by Mike Meyer
Change is all around us and still accelerating. Fear is all around us and spreading. Knowledge is instantly available and increasingly cheap. Ignorance supports hate and is being used to prevent change. The world as a human concept and construct is no longer simply real but a process that must be managed. Reality is a human question that must be answered each day.
The complexity of the effects of these forces on human awareness have stretched our consciousness to a breaking point. The most limited portion of humanity, in America at least, is choosing to be unconscious and free from change with no choices required. The security of old hatreds and long held ignorance provide the comfort of familiarity.
Choices require thought and the options are not clear but that is the nature of freedom. The old rules say that freedom must be bought so why would we give it away? We deserve it but why do others get those choices? Ignorance is safer because others will say what should be done and knowledge is a lie so it can be ignored. The cycle spiral down with hate.
The range to which human awareness has been stretched is the source of the pain. This one planet now contains many worlds and they are moving farther apart as we explode with diversity while we are all faced with a planetary climate disaster. That diversity means greater innovation and freedom than we have ever known but the need to manage a planetary level disaster means we need to work together as we never have before. Great diversity is not an answer but an amazing opportunity. Will it be our graduation or our species death?
The greatest irony is always the turn away from great accomplishment because of ignorance and insecurity beyond our ability to control. We will meet this challenge and live with even greater freedom or fail and likely die. There is no escaping this test.
We have only begun to advance to the level of diversity that we must use to successfully manage the rapidly evolving world we now own. Our realities need to stretch to fully integrate the quantum universe that is our scientific foundation. That is very difficult even for those with strong knowledge and understanding to tackle it.
It is impossible for those immersed in ignorance, scientific denial, and/or mythological remnants of ancient rituals. The stretch is too great and the price of not having learned and internalized new realities is too high. Those people screech and denounce the gap that is too wide to bridge though their inability is the result of their own, self inflicted, failures.
The dominant world of the last three hundred years has left us with amazing knowledge of the physical universe. But that universe is badly distorted and has left us with incredible loneliness and isolation as sentient beings on one planet. This is the product of a critical compromise in our past the implications of which were not understood.
The stretch that is now tearing us apart is a result of that compromise that served us well but has failed us now. The rigid break between physical and spiritual described by Descartes assumed that sentient humans and dead physical reality were the only components of reality.
That broke the problem of antique and decaying religious mythologies blocking the movement to a full scientific universe. To keep the peace the spiritual was left to the past and eliminated from the new reality. But that bifurcated reality is based, we now know, a fundamental error the implications of which would take centuries to discover. We are living with the reality of those implications now.
The steady suicidal destruction of the 20th century hid the new reality as it evolved from Einstein and Quantum Mechanics. To merge the old Newtonian universe with both Einstein and Quantum Mechanics has moved us to finally realize the failure of the Cartesian model. All is a construct just as we are a construct responding to our gaze both outward and inward.
That fundamental change requires that we accept our sentient responsibility for the reality around us. It is our act of seeing that builds the world we have from the forces that make up the potentialities that we call the universe. Far from being powerless in a spiritless universe we embody a primary force of this universe. We must accept that power as our responsibility and our role in this reality.
Many people are finding their way in this immense change and they are redefining themselves and their spiritual strength to act in this fully sub-atomically entangled universe. We are learning to deal with an old knowledge that is new and differently recognized as true. Everything around us lives as part of the life we lead. Structural entanglement ties us actively together with all that we see from quarks to planetary systems, stars, and distant galaxies.
How does that link to us in our current struggles with the bizarre promotion of past ignorance and proven failures?
The problem of human evolution and progress has always been those left behind. They are the ones who take longer to change or simply can’t adapt quickly enough and so fall prey to opportunists instinctively seeking conquest through fear and hatred. As always these opportunists are morally and intellectually incompetent driven by greed or uncontrollable self regard.
They always find their audience. Both the slow to change and the opportunists are natural and part of what the human animal is about. If the management of change considers this and includes care to maintain benefits for all, the opportunity for the emotional looters is kept small. If greed is allowed to grow too big the entire society is at risk when change accelerates.
