Sunday, August 24, 2014
What Is the Meaning Of All This Chaos?
I am always amazed at how television pundits manage to call elections when just a fraction of cast votes have been counted. It's always been a matter of considerable frustration out here on the west coast when elections are decided before our polls even close.
A recent post on research warning of imminent societal collapse brought me back to some vague musings I've been having about the chaos that seems to be rising throughout much of the globe and whether these incidents, taken collectively, represent the onset of collapse. In other words, are we observing the beginnings of the collapse of our global society?
You don't fell a tree with one blow of an axe. The bigger and stronger the tree, the more strikes that are required. Yet if the tree is not strong, if it's small, just a couple of axe blows may do the trick.
I think a tree serves as a good metaphor for our global civilization. We think it's big, we think it's strong. Our very notion of globalization rests on those assumptions. But what if it's not as big or strong as we'd like to imagine? What if it's not healthy? What if it's got rot?
The axe blows are coming hot and heavy. They're coming from over-population. They're coming from over-consumption. They're coming from inequality, both international and domestic. They're coming from early onset climate change. They're coming in the rise of failed states and in the decline of liberal democracy often supplanted by increasingly illiberal democracy even in the West. They're coming from often violent religious fundamentalism. They're coming from hyper-militarism. They're coming from complacency and a growing nihilism.
I have tried, I really have, but I can't think of one of these issues or conditions that hasn't significantly worsened over the past ten or twenty years. I can't think of one of them that we have collectively chosen to wrestle back under our control. We're not even trying. We seem to have embraced our own version of Andean Fatalism. "When your number's up, your number's up."
Until Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney eviscerated our national psyche, we used to believe in progress, a better tomorrow. It was a belief that was as expansive as it was inclusive and forward-looking. It somehow died at the hands of those three axemen.
As I listen to the incessant axe blows, I wonder if what I'm really hearing is the toppling of our civilization? The tree still stands, for now. How much longer before it falls?