Monday, August 28, 2017

The Coming Crisis

A few discouraging words from Niall Ferguson today.

Regardless of who is president of the United States, the crisis is coming. The networked world born in Silicon Valley was supposed to create a “global community” of netizens, just as the Reformation was supposed to create a priesthood of all believers — in both cases the result was polarization, and spiraling conflict. People have never been more closely connected than they are today; and yet people have never been so estranged from one another — fractured bitterly along sectarian lines, racial lines, generational lines and all the other lines fetishized in the ugly name of “inter-sectionality.” If the Internet is the world’s town square, it increasingly resembles Tahrir Square shortly before the military crackdown. Anyone who wants to take umbrage at anything shrieks “hate speech!” — the modern term for heresy.

And also:

So yes: the world probably is slouching toward a grave systemic crisis. That crisis is already manifesting itself in mass online hysteria, rampant cyberwarfare, and accelerating nuclear proliferation. Nostalgia for Harry Truman and disdain for Donald Trump are understandable at such a time. But let’s not forget what happened three years after Marshall announced his scheme for European reconstruction. The same administration that gave us the Marshall Plan also gave us the Korean War.

Have a nice day!


Ares Olympus said...

Overall a rather fuzzy analysis, but what can one expect for a short article? So what is the nature of this coming crisis?

Debt is never mentioned in the article. Energy is never mentioned. Environmental degradation is never mentioned. Globalization is never mentioned - where a few elite multinational corporations now have all the wealth and all the power in directing how the world and local populations are used.

What's most confusing is that in so many ways things have never been better for so many people almost everywhere, although that probably also seemed true for the people of Venezuela when oil prices peaked.

The multinationalists are sure they are creating a brave new world where anything is possible, where money is the source of all security and no one who is smart and hard working has to suffer, like the libertarian dream world, but they are seemingly unaware that costs are accumulating and pushed into a future that is approach fast, every problem that has been too expensive to solve.

Sam L. said...

But mainly, from spending and committing to spend taxpayer money before collecting it.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

One of the phrases I've become most cynical about is "Bringing people together." Most of the people I see in public life have a moralistic self-righteousness that makes coming together nearly impossible. Like political correctness and virtue signaling, it's "Bringing people together so/if they'll agree with me." Meanwhile, such people speak in soaring language about "diversity."

It reminds me of the 1998 movie "Pleasantville," where the small town setting was so staid and conservative... the movie was in black-and-white until someone said something that was emotional, real, genuine and truthful. Then there would be color in the frame... these expressions would bring color into the world. It's like that today, but the characters and storyline are seemingly in reverse. The small towns are more diverse in outlook and human experience than universities. College administrators, professors and activists lay claim to the moral high ground, with platitudes of peace, love and charity. Meanwhile, these are black-and-white regimes, so infatuated with rules, speech codes and non-negotiable demands. That's "Bringing people together."

The color today is coming from modern-day Pleasantville in the Heartland, away from urban areas -- a rich, textured, humanistic way of life that is truly diverse and pluralistic. This is found in places where people have roots: where families, lives and jobs intertwine them with each other. They didn't have a choice to be there in the same setting, but normal community life makes it what it is and you do the best you can. That's the Independence, Missouri that Harry Truman came from. Today, our elites desire that kids take SAT tests, participate in extracurriculars and join the National Honor Society so they can be sent off to top-tier schools and be indoctrinated in a new ethos that returns them to their small town communities as aliens, endowed with the authority of analytical intelligence and twinkling with the light of moral magnificence. With that kind of bearing, they'll aspire to be staffers, experts and planners in Washington, D.C., with the beacon of certitude, devising insufferable one-size-fits all "solutions" to all of life's problems. That's "Bringing people together."

Niall Ferguson is correct. It's rubbish. The pixelated digital "community" is as monolithic as one imagines the most insular small town in America. We still don't know each other. Perhaps the "systemic crisis" is the bankruptcy of the system itself, whose values are as consistently contradictory as any other human construct. The blind do not see. Never have so many proclaimed the goal of "eracism" and "coexist" and "forward" while being so transparently racist, bigoted and close-minded themselves. Truly remarkable to behold. Yet we've never been so far apart. 'Twould seem their prescription does not cure the disease, but instead makes it worse. That's "Bringing people together."

Sam L. said...

Actually, it was the Chi-Coms and the Norks who gave us the Korean War; but yes, Truman accepted it.