by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ February 24, 2020
The political conflict that divides America and much of the world is not between political ideologies but between species immaturity and adult responsibility. The old political ideologies are not the issue and no longer even memes, but crude labels used as childish taunts.
With the constant din of misinformation playing on decades of propaganda, communication is nearly impossible. For those with little understanding of political and economic history, let alone theory, distinguishing social evolution from mythology is also almost impossible. All that is left is triggered reaction and emotion.
We know this. We have watched the disintegration of our current paradigm for the last fifty years despite considerable progress in technology, knowledge, and wealth. The invalid assumptions of that paradigm have led to structural collapse as the criteria of social success have changed, turning old strength into a weakness.
The climax of this stage of human history has begun with the recognition of a potentially terminal planetary crisis. Recognizing this crisis destroys the assumptions behind all current economic and political systems. This destruction of the previous paradigm erases all justifications for rule by asset acquisition and hoarding.
The sudden redefinition of a fundamental assumption of human civilization, distilled to the essence of greed as all virtue in the current capitalist paradigm, is now lethal to our culture. Confusion and conflict are inevitable results.
Welcome to the 21st century. The existing rulers have no choice but to deny and attack the reality that makes them irrelevant. These rulers must face not only their growing irrelevance but their guilt in the ever-increasing planetary destruction.
Tough times are here, and there is no escape. That results in mass self-delusion and the violent rejection of the emerging reality. We may not ever overcome this confused and delusional state, but this is an active symptom for only a minority of the human population. We need to remember that.
To successfully face any problem, we must understand its nature and the conditions that have created it. Our species has faced massive issues in our rise to the biological domination of this planet. Still, these have been regional climate changes or self-generated threats that could be eliminated by a leadership change. Usually, this leadership change came via conquest as failure to respond to changing environmental conditions produced failure.
A primary characteristic of our rise is our constant focus on pattern analysis over time. We think about what has happened and work to project the future. Our civilization, culture, and personal criteria for success adjusts and allows us to survive and thrive or fails and eliminates us. But a significant portion of our population, enabled by education, works to adapt to the changing threat patterns.
Fundamental paradigmatic change does not usually happen overnight. Neither is it a single pattern or aspect of society that changes. Historically the majority of the population may be caught unaware and then, instinctively, look for a knowledgeable leader to follow in the hope of survival. Some such leaders and their followers were lucky, and we know them historically. Many more failed and disappeared.
Two differences complicate things for us in the 21st century. The first is the planetary nature of the threat requiring a planetary response and negating regionals solutions attempted in isolation. The second is the elimination of our historical concept of power and wealth based on the acquisition and exclusionary hoarding of assets.
While these are brutally challenging problems, many people saw them coming. Changes to correct the growing structural errors have been suggested and tried over the last century. These have succeeded, sometimes partially, and also failed sometimes catastrophically. But the successful examples that can expand to the planetary level. That is our most challenging problem as we have never achieved that level of social and political evolution.
But there is hope. We need to recognize the promise and the opportunities it has produced. There are no old unchanging systems despite the desperate efforts of the current ruling elite to retain power by claiming that the old ways are the only choice. It has already changed.
Sadly the most significant change is the climate crisis that has eliminated the luxury of time to figure things out slowly. The success of the small ruling elite’s ability to control each nation’s government by a rigid focus on wealth and material production to own the population’s political representatives has come to an end.
The concurrent process of endless growth and resource destruction is the cause of the climate crisis. The choice is evident to everyone, except those who refuse to see that we must become sustainable and manage our planet equitably or risk species decline with mass suffering and death.
Choosing significant change for survival would seem to be a simple decision, although it is not. The typical pattern of human response to a clear threat is to bond together for the common good. This pattern is used for the political creation of an external threat to repress dissent and internal conflict.
While the majority of the post-industrial population sees this need and is attempting to act on it, the ruling elite is denying the threat or, as the reality of climate disaster cannot be wholly ignored, minimizing it. The majority of the population, acting rationally, has been made the ‘enemy’ playing on the less educated population’s ingrained fear of change. The absurdity of this position requires ever-larger doses of misinformation and incitement to anger.
The use of traditional political terms as threats and taunts expands the confusion as all of the old ideologies are based on endless resource exploitation and production. There is no tradition of sustainability or elimination of scarcity in the modern era except as fringe movements. The continuous denunciation of public or private ownership both assume infinite material production to enrich a small ruling elite.
The real conflict is between human maturity and immaturity, childish desire versus planetary responsibility as a unique challenge in human history; this will require elements from our experience to produce a new synthesis for human survival. The most successful modern form has been socialist/capitalist limited democracies. Still, those are facing the full range of structural weaknesses that will collapse in the face of the climate disaster.
We need proper resource maintenance and asset allocation without institutionalized greed. Our most desperate need is for innovation and creativity that can come only from diversity and open societies with a common scientific foundation.
The emerging catastrophic rejection of our current reality by the old rulers and their tiny constituency of the vastly wealthy and vastly immature is our immediate challenge. Fortunately, these forces, empowered by their wealth in the old paradigm, have no future to offer. They have only the past, and that no longer exists.