This is an old pattern of creativity and innovation managed by welcoming all with ideas and a desire for knowledge. Human history is highlighted by place and periods where people felt free to work together and explore new ideas and social structures. Renaissance Venice and, in America, New York in the mid 20th century, San Francisco at the end of the 20th with other international cities are all examples.
Periods of cultural effervescence are usually destroyed by ignoring the common good. That is usually a problem for someone else and, so, ignored.
The seedbed of great cultural success is diversity and human migration. Open information and open populations bring great and rapid change. They also bring a growing gap in knowledge and new social structure. In the worst cases the inevitable gap in assets and wealth develops and is ignored. That produces jealousy and rage among the most threatened by change at being denied the benefits of something that they sought to ignore and then deny.
We have never been able to manage these periods of great change without losing site of the need for equity. Periods of effervescence and great advances are always short because those with short memories are so easily manipulated with fear. Change makes the insecure fearful. We have not yet been able to manage that part of the process and simply watch in amazement as new ideas and whole new worlds are created and then destroyed for the same old reasons.
But we may now have the key to success. In the post industrial world the majority of the people have enough knowledge to be frightened of the return of past failures. That is a first but the old patterns are instinctive among those who tend to deny change for whatever reason and so the shock at how easily and quickly dangerous failures return.
This shock erodes the confidence of the aware majority as they are both excited and, naturally, apprehensive at rapid change. As we have become steadily more able to manage our rational reactions we react by seeking compromise. But this does not work with the old ways of thinking by the angry and threatened who will have no compromise. The newer and better response to find an inclusive middle ground always fails with extreme reactionaries because denial of the new is more important to them than life itself.
The intent is to include as much of the population as possible and that is right but in some times of great change there is no middle ground. Fundamental and structural change to human society has traditionally meant migration to find new land. But we no longer have new land. We have only one planet.
The tragedy is that the openness to new people, immigration, new ideas, and change are exactly what frightens those captured in past systems. This is the edge of the tent under which the fascist camel inserts his nose. If equity has been allowed to erode and greed has come to dominate then fear is multiplied by anger and rational communication fails.
If the fascist camel has gotten into the tent rational order and compromises do not apply. The fascist camel must be pushed out of the tent and all who support it must be isolated while the failure in equity is repaired. The fascist camel in the tent leaves no room for compromise. Either the camel is in the tent or is forced out. It must be removed before compromise can return.
The greatest power of liberal society is compromise and open discussion. Fascists do not allow compromise. They must have it all. If they can’t have it they will destroy it. Their goal is plunder and that allows no order. There is nothing to discuss until the camel is outside the tent and well tethered.
Ironically the old brutality we call fascism is alien to us. We cam see the great reward of rational life and active compromise but we are learning the limits to that in our aging, structurally weak, and poorly managed liberal systems. That is our challenge. To survive in any form other than slavery while facing destruction in our growing climate disaster, we must learn to better manage our democratic systems that have never been democratic but elitist and racist.
The background corruption of our republican pseudo-representative political system was acceptable but no longer. Active citizenship and direct democracy of an educated urban population is being denied by the forces of the old way and their rapid descent into fascism and authoritarianism.
We must learn quickly and adapt. Voting for corrupted representatives in a slow system will not solve the fascist camel problem. The future will not include us unless we learn this.
The full sweep of paradigmatic world change is creating a new and, surprisingly, human empowered universe. But our past actions and compromises have left us with the largest problems we have ever faced. America is a microcosm of the planetary transformation and illustrates all elements that must change.
From a new universe living in more ways than we have been willing to admit for the entire modern era to the return of old human instincts that are well known as failures leading to suffering and death. Now more than any other time that suffering and death will be planetary not local. When a planetary civilization falls there is no new place that can rise to replace it.
We must learn to manage ourselves in ways that will prevent disaster without falling into ancient traps that we well understand but feel unable to stop. Our existing tools, models, and political systems are inadequate to the challenge. We must innovate fearlessly and quickly. That only happens in very new, open, and diverse societies. And to attempt to somehow compromise with that is suicidal.