A new age

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A new age

Postby wolfhnd on February 8th, 2018, 1:12 am 

I have a theory about the current political chaos in the west.

History seems to have patterns. Hunter gather societies seem to be less rigidly hierarchical than more advanced societies. With the switch to agriculture societies tend to be more rigidly organized because a good deal of structure is necessary to plant and harvest and store and distribute food. There is more need for someone to be incharge to deal with slackers, thieves, and trespassers. As city states develop a king is useful to organize defence because you can't just pack up and leave your fields when the neighbors decide you have something they want. The first attempts at democracy come along after kings and there courts no longer seem able to deal with the complexities of more complex societies. Democracy and capitalism seem to emerge at the same time because the "invisible" hand and private property tends to be more productive and fair than central planning. At least in the west after the Greco-Roman culture partially collapsed society lost the kind of sophistication that made democracies and capitalism advantageous. A return to a more agrarian society restored the conditions where local war lords were a better option than some remote central authority like a king. As order was restored and commerce began to dominate societies again kings slowly replaced the local war lords who may have made themselves minor kings. By that time the surf system of protection was well entrenched and delayed new experiments in democracy. The enlightenment and the industrial revolution it helped to spawn created conditions of complexity that defied central planning and democracy reemerged in the 18th and 19th century. By the end of the 19th century the stage was set for various instabilities especially in trade and markets made people question liberal democracy especially as the horror of WWI became obvious. Prior to world war two the great depression and the memory of WWI made people susceptible to authoritarian governments such as in Germany and the Soviet Union. After WWII liberal democracy was ascendant outside of the Soviet Union. Russia having never passed through the stages of development that left serfdom in the distant past and being less of a complex industrial trading society central planning was never exposed as inefficient. Today we are passing into a new phase.

Society having reached a new level of complexity and material wealth the role that had been the kings in the past, that of central planning, has been passed off to bureaucratic organizations outside of the reach of the liberal democratic political process. It is what people are calling the permanent state. This happened because society was simply to complex to be legislated into order. The permanent state however is showing the same cracks that kingship had basically it's inability to deal with the complexity. The rising popularity of libertarianism and anarchism is testament to peoples awareness of how neither the permanent state or the elected state are able to coop with the new complexities. I hope we don't have to go through centuries of sea sawing back and force between totalitarian and democratic experiments to reach the next level of social organization but that seems to be where we are headed. If history is any guide the next stage should be a return to free markets and more democratic institutions the question is how many bodies will it take to get there. Currently the globalists and unelected officials seem to have the upper hand but I do not think that can be stable.
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Re: A new age

Postby zetreque on February 8th, 2018, 2:21 am 

A college class I took on all of this from a professor who has spent his life pretty much studying this gave me the impression that he thinks the next step is going "back to the land". He thinks basically the entire system is going to break because of this insane growth model of capitalism and then people are going to go back to some sort of feudalism.

In the class he showed the transition states from each system of government and the rise and fall of them. Whatever happens, people still need land for resources like food and water.

There is going to be massive famine in the future as global aquifers collapse. That should lead to unstable governments which then people go "back to the land." Something like that.

There are also several dystopian scenarios playing out right now in which we are turning into a situation where rich people build walls around themselves and the poor, while they use all this advanced technology for superficial things and fixing symptoms rather than problems.

One of my main goals as I age and need to accomplish before retirement is building some farming gardening skills.
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Re: A new age

Postby mitchellmckain on February 8th, 2018, 2:58 am 

In chaos science we learn that complex systems respond to changes in the environment with bifurcation points. These are points of instability where the structure has to change in one of two or more possible directions. The point is that as we see the world approaching a crisis, the future is not inevitable for there is more than one way in which things might change. Sure a step backward, represented by famine and a return to an agrarian society is one possibility, but it also possible for us to make a leap forward by changing our habits to adapt to the changing circumstances.

A fatalistic attitude is not likely to bring a step forward, that takes some effort to meet the challenges we are facing with creative new solutions. But to be sure, resisting change with efforts to maintain the status quo can be also quite detrimental to this possibility.

The sci-fi film "The Day the Earth stood Still" (new one) puts forward a similar idea to some degree. "But it's only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve."
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Re: A new age

Postby wolfhnd on February 8th, 2018, 4:21 am 

I just threw this out there unpolished as it popped into my head.

