Thus, in a postmodern age where four distinct ontological states – modernity, populism, natural religion, and Marxism – are vying for primacy in the international system in addition to a situation of hyper-centralization amidst social fragmentation, the international system revolves primarily around individuals, not states. Ontological states mean essence of being. And as mentioned before, although some people may choose to deny the individual, you cannot deny the individual’s knowledge and ontological state, and knowledge and ontological states rule over all. Thus, there is now turbulence in the international system from an economic, political, and social standpoint, given that one intellectual position and one ontological state seeks to dominate all others.
Recognition comes from the fact that one side realizes that the other side “has something” or “knows something” that they do not have or know. In religious terms, what that individual “has” or “knows” is known as “Asrar-ul-Marifat,” otherwise known as “The Secrets of Gnosis” in Arabic. In the United States, Manly P. Hall, who was a little-known American writer in the 20th century, subscribed to Gnosticism and was a major influence on American president Ronald Reagan during the 1980’s as an adviser and speechwriter. Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski were also mindful of gnostic knowledge to a great extent. Brzezinski famously told the Afghan rebels during the Cold War that they would prevail because “God is on your side.”
Much of the breakdown of the international state system in the 21st century is the result of a breakdown in modernity. Overall, modernity falls short in addressing the intellectual and spiritual needs of most human beings. Moreover, the American government – which is the fountainhead of the modern ontological and intellectual state within the international state system – is weakening from within, and as a result, populism, Marxism, and religious sentiment is on the rise everywhere, including the United States. When Congress tries to stop Donald Trump or Steve Bannon, they are not stopping an individual. Rather, they are trying to stop an intellectual and ontological state, and that is difficult given that we are now in a postmodern age rather than a modern age.
Because modernity and Marxism have gone on a downslide in the 20th and 21st centuries, first as a result of the Cold War and then the age of American global hegemony, populism and religion are on the rise as predominant intellectual and ontological states. In some senses, the two overlap, and in some senses they diverge. But what they both have in common is the acknowledgement and recognition that modernity does not address the intellectual and spiritual needs of a human being in the postmodern age that we are now living in. Obviously, the fact that modernity does not relent means that there is tumult in the international system, as reflected by the economic, political, and social environment on a global scale. But as Mao Zedong once said, we have to know where we are in world history in order to know what is going on and what it is that we have to do.
The modern age is over. Thus, there has to be some sort of reckoning with populist and religious sentiment on the part of establishment figures around the world, lest the tumult in the international system continues. People’s intellectual and spiritual needs must now be acknowledged and recognized. Right now, it is not necessarily about material needs. It is about intellectual and spiritual needs.