By Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ February 15, 2020
Our massively redundant information networks give us the same news in continuously repeating streams. Even major news items last at most two days after slipping from the top of the stack. We then receive the old stories distributed again from the remaining print editions that repeat online, although this is slowly disappearing as print media fade.
From this comes the information overload created by too many channels echoing the same event, incident, or status update. The failing 20th-century information distribution model based on two daily newspapers supplemented by twice a day TV news headlines can only create infinite copies of the same content.
An hour after a news item appears, the opinion writers show up providing crude interpretation, some additional information or perspectives whether real, fake, or both. The result is rapid normalization of every event, no matter how shocking or outrageous. Boredom and anxiety ensue.
Those that look can find the day-old stories with in-depth analysis and elements of the larger picture, but these only reach a small percentage of the population. Within a week, the horrifying news becomes history, and for the postmodern world that is geological frozen and hidden. It is far past being horrifying. It is now beyond normal and only appealing to information archeologists.
Most of us go through this process repeatedly each week and are shocked at how fast we lose the significance of a given disaster or outrageous act. We struggle to retain these components as we know these are always a part of a much larger picture. But that picture is still slipping away before we can achieve any real understanding. That is also intentional and is now standard for hiding oppression, massive theft, and extreme stupidity from public eyes.
This obscurity is the technique of con-artists, criminals, and authoritarian propagandists to overload with lies, misinformation, shock, and outrage until everyone dangles between anxiety and numbness. For the mass of the population, the challenge of getting a hint of the broader perspective is a very high bar. That bar is the ability to do graduate-level research with a sense of the tenuous, relative, and arbitrary connections.
For people without these relatively obscure skills, the whole thing quickly disappears down a rabbit hole. For those with such skills, a burden is an infinite number of rabbit holes that we must mine for nuggets in these informational caverns.
We in the US are struggling with a national disaster. The symptoms are the Trump regime and the domination of the federal branches of government by a criminal syndicate. I have just covered this in Escaping National Disaster, but this is part of a much larger planetary picture to which I have only alluded.
The large nation-states holding power over diverse urban and rural populations in planetary regions either have or are failing rapidly. The collapse symptomizes this failure to authoritarian dictatorships. This change is not complete yet, but planetary conditions have changed over the last five years undercutting the conceptual viability of the nation-state. Yet I have never seen mainstream or any media mention this that our planetary nation-state structure is failing.
Our anguish at the loss of our shared national identity distracts us from recognizing the structural collapse. Why is this happening and why is part of our population supporting fascist authoritarianism in complete rejection of one hundred years of brutal history? In the news cycle, we see only the symptoms and their distorted interpretations.
The fundamental long-form analysis and opinion have continued to shrink, leaving us devoid of the planetary or full human perspective. For the critical and educated members of our population, this is the opening for misinformation and political manipulation. The answers become just another conspiracy theory justifying what we already know while hiding what is happening. There no mention of what must occur at the planetary scale.
I’ve been watching this and have concluded that even in this disaster, the future is becoming visible. The visibility of this social transformation has grown behind the scenes for years. But the intensity of the Trump, Putin, Brexit, Modi, and other disasters have accelerated it at an astonishing rate over the last few years. An aspect of this problem is the care taken by the US media not to identify the threat of the combined neofascist actors. Each issue is unconnected to anything but itself.
Trump is only the Trump problem. Even William Barr acting to destroy the US judicial system, is only the Barr problem. Putin is only the Putin problem. That these are all aspects of an active authoritarian and neofascist effort to sack human civilization can never be mentioned in polite society.
The operating connections between Trump and Putin are well known. These are, of course, denied but only at a superficial level. That fact that these opportunists are all the equivalent of maggots consuming the rotting bodies of the democratic governmental systems unites them in ways that they instinctively understand. But no one can speak of this. That is the real symptom of this terminal age. But the old must be converted to the new, and human societies are fundamental change.
The old nation-state as the foundation of the Western model of modern civilization is failing, but new forms of social organization and management appearing rapidly. The historical success of the old nation-state model with its capitalist economic systems has enabled the birth of the first planetary civilization predicated on universal wellbeing.
The 18th-century nation-state model is the victim of its structural failings. It cannot create the planetary civilization needed except as a partial and destructive parody. The structural failures preventing full terrestrial planning have been identified and understood for at least a century. The most critical economic elements initially outlined by Karl Marx in the mid 19th century through postmodernism in the late 20th century tried to anticipate these issues. None of this is a surprise.
The full complexity of these paradigmatic changes presses human analysis and understanding of its limits. Put, the complexity of these structural problems grows until the model begins to fail. At this point, the awareness of the failed drives self-awareness and change and has been happening for a century.
An even more significant problem is the countervailing stresses that deform societies as they reshape themselves, and new planetary models evolve to explain and understand what is emerging. We are well advanced with this, and, as a result, the stress of change is very high, while confusion takes many to the limits of their comprehension while others succumb to fear and denial.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand this process and its forces, and the main points are now becoming clear. As noted, the large, regional nation-states were the product of aggressive empires with the British empire as the early modern model. The American Empire has been an offshoot modified by European Enlightenment political philosophy tied to partially representative government and evolving market economics.
This political philosophy depends on concepts of individual liberty and responsibility with the right to grant authority to a government that, in balance, monitored the desires of the population. This political philosophy assumed shared identity as ethnicity, language, and racial characteristics. These assumptions could not be maintained, and the superficial ‘national’ identity has increasingly failed under newly defined rights and freedoms.
For centuries regional empires operated with simple concepts of unity based on protection and opportunity. Over time, these empires extended a rudimentary common language and the other elements of shared culture. These tendencies could eventually produce a broader cultural region, e.g., Graeco-Roman, Persian, the Chinese World Order, and others. These empires were always subject to collapse into ethnic parts based on older traditions.
The US model created a new political unity over the original British American colonies on the modern empire model. The addition of French Enlightenment principles emphasized individual liberty. The national identity was built internally on a capitalist opportunity, racism, and a history of genocide. The early US model nearly ended on the question of slavery in the Civil War, but racism remained as usual.
It has ended now as the 21st-century metropolitan model builds on fluid and overlapping individual and group identities. These fluid identities are now the definition of liberty, but it precludes the basic principles of the old human authoritarian tradition built into our civilizations.
The American Experiment was a significant revision of human civilization based on universally confirmed fundamental rights, but that did not include full identity. The structural failure in America, and many other places, was racism, misogyny, bigotry managed as a hierarchical ethnic rule. The controlling ethnic group defined the personality of the nation-state. That is dying a hard and brutal death that our civilization may not survive.