The decline and fall of the modern period
|What my parents (or anyone else at the time) who brought me into the world after World War 2 did not appreciate, was that the imperatives of total war that had mobilized all the then available economic, social and existential/psychological resources to prosecute it, would at its end start to run backwards into a much smaller peacetime world. The remedy would be to transform a system of total war production run by military machines that would deliver destructive ordinance onto enemy infrastructure and populations, into an equally total production war run by marketing machines, to deliver civil ordinance onto consumer populations, that would mobilize civil society in exactly the same way, not for merely for the duration of a war, but indefinitely.|
What that produced was a privatized version of totalitarian governance that would ensure protracted exponential growth of a system built around indulgence that would render redundant an economy and culture of disciplined needs and wants in favor of delimited/disinhibited fantasies of desire and instant gratification of them, regardless of any long-term consequences, as the system started to eat out its ecological and sociological larders, which are the commons infrastructures that hold the whole system up.
That totalitarian governance has found its way onto the surface of our affairs. It has been in constant assembly for at least 50-70 years, right across the economic and social system. The reason we have not recognized the shift was that it did not alert the traditional defenses with the usual giveaways.
We expect totalitarians to organize some kind of state intervention through a centralized party apparatus, which is enforced by some version of political policing and fear of it. That is why we missed the hollowing out of democratic traditions by a plethora of private marketing and public-relations based institutions that became enormously accomplished at manipulating public perception of reality, in the same way state instrumentalities on all sides had done (albeit at a far less sophisticated and scientifically researched level) during the war.
And we similarly missed the collateral process that was going on in our educational and social institutions, as rational enlightenment derived objective standards of judgement were gradually replaced by individual subjective perceptions that were highly suggestible to ones promoted by powerful economic, social and ideological sectional interests. Rational worlds faded and have been replaced by quasi-religious and faith based subjective perception that no longer have external and objective touchstones to ground them.
We have traditionally assumed that culture, social discourse and ideology are by-products of the economic system and the social relations of production and consumption that it creates. However, as time has gone by, as heavy industries have been increasingly exported to cheaper suppliers in Asia, manipulable consciousness became the main product within the system, whereby goods, services and the architecture of social discourse becoming instead of things and use values in themselves, they metamorphose into iconic expressions of dreaming, desire and satiation, where the boundaries of knowing fantasy and unknowing delusion became increasingly opaque.
One of the results of that is universities are being turned back into what they once were before the emergence of modern times, when theology was the queen of the 'sciences', dogma ruled reason, teaching was preaching and only the orthodoxy of received truth was tolerated.
This trend has been very successful, but it is approaching a crisis, which is its own lack of sustainability, or even at a more fundamental level, its plausibility, as asylum grade fairy stories became serious narratives-beyond-criticism.
Deregulation in favor of disinhibition posing as freedom and rights, privatization in favor individual and sectional interests without responsible and accountable adult agency, and fantasization of the means of consciousness construction and discourse, created a commons' looting frenzy that has regressively torn ecosystems and social infrastructure to shreds.
After three generations and the ageing out/die off of remnant older ecological and human populations who provided at least some attenuating stability, grounding and compass, we are threatened with an increasingly violent natural world, the absolute chaos coming out of what is left of our social institutions, and the insane ideas now emanating from our higher education institutions.
Inside this cultural bubble filled with laughing gas, the delusional fruitcakes who are now running this once formidable system have little idea what to do other than to try to maintain some semblance of business as usual, by denial, blame shifting, moving the reality goalposts and symbolic gesturing. The shrillness of the rhetoric and the increasing authoritarianism is a sure sign that consciousness manipulation is no longer enough to save them.
What is now going on with the current outbreak of youth crime and disorder, and not just in aboriginal communities (rural aboriginal communities in Australia are violently convulsing right now), indicates that something is coming to a head, and soon. The current social ascendancy that runs the means of social reproduction and administration has no mechanism to fix the disaster it has created.
And just to complete the unhappy picture, the global order that has more or less secured us since WW2, is collapsing. Let's hope we make it to Christmas.
The weird behavior and bizarre pronouncements presently coming out of the system (you know, biology denying fruitcakery that believes people can change sex) are only a taste of what is coming. A society that has lost its grip on reality is in trouble. Firm demonstrations of still extant sanity by remnant Enlightenment trained and evidence sensitive populations only serve to further threaten the present Ascendancy that runs the means of social reproduction and administration with a dissonance it can neither come to grips with, nor tolerate if it could. Objections and counter narratives no longer attract debate, for in the minds of those in charge, the debates are over and dissidence must be crushed.
We are living in a period where the dance of Faith and Reason has snapped.
In the normal rhythm of this dance, Faith tries to provide Reason with ideological suggestions that while not strictly rational, seem sufficiently plausible and existentially satisfying to pass the basic litmus tests of ordinary judgement. Reason for its part moves to suspend enough disbelief in faith's nostrums that it can absorb its grounding and compass, while providing Faith with logical and disciplined dance steps, and evidence-based vision.
They need each other.
If there is a separation and divorce between these partners, faith becomes blind, chaotic, quickly embittered and then prey to existential rage. Reason quickly loses anchorage and integrity, and becomes the opportunistic tool of anything or anyone that happens to be passing at the time.
When that happens, there'll be nothing for it but to go back to the fundamentals and start again in a very long and arduous journey to recapitalize and make viable lost infrastructure that'll re-establishes the dance between Faith and Reason, through evolving institutions that have enough depth to be worthy of the love, sacrifice and struggle to make them work. But to get there once an old order has broken down into a state of irreparability is enormously energy intensive, costly, turbulent and takes centuries.