent of the tool.  The tool, as I said, is not an organ but a principle entirely new in nature.  The premise of Force Theory is that one's original purpose in using the tool was to coerce some action on the part of one's family members.  That the tool was used for other things, to dig in the ground or hunt, was a secondary outcome of tool use.  Violence of man against man was the result of the first tool.  This leveraged force, it is now said, brought about a condition also unique to the human being:  outright contrariness.  Animals are never contrary because they are not subjected to force of arms, only the casual biting and pushing that constitutes simple conflict.  The force of arms, on the other hand, of which only human being are capable, sets into motion a process of contradiction followed by resolution and new contradiction. 

"Nature" does not as such move dialectically, only through conflict.  The dialectic first described by Hegel (perhaps Hericlitus or Empedocles) does not apply, contrary to Engels, to anything outside a relationship that solely humans have that is mediated through technics.  The fact of the weapon in the hands of one man does not produce defeat, merely, but something we now recognize as submission.  Here one submits when one hands over his will or volition to the dominant power.  The weapon serves the very specific purpose of excising from a person his contrariness that is his will to serve himself; he now concedes that will to the master.  What has prevents the submissive party from being a perfect servant is the will of that servant to serve himself; that is removed.  This kind of abjectness is not only enforced through technology, not merely the technology of warfare and violence, but the technology raising the so-called living standard, but by every institution of society.  Through religion society preaches abjectness.  Again, as I say, the tenor of my comments is not sarcasm but objective analysis.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-06-02 14:55:08)


I said earlier that technology contradicts itself.  This is a premise of NewForce Theory; the statement must be made clear and it must be proven.  Traditional philosophy has made mind or intelligence its focus; Force Theory starts with technology and extrapolates to mind.  There existed a "mentality" of the tool before mind in the modern sense even appeared.  For a source of mind we look not to biology, which is the cause of other organs of living creatures, but to a specific behavior of protohumans that preceded mind.   The "mentality" whereby Australopithecus, the ancestor of man, used a tool prefigured mind in the full sense of the word mind.  The tool itself is a dead object.  In the use of this object a certain "mentality" appears that is expressed, biologically, in the human brain.  We could understand the tool as a "material concept," an idea, in other words, that appears outside the human brain but finally materializes as a mental process.  There is the risk here of becoming mired in the entire argument of materialism versus idealism.  The best Force Theory can do presently is to decry this pitfall and point out the exigency of the situation we are in, that, in other words, we must carry on in spite of certain inevitable ambiguity.  This is the very nature of philosophy: to tolerate vagueness even while wishing to banish it.  There are more serious issues before us.  In connecting society and nature, as we have tried to do, we must attempt to clarify the relation technology has, and has always had, in the evolution of the human point of view.  But there is more.  We must also stress the point that the tool preceded the biological brain in evolution, not so much the tool as some inanimate object but in the use the tool was put to.  The tool emerges as a concept.  This is the way we must deal with not merely the tool as first used by human ancestors but as the whole of technology, globally and in every sense.  An object, as I said earlier, can (somehow) compete and conflict with other objects; but a mere object cannot contradict itself.  A concept, on the other hand, can contradict itself.  What Force Theory says, in passing or transitioning from a purely material question to one of society, is that it is possible for a concept to exist, for purposes of argument at any rate, outside the individual human brain.  Technology is "matter" insofar as it is outside the human brain; technology is "mind" in that it obeys rules that are reflected in the human brain.  I think Engels' efforts to delve into the metaphysics of mind versus matter was not constructive; the issue was muddled by him worse than it ever had been.  But we are faced with a real issue that we must resolve somehow.  Force Theory, we are saying, stands between materialism and idealism.  This is possible, somehow (!).

