This was just published at Global Brief. Click the link to read the rest.
But the triumph of spirit today seems paradoxically spiritless. The Christian God has been dead, or at least moribund, since the mid-19th century, when Nietzsche pronounced the obsequies. Liberal political philosophy has progressively eliminated spirit from state and statecraft. Science has eliminated spirit from matter. And economics has eliminated spirit from the market.
Spirit seems to linger in the vociferous, but often derided religious rearguard actions of so-called fundamentalist movements (they seem to exist in every religion). But even the phrase ‘human spirit’ used in conversation is a marker for the naïve and passé. And humanism, without spirit, is derided as just another system of oppression. No longer can we wax romantically elegiac about the residuum of immaterial essence that we feel to be part of our existence.
The old arguments from spirit that every human life is infinitely valuable has led to planetary crowding, the exhaustion of resources, the advent of government-sanctioned abortion, assisted suicide, and various forms of medical rationing (when poor people cannot pay for health care, that is a form of rationing). Spirit has turned on spirit, per force, because species survival depends on it. In the end, our human desire to separate ourselves from nature has had the paradoxical effect of proving that we are nothing but nature.