by Mike Meyer
Amazingly we really don’t think much about the assumptions that we live with. That is the cause of great and growing anxiety following repeated fits of shock and fear. Watching people fail in the face of these things is depressing.
This is yet another aspect of paradigmatic change at the level at which we are facing it now. For most post industrial populations this has been fear and anguish at the collapse of elements of the old paradigm. These have been predominant failures of political systems that were built on the tenuous foundations of the “Modern Western state”.
The inherently tenuous nature of political systems as pure social constructs dependent on shared attitudes and ideals makes them very shaky when their base assumptions crumble. The Western World has been suffering this for the last two decades but it has only become unavoidable when crude opportunists succeed in destroying social confidence in states with early symptoms.
This is the model in Trump’s America, the Brexit failure in Great Britain, and full authoritarian take overs in Turkey, Hungary, Brazil, the Philippines and elsewhere. The examinations of this all identify it as the result of heightened fears of primary national groups fed with xenophobia and bigotry of various forms. In most cases this is tied to economic paralysis or decline of the middle class dropping those populations into economic instability. This is the rise (or perhaps descent is a better word) into the precariat class.
In large paradigmatic change events the identified symptoms and their causes, usually based on historical examples, fail to explain everything and seem unable to identify correctives. This makes the normal expertise questionable. Experts are useless so they must be simply generating lies, is the reaction of those who have become or fear becoming insecure. Needless to say the experts begin to question themselves and lose confidence.
This is the vicious cycle of collapse that we have watched as it accelerates over the last two to three years. While to any aware observer the collapse is obvious but this is not a total failure, the economies, particularly of the capitalist or partially socialist states, continue to respond as they have different assumptions at their base. They simply have not failed complexly yet. There is a reason that for this which helps illustrate the underling problem.
The problem is the failure of base assumptions that are the foundations of, in this case, the modern Western State wherever it is. This now includes all industrial and postindustrial nations who are part of the modern Western world however they may feel about the ethics of the West.
There is no easy solution. That happens to be one of the major assumptions of the Modern Western state. Spend enough money and apply technology and things can be, not only, returned to normal but improved. That worked within the Modern Western state paradigm but no more. We are shifting to a new form.
As I have become already said many times, this is not easy. We are in the process of discovering and sharing an array of elements of the new, emerging paradigm and that has been happening for well over a century. Part of our problem now, as I am also likely to say many more times, is we need for this to happen quickly. The reality is that rushing this is just not possible. But that also illustrates a specific aspect of this assumptions failure and what may happen as a result.
The Modern Western state is based on 18th century ideas derived from the concepts of democracy and the republic. This moved through old forms of monarchy, some kind of constitutional overlay, and then a fuller representative governmental system. The benefits of these systems were basing governmental and administrative power on the people being ‘governed’ and making change very difficult.
Change is rarely good in governmental systems that work. Slower decisions are, almost always, better for the population. The power of this can be seen in the repeated instances now of European states operating for extended periods of time without a ‘government’. That, of course, doesn’t mean that the state is not administered. Extensive services are maintained and provided. Problems with that are usually bureaucratic and legal as someone needs to approve a spending change or organizational move but that can usually be simply delayed and handled with some kind of interim adjustment.
Think about that. Even the US with one of the weakest forms of semi representative government is functioning currently with almost no “government”. Congress is frozen with the Senate in the hands of a policyless group of political hacks. The House is moving to change because the population is now seriously concerned but this has little more than ceremonial effect. The Executive is nearly empty with major positions held by people with little or no knowledge or competence.
The Trump example is very clear as the move to override the denial of Congress and everyone else in his notorious ‘wall’ project is recognized widely as dangerously threatening the stability of the nation. This is an impulsive and obviously pointless exercise in attempting to do something that doesn’t need to be done, is in fact counter productive and destructive to the people who live and work on both sides of the US Mexican border. Even Trump admits he doesn't need to do this except as a show. Normally, in a working government, this would not even reach this stage. That it has illustrates the failure of the based assumptions about representative government.
Great Britain has a hung parliament with a tiny Northern Ireland party giving the Conservatives barely enough authority to govern. Northern Ireland, itself, has not had a government for some time. Spain is going to another snap election and the list goes on.
My point is that the assumptions underlying Modern Western semi representative governments have failed. They appear to be more trouble than they are worth. What matters to people are security, economic stability in terms of steady income, and the services that are essential, e.g. healthcare, housing, education, retirement, and environmental maintenance. In places such as America where voting is not required less than half the legal voters actually vote. They normally ask, why and for what would I vote? Good question.
This is the cause of great concern and worry of political collapse with a return to dictatorial states at constant war with each other. With the type of people who take advantage of theses situations that is a very real fear. But why did this happen? Because the basic assumption of how this type of government works has crumbled. Do we need it?
Balance this against the rising planetary power, China. While all forms of Modern Western state are failing, and Russia is a hodgepodge of the worst parts of this, China only needs to keep its people together and working and they will be dominant for the foreseeable future.
There are a lot of reasons for this, mostly because they are the oldest continuous culture on the planet and have been dominant for long periods of human civilization. But that is not at the heart of the current situation. They are not a Modern Western state. They have a hybrid imperial and ‘Marxist’ government that maintains a very strong administration with a very limited form of representation.
This always strikes fear with resulting anger in the hearts of American patriots and others. My point is not that China is a better system but that it appears to have avoided assumptions that are failing all other states of the Modern Western model. That allows them to work much more effectively in periods of paradigmatic change because they can, maybe, keep the level of services rising for their population while allowing them the freedom and benefit of being part of a strong ‘national’ team. In contrast, America, without shared assumptions of effective government, is not a team.
However much the lack of ‘freedoms’ and political speech are pointed out the Chinese, in the important form of an educated, technically knowledgeable professional class hold and are not doubting their governmental assumptions. And that alone is now the difference between success and failure.
Let me state that more directly. I think that the difference is between two assumptions of what the state provides for the people in exchange for their support and ingenuity. This would seem to be a major part of the new paradigm. Government as we know it is not working but administration, even with drawbacks and without the facade of semi-representative government, does work. An important element here is what the state is trading for with its people. Ingenuity, innovation, and creativity are what is needed in the new paradigm. That is the new value system. The old paradigm was physical labor and material production. Machines now do that but those are built by ingenuity, innovation, and creativity.
These are not new ideas as few idea are really new. But paradigmatic change seems to spontaneously arise when an existing set of assumptions about life and the world start to fail. People think they are in charge, this is a bit of the old argument on free will, but at a shared subconscious level we start searching for a new way to see and work. Then we are amazed when things start changing ‘suddenly’ and new states or new organizations are suddenly the model of success.