2016 is a year we will all remember for 3 specific reasons:
- Trump wins the US Presidency
- Celebrities expiring on mass (For me, Lemmy’s demise at the end of 2015 heralded in this trend by reminding everyone that mortality is indeed something not to be avoided….If it can happen to Lemmy….).
Full disclosure, I was a vocal “Remainer” (hopefully no longer considered a “Remoaner”), and vehemently anti-Trump on every conceivable level. His (expressed) views on climate change and foreign policy, for instance, remain deeply troubling.
I’m not minded to delve into the politics, but rather discuss what’s happening in respect to the global psyche, or at least that of the western world as witnessed in the major democracies.
The first observation as the blog title suggests is that the truth has lost its currency. I don’t say that to disparage those who would disagree with me, its just a fact that in both the Trump and Brexit campaigns key areas of promotion where clearly and demonstrably fabricated and proven categorically false within the respective campaigns to anyone within a few yards of a television.
…but to no (or little) affect as far as voters were concerned.
We (I) expected these exposures to have a catastrophic impact on each of these campaigns. I, and so many others, were wrong.
Michael Gove’s quip that the public are “sick of experts”, was deeply disturbing.
Hyperbole for the sake of illustration, granted, but in the 1970’s Pol Pot executed those in the Cambodian population who wore glasses (a sign of intelligence apparently), and in 1930’s Germany Hitler’s brown shirts coined the term “Egg Heads” to mock how easily the learned skulls of intellectuals would crack under a boot or butt of a rifle! Anti-intellectualism is a dangerous path, even if we do live in more enlightened times.
An open question, but how much has a regressive left movement or neoliberalism paved the way for this to happen?
A place where honest open debate has been replaced by identity politics, trigger warnings, safe spaces, heightened political correctness, excessive labeling, and ad homein attacks polarizing the left and right into a horseshoe whereby the extreme ends of both ideologies stare each other in the eyes while the middle, moderate, and nuanced stay fearfully silent.
What we have seen looks like a YouTube comments section, where people just swear at and insult each other. A place where discourse goes to die.
Add to that you’ve got intellectual fatigue, apathy, disillusionment, and the response to classic, tried and tested, fear mongering.
So what now?
Normalisation? A wake up call? We cannot leave our prized democracies in cruise control any longer (2016 is us hitting a curb!), we all need to step up and contribute to the debate. We all need to become more involved in our own futures. We cannot let identity politics take over reason and stifle debate. Free speech IS the right to offend, and expect to be offended, we need that elbow room in these future debates.
I heard a great analogy of the US Presidency by Sam Harris this morning. He likened the Trump situation to American’s (all of them) as passengers on a plane (a big one!). The pilot has just collapsed and Trump (who has no experience of flying) has taken the controls. Every passenger is with him, supporting him, and needs him to succeed and land that plane safely. They hope, that those in the control tower can guide him in. Unfortunately Pence, Palin and the like are in the airport waiting to assist as well! It’s a good analogy, and it’s certainly how I would be feeling now if I were an American.
I have 2 encouraging thoughts (optimistic hopes!) for the future. My silver lining.
- I feel most the weapons that matter now and in the future NEED experts, and the elite of those experts to innovate advantages over any potential adversaries. We’re beyond guns now, so globally at least, we’ve no need to fear the wannabe cowboys or thugs. As long as we can keep those orange stubby fingers away from those nukes that is!
- We live in an interconnected global economy. Checks and balances are in place and now more than ever our democracies and economies resemble a Self-Organising System. If you shake a box of cornflakes the conditions are in place for it to order itself into the same pattern each time. And as with the laws of physics; checks, balances, and compensatory mechanisms are in place, and good people WILL step up to the plate and muscle in here.
This analogy suffers all the weaknesses of the argument for design (in respect to God as the creator), as gloriously exposed by philosopher David Hume – We’ve not see this happen yet, therefore pointing to repeatable occurrences within nature is a flawed way of projecting cause to affect in this unique and unprecedented circumstance. I am therefore arguing from a place of experience, however our current circumstances are now outside of all prior experience.
Perhaps this type of Self-Organising System resembles the Hegelian dialectic process of thesis, antithesis (i.e. now), and eventually synthesis? Are we simply witnessing the reactionary stage of a self healing process?
But this is all we have and we have got to hope for a brighter future. We have no choice but to accept these circumstances and carry on…. But more importantly, take interest in, and get involved in politics.