Are We Living At The End Or Just In A Bad Moment?

DJ Rodgers : Sunset Prayer
The overwhelming bulk of human history has been characterised by a kind of weird tribalism and the sort of complications which arise from, well, whatever you want to call it--human imperfection or primate heritage. We fight, we steal, we lust, we love, and we seem destined to think of some point in the past as better. I should bear that in mind in my gloomier moments.

Lately, I've been reading a lot about the Kondratiev wave, which, despite the silly name, is not anything like the Elliot Wave of blessed memory. It's a generational theory of social and economic activity lauded by but separate from Schumpeter and the Austrian school. It contends, essentially, that our history is cyclical, and that waves of civic-minded people alternate with individualists, conservatives, and adapters as we progressively learn, forget, and relearn the lessons of our grandparents.

Unlike Nietzsche's hopeless theory of eternal recurrence, the K-wave allows for growth and development based on material technological improvement and the occasional beneficial shake-out of bad business, with the proviso that we only grow from those lessons which are retained in institutional memory.

The K-wave appeals, I suppose, because it speaks to a strong strain of materialism in me without being Marxist, it isn't pretentiously constructivist or idealist, and it offers another bulwark against liberalism's mad collection of impulses and sociopathy dressed up as political theory.

Kondratiev was a Soviet dissident, who was sent to the gulag because his theory of long wave supercycles countered the socialist's folly of progress, and most historians would acknowledge that there was something in his theory. It offers both predictability and retrodictivity, and it is falsifiable. Really, social scientists and economists should be all over it, but most of them are stupefied by themselves, so they aren't.

Supercycles are found all over nature. Scrape a social historian of any quality and you'll find someone who is more than happy to accept the long influence of climate on civilisation (something the global warmists, by the way, reject)--from the Roman and Medieval warm periods to the Dalton and Maunder minima which marked the mini ice age of revolutions. In our lives, too, I've always thought that to know what a person is rebelling against, you should know their parents, but to know who they are, you should meet their grannies and grandads. Nature is not immutable, but it leaves strong clues.

I'm fairly convinced, now, that this society--western society--so devastating, and so magnificent, is currently in a fantastic decline. Its moral capital lay in Christianity, and barring a miraculous reversal of the type for which people have been praying since the first Good Friday, it is now almost spent. The Christian shadows which left people uncomfortable at murder, or with a lingering and sensible sense of shame at their worser activities, have more or less gone, replaced by a sort of liberal celebration of the self or of security which approaches the truly evil.

This last week, Mary Elizabeth Williams removed the veil from the American abortion debate, for instance, by claiming for herself, as a mother, a right to kill--the very reversal of everything a mother was under Christianity. Meanwhile, others basked in the idea of some sort of delusional economic upturn whilst drone robots murdered children from the skies to such an extent that even hardened soldiers are giving up. Governments of the west interposed themselves between competitive bands of nutcases whilst having no clear idea of what they were doing, nor any sanction for their incompetence, and criminal enterprises demanded that people stop referring to them as such and give them their pensions.

From Britain--a ground zero of the neoliberal explosion--millions are leaving. Unreported, shops are closing in their hundreds, and, across Europe, those who rally for family, or country, or even commonsense and resistance to the perverted and incompetent minority running affairs are as ignored as dangerous Islamist revolutionaries are celebrated. Professional hierarchies and respect are falling as quickly as intellectual scaffolding is coming down. Hiding behind everything, and giving definition to the worst fears, our energy supplies are seeping away.

This almost incomprehensible civilisational collapse has happened, uniquely, at a time when there is so much hope for the future--in nuclear power, in 3-d printing, in the dissemination of knowledge, in the arts of peace, and in exploration not driven by war or desperation. Perhaps the internet has altered our common perception to the point where we cannot now understand or concentrate enough even to begin to understand why obvious horrors which could have been avoided and which were identifiable and identified a few years ago are manifesting around us. Perhaps civilisations just run down, and develop some horrible sort of disease, and are replaced, without being regenerated. Perhaps K-waves apply to countries, too.

And yet, and yet, to despair is a sin. We live in hope. Why is it, though, that everytime I raise my head and look around, I see a picture of local lives being led in the midst of a general burial of the things that mattered when wealth was spread, good was rewarded, and badness punished? Why is it that people are just so stupid?


Martin said…
Don't let it get you down, mate. I don't think it's fallen apart, it's all been ripped apart instead. Quite clearly, there are those on the right who have always been uncomfortable with any kind of social democracy, and those on the left who've always wanted to destroy the traditional family, considering it an impediment to progress (don't forget even Lenin found Alexandra Kollontai's social theorising too much to stomach). Such people can never create, they can only destroy (I got a good sense of this watching a Tory MP named Philip Davies barracking George Entwistle about Savile in the CMS Committee before he resigned: Davies is clearly incapable of creating a BBC, or managing a BBC, but he certainly seems capable of destroying it in moments). This profoundly unholy alliance of left and right combining to attack the centre, where, as all good schoolchildren know, forever stands the truth, is but a momentary inconvenience; not even a light shower blighting the eternal sunshine of redeemed Man's history. Soon they'll be gone, then the next lot will come, and soon after that they'll be gone, while the truth marches forever on, there for anyone who wants it.

I read about Kondratiev in 'The Whisperers'; no prophet is ever honoured in his own country.

Good to see you back on Blogger, Martin. You've been missed. Never could get the hang of the Facebook thing. It works for some people, but not for me.
Martin Meenagh said…
And good as ever to hear from you, Martin. I've been thinking a lot lately about the Nihilist or apocalyptic tone of the anarcho-capitalists, their wish for a collapse, and how constant a generational theme it is. As you say, the world keeps on turning anyway. Most of the time, however, I feel as if I have somehow migrated to a very foreign, and not very good place, just by standing still--and that can't be right, can it?

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