Shortly after writing the above I watched a documentary.

The incredible story of the Loess Plateau also known as the Green wall of China

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjLV_aVRUmQ

China is experimenting with a combination of central planning and private ownership that seems to work reasonably well in the orient. It also includes some democracy at the local level. If the central governments role can be minimized and a solution to the tyranny of the majority can be found it has promise. The current democratic process in liberal democracies does a bad job of representing the interests of disparate locales and peoples. The main role of the central government should be to prevent feudalism in these micro democracies. Where feudalism is imposed by violence or economic control. While that may be easy in agrarian societies it would be more challenging for industrial endeavors. Hopefully technology will make small scale production more competitive.
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Re: A new age

Postby wolfhnd on February 8th, 2018, 4:21 am 

I'm not suggesting I have any special insight but I do believe that negativity is self fulfilling as mitchellmckain suggests.
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Re: A new age

Postby Serpent on February 8th, 2018, 1:02 pm 

History doesn't proceed in an orderly manner in one direction. It zig-zags and loops back on itself; it takes vacations into stagnation and then makes sudden lurches in unexpected directions.


Complexity is only one third of the fatal flaws of the current arrangement. It's true that nobody - no individual - is any longer able to understand how the various elements of his own society interact, nor the technology that it uses, nor the economic variables that affect its welfare. No two or three factions can agree on what's best to do, because they've each got hold of a different part of an emotionally disturbed elephant.

The second is over-consumption and growing disparity of access to those consumables. This means that large population are either accustomed to - even addicted to - stupefying levels of consumption, while even larger populations see them eating up the planet and demand a share, while a very small portion of the populations is hoovering up and wasting increasingly disproportionate amounts of the diminishing wealth, leaving less and less and for more and more other people. There will be trouble!

The third is - as Wolfhnd says - centralization. Too many vital functions,on too large a scale are controlled remotely. Not only do local populations feel alienated from the sources of power, but the whole system if far too dependent on a fragile infrastructure. If any part of any of the distribution grids breaks down, it results in wide-spread dysfunction. The distribution systems are vulnerable at too many points, to too many kinds of threat. Breakdowns are inevitable.

I'm not at all sure there will be enough arable land to go back to - not even if the movement is preceded by a die-off of unprecedented magnitude. What's more likely is the re-formation of city-states. Those cities that today have enough foresight to recycle their waste water, produce their own hydroponic, communal and factory-processed food and generate their own energy from the most efficient local source will do all right - as long as they're not on a sea-coast or in a tornado alley.

How people choose their leaders will pretty much depend on what particular crisis precipitates their city's detachment from the larger political organization, and on how well the citizens themselves get along before the schism. The tyranny of the majority is no threat to a city which was already tolerant of its minorities and people treated one another with a degree of respect: being forced to rely on themselves will only strengthen those relations. If the various ethnic or economic or ideological groups had been played off, one against another, by political interests, that hostility will continue into the new age, perhaps even if they cut off the old leadership that instigated the conflicts. It may continue until it blows up in violence, or the designated victims are wiped out or driven out, or the the people diffuse into new configurations.
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Re: A new age

Postby mitchellmckain on February 8th, 2018, 7:24 pm 

In the mathematical simulations, we often see a phenomenon of oscillation at a bifurcation point, where the system will alternate between possible structures before settling down in one direction with more permanence.

On a more practical level, I am very much aware of the pattern of alternation between extremes especially in the USA. Sometimes it seems those extremes are becoming wider and wider apart.
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Re: A new age

Postby Serpent on February 8th, 2018, 7:53 pm 

mitchellmckain » February 8th, 2018, 6:24 pm wrote:On a more practical level, I am very much aware of the pattern of alternation between extremes especially in the USA. Sometimes it seems those extremes are becoming wider and wider apart.

I'd be interested to hear the particulars.
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Re: A new age

Postby mitchellmckain on February 8th, 2018, 9:05 pm 

Serpent » February 8th, 2018, 6:53 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain » February 8th, 2018, 6:24 pm wrote:On a more practical level, I am very much aware of the pattern of alternation between extremes especially in the USA. Sometimes it seems those extremes are becoming wider and wider apart.

I'd be interested to hear the particulars.


