There use to be one earth but everyone called it by their preferred name. That name was “the world” and the people who used that name saw themselves at the center. There were other people who had a different language and maybe a different word for world but that didn’t matter because they were weird anyway. As usual the Chinese figured it out early and identified themselves as the Middle Kingdom since everyone else was somewhere on the edge of their world and they made sure that was obvious in their world name. In their own way everyone played this game, Rome, Incas, Japan, the kingdoms of India. But the world was still the world.
The Chinese in the early Ming Dynasty built very large ships and fleets to explore the planet. But while that was interesting things became confused back home and they decided it wasn’t worth cost. There are fairly strong indications that they may have visited Europe early in the 1400’s but by whatever means the Portuguese, Italians, and Spanish picked up Chinese technology, maps, and navigation techniques and set out the for what they could get. We’re still dealing with the historical confusion of the fairly low order civilization in Europe claiming things in the Age of Discovery. It was all new to them and they were the only people that mattered, as long as the Chinese or Arab Caliphates weren’t around. Then they stumbled on America.
In the context of this essay we can lump everything before 1920 as a world of empires and conquest with Europeans finally figuring out a working model for scientific knowledge and the implementation of technology. This came to a head in 1914 when the old world was destroyed. We even talk about it that way but without realizing the full extent of that destruction. After a half century of the most brutal warfare in human history America was dominant but matched by an equally young and aggressive empire that evolved from Russia. The two empires that did not call themselves empires embodied a chosen people based on ideology and vast natural resources and space for growth. The old empires were always based on neolithic religions as a rough justification for dominance and rule but the new ideologies moved to replace the old confused mythologies claiming science and technology as their tools. The world slowly became one with many parts.
Neither ideology was developed enough to support a completely new world and became quickly dependent on old beliefs, religious relics, and techniques while insisting that they were new. America was richer and had a hundred more years of development to evolve their new political structure that had begun to work for a broader percentage of their population than any past empire. The economic and political power of that evolving system gave them the edge. The Soviets were working with a newer and, in many way, more sophisticated political and economic theory but their hard, authoritarian history made the growth of a broad middle class more difficult and there were problems with their theoretical system. In the end the efficiency of market economics won out and became dominant planet wide. But accelerating changes began to weaken the remaining structure of the shared world causing a new concept to grow. Layers of meaning were in movement and the links to the shared world were now defined as paradigms because differences in paradigm could break the world apart in ways that had nothing to do with geography.
Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union the United States began, obviously, to fail. As with many cultures, kingdoms, and empires what once had made them new and strong became deformed and rigid while the failure to correct old errors became matters of faith and denial. A new paradigm was emerging creating a world not bound by geography or ethnicity but these were the two sacred beliefs of the old paradigm. The world began to break into, not just new pieces but, new kinds of pieces with America at the epicenter.
The emerging paradigmatic world that was naturally centered in large metropolitan regions with planetary alliances defined diversity as value with innovation and change as good. Many regions had been able to evolve steadily through the end of the twentieth century with cultural breakthroughs to ideals of happiness and more equitable sharing of assets. And the concept of assets began to change rapidly becoming decentralized and controlled by people without the need for the old governmental intermediaries driven by the rise of blockchain systems and currencies. This began to suggest new standards of freedom and responsibility completely unrelated to the old world paradigm. But these changes were either invisible to the old paradigm or seen, justifiably, as antithetical to the world as those people knew it. The world was being defined by paradigmatic values of change rather than geography and this, itself, was violently opposed by the old paradigmatic order. Unfortunately denial of change is not a characteristic of high intellectual achievement.
As a result the inhabitants of the old paradigmatic world came to hold ignorance and rigid belief rather than dynamic knowledge as their unifying ideals. Ironically this was a characteristic of the middle Ming dynasty that called back their fleets of exploration to defend their old standards handing the planet to the new European upstarts. But the standard of ignorance prevented recognition of the oncoming collapse. Only those things that reinforced the old standards were allowed to be seen and celebrated while the new paradigmatic world population watched in amazement and concern. The only thing shared was fear of pending disaster. But the old paradigmatic populations struggled to deny that disaster while the new struggled to prevent it. This was a microcosm of the fundamental conflict making shared fear useless for communication and learning.
A critical point in the success of the new paradigmatic world was the rebirth of morality and ethical standards in the definition of human society. It had become obvious that a critical ideology of the old paradigm, capitalism, was a greater force for evil than for good. Endless exploitation for material wealth without regard for happiness and well being is obviously a failure for human society as well as deadly for the planet. And the radical and rigid demand that all social solutions must be profit based is also a recipe for disaster as the decline of America illustrates. In short ideological rigidity is always a disaster and the price will be paid. Of course the remaining old paradigm populations blind to anything but short term Wall Street profits could never see where that was leading. Everything was wonderful and how could things be failing when all indicators were rising? Declining life expectancy and rising prescription death rates were aberrations. Happiness is only a right for those with the most money.
The new paradigm world was quickly moving to new definitions of human social organization and happiness while having to define a new morality suitable for rapid change in a diverse society. This was a steady cause of greater discord as the rate of change increased and the need to understand the process of change challenged everyone. This type of breakup in world views in an emerging planetary society could not be simple. The points of conflict had become mutually ununderstandable across the paradigmatic boundaries. The old world’s scorched earth campaigns and hypercapitalist ideology allowed no compromise and the alliance of other nations facing old paradigmatic governments, e.g. Russian support for the last US government under Trump, created increasingly dangerous and desperate tendencies. By this point a majority of the post industrial nations had significant majorities aligned with the emerging new paradigmatic world view or views. Human society was back in exploration mode but on a completely new level in human history.