It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
You’re not losing your mind, everybody else is. Things are crazy and getting crazier. Something must be done. Somebody, please do something.
If paying attention to global events overwhelms and results in a combined sense of dread, concern and bewilderment, you’re not alone. It’s not simply because humans have more access to more information than ever before that you feel this way, there does appear to be a quickening in the pace of the unfolding of humanity’s latest chapter. Things are genuinely falling apart, but things are always falling apart. Likewise, things are always being built and created. Governments come and governments go, as do global empires and monetary systems. Everything is dying and being born all at once, constantly and forever. This will not change.
That said, there are periods in history when the entire paradigm you’ve been accustomed to living under changes rather abruptly and for good. A change of this nature alters the entire game on a global basis and happens perhaps once in a lifetime. The last such shift happened during World War 2 and we’re living in the next one. How big of a change this will represent in the context of human history remains unknown, but we know it’s big. Really, really big.
The most significant challenge most of us face when confronted with such a moment is to remain focused and emotionally stable during the transition. This doesn’t suggest apathy, but it does mean staying grounded and not giving in to the constant news and pundit cycle of incensed outrage and anger about every single event that unfolds. After all, it’s important to recognize that almost everything you see in the news is a symptom of something far bigger happening in the background. Namely, that the global order most of the planet has known in the post-WW2 period is coming apart at the seams. If you don’t stay focused on the big picture, you’ll be easily and hopelessly manipulated without even knowing it.
The primary shift that’s occurring is the U.S. empire has lost its ability to dictate all terms to all countries at all times. This capacity to dictate has been enforced via a two-pronged approach for decades. The prongs are global military dominance and control of the financial system.
The first is threatened by the fact we’ve already entered a world in which it’s easier to frustrate global empire than it is to maintain it. We’ve seen this manifest in numerous places over the course of the 21st century. The war in Afghanistan is an ongoing failure despite it being the longest conflict in U.S. history, and the Iraq war (based on fake news) resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands and merely strengthened Iran’s position in the region. Meanwhile, U.S. regime change plans in Syria were thwarted despite the empire’s best efforts, and Trump’s deranged crew of neocons still can’t even get rid of Maduro in Venezuela. Deny it all you want, but the geopolitical map has fundamentally changed.
18 years and $1 trillion dollars. This is where we're at:— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) April 27, 2019
"The US steps up its air campaign in Afghanistan while pushing for a peace deal with the Taliban, who now control or influence more parts of the country than at any time since they were ousted in 2001."
Meanwhile, the financial system itself (a tremendous source of U.S. imperial power) is also fundamentally broken. The first major failure in this regard happened back on August 15, 1971 when Richard Nixon closed the gold window. Whether you believe this was a primary contributor to many of the negative trends that emerged afterwards likely depends on your personal ideology, but it’s undeniable that shortly after this event we started to see a major ramp up in the financialization of everything as well as a stagnation in median wage growth. A global buildup of financialization and fraud-based financial products played a key role in bringing us to where we are today, and also culminated in the second major failure of the global financial system in 2008.
That was the moment when serious reform and severe consequences for the criminal perpetrators of economic collapse could’ve reset the system and brought the world back to a sustainable path, but we all know that’s not what happened. Instead, the “elites” in charge of addressing the situation decided instead to temporarily prop up a broken system while ensuring they’d be the primary beneficiaries of the specific polices that supposedly “saved the economy.” In fact, nothing was saved. A dead system was put on life support while our self-proclaimed heroic elite grabbed everything not nailed down. A stealth crime spree that is ongoing to this day.
The consequences of past actions and the imminent failure of a global paradigm that’s dominated human existence for decades can no longer be delayed. They’re coming to the fore as I write this and yet all the media and most people can focus on are the symptoms of failure. Past events lead to future events and there are in fact consequences for irresponsible actions. The various things people panic about on a daily basis are typically symptoms that can be traced back to a macro system failure, but nobody wants to talk about that. It’s too big, too daunting and seemingly impossible to fix absent collapse.
Yet outrage, anger and a cry to “do something” about symptoms of a much bigger problem will only result in an even more entrenched surveillance state going forward. Focusing on symptoms is not just short-sighted and a waste of energy, but it’s also likely to lead toward more authoritarian solutions and tendencies over time. Misdiagnosing a disease can be as deadly for a civilization as it can be for an individual.
Liberty becomes less popular, not more popular, as things fail. This is my biggest concern going forward.— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) July 31, 2019
Unfortunately, we’re misdiagnosing things all over the place as we’re incessantly bombarded with myriad things to be outraged about while lacking proper context. That context is that the global paradigm we’ve been living under for decades has failed and is now entering its death throes. Such shifts are never easy, safe or rational. I don’t expect this one to be any different.
Which brings me to the main point of this piece. It’s imperative those of us who can see the bigger picture stay as focused and as humane as possible while things fall apart. It’s possible to fight for what’s right without dehumanizing other people. We must resist all efforts by the media, pundits and even those around us to suck us into the collective insanity vortex infecting people across the political spectrum. After all, if we don’t, who will?
Things falling apart is never fun or safe; it never has been. Something else will surely replace that which is going away, and the best we can do is try to ensure the world of the future builds upon the best of what came before, while discarding the destructive and unethical. It means being honest about what’s good about the current system and what’s rotten to the core. It’s not all bad, but it wasn’t the end of history either. Yes, we’re entering a period of increased turmoil on a global basis, but the future is still ours to make. Let’s make it a good one.
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