Well, it is a subjective impression. But instead of finding compromises the liberal and reactionary elements of the USA do seem to be getting farther and farther apart. It makes it hard to see where there can be a middle ground between them.

Just take environmentalism as an example. Where any rational person would expect to make some progress on this issue we now see a huge step backward in Trumps regime that I find difficult to understand. This isn't the brand new issue that the reactionaries often paint it out to be. For hundreds of years, any place with an urban society has had to deal with terrible environmental repercussions.

Perhaps people just need to see the consequences again to remind them why these changes are needed. Of course many wonder if we can really afford such a stumbing slow learning curve.
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Re: A new age

Postby Serpent on February 8th, 2018, 10:53 pm 

mitchellmckain » February 8th, 2018, 8:05 pm wrote:Well, it is a subjective impression.

That's okay. I'd still like to get your impression of the historical cycles, or back-and-forth swings. I'd also like to know how you characterize the poles between which these swings are taking place. Not trying to put you on a spot - just that I'm interested in patterns of human behaviour.
I don't have the impression of the US as alternating; I have the impression that it's always been schizophrenic - or maybe just self-deluding, or maybe just plain dishonest - I can't tell which.
That's why I ask.

But instead of finding compromises the liberal and reactionary elements of the USA do seem to be getting farther and farther apart.

I suspect that's a recent thing and that it was deliberately engineered. What parts of the population comprise the "liberal" and "reactionary" elements? I don't think the country is divided along party lines: so many people seem to have lost - or been divested of - any connection with the political process. Then there are the three levels of government, and they don't all seem to break along the same lines.

It makes it hard to see where there can be a middle ground between them.

There isn't. Both extreme representations are false, and how they depict each other is false and how they depict themselves is false - but there is no free, independent mass communication medium that can tell people what's really going on, or what's really important to know.

...we now see a huge step backward in Trumps regime that I find difficult to understand.

Imagine a pub where the barkeeper has just announced closing time. What the Trump administration and its rich backers are doing is supping up the last drinks - all the last drinks. Or think of Luis XV : Apres mois, le deluge.

This isn't the brand new issue that the reactionaries often paint it out to be. For hundreds of years, any place with an urban society has had to deal with terrible environmental repercussions.

Thing is, they mostly failed to deal with their respective environmental issues, and they mostly collapsed. Prayer, sacrifice, augury, scapegoating, denial - nothing ever worked - but some exorcist, soothsayer, mercenary or consultant made out like a bandit on the public coffers.

Perhaps people just need to see the consequences again to remind them why these changes are needed. Of course many wonder if we can really afford such a stumbing slow learning curve.

We can't. But public communication media with no strings or muzzles to keep them from informing people about factual facts would be a lot cheaper than cover-ups.
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Re: A new age

Postby zetreque on February 9th, 2018, 3:00 pm 

A thought that keeps crossing my mind is comparing present day US politics to ancient Egypt and other cultures. The reason for this is the saying "history is written by the victors." We have slowly uncovered Egyptian history over the years through the written record (on stone and tombs). There were some pharaohs and South American rulers that very little exists on. A lot of the stone was torn down or defaced. I also keep thinking about the statues of Saddam Hussein that were torn down in 2003.

It makes me think that these extreme swings in government, similar to tyrants, have been going on for a very long time but the written record doesn't always make it clear. Given how the current president likes to put his name on everything (and his followers like to vandalize property by put his name on everything too. Then others defacing those marks), with how hated he is by so many, it doesn't bode well for his lasting legacy. This could lend evidence that bipartisan policies and governments are the ones that last the test of time. In this case, as surviving historic record.

This time around however, as mitchellmckain mentioned, the Earth is going to have a harder time dealing with the repercussions. I doubt the president can literally put his name into a layer of sediment for a global warming but some smart alien might figure it out from a defaced carving found in that layer in the distant future.

Just throwing some thoughts out there.
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Re: A new age

Postby Serpent on February 9th, 2018, 5:28 pm 

I wouldn't like to be the archeology graduate student who has to to piece together the Stalin and Saddam statues... (Their regimes may be gone and vilified, but a historical record, nevertheless, survives. They're not so easily forgotten.)
..... but if I had to reconstruct the memorials Trump had made of himself, I'd switch to chemistry or musicology - or anything!
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