Are We Living At The End Or Just In A Bad Moment?
|DJ Rodgers : Sunset Prayer|
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?