A material object can conflict with other objects; only a concept, on the other hand, can contradict itself.  The tool is a concept, we have said, therefore the tool can contradict itself.  We have set ourselves on an original path of investigation.  It must be emphasized that we are speaking of technology but not yet of society.   The tool, beginning with a simple stick used as a weapon, can become an entire system and this system can involve human beings.  A factory is such a system.    But a "stick" is such a system, in effect, in that the stick, having a use or purpose, consists of a user and, on the stick's opposite end, a "slave," as we have defined the word slave.  The stick is intermediary between user and slave.  The result of this system we may assume is something desirable to the stick user.  This is a system of technology which prefigures the factory system of modern times.  The factory, however, has evolved from a point where the tool stands between persons to a point, on the other hand, where the technology surrounds the persons.  We should interject a brief word as to the objective of such an advanced system.  As in any enterprise in modern times, which is likely to be complex, the objectives of such a system are often difficult to discern.   The pronouncements on this subject by Marx and Engels are simplistic.  Who owns such a machine or factory is a shallow consideration; many people depend upon it.  Force Theory skips the issue of so-called ownership just as it skips issues of fairness and justice:  these are issues relevant only to "society."   In this phase of our argument we are discussing technology per se without any consideration of society.  Society for its part is well-addressed by Marx and Engels and we will accept their conclusions in this area.  For the moment we see technology as operating according the concept inherent in technology from paleolithic times.  That concept is dialectical or self-negating.  The essential concept of the tool and technology is that these things do not "do" work, they annihilate work.  And in negating work, they negate themselves.

At the risk of sounding trivial,  we venture to say that animals and human beings most of the time "do" work.    Work is something that can be "done."   But this work that is done still remains to be done in the future; not the individual task, certainly, which has already been done, but a future task just like it.   That future task faces one the next hour or day.  So, in other words, the little carnivore pursues some even smaller animal as prey.  Or the ant lifts this or that thing into its nest.  But their work is endless; having completed one small task there is another one just like it to do.  Human beings also do this sort of thing; they carry out tasks to which they see a purpose or point, but they do not remove or eliminate the general task.  If I wash dishes, as I do every morning and night, there are dishes to do the following day.  The task never goes away.  I accept this work as necessary.  I (to continue this homely example) have thought of buying a mechanical dishwasher; I don't believe they work very well. purpose in buying a dishwasher would be not to "do" dishes so much as to make the entire task of dishwashing disappear, so that I would never be bothered with dishes again.  (Thank you for bearing with me on this.)   We may move on to the next general consideration.    We have said that, in raising the stick to accomplish this or that task--having a purpose that the user understands--the user has in mind, finally and essentially, the intention of abolishing the task he is doing.  This is the idea conveyed to the tool and one that is the "essence" of the tool.  The tool "essentially" has within it the intention, acquired from its inventor and user, of not only "doing" some task, but abolishing that task so that the user will not have to do it again.  Every tool is imperfect so long as the task that it is doing remains to be done after the tool first does the task.  We understand teleology; we do not suggest a teleology of nature.  We also believe, however, and can support this belief with logic, that there is a teleology of tools and technology.  This consists, as we just said, of the "direction" of the tool which is to end its work and therefore its own necessity.  The goal of the tool is its own obsolescence.  We return to the above-mentioned example of a whole system of technology or a factory.  Now, we have assumed (1) the factory is not automated but requires human beings working there, as management and other workers; (2) the factory structures human beings in relationships, standing them side by sides at the machines they operate; and of course there are other relations that the workers have that are required under the system; (3) this technology that "aspires," teleologically, to eliminate the tasks that it does aspires also, incidentally, to eliminate the relations that it provides for the workers.  Thus as a relationship among humans the technology of the factory also eliminates this relationship.  This is a contradiction.  It is a contradiction resolved by the idea of "society."  We share at this point a position with communist and socialist writers, certainly with the great forerunner of sociology, Friedrich Engels.


