The long arc of the universe

That famous line about the arc of the universe bending toward justice is not just rhetoric but an actual empirical dynamic.

The well-known problem with “universal” social theories is they tend to privilege particular social groups over others while pretending to comprehend and represent all groups equally. But to speak of the actual universe—just the whole set of everything that exists in all of its complexity—while that may be a universalism of sorts, it is a universalism by definition without erasure, a universalism which sacrifices no particularity but is rather the universalism of every particular difference. It is only in this sense that I am interested in how the entire set of irreducible differences among us may constitute a universe and, therefore, a minimal but nonetheless universal relation and bond.

In the course of my investigations, I have become convinced that to really understand this universal bond of the particular difference is to unlock an extraordinary tactical insight for the project of human liberation. Pursuing it to its limit produces a revolutionary blueprint allowing for the absolute autonomy of all individuals while also constituting precisely the collective relations characteristic of genuine liberation.

Everything seems to revolve around a kind of unyielding, unapologetic, intensely ethical militancy—an insurrection of the spirit for which joy, honesty, and true meaning are perhaps the only necessary ammunition. But the crucial realization which is the basis for this manuscript is that such notions as joy and honesty are not idealist and fantastical but rather real forces with objectively demonstrable effects amenable to comprehension and political coordination. These forces concretely bend the universe toward its long-run equilibrium of real, true justice.1

There is only ever one true north, and it is always the truth of one’s joy, which may just as well be expressed as the joy of one’s truth. Collectively, ours is an infinite vista, an insurrectionary vision unlimited precisely by the practical and ethical failproof that its sole input is free and renewable and its sole target is only ever the already dead, the institutions.

  1. In other words, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous line about the arc of the universe bending toward justice should not be seen as merely inspiring rhetoric; the model of society which I would like to sketch here produces King’s dictum as an implication or hypothesis; i.e., it is an actual empirical dynamic which, if understood correctly, can be sped up or blocked by circumstance as well as purposeful human action. Currently, those who most understand the actual empirical reality of such dynamics are simply those who are most invested in blocking this tendency toward justice; it is an unfortunate fact that businesspeople and politicians have a more scientifically sophisticated comprehension of social causes and effects than militants and activists. One of my goals is to help rectify this.

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Murphy, Justin. 2015. "The long arc of the universe," (April 24, 2017).