culture, history, the real world today

What on earth is going on? Reflections on the current unrest

In today’s world the falcon cannot hear the falconer. In the widening gyre of overlapping world crises, our minds have lost contact with our culture. We are hunters alone and adrift in terrain we have not mapped, and can not find our way back home. I will not repeat the well-repeated line, too often fenced, from The Second Coming, but take it from there:

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming” 1919

Will there be revelation for us in this moment of crisis? Have events stirred some pitiless stone monster in the sands to take rough form, and stagger from our neglected Spiritus Mundi in the desert to terrorise the feral cities of our decaying culture?

I do not know. I lack all conviction that some “new normal” or some vision splendid of progressive control awaits us on the other side of the events of 2020. But I see all kinds of shysters putting forward a shallow view, and a few who perhaps might reconnect the falcon and the falconer.

Today, I thought I might use the virtues of the blog’s improvisational, fragmentary and iterative form to begin to formulate some hypotheses on what on earth is going on in the world with its intersecting crises of health, security, geopolitics, authority, making a living and passing on culture. Most likely this will be the beginning of a series. I have little time, and I must give testimony.

Today I may only be able to formulate an initial and partial list of theses. I will amend and correct and adapt these theses over coming days.

Ten theses on the crises of the world.

1. The resurgence of infectious disease has threatened our belief in invulnerability and the authority of medicine.

2. The American Empire is collapsing through cultural, political and social decay, and will suffer a century of humiliation instigated by China. (I later expanded on this thesis in the post, America’s Coming Century of Humiliation)

3. The multi-polar world is emerging but is breaking cultural and technological interoperability: we need to relearn how to talk to strangers.

4. A millennium-long trend of cultural convergence is reversing.

5. Our institutions in politics, media, education, government, commerce, arts, health and social service are corrupted and have lost the mandate of heaven.

6. The evolution of family systems of the Anglosphere and their associated values have generated a crisis of cultural fragmentation.

7. Education has prostituted itself to social stratification, and betrayed its authentic purpose of the getting of wisdom.

8. A mercenary caste system of political government in the West is collapsing.

9. The loss of meaning, the poverty of collective belief among human groups, has produced a catastrophe of selfishness that confuses political protest with stealing a pair of high status sneakers.

10. Civil society – its habits and institutions – has been replaced by social media – its illusions and mistakes.

To be continued. To be refined.

Image Source: William Blake, Nebuchadnezzar, c 1795, Tate. Wikimedia Commons

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