The rapid pace of change has created a world filled with excitement and energy. At the same time, it’s created a world filled with anxiety and fear. At the intersection of both of these is hatred, distrust, disrespect, and every other force you can think of which can divide people. Rather than bring us together, closeness has us running to define boxes to hide in, regardless of how small.
The great force which should unite but instead often confuses and separates is the driving force of our time: technology. That one simple word is the savior and excuse all at the same time. But what is it, really?
Long ago, most Americans lived as Laura Ingalls Wilder chronicled in the “Little House” series. Pa Ingalls and family were out in the wilderness, living with the rhythm of the land and putting away what they could to survive long winters and perhaps beyond. The family’s net worth was what they had around them.
That life has been replaced with interdependence based on a dollar value assigned to absolutely everything. We all get by with any extra scratch, should there be some, not stored up to get through the winter but properly invested in convertible assets. This means everyone is subject to the “free market”, which determines the value of all assets including experience, talent, and work.
That interdependence has changed our world to one with much less hard work or struggles against nature, and yet to many it has become as hostile as any winter on the Great Plains.
It’s been a big two weeks. The process of moving halfway across the nation and joining the faster paced world of San Francisco has been tiring, to say the least. Starting today, Barataria will resume its regular schedule.
So much has happened in the last two weeks, but then again little has changed. More specific analysis of the current economic and political situation will come later, but the larger trends are still simply moving ahead.
That remains the main point.
While discussing a useful politics that actually points to ownership of the future developing around us, it’s useful to discuss what’s really wrong with what we have now. This piece from two years ago does just that.
My concern is no longer with politics, per se. “Politics,” as we know it, has come to be so totally divorced from policy it is largely meaningless anyway. It’s primarily about identity, which is what far too much of language is actually about.
So let’s instead talk about politics, the art and science of human interaction.
I am far more interested in anger as the primary response to … well, everything. Every interaction, artful or not, seems to produce a lot of anger. The pathology of this pathological response is worth thinking through in many ways – if for no other reason than to cool it down.
This is a dark time for America. There is an ongoing attempt to obstruct justice, led by the Attorney General himself. Congress will have to act one way or the other in what is likely to become the worst constitutional crisis since the Civil War.
Meanwhile, damage is being done constantly. It what appears to be a last-ditch effort, as if they know what is coming, Georgia and other states are passing highly restrictive abortion bans which are clearly unconstitutional. They seem to know that they will never have another chance.
For me to say, “Hang on, we’ll get through this” would betray the obvious privilege I have as a person who is not directly affected by all of this. And yet we know that this will pass one day, especially if we band together and make sure that it passes. On this, I assure you, I am with you. But I am also concerned by what might come next.
The Honourable East India Company was chartered by Queen Elizabeth to represent the crown in all matters of trade with the nations of the far east in 1600. It was a simple beginning to what evolved two and half centuries later into the worst possible anecdote for corporate power unchecked. With its own army, it subdued the Indian subcontinent and forced China to import vast quantities of opium.
Corporations have a unique ability to transcend national boundaries. They represent opportunity as well immediate cash on the table. In a world opening up as never before they have the first foot in the door and an opportunity to create quick profits for everyone. They rarely set out to do evil, but with their unique position largely unchecked temptation lurks just behind every fair deal.
The example of the East India Company is not antique. History does not repeat, but it does rhyme.
Before wisdom comes learning. Before learning comes observation. Before observation comes perspective.
Globalization, as we have all come to see it from our various cultures, is confusing at best. It appears chaotic even though it does have several key vectors of direction. These are increasing integration, increasing technology, and increasing need for resources. Somewhere between he cultural and political chaos and these strong directions there is a reasonable anxiety, often expressed very well in popular culture as dystopian fantasy. From the perspective of where we are today these forces appear to lead us off into something not just new but very likely out of control
Clearly, a different perspective or set of perspectives is necessary to produce the right observations which will lead to the appropriate learning and eventually wisdom. But what is that perspective?