The critical period of history is for us, as it was for Engles, the transition between a feudal economy and modern industry.  As Engels said--and thus ushered in the science of sociology--industrial organization replaced the earlier familial organization.  Family here means familiar:  relationships based on "persons" (LH Morgan).    Engels continues.  In his view, the "worker" within the industrial system is at the mercy of that system.  We agree.  Changes in the system, brought about by conditions that are outside present human control, impact the worker violently.  We are left with a picture of a technological world in which vast numbers of human beings are thrown about as though they were impersonal objects, parts of a machine that can be replaced and discarded.  Technical organization affirms technics itself and disrgards the human factor.  But there is more.   Engels, unlike our own theory, places blame for this depersonalization on certain legalisms of ownership.  Engels and his colleague Marx decry the so-called capitalist.   We are not so sure even that a capitalist exists or can be defined.   For Force Theory the entire issue of depersonalization--the loss of personal bonds within the technological system--can be reduced to the technology itself as an impersonal intermediary between man and nature.  That a human being places technics between himself and nature means also that, finally, this same technology will intercede in the relations between man and man.     Force Theory considers the whole issue of who owns what, or ownership as such, as false paths toward understanding.  But we concur with Engels when he peaks of the necessity to bring a "social" vision back to human relationships.

The communists are saying, in other words, that "society" can be imposed on technology simply by changing the terms of ownership of that technology.  Keep in mind that Force Theory is in large part derived from classical communist thinking from Morgan to Fourier to Engels.  Force Theory acknowledges its debt, greatfully, to its fine enemies.  Thus, if human beings are within a technological system but are regarded, and regard themselves, as impersonal parts of the system, and are thus deprived of proper human relationships, these human relationships (according to the communists) can be imposed--in emulation or virtually of or as the earliest familial relations--simply by changing terms of "ownership."  This mere legal technicality of changing who owns what would undo all the human interpersonal damage from technical "progress" from the time of the first stick-as-weapon.  We talked about this period and maintained that it did not differ in essence from the most modern period.  The communists may be suggesting that while under so-called capitalism a man is divided from his wife, a friend is divided from friend, cousin from cousin, and so forth, communism--socialism properly speaking--will reunite all these people with one another.  But if people are to be so reunited, this reunion will not be real.   If the communists are saying simply that humans can achieve this goal of unity just by changing the technical ownership of means of production, this idea in itself seems superficial.  If on the other hand capitalism is only a small part of the overall depersonalizing--and restructuring--effects of technology as a general human phenomenon, then Force Theory can concur.    What Force Theory says, finally, is that technology as a general human phenomonon does depersonalize relationships until the point that human beings as such are no longer relevant to the system.  At this point the system just shuts down for lack of purpose.   This is our final conclusion.  We are saying that, in aspiring to eliminate the tasks themselves that technology addresses, technology aspires in effect also to eliminate or negate itself.  And in negating itself it eliminates also its own human components.  We challenge the communists on this one point only--that the issue of ownership and so-called capitalist means of appropriation is beside the point.  Appropriation, we said earlier, is beside the point when the only goods produced are produced for a mass man, a proletarian consumer.  What does money itself mean in such a world?  Nothing, I would say, if it does not provide elite goods to elite consumers.  [This sentence is dedicated to Oscar Wilde.] It may be that economics as a science simply misses the whole point of man and society.  We must rather deal squarely with the issue of what to do with human beings in the face of oblivion through the technology that was intended to serve them.   Force Theory is not alone in decry this negative side of technics; only in identifying the proper source, which is not terms of ownership but the entire "concept" or essence of the technology.   A "social" or more accurately a "socialist" solution seems in order.  Force Theory still agrees with communism at this point.   But this solution is not final.  Indeed, the socialism of society simply brings the human being closer to a "final" confrontation with nature itself.  Even while relationships are socialized--necessarily--they are denaturalized.  These ersatz relations as fixed and finished faux bonds of "mutual goodness" come into final confrontation and contradiction with nature as change and evolution, in short, the nature we speak of:  nature-as-race. 

