Huseng wrote:That is correct. It is largely a result of akuśala-karma. The complex social relationships among humans which constitute a given society are largely supported by akuśala-karma. Border defenses require violence or at least the threat thereof. Internal policing likewise. There is also the matter of taxation under duress. Food production to sustain the population requires intentional killing of beings from insect pests to livestock for their flesh. The stability, nutritional sufficiency and economic prosperity for all this requires vast amounts of akuśala-karma.
However, you have not shown that these social conditions are intrinsic to the idea of human society. This question may help: given entirely different historical/material conditions, could a utopian society exist? If so, society could not be called inherently
Yes, I have demonstrated that society is formed from akuśala-karma.
As the Buddha taught in the Aggañña Sutta
human laws and economic relations arose out of people's greed. Before that there were no ideas of private property, and no need for laws and judges. There was no society basically. Society came to exist due chiefly to negative, not positive influences.
In the modern perspective this is even more clear when we examine how states form and operate. It is all due to negative influences and reactions rather than benevolence.
And no, I don't believe a utopia is possible.
And yet you advocate leaving society precisely because it is gruesome. What you're saying here is exactly the argument I would make to defend social activism as a viable form of practice.
You can't fix saṃsāra. Society being a complex saṃsāric web of relationships and resource exchanges, you cannot fix it.
Social work is beneficial and to be praised, but ultimately the capacity for social work depends upon activities which are by definition negative and evil. The state security apparatus, for example, requires violence. If you don't have security, then you probably won't have any realistic means of having organized charity work. In our present modern age this is especially so.
This applies to institutional activism. What about anti-institutional - or spiritual - activism? In my view, social work as a form of Buddhist practice should manifest in a much different way than simple charity. It should, like Buddhism itself, radically question the basis of society and its functioning.
Good luck with that. I've never heard of spiritual activism.
You have not shown that (irrational/violent) authority is a necessary component of society. What about anti-authoritarian activism?
Real political authority is derived from force. I'm not talking about fluffy politicians who discuss whether or not to allow gay pride parades down Main Street. The actual policy decisions which dictate economic and military futures are gained by people who command the tools of violence and coercion. They don't necessarily have to use them, but just having the threat works. The deterrence factor is enough to coerce people to do your bidding.
Anti-authoritarian activism is really only possible in prosperous societies where crushing opposition is both unnecessary and not particularly relevant to the elites. Unfortunately, economic prosperity depends on military power and environmental exploitation. You might argue this is not applicable to Scandinavian countries, but they're all client states of the US, whose war machine indirectly ensures their protection from hostile entities (namely the Russians).
In the western world we're particularly blind to who the real leaders are and think our democratic voices actually matter. They don't. If they did much of the western world wouldn't have attacked Iraq. Remember how many people across the world protested that fiasco? Nevertheless, they got away with it and over a million civilian deaths later still the activists think their voice matters.
Engaged Buddhism need not manifest as petty, liberal charity institutions. In my opinion, it should manifest as a radically anti-authoritarian and democratic movement. Furthermore, this kind of work is not in itself the vehicle to liberation. If you follow a direct teaching on enlightenment, however, you can absolutely find liberation in the midst of all this activity. Hence... the Mahayana.
And we've seen how well democracy has worked out.
How many innocent civilians were brutally murdered and made homeless refugees as a result of the decisions carried out by nominally elected governments in just the last decade? How many people were murdered by the US war machine in the last half-century? NATO powers and the US are made up of democratic governments who are capable of horrid atrocities while their citizens sit back thinking their hands are free of blood 'cuz they didn't support it, nevertheless the state having the mandate of the people was able to get everyone's cooperation in attacking foreign countries.
The unfortunate reality is that democracies can become empires that look to extract unearned wealth from foreign lands. The beneficiaries of this violence are none other than the electorate of these democracies, and hence the political will exists for their states to pillage the world.
So your ideas are problematic if you look at things from the big picture. If you're a citizen of a NATO country, you're an accessory to war atrocities just by virtue of paying your taxes and cooperating with the system.
The flavour of saṃsāra is truly bitter.