Understanding the Twenty-First Century is really an unsupportable burden. Take Sarah Palin (please).
The shear number of people in the world today insure that there will be plenty of weird new ideas around, and that there will be plenty of gullible people to go along with them. The new instant communications environment not only assists these ideas in spreading, but also insures that they will come into contention. The new digital technologies enable huge new corporate structures to control this information, including cultural and artistic information, for their own benefit, and for the good of their benefactors. These problems are so numerous, and so complex, that they represent a storm tossed ocean on which we are lost and alone, carried along by unknown forces, in the dark.
Throw in global poverty, climate change, all of the various shortages and mis-allocations, the “twenty-four hour news cycle,” pollution, and the commercialization of virtually everything, and you have quite a little list of difficult problems.
Some of these problems exist in full view, like radical religious fundamentalism (mostly Christian and Muslim), political polarization, and the dramatic drop-off in privacy and freedom in my own country, the United States. Some are obscure and seem almost quaint, like Google’s ongoing attempt to seize the entirety of world literature for its own financial benefit.*
Our lives are affected by these things, but understanding them even a little bit is a real challenge, even for highly educated people, and doing something about them is virtually impossible, an exercise in futility.
One overriding problem is that the people involved with these things are very effective at hiding their true intentions. Like the Google thing, “Google Book Search,” they claim that their intention is benign, merely to preserve the corpus of world literature for future generations. And politicians, who talk about values and freedom while their real program is just the opposite.
Politicians in developed countries could band together to identify, analyze and try to mitigate some of these problems. Instead, they devote themselves to parochial side issues and self interest. It’s a problem.
Not all of the radical religious fundamentalism is in full view, not by a long shot. Do us both a favor and check out Sarah Palin’s connection with something called Christian Reconstructionism, also known as Dominionism, or Dominion Theology. Her long term church in Alaska is a hot-bed of it, and her own involvement is clear. Dominionism has gone nationwide, and it’s a problem. You can read what it’s all about here:
These folks have some strange ideas, based, not surprisingly, in revealed scripture as interpreted by themselves. Ideas like mass executions by “biblical means” of fornicators (mostly women), juvenile delinquents, homosexuals, adherents of other religions, apostates, and disobedient children, even disobedient adult children. Slavery is cool with them, as a gentle alternative to execution. They believe that they have been charged by God with the responsibility to administer the entire earth in God’s name and according to God’s law. They want to take over the United States, and lots of infrastructure is in place already. Go ahead! Read about it!
My father told me one time that the future would be the same as the past, only dirtier. He couldn’t have foreseen the digital revolution that would give us cell phones and the internet, etc, so the reality of the future is much more sinister and horrible.
As usual, I offer no solutions, and precious little information, and merely wish us all a merry, Bon Chance!
*Google and the New Digital Future, by Robert Darnton, New York Review of Books, available now on their website, free.