Human organization by virtue of technology becomes organization by virtue of society when a transition is made in men's awareness from technical thinking to moral thinking.  There is a strict correspondence between society and morality.   Society, it can be argued, is simply applied morality.   When we talk about society we mean something commonly called "the Good."   Also we pass from an area which is straightforward planning of men together with machines to an entirely different area in which facts become values.  Engles made a serious mistake in assuming that a society is simply a large factory; and planning a society is no different than organizing a factory.  He was seriously misguided on this issue.  The factory is a practical and objective thing; society is a thing of values.  Engels, proposing to do away with "anarchism in exchange,"  confused economics with statecraft.   In order to pass from the relatively small problems of making consumer goods to the much larger issue of building a "just" society we must make this transition between fact and value.  We can temporarily put together an industrial system which is efficient and in which people are good workers because they are happy human beings.  That is true.  But at some point, when such smaller systems are strung together to make larger ones, the issues that are dealt with are increasingly moral rather than practical.  Society is an entity put together with morals and subjective values.  This is by no means an admonition not to attempt to build "society."  I want to be clear on this point.  A man, we are saying, knows his duty to his wife by instinct; he does not have to think about his duty, all knowledge of that need is implanted into him through a genetic code.  When one contemplates his or her "duty to his fellow man" the whole issue is different.  One must rise to a certain elevated or theoretical perspective.   It may be true that one has an obligation to one's "fellow man"; the point could be argued several ways.  BUT THIS KIND OF THINKING IS WHAT CONSTITUTES ALL SOCIAL THINKING WHATSOEVER.  In other words, when a social relation is concerned, and we mean by "social" something more than a relation through instinct and familiarity, the thought process in finding and performing that relation is essentially a moral and not a technical process.  Again, to repeat, what makes a society--as opposed to an objective factory or technical system involving human beings--is its "moral premise."  That is, if we are constructing a factory we need only say that such a thing has a practical purpose; while a society, on the other hand, needs a moral purpose.  The problem we run into now, in "justifying" society, is that we must pass from facts to values.  Carnap has said that values cannot be derived from facts.  What society proposes to do, that justifies it to itself, is to substitute for objective technical human grouping a kind of moral grouping.  The effect of this is profound.  Society attempts to establish itself to oppose the evil that is inherent in the economy, whereby technics contradicts real human lives.  Society opposes technics in this sense.  Certain social "corrections" are indeed necessary to keep technics in a constructive relation to lives.  But there is more.  Society "eternalizes" human lives, substituting fixed categories of behavior for plastic and adaptable ones.  In this way, in affirming a faux human being in a faux relationship, society comes to oppose nature as a whole.  Society opposes real human beings with "citizens."   But nature abhores citizens as a kind of evolutionary vacuum and asserts itself, rather, through race.  What began as a contradiction between real men and social men ends with a final contradiction of nature--here called race--a creation, a moral order, of human fabrication.


Force Theory breaks away from classical and traditional social philosophy in one point; this point has been slow in coming in this blog, but it has come.  That point is this:  society as we know it emerges out of the small group of familials.  In classical sociology, following Toennies, the two basic human groupings are gemeinschaft (community) and gesellschaft (society).   The principle is the same throughout social philosophy; in this point we come into radical opposition as to the origins of advanced society.  The earliest groupings, we concur, cohered on the principle that familiarity is safety and security.  People who know one another on a personal basis are comfortable with one another; these people are likely to be related by birth or live together in extremely small hunting and gathering groups.  On the other hand,  it is true that modern society for its part is structured through principles other than personal familiarity.  These could be, as I said earlier, common employ in a factory or, for that matter, voluntary membership in a church.  This division of groupings into two types is based on very simple observations.  There remains, however, the question as to how the more complex groups came about. 

