The earth’s preeminent civilization is a suicide by self-administered politicization. It is but the latest in a long line of predecessors. Civilizations rise upon the shoulders of their citizens, they are enlarged by their governments and when they are no longer energized by their citizens, they collapse. Reflecting their progenitors, they have finite lifetimes.
Western culture resulted from Roman dregs seasoned with Christianity, stirred with the Italian Renaissance and heated in the Protestant Reformation with the mix finally poured onto North America to settle. The settled product is by far the largest linguistically and culturally uniform group of people ever seen on earth. That progression brought the West to the peak of world wealth and technology. But all of that now represents the past.
The Renaissance accelerated progress and therefore change in Western society; that loosening of rigidity naturally fertilized corruption as well. That in turn brought the Reformation reaction. Together, these opposing inclinations produced the U.S. Constitution: a scientific restructuring of human government with controls of implicit corruption built in. However, the minds freed by the Renaissance and purified by the Reformation did not rest upon those laurels: They heedlessly charged ahead, creating the Enlightenment. And with the consequences of that, in typically human fashion, they have tossed much of their own political progress out of the window.
Soviet era Russian literary icon Aleksander Solzhenitsyn fifty years ago warned the West: Preoccupation with its explosion of material well-being has been allowed to divert attention from much that is immaterial but critically important for human development. America’s founding Declaration of Independence subordinated human government to the evident precepts of humanity’s Designer; the West in its intellectual arrogance has replaced that with human thought. Government under God is replaced by human Godvernment to regulate human life. In response, the West is visibly returning to approximate the traditional socio-economic order that preceded the American and French Revolutions with the middle class shrinking, corruption and violence increasing and governments imposing increasing control in response. Supporting all of this, American voters have repudiated their past and declared their dependence.
China applies current technology to governance; every citizen will soon have an account to record and respond to surveillance of everyone’s activities with appropriate rewards and punishments. This “Social Credit” system is also appearing piecemeal in the ?West; it is too convenient and obvious a tool for any government to overlook. Its use will likely accelerate in the next significant economic downturn in response to increasing unrest. Past Western notions of individual responsibility have become subordinate to government; notions of personal liberty are closely following as younger voters increasingly espouse socialism.
Governments are paranoid, progress is destabilizing: the internet-fertilized blossoming of technological progress will gradually subside toward a new normal as regulation stultifies the internet. The expansion of government involvement in nearly everything will calcify the economy and together with increasing corruption, further erode the middle class. Relative poverty will proliferate. There will be consequences.
Much of the world’s economic stability since 2008 has been sustained by governments’ use of fiat money, credit and debt to paper over accumulated economic imbalances and corruption. That tells us that much of today’s record-breaking economic valuations are but an unsustainable, government-imposed inflation. Returning reality will be a long, hard slog. In China, the disaster of Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward preceded that which will be the disaster of the country’s typically forced economic repudiation of Communism. The record-breaking economic growth rose from record-breaking government fiat; accumulated economic distortions are equally record-breaking and so will be the turmoil and suffering under recovery after collapse. Russia, which has faced its post-Communist collapse since 1991, has a better chance for relative stability, though its current governors may not. Much of the rest of the world economy is in similar shape.
Travel, manufacturing, military and communication technologies have made present concepts of governance obsolete, unable to adequately fulfill the requirements of human government. Those same technologies at the same time as they provide new tools for controlling people, also integrate larger groups of people, leading toward what may become a common world culture or at least, common enough to eventually comprise a world society, though probably not a true world government. A world government is an illusion used by demagogues; it is by definition a violation of the political principle of subsidiarity that dictates that a controller must be as close as possible to that which is controlled. A workable model for a human world government does not presently exist, as the operations at the United Nations clearly attest.
Neither is the evolving Chinese model nor its Western counterpart sustainable; people after all, are not ants as the regular failure of socialist and other dictated models demonstrates. Genus homo appears to be facing another interregnum, hopefully one that all the wonderful new technology will make shorter than were the dark ages of history.