Defending Our Future
by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ October 27, 2020
The fragmentation of postindustrial societies results from a war against the future by a traditional human minority. This conflict is between a future assuming a continuously improving commonweal and denying that any improvement is needed. To this threatened group, the future must be blocked except as a temporal sequence. This denial’s origins are traditional conservatism among a subset of the human population massively amplified by the proliferation of hyperobjects beyond current human control or even understanding.
Ideological rigidity in this war threatens to destroy several cultures that have been traumatized by reactionary manipulation and radicalization of select conservative population groups. Fifty years of accelerating paradigmatic change across industrialized states, specifically those with a history of the most significant gains from extreme capitalism and now suffering the greatest asset distribution failures, threatens the existing elite.
A significant portion of that elite has retained power through five decades of change by manipulating the dominant ethnic and racial groups. The techniques used are modern versions of 20th-century totalitarian propaganda tools playing on fear, greed, and tribalism.
As the human population increasingly accepts communalism as essential for shaping the future in an era lethally threatened by uncontrolled economic growth, portions of the financial elite have declared war. No matter how distorted the present, a shared future that breaks the link between vast wealth and vast power cannot be allowed.
I’ve covered the background and the onset of this in The War Against the Future. But what is the strategy for success? How do we defend the future against these attacks?
I wish there were a neat and understandable set of answers to that question. There do not appear to be any. The solutions that I see are as hard as the hyperobject problems and maybe beyond current human abilities. As we all individually and as social groups learn, easy answers bring worse problems while wasting time and resources that may be in short supply.
This waste of time and resources in our planet’s case is apparent in the failure to face the climate warming crisis that is one of the oldest and better-understood hyperobjects. We are already past the time to prevent the current and growing list of climate-based social, political, and existential disasters while a powerful, wealthy minority blocks or cripples any meaningful change beyond token gestures.
Regional political disasters generated by the problem portions of postindustrial populations grasping antiquated strongmen as feudal or fascist saviors with the US as one of the most severe cases are another example of massive waste of time and energy. The existing political systems cannot provide anything beyond theatrical show trials as elections. These elections claim to remove the most egregious corrupt and criminal incompetents while the sources of corruption and criminality remain untouched. The only answer is a kinder and gentler failure.
We have extensively outlined the changes required to begin the correction for planetary recovery in many disciplines and forums. A century of educational expansion for an ever-larger population encouraged them to practice critical analysis and refine possible answers. The last fifty years of this are a great resource to defend our future. Still, our lot and our higher education systems are under direct attack by the minority elite committed to ending our future.
The weakest component in our current cultural disaster is the lack of any shared moral structure. This moral disaster’s historical cause is the abandonment of spiritual reality by the emerging paradigm of rational scientific knowledge beginning in the sixteenth century. While this was a politically expedient move to protect the development of a scientific world view, at least for physical reality, in the face of the historical religious elite’s power, the consequences are critical weakness in the time of planetary threat.
A natural correction of this problem has been in process for two hundred years and will someday self-correct; our arrival in an age of hyperobject problems has removed the time needed for that to happen. While the thoughtful majority of the planet’s population realizes this, the tradition fostered by Western dominance allowing traditional religious institutions to hold power in society both culturally and politically justifies authoritarian intolerance and willful ignorance.
Correcting this weakness is not a question of spiritual importance in human society but a recognition of that importance as a framework for the perceptual unification of a rapidly shifting universe. Antique mythologies’ jumbled with diverse spiritual brilliance elements allowed to be irrational and non-scientific needs elevation to a rational public standard. This standard needs to be secular and spiritual but not religious while acknowledging our diverse cultural legacies. That is the direction that a significant number of our thoughtful population are heading.
What is evolving to replace the dying religions focuses on working moral principles without myth and dogma. One vital example of that is the use of concepts such as mindfulness and compassion for centering individuals in rapidly evolving and diverse social environments. The primary ethic is inclusion and respect, with the acquisition of knowledge and not wealth as the primary virtue.
From this already occurring foundation, we can begin to define broad, rational ethics such as right thinking, right acting, and right speech. Writers, specifically in science fiction, are starting to use these as examples of public morality as it could develop.
Creating a shared and official spiritual ethic specifically directed at discouraging bigotry, greed, and oppression is the most fundamental change needed. It is only part of replacing failed systems — the most extensive failed system in the 18th-century nation-state structure. The failure of representative forms of government originating in that system to successfully represent all of the state’s citizens equally and directly is well understood.
The problems stem from the nature of 21st century networked society. The general acceptance of the state’s authority from the people resident in that state is a veneer on authoritarian minority rule. On a networked planet, questions needing confirmation by the populace, in general, can be asked directly. The pretense of representatives acting on behalf of a population justified by their distance from the sources of information and decision-making is unnecessary and an open door to corruption.
Any of the large nation-states brutally illustrates worsening failures in layered representative systems. Corruption and endless use of the complex structures to bypass the people’s understood intent are considered normal.
All government is primarily administrative for delivery of services and modification of those services by changes in conditions. Neither of these activities should be, in any way, partisan to some dogma or twisted to benefit some third group of citizens or organizations.
All governments should be administrative and local with involvement in necessary confirmation of changes as legal responsibility of all residents in either a geographical area or a virtual community of shared interests. We are rapidly evolving virtual communities that will most likely replace some old geographical, political units.
The rise of pseudo nationalism appears to be primarily a desperate reaction to block this change by fear and intimidation. It will be interesting to see how this change of organizational units works out.
The concept of sovereignty also needs to change. Sovereignty at any level above that of the sentient individual should disappear. Beyond the individual, the planet and its biosphere are sovereign because that is a primary life unit. This sovereignty could extend to other worlds, moons, or asteroid bodies, and constructs in orbits around planets or the sun. It may expand at some point to virtual realities.
While all governments as services must be local to a population, the planetary level is necessary to maintain individual sovereignty rights to avoid potential conflicts. The existence of hyperobjects as a class of planetary or larger problems requires planetary coordination. And this is needed immediately.
We now come full circle to the source of the threat to our future. It is frightening because of the fundamental nature of the changes that are required for us to survive. It is complicated and impossible to understand without changes in the way we think and act. The traditional route to power through massive wealth as a foundation with the acquisition of wealth as a result of power must end.
Fundamental sentient rights must include all elements of well-being and will require equitable distribution of assets as one of those rights.
The world’s assets must be respected and maintained to benefit the existing biosphere. We are just beginning to experience the consequences of failing to do that. Expanded rights require expanded responsibilities. That also must be distributed equitably. The allocation of assets means the allocation of responsibilities for those assets in a shared community.
We need a future. The alternate is not viable for our children, grandchildren, and beyond. To achieve this, we must gain control of our societies and reorganize it to ensure a future. That will require many people to revise their thinking to a new definition of right thinking that may not be new at all.