There are a number of explanations.  Having earlier accepted the common gemeinschaft/gesellschaft distinction I speculated--wrongly--that advanced societies come about as groups invade one another's territories where one group subjects another to slavery.  These forces would account for what is known as composite--essentially impersonal--societies.  At this point I want to break from that idea.  I propose, rather, in radical divergence from classical sociology, that the first signs of gesellschaft, or composite society, appear early on in the first beginnings of human group life.  We have at that time an essentially minimal economy with humans, or even protohumans, scrounging for the barest bit of food.  One thing does exist among them, however, which did not exist before:  the simple stick used as tool.  This tool, though little modified or used as found, was a lethal weapon.  The threat of the stick changed relations within the familial group, or group of familiars.  But here is the main point.  This stick, while it changed relations within the small group, did not essentially effect relations between different territorial groups.  At least there was no impact initially of this technology; such an impact would follow slowly only after relations within the familial group were changed radically.   We are saying that there were now as there had always been life and death struggles over hunting territory.  Neighbors who were not familials or familiars were mortal enemies that would kill one another, perhaps, on sight.    An anthropological study of humans worldwide does not clearly separate humans from other territorial animalsin this regard.    The intrusion of technology meant that humans used made and acquired weapons in place of teeth and claws.  Of course, an enemy was prepared with its own weapons.   Every enemy approached with caution and only when armed, alert for every nuance of danger. Within the limited family group the matter was entirely different.   The paradox to emerge out of tool use, one that effected every person, was that this person was most vulnerable and exposed to familials who were not defined as enemy.  Weapons were present everywhere, finally, for every member of the group to see.  Yet in the presence of these arm members one had to sleep; one habitually turned one's back on these people.  In this interpersonal environment any nuance of disagreement could turn not just violent, as with minor pecking and pushing, but with "weapons of destruction."  Before real weapons, murder was impossible.  With weapons, murder of one's own group members--one's husband or wife!--became a real possibility.  The person with whom one lay down to sleep became one's worst enemy, potentially, because one could not protect him- or herself agains surprise attack.  Of course as the human mind evolved, and one could harbor thoughts unknown to other persons, or known to these persons only through voluntary expression through language, lying and deceit and creating false impressions were enabled.  Every mind had its own thoughts; some of these were plans of surprise attack.  These mental features aimals do not have.  In any case, as we move our argument forward, it seem now--and Force Theory will take this position--that what we call society, as an essentially '"mediated" and "dialectically evolving" relation between humans--began to form out of, as a matter of fact, what were at first the rather basic relations of people who knew one another personally.  Between separate territorial groups there was no law whatsoever; there was no code, there was no idea that could be shared that would bring order and predictability to relations.  It was precisely within the small group that the first institutions of society appeared:  the rule of thumb, or rule regarding violence between husband and wife; and the handshake, to conclude an agreement as a abjuring of weaponed violence.

I have made the point now, in disagreement with modern sociology, that the major advances in civilization, that we call the technological and social revolutions, begin not by humans coming together on a massive scale, as in commerce or invasion, but are the result of much smaller scale developments.  Civilization first appears in the smallest groups, the hunting/gathering band.  Even while groups come together for one reason or another, in trade or war, these interactions are in themselves inconsequential; the smallest interactions, on the other hand, even between husband and wife, or between close relatives planning some small task, set in motion the great events of civilized society.  The first real "civilized" institutions are the handshake and the "rule of thumb"; these small interactions, among just a few individuals and in a very primitive setting, prefigure all that we know as advanced civilization.  This--that society begins in the homely details of family life, not in the collision of large numbers of people--constitutes what I call Swartzbaugh's Paradox and is at the basis of the new Force Theory.  Duhring or Engels did not make these points, they are first made here.  But there is more.   From this issue of fact--the origin of true culture--we move to a far more theoretical issue, that of dialectic.  We look for a role model in German philosophy which has aspired, in every case, to grand systems.  We here concur in this aspiration.   We make jabs, here and there, at some truth; but beyond these small aphoristic advances we still lack the grand scope of the greatest German philosophers, from Schopenhauer to Hegel.  A system is achieved, we suggest, by "making the pieces fit."  My own scholarship in German philosophy suggests that Hegel's overwhelming strategy was to start with a great system and finally "make the pieces fit."  Our approach is more casual.  But it has to be said in the end, a system to compare with the great Germans is a goal.  Philosophy, with some reservations on this precise term, could be called systemization.  The "philosophical" dimension of such systems is that a system is likely to be, from the start, given apriori.  I stand guilty of trying to make pieces fit.  For instance, the idea that it is in the family itself, not in the collision of great human entities, that civilization starts is more consistent with the dialectical approach I have been trying to develop.  The main point here is that there within the limited family group or group of familiars there is a dialectic that appears with the first tools that humans acquired.  Even the mere stick used as a tool sets off a dialectic which, by thesis, antithesis and synthesis, parlays human culture into advanced civilization.  The stick used by a man to beat his wife set in motion a "dialectical" opposition which had to be resolved. 

