Nervous trembling fills the sky. People scurry about ordinary activities below, performing them as a catechism or talisman against change, which they fear more than anything else. Change means rolling the dice to see what works or fails.
We know something is coming, which is why people are trembling. It has been for a long time, but we have fought a rearguard action against it, mainly because we understand what we have now and how to work around it (mostly). We worry about what comes next, and how radical the transition might be.
Although change has been upon us, we are like people crossing a stream on stepping-stones, looking ahead to the next one before we leap, and unwilling to abandon our position of relative stability where we are. We will not jump until we have visual confirmation.
Historical cycles run in this way, from abstraction to visualization. When we finally see the abundant tangible evidence of a system failing, we lose faith in it, and look for alternatives. Since there are only a few choices, we shuttle back and forth between extremes.
Like the Berlin wall coming down, or the fall of Berlin itself, we see tangible symbols out there. A country strung out on opioids, in debt to China, saddled with taxes from every direction, funding an underclass that hates its founding ethnic majority. Permanent political divide. The apparent inability of government to solve any problem while people languish in misery, caught between a party too stupid to know how to fight and a party which hides its dark desire for control and revenge behind symbols of altruism and compassion. We know now that there is no way out of this mess; too much has to be changed: laws junked, people exiled, previously permissible behaviors shunned.
Tremors of populism provides the first inkling of what is going on. Historical change happens from the roots and details, not by rapid and radical acts, since those can only occur after perceptions shift from the roots.
Populism emphasizes the need for meaning in life; we need tribes, traditions, and morals, and it sees government as the enemy, so it aims to get toward an Austrian economics or libertarian styled society. We want fewer taxes, and less of government as an industry that directly or indirectly employs so many people that it has their loyalty and thus, total control. We want fewer ideological imperatives, which are starting to see as Soviet because they always have been, which clash with what we can observe of reality.
In the long term, we are heading away from the symbolic toward the realistic. We no longer trust open-ended ideals like freedom, equality, liberty, justice, and tolerance. We like what works, and what works is for us to have standards.
We do not want these to take on the symbolic level, or be universal to all of humanity, because we realize that different groups are different, and each wants its own standards which may be semi-arbitrary. We do not care. We just want our own standards.
We want order back, yes, and realism, yes, but these we desire because we want normal life. Decent places where decent people can succeed. Everyone else? For the first time, we have really stopped caring; the world consists of mostly people with their hand out who are unwilling to do anything significant to improve their lot in life.
Instead of taking away nice places by bringing them here, giving them our tax money, or concerning ourselves with “understanding” them, we want hard standards: we know what works in our society, so do this or face the consequences of not doing so.
We realize that none of us are islands, as the symbolic view of life requires us to do. Ideology, which is comprised of symbols that make people happy or sad, and manipulates them accordingly, makes us view the world as if it were symbolic. Yet is not; it is physical, and understandable.
We know that we need communities, and that those communities go away unless we have political stability, and that most people make terrible decisions that create a runaway cancerous growth of the State, which promptly takes everything it can, hires bureaucrats, and fails to fix any problems.
The transition from ideology to realism takes many tiny steps. People want things to work, and are already looking at the past for examples of what has functioned better than the ideological society we have now. Instead of questing for abstract goals, they want function.
In this their thinking may be limited, but it reflects the day-to-day reality they encounter. Most know little more than their local areas, their jobs, and their hobbies. They know the schools their kids go to, the stores at which they shop, and a few other necessities.
For them, the questions of life boil down to how things are going right now, and how afraid they are that things will change. When even this group notices that things are going badly, and it happens to the point that they become distrustful of the system, change is imminent.
The “yellow vests” protests in France showed us something significant, although most missed it. The protesters wanted higher wages and lower costs, but would not settle when government offered them more welfare payments.
They made their point: ordinary working people are paying for the ideological policy, perhaps not directly through income taxes, but indirectly through the raised cost of everything, and the reduced salaries that come when money is siphoned off to go into government.
Just as in the Soviet Union, the great ideological quest reaches a point where a society and economy can no longer prosper in it. It becomes a parasite, and it sucks enough of the life out of the system to make it moribund.
Interestingly, people have not rejected ideals; they have merely transferred ideals from the ideological to the realistic. Nationalism works, as does having a “spirit” to a country, and this gets us the mix of traditionalism and realist economics that forms populism.
Everywhere people recognize that society has become toxic and dysfunctional. Luckily, all of its grand plans are failing at once. The entitlements states have gone bankrupt everywhere and are busy with policies of “austerity,” or cutting existing entitlements.
Whether we believe in the statistical fiction of climate change or not, it is easy to see that pollution and environmental disruption are increasing. Everywhere we go, we cover the land in concrete and erect large cities. These radiate heat, displacing jet streams. That in turn disrupts rain and wind, causing a murky enduring heat and humidity.
Ideology transformed the West from a place of opportunity to societies dedicated to government as an industry. It hires too many people directly, but too many more are in secondary industries like consultants, lawyers, and paperwork shufflers.
Affirmative action and diversity programs add even more government-created expenses. Every line of regulations hires one bureaucrat on the government side, and one in every company that has to comply with those regulations. All of this is a false industry based on ideology.
Not only has this made itself indebted and broke, but it has failed to do anything about the pervasive problems it claims to solve.
On the other hand, real problems have appeared on the horizon. There are too many people. Resources are waning. Pollution threatens health. Too many workers means an unstable economy; globalism savaged national economies.
Even more, we just do not like our modern society. It is ugly, made of square buildings covered in advertising. It is loud. It smells bad. We do not encounter much beauty, and when we do, it is stamped with the human hand and made simplistic, like a park.
Daily life has become pointless. We know that much of what we do is unnecessary or futile, yet we must do it and compete doing it, as if driven on by sadistic overlords. How many meetings can someone sit through before he hoists the black flag and begins slitting throats?
This society produces a few winners and many losers, instead of what it did in the past, which was to support lots of people having comfortable normal lives without working seventy hours a week. No position is stable, and only the super-rich can escape.
We now have a group of uninspired people, working for corporations, living on debt and borrowed time, bored out of their minds. They even tire of their entertainment, which since it is everyone in massive quantities, has revealed mostly how similar it all is.
All people want is a decent career, a fair amount of their time to themselves, friends and family, and this requires a stable civilization. We have a society constantly at war with itself, feuding over power and money, where nothing is stable and no community connections exist.
As usual, society self-destructs when you give people the vote. Making choices into the abstract causes people to orient themselves toward working with the system, establishing consensus, and getting along with others. This leads them far from the actual issues.
Modern society reduced itself to a pile of problems, empty promises, and a far less exciting reality than we hoped. It took a long time for this to become visible, and we held on to hope, figuring that someday we would get to the good times.
That failure translates into a lack of faith. People have lost faith in ideology and government. They no longer trust media or entertainment. They see no value in faraway places and trying to restrain the messed up people out there.
They desire simply a normal life, and they realize that this society will not give it to them. Change looms on the horizon because we no longer have faith in the way things have been done for the past two centuries. Our world will change, and faster than we realize.