When the dust has settled on the death of the West, and people realize that “postmodern” really meant “post-Western,” archaeologists of the future (like the firemen in Fahrenheit 451, they will not excavate artifacts but destroy them) will conclude that modernity revealed itself in one moment.
That moment occurred a few years back when a man was driving to a vacation destination. Similar incidents have happened before and since, but this one was immaculate because he was truly a pure innocent. Heading to an unfamiliar location, he had turned on his Global Positioning System (GPS) unit and was listening to the voice.
It gave him a stream of symbols with which to control his world. “Drive ahead five hundred meters,” it would say. “Turn left at the intersection.” He would do it and then, with zero engagement with the actual outside world, he could navigate thousands of kilometers of space as if he knew it with the divine insight of a god.
In this case, however, the god was demented, like gods removed from the world tend to become, and his GPS gave him instructions to turn at a certain location where the road had been marked as completed two years ago by apathetic and extractive government workers, but in fact did not exist. His car plunged into a reservoir.
Thankfully in this case no one was harmed, unlike other cases, which is why I choose it. The horror in this incident is all about how we live, not who died. It is not about the tragic harms, but the failure to aspire to something better than a mediocre horror of existence.
We as moderns (and postmoderns, which is really just the post-diversity pluralism that is modernism consuming itself) are caught between two layers:
We are caught in The Era of Symbols, which essentially exists as a universalized form of the previous two eras. In other words, our superstitions are now based around numbers, concepts, words, and images. We still have the good/bad outlook.
This outlook confuses what is actual, namely how our actions change the world, with how the methods of this change appear to us. Universalism is means-over-ends, or method-based, because people cannot see how events will turn out, but know only that some things like war and taxes are scary.
If you fight a war and remove a threat that has menaced you for generations, actual results are good, at least for your people. If you fight a war and remove a less competent society, actual results are good for existence itself. Like natural selection, quality has triumphed over randomness and repetition.
Universalism turns out to be merely a forgery. For the incompetent civilization, getting defeated is “evil”; for the higher civilization, defeating and removing the incompetents is “good,” and for nature, it is “good” as well. This means that the terms good and evil are human symbolic projection, basically modern superstition.
Right now we are ruled by this modern superstition, since we suffer from the precedent cascade which happens when you set up one symbol as “good,” like loving all people, and from that derive other symbols like individualism and equality, eventually ending up at Drag Queen Story Hour for a diverse cultureless atheist grey race.
In the Era of Patterns, should humanity survive that long, we will no longer believe in universalism or the idea that all humans are the same, since that is only necessary with symbols, idols, and superstitions because the source of power is externalized into the proxy or token, including ghost-spirits and talismans.
We face a vast change now. Humanity has outgrown symbolism; we will still use symbols, tokens, words, and diagrams, but we cannot treat the proxy as the original thing. That pivots us toward realism instead of a human-only world composed of moralism, individualism, and in groups, egalitarianism.
This may be the only real change in history in our lifetimes. It is clear that not only has democracy failed, but theocracy, oligarchy, dictatorship, and military rule have not turned out so well either. Realism, or focusing on natural selection and orders which reward the good and punish the bad, remains our only option.
Much like the crisis of the past years, with the COVID-19 panic revealing our bureaucratic class to be self-serving careerists who exploit us despite our “freedom” in “democracy” and “equality,” the utter failure of not just democracy but the belief in its legitimacy as “good” has trashed our faith in it.
In the name of “good” symbols like individualism and its descendants equality, diversity, and entitlements a.k.a. socialism, they have wrecked everything remaining of the West after WW1 tore its heart out. We are seeing symbols of good as like a box of rocks: on the outside, it looks appealing, but once Schrodinger opens it, it is useless.
Through this learning we will come to see the age of symbols as a cargo cult. When we do the rain dance, the planes come and drop supplies. The correlation is not causation, the map is not the territory, and the golden calf (or its written equivalent) is not God. Let us finally learn this important lesson.