I say this otherwise small argument between a man and his wife, such as now there are millions of times each day in the world, when a stick is used, constitutes an opposition (gegensatz) that has to be resolved.  This is dialectic at work in a small practical situation.  Were this an argument that involved a push or a grab or a shove, without any use of a stick or stone or other weapon, like most family arguments are, no issue of resolution or Hegelian "synthesis" would be raised.  Most arguments like this simply disappear; they vanish (to be replaced by new arguments of the same banality) even in arguments between large modern nations.  Where there is a push or a shove, even an intrusion by one country into the territory of the other, there is no need for resolution because the basic order of the family or region not only accepts such pushing and shoving, but is, as an order SET by pushing and shoving, constituted  by such conflict.  (We may say for example that the entire structure of Northern Ireland is constituted by the conflict, not the (fragile and illusory) peace agreements of the combatants.)   That, on the other hand, a man shall be "reconciled" with his wife--he has just threatened her with a stick "longer than a thumb"--is essential, not for so-called justice (which is a much later social theory), but for the very survival of the human species.  The point is this.  The way this couple reconciles is not to cease using a stick for this or that, or in any sense "returning to nature," ceasing to be cultured or civilized, but by adding to their relationship a new "synthetic" understanding or agreement.  That agreement is, as I said earlier in this blog, the institution of marriage in which the woman now "owns" the man as a slave.  But resolutions that there are lead to new contradictions in human life that must also be resolved.  So it is with the institution of marriage, which brings about an entire spectrum of laws and values.  The dialectic of civilization has begun.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-06-04 12:44:00)


Marriage defines humankind's first property.  Ownership of a woman by a man--ownership properly speaking--must be instituted through  the stick or weapon.  This is not because the weapon is an agent of violence, purely, but because the weapon is an outward and visible signal from one men to other men.   In later times, in the fasci of Rome, the rod symbolized authority.  We are speaking here of an act which is not a natural act but a human act that constitutes an abstract expression of intent.  The man not simply enforces his possession of a woman through the stick, but veritably states in human symbolic form that possession.   Possession is now ownership, by virtue of the outward and visible sign or expression, in the legal sense of the word ownership.  Before "the stick" there was simply eye contact, pushing and pinching, that constituted a relationship between a male and femal, and between a male and other male.  This was all a sort of vague behavior and no member of the community group fully understood the thoughts and intentions of other people.  There was confusion.  We may speak of a "right of the stick" as a symbolic expression of one man's intention and purpose; also his resolution to hold his property to him and defend it from other men.  The point about the stick for our purposes presently is that the stick defines, for every member of the group to see, the "territory" of the stick wielder.  Of course animals have territory and in this sense are possessive.   This possession is based strictly on instinct; it relies on senses of members, as a piece of land is "marked" by an animal living there.  These facts all come out of biological and ethological research.  But there is more.  It has perhaps overstated the issue of property to say that the stick is relevant only because it is leveraged violence; indeed, the stick simply gets the attention of members of the group.  That the stick is directed towards some one female simply defines that female as property; and in that definition is the idea that the property will be defended by armed violence.  We see that the age of property set in in the first groups to use tools; property is virtually a corollary of the tool.  Again, we talked earlier of the mitigation of the now stressed relation between man and wife; and how, consequently, the man conceded his own person, as gegenseitige property.  This mutualism in marriage is of course important.  But for our purposes now it must be stressed that the married couple SET ITSELF OFF FROM the rest of their community by establishing, between themselves, an EXCLUSIVITY. 

