The apparent pointlessness of modern life in time of peace and its lack of significance and purpose are due to the fact that, in the western world at least, the prevailing cosmology is what Mr. Gerald Heard has called the "Mechanomorphic" cosmology of modern science. This universe is regarded as a great machine pointlessly grinding its way towards the ultimate stagnation and death; men are tiny offshoots of the universal machine, running down to their private death; physical life is the only real life; mind is a mere product of the body; personal success and material well-being are the ultimate measures of value, the things for which a reasonable person should live. Introduced suddenly to this mechanomorphic cosmology, many of the Polynesian races have refused to go on multiplying their species and are in process of dying a kind of psychological consumption. Europeans are of tougher fibre than the South Sea Islanders and become gradually acclimatized to the new cosmology. But even they have felt the effects of mechanomorphism.
They move through life hallow with pointlessness, trying to fill a void within them by external stimuli- newspaper reading, day-dreaming at films, radio music and chatter, the playing and above all watching of games, "good times" of every sort. Meanwhile a doctrine that offers to restore point and purpose to life is eagerly welcomed. Hence the enormous success of the nationalistic and communistic idolatries which deny any meaning to the universe as a whole, but insist on the importance and significance of certain arbitrarily selected parts of the whole- the deified nation, the divine class.
War brought only a passing relief to the victims of mechanomorphic philosophy. Disillusion, fatigue, and cynicism succeeded the initial enthusiasm and when it was over, the sense and pointlessness became a yawning abyss that demanded to be filled with ever more intenser distractions, even better "good times". But good times are not a meaning or a purpose; the void could never be filled by them. Consequently when the nationalists and communists appeared with their simple idolatries and their proclamation that, though life might mean nothing as a whole, it did posses a temporary and partial significance, there was a powerful reaction away from the cynicism of the post-war years. Millions of young people embraced the new idolatrous religions, found a meaning in life, a purpose for their existence and were ready in consequence, to make sacrifices, accept hardships, display courage, fortitude, temperance, and indeed all
the virtues except the essential and primary ones... Love and awareness- these are the primary, essential virtues.
The success of the dictators (some) is due in large measure to their extremely skillful exploitation of the universal human need for escape from the limitations of personality. Perceiving that people wished to take holidays from themselves in sub-human emotionality, they have systematically provided their subjects with the occasions for doing so. The Communists denounce religion as the opium of the people; but all they have done is to replace this old drug by a new one of similar composition.
(Decentralization & Self-Government)
Aldous Huxley, Ends & Means.