ADVANCE 12 PACES, TURN, AND FIRE!: I am looking forward to learning more about the theory that Michael introduced in MORIA REVISITED, but before he elaborates, I would like to raise a specific point for future clarification. In his earlier post, Michael provided a general sense of what he understands as civilization and interconnectedness, but he refers to a third, spectral concept that remains in need of illumination: advancement.

The notion of societal advancement can be a powerful motivator and justifier of political values and strategies, including such diverse and questionable values and strategies as the encouragement of technological research and development, education, freedom, globalization, war, free trade, economic sanctions, censorship, human rights, ethnic violence, and racial purity. But unless civilization advancement is described in a concrete way, critical minds cannot evaluate the truth or legitimacy of the claim that it motivates, justifies, or is logically related to any particular policy or value.

Furthermore, advancement implies movement as well as the existence of both positive and negative directions. Without the additional notions of positive and negative directions, we could claim advancement and yet still be treading in circles.

Society quite literally is always moving, and the question is: how do we know when we are moving in a positive direction and when we are moving in a negative direction? What is our point of reference? Is there some goal we have in sight, which we might one day reach? What if ours is the plight of the duelist, who advances just as far as he must before turning back, drawing his weapon, and meeting his fate? Then the question of whether we are moving in a positive or negative direction can only be answered after it is too late for such knowledge to influence our behavior. How do we recognize advancement as it happens, rather than merely after the fact, and how do we balance advancement in one aspect of civilization with retreat in another? Or do all aspects of civilization advance together, in unison? None of these questions can possibly be answered without a concrete account of the notion of civilization advancement.

I do not doubt that Michael has a well-developed sense of civilization advancement, and my only real point is that it will be critically important for him to include in the elaboration of his theory a solid, grounded description of this rich and forceful concept.



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