We might look briefly at Engels' cheerful vision of an early happy communism of men where sharing was the only rule.  This was in the German Mark.  Engels' idea that men shared land and animals was simply a silly idea; the idea that men shared women was even sillier.  Men were always possessive towards women, though to defend them required brute strength and agression; with the discovery of tools the defense of property became vastly more violent.  But the concept of property became more clear, for no reason other than a stick waved about was visible to all members of the group.  The idea of a primitive communism that was subsequently rudelly interrupted by property and capital is a beneign neglect of the facts of the matter.  As soon as human beings became properly human, which they were upon first acquiring tools--even though they had limited mental capacity and could not speak--they had property.  Property in this sense--a possession defined by tools and weapons--came into existence along with human beings.  It has always been with us and always will be.  Our purpose though is not to show the futility of communist ideas but to simply show how society in general emerged.  Society--mutuality--is simply an extension of the property idea. But before society what was life like in the proverbial state of nature?   Before tools there was not so much a sharing of property--hardly!--so much as confusion as to what or who belonged to whom.  In other words, in the proverbial state of nature, men regarded all women as "fair game."  They did not share women so much as they competed for women at random.  That one man would declare a certain woman "his" meant that the other men were now sharply--and through leveraged violence of the stick--excluded from her company.  There never was anything like sharing in nature, in the communistic sense of the word sharing, so much as a sense on the part of every man that anything could potentially belong to him.  The beginnings of technology and leveraged violence changed all this. 

We are saying at this point that the property of one man made necessary the property of all men.   By taking one woman out of "circulation," the other men were forced to make similar arrangements for themselves and monopolize, individually, the females that there were.  The property idea spread. What Eugen Duhring, who first used the term Force Theory, proclaimed was that politics are prior to economics.  This is the provision by Duhring to which Engels objected.  We follow Duhring's theory of society.  But we also say that it is through politics, precisely, or dominance of persons and territory "through the stick," that establishes property in fact and also in theory.  Humans take possession of property politically, not economically.  The impulse that humans uniquely have to dominate things by using other things--here called tools--is the basic economic fact; but this is a political fact.  We are partial to Nietzsche's expression "will to power" and noncomittal to Engels' thought that anything like a simple economic motive exists.  If an animal lies down to eat a prey, it looks around itself, already, for competitors who will steal the meal.  Yet it is clear that humans have property, but animals do not.  We assume that property existed  as soon as humans became human.   As philosophical anthropologists we tend to push human beginnings back to a time when humans did not have what we call higher intelligence, when, in fact, they did not have language.  They could not then form agreements.  What they had at this early time, millions of years ago, was an relationship with nature and one another that was mediated through the simple agency of a stick or some kind of artifact.   The word mediation has special importance in Hegelian and post-Hegelian philosophy and we will try to clarify it here in Force Theory.   At this time, we suggest, humans had property.  (Also see my books THE MEDIATOR:  HIS STRATEGY FOR POWER and PURE THEORY OF MEDIATION.)    The property now in question was not  in this early time defined by some abstract idea, such as could be conveyed only through language, so much as by use of an "extra- or nonbiological agency" mediating their existence.  The tool always "referred" to something, and that something could noted by the few members of the group standing by.  Thus, to cite the example already given, the relation between a man and woman, which began as a simple instinctive relation, was transformed, through agency of the stick, into a mediated relation.  This relation could be called property in the full sense of the word.  What the stick did, when "applied" to the wife, was to symbolize to all members of the social group that this woman "belonged" to this man.  The man may have loved his wife; he may have been highly jealous.  He may have been ready to use brute strength in defense of her.  But these things the other members of the group, male and female, could not physically see.  The waving stick, on the other hand, was visible--this visible object was the first expression of ownership in the human sense of the word.  The stick corresponded to what became later some physical sign of ownership, such as a territorial markers.  The stick symbolized not only the property in question, but also the readiness and willingness of the wielder of the stick to use leveraged violence in defense of that property.

