Tuesday 15 December 2020

History tells us... that history is a misleading guide to 2020

A word of caution. One common response among thoughtful people who are trying to make sense of 2020 is to look at history - in particular the fall of Rome. 

This is, in itself, an immediately misleading comparison; since when Rome fell, the capital of the Empire had been moved to Constantinople for several generations - and the Empire continued in the East for another 1000 years!

But the main problem is that our present situation is unprecedented - and for many reasons - and once these differences are given due weight, comparisons are very unlikely to be helpful. I will give only three, big, reasons, why we now live in a different world from any in history.


First, the world changed with the agrarian and industrial revolutions, beginning in Britain in the middle 1700s. Since then the economy has transformed to one of almost-continual growth (until 2020) - to sustain a world population of 7 billion compared with the 1 billion through much of history. In other words, there are currently about 6 billion people on the planet who depend on the industrial revolution system (technology, coordinated specialization, trade etc.) for their survival. 

Second there is the decline in religion from its historical role as the prime motivator in Men's lives. The extent to which religion has declined has been nailed-home in 2020 by the fact that nearly all the churches in the world (of all denominations) closed their doors and all-but ceased activities. Spiritual and religious reasoning is excluded from global discourse. Thus we are now living in a thought-world unprecedented in human history - a 'this-worldly' world, where 'good' has become (in practice) equated with pleasure or the absence of suffering. 

This narrowing of concern and shortening of time-horizons has had a huge effect on Men's understanding and responses, their attitudes and aspirations.  

A third factor is, of course, the interconnectedness of the world by political, administrative, transport and communications media. First the development, then the the extension, of bureaucracy from many national networks to a single international System. 

The idea of an almost simultaneous world-wide coup - such as occurred in the early months of 2020 - was impossible until recent decades; because there was no unified Global Establishment, and there would have been no global means of coordinated monitoring and control. 

The modern reality of a world where beliefs come almost wholly via the mass media, and where learning from personal experience and by common sense counts for nothing (and are often demonised) likewise is an almost wholly new phenomenon (perhaps only a sliver of the historical intellectual elites have ever functioned in this abstract way before). 


Those are just three of the biggest reasons why the situation of 2020 is almost wholly unprecedented; and why we cannot confidently look to the past for lessons and guidance. 

Indeed, any lessons we draw from history are more likely to be harmful than helpful. 



William Wildblood said...

All of which tends to confirm that this is not just a phase in a cycle, unless that be a very long cycle that has endured throughout historical times, but a culmination of sorts.

Doktor Jeep said...

When people bring up the revolution or civil war, they forget that the USA was a nation on the rise.
Nations having such conflicts while on a decline are working from a different set of factors.

Bruce Charlton said...

Another unprecedented thing about 2020 is that it has become explicit (rather than requring inference) that the national and global rulers are engaged in destruction of their own power - in multiple ways. Destruction of the economy, infrastructure, military, police, law and order - everywhere we look there is destruction of the basis by which the rulers rule. I don't think this kind of strategic purposive *top-down* destruction has ever happened before.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I personally don't regard this time as part of a cycle. History seems like a linear and sequentail sort of thing to me - and transforming at different rates at different times and places!

Faculty X said...

I do not grasp how things can be seen so differently. The philosophers of the past, or the writers of the Bible, were not just making things up!

Plato wrote of the inevitable end of Republics. We are right in the pocket for that cycle, on time. 3000 years to now.

The same prediction in cycle theory stated by the philosophers of India.

As for Rome, Rome still collapsed. On schedule. The fact it carried on in a different form after moving and rebuilding doesn't change that collapse still occurred.

We're right in the zone for a fundamental shift from merchant caste run system Republic to tyranny, as noted 3000 years ago.

Biblically, how is the current situation regarding the media controlling people's minds any different from the many quotes in the New Testament about the 'prince of air' controlling people, or the world being the grip of the evil one?

The metaphysical set up on Earth seems always the same if one considers the Biblical view is a report based on their understanding.

Also there are obvious injunctions in the Bible, which if done are then said to incur the Wrath of God.

How is any of this not what is happening obviously right in front of our eyes?

"What has been will be again, and what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

Ecclesiastes 1:9

Jacob Gittes said...

Picture this:
A man watching a TV telling him it's raining, so he has an umbrella as he watched the TV under a clear blue sky in the sunshine.
That is the state we are in.
A large majority of the people I interact with in a small town act like the plague is roaming the streets.
In the entire county, since the Birdemic began, the official tally is 6 dead from the virus. And these are almost all extremely old people with underlying conditions, and who knows if they really had the famous virus.

Basically, I've come to the conclusion that you cannot successfully use personal observations, valid statistics, or logical reasoning to change someone's mind once they have joined the current evil "hive mind." Only their free will, such as they have, could ever change them.

And the slightest deviation from the narrative causes them to sputter like a machine going haywire. My before-mentioned atheist-Buddhist pal sent me a link from the Economist talking about the global death toll when I indicated that I didn't believe the official Birdemic narrative. And he couched it like this:
"Since you are interested in this topic, I thought you'd find this link interesting."
Something about that stuck in my craw. Probably the deceptive attempt to make it seem like he was just being helpful, when he must know that part of my orientation is that I know that all organs of globalist government, such as the Economist, are suspect.

I've come to have a strong dislike of dishonest speech. I would have preferred him to say,, "The Economist is totally reliable, and proves you are wrong."

Bruce Charlton said...

Jake - re: The Economist

The 'global death toll' today is 1,639,422... about 1.7 million

World population today is about 7,832,526,700... about 7.8 *billion*

Less than 1 in a thousand. And we know the deaths are overwhelmingly very old, and sick - with a short life expectancy. In other words, *still* not different from a bad influenza year. And I have not even taken into account the incremental, deliberate, dishonest massive inflation of death numbers by multiple means.

I think the problem is that people 'forget' to divide the number of national deaths by the population of the nation; and the world deaths by the world - and don't bother to inform themselves about other diseases - for example, annual the global birdemic death rate is not significantly different from tuberculosis.

But the biggest problem is that people choose to believe the Global Establishment are well-motivated; and choose to believe Them. Most people could easily work this out for themselves - I mean, division sums aren't difficult! - given five minutes of effort. But people choose to believe Them, and believe They want the best for the world.

And choices have consequences - eternal consequences.

Steve Canyon said...

Any interest in writing a dystopian short-story about what the world may look like in 10 years? :)

Bruce Charlton said...

@ @SC. Interest but no ability!

Postmodern Pr. said...

I think people are looking for a general pattern in how complex political systems devolve into simpler, smaller ones at the end of their life cycles. In that, parallels can certainly be drawn to the fall of the western Roman Empire and many other empires past. Not saying this will inevitably happen to the incoming global establishment, but it's prudent to study it from that angle.

Bruce Charlton said...

Guy Jean has left a comment':

"Bruce wrote: " And I have not even taken into account the incremental, deliberate, dishonest massive inflation of death numbers by multiple means."

"A commenter on another site wrote "[peck] rates are inflated for social pressure and more importantly, to lower adverse effect percentages." Hmmm."