At this point in our argument we see that one person, lifting a stick, waving it above his mate and also around her, became an object of interest to all members of the group.  He attracted their attention, he proclaimed himself.  In that instant, we are saying, it is not so much that human beings rose to a higher level of understanding--if we attribute understanding to mind--as that they rose to a higher "awareness."  A state of affairs was pointed out by a physical symobl.  Later in human history this physical statement became a true concept.  We are left only to decide how the remainder of the group passed from our aforementioned Rousseauian State of Nature to a State of Man properly speaking.  Again we are dismissing the Rousseauian idea of a bovine, peaceful communism--that was adopted by Engels and the later communist theorist--of a life without competition and interpersonal struggle.  Those alleged times of "noble savagery" never existed.  Rather, the animalistic struggle between humans became, in the period following the first tool use, better defined; human beings understood more precisely, through the visible sign of the tool as weapon, where the boundaries were that could be crossed only under danger.  Not only was leveraged or technological violence more violent, it became more predictable.  This is a fact of modern life too:  nations that are arming themselves are likely to provoke similar countermeasures from other nations.  Visibly armed beings are taken more seriously.  So it was in early times.  But to look for and see signs of potentially armed agression became a way of life.  What we are saying that is of utomost importance to Force Theory is that what began as a physical agency of leveraged violence became shortly a symbol of violence and the asserted "right" to some possession.  The human mind as it evolved evolved also to recognize this symbol and encode it as a primal category of thought.  Today such recognition is written, if only subtly, into every legal contract.  Our interest presently is in earlier times.  Gradually the presence of weapons, and the increasingly sharper recognition of these weapons, became encoded into the human consciousness and the brain that enabled this consciousness.  The larger brain exists today essentially to deal with the legal implications of tool- and weapon use.  A general conclusion follows.  That one person had a weapon was the fact that effectively eliminated the so-called State of Nature; the fact propelled all beings with the capacity for such weaponry to themselves take up arms, and in doing so, establish for themselves the idea of property.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-06-07 14:55:27)


Between original Hegelianism and so-called dialectical materialism the basic issues of dialectic have become confused.  There are probably any number of "dialectics," including Socratic method, that I have only a vague idea of or no idea of whatsoever.    Engels seriously proposes dialectical materialism as an alternative to Darwinistic evolution, and suggests, again seriously, that dialectic movement is somehow "scientific."  In Force Theory, following Duehring, we understand dialectical movement to be a suggestive idea and one that we may bring serious content to.  Here we are Hegelians.  Therefore, striving as we do to shed some light on these matters, we will accept proximate results called "philosophical" but do not demand absolute verifiability.  What attracts us to Hegelianism is its sense of forward movement and "progress"  that in a conflict that is a contradiction, there is a resolution.  The idea of a resolution to an otherwise destructive confrontation seems to be a positive idea we can introduce to philosophy which otherwise ends in a kind of Schopenhauerian pessimism.  We are not pessimists.  Again, however, the concept of dialectic so far advanced, in this essay, has had a negative conclusion.  In a conflict where there is a contradiction, one party or another in the conflict cannot further exist.  So, for example, in the clash between the feudal workshop and machine-based industry, the workshops and the clan social system which supported the workshop must disappear.  This we talked about earlier, though there are other examples.  There seems to be a dismal inevitability of this scenario advanced by Engels and the socialists of a mindless, impersonal world into which every person is thrown with no respect for personality or individuality.  This is a deracinated world, without race, in other words, as the paradoxically collective form of individual personality.   But there is more.  The entire issue of "resolution" has been left out of our discussion.  Engels suggests that the industrial system, which has no social conscience or any regard for human beings, will acquire that conscience through ideological socialism.  In Force Theory we understand that to be true.  But socialism is not a resolution to the conflict between the feudal workshop and capitalistic industrialism.  We are looking for another resolution.  We understand that resolution to be a new world built around industrialism, one, we are saying, of mindless consumerism.  There appears a proletarianism of taste and manners, whose justification is solely through its "universality" as a "culture of mankind."  In the face of this consumerism, we are saying, socialism is simply irrelevant.  The goods and ideas produced in such a society already have the stamp of approval of "mankind":  this culture has invented "mankind" in the first place.  It is not so much that socialism is wrong in this world, or in contradiction to the world that exists, as that socialism is simply redundant.  The final phase of world history will come about, we are saying, and the disappearance of culture, will be in the contradiction between the inertness of the proletarian idea of mankind and the movement of nature, on the other hand, toward a higher species of beings that will supplant humankind.  As Nietzsche says, "Humanity is a thing that will be surpassed."