Friday, October 14, 2011

The brewing storm and a trend that will last for the rest of this decade


What is now happing is a rebellion rather than a protest, and that's why there are no explicit demands. All rebellions are basically spiritual — about "righteousness." When a critical mass of people feels deeply wronged, they rise up in anger. Their demand is wholesale change.

The catalyst for rebellion is almost always material. So, very often a proximate cause is mistaken for the actual cause. It may seem that the Occupy Wall Street protest or the London riots, or the rioting in Greece, Spain and Chile are about money and jobs, and the Arab Spring was about rising food prices. But these are just the sparks that set off a bonfire globally that had been years in the making. This is about a youth that sees no future for itself in the world under the existing system.

This rebellion is against false authority, and it is grounded in real outrage over a lot of things other than what media pundits are bloviating about — mass murder (neo-imperialism, neo-colonialism), violation of human rights (torture, war crimes), widespread lying and hypocrisy, endemic political corruption, unbridled lust for money and power, and unprecedented greed, etc. all leading to economic chaos.

This rebellion is not astroturf. It is grass roots and it is global. Most significantly it is inspired and lead by youth in a leaderless movement that has arisen spontaneously. However, it has been decades in the making, and it is has broad and deep intellectual underpinning. The media idea that this is a flash in the pan, a "return of the hippies," is wishful thinking on the part of the entrenched.

The people in charge of governing have violated their charge and have lost the spiritual basis of their authority. Al they retain is the material basis, which ultimately rests on the state's monopoly on violence. However, resort to violence has seldom worked for long against a determined and focused populace that feels deeply wronged. The velvet revolutions proved this.

Governing is about ordering a society for and toward good. When a critical mass of people comes to think that the elite has hijacked not only the country instead, but are also destroying the world and the future in the process, then expect agitation for change to be coming.

This is a long way from being over. It is a developing trend that will be with us for some time, and it will have an impact socially, politically and economically on the whole world.

The beginnings of this rebellion, which has gone global, can be traced to the velvet revolutions that toppled the USSR. This is the same "spiritual force" at work, which Hegel called the Zeitgeist, that is, the "the spirit of the time." The entire world is now in the throes of an ongoing velvet revolution that will last out this decade and transform the world one way or another. The outcome is still very uncertain and many scenarios can come into play before the dust settles on a new era.

This is pretty much the way that Ravi Bata approaches it in The New Golden Age: The Coming Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos (2007), and Straus & Howe also in The Fourth Turning (1997). Indeed, Batra foresaw the coming social, political and economic revolution decades ago in The Coming Downfall of Communism and Capitalism (1978). He got the timing of the fall of communism about right but was late with respect to capitalism. His 2007 book seems to have corrected that. Strauss & Howe were pretty much on target.

Both view this in terms of the temporal and historical unfolding of a spiritual force rather than the result of some purely material cause, although they give different reasons for their views. They agree, however, that it is the confluence of both objective, historical conditions and the subjective mindset of a generation ready to rise to awesome challenge since its future is at stake and they see nothing to lose in risking all. So expect big things to be happening, but not all at once or linearly — unless the world is very, very lucky.

12 comments:

Matt Franko said...

"there's something happening here, what it is, ain't exactly clear,....."

Tom Hickey said...

Matt, in the broad view, what is happening differently that is birthing a new era is globalization and the world is going through the labor pangs. This is amplified by the onset of Great Depression II that began in 2008 and has some why to go. In my analysis, we are about to experience the onset of the second leg down. This is occupying a lot of attention at the moment due to the economic pressures but the really big news of this is century is climate change coupled with globalization, along with population explosion and resource contraction. This is creating a convergence of squeezes that will tighten like a vise of many faces over time. The challenges are are greater than the humanity has ever faced. The question is how our species will respond. That remains to be seen.

Dan Kervick said...

Greta Post Tom! Lately, I've found Leonard Cohen's "Democracy" to be particularly apt:

"Democracy"

It's coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It's coming from the feel
that this ain't exactly real,
or it's real, but it ain't exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming through a crack in the wall;
on a visionary flood of alcohol;
from the staggering account
of the Sermon on the Mount
which I don't pretend to understand at all.
It's coming from the silence
on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered
heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin'
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here
and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

It's coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It's here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it's here they got the spiritual thirst.
It's here the family's broken
and it's here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we'll be making love again.
We'll be going down so deep
the river's going to weep,
and the mountain's going to shout Amen!
It's coming like the tidal flood
beneath the lunar sway,
imperial, mysterious,
in amorous array:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on ...

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Dan Kervick said...

This is occupying a lot of attention at the moment due to the economic pressures but the really big news of this is century is climate change coupled with globalization, along with population explosion and resource contraction.

I agree with all this but would add one other factor. I work in the book industry, which is undergoing fundamental change. So is the music industry; so is academia and scholarship; so is the news industry. So is every area of our economy which is based on the production and distribution of intellectual and artistic content, which has suddenly become much more inexpensive due to the incredible growth of information technologies. It's very hard to see where this is all going to end up.

Matt Franko said...

Tom,
I cant help coming back to these 2 scriptures:

"4 And fathers, do not be vexing your children, but be nurturing them..." Ephesians 6:4 and..

"21 Fathers, do not vex your children, lest they may be disheartened." Col 3:21

I cant help but to think this is a "tell" that the Lord has provided thru Paul here. When you see the young ones reacting in this fashion, (parents: really in ANY situation that you are responsible for) it is time to switch to "plan B" so to speak; we ("fathers") need to then back off and figure out how to re-arrange things that we are responsible for to remove the vexation/indignation of the children...

As far as government authority, here is Paul again in Romans 13:
"Now you do not want to be fearing the authority. Do good, and you will be having applause from it.
For it is God's servant for your good."

You can see how the spirits of our young ones (who have been given no authority) would become "disheartened" and exhibit physical "vexation" when they would witness this perversion of authority that their "fathers" have been given by God...

resp,



Resp,

Tom Hickey said...

Dan, I put the digital revolution in with globalization. It is perhaps the key technology that will usher in the new era since it has link up youth globally through social media and enable both networking and instantaneous communication. Additionally, it provides a huge knowledge base and an information and emotion rich environment through access to not only to knowledge but the muses. We are headed into the digital age. Most of the youth growing up now grew up at the beginning of the digital age and are qualitatively different from all who grew up in the analog age. And this is only the beginning!

Tom Hickey said...

Matt, I think that one of the greatest influences on youth today is that they feel strongly that their elders have failed them. They don't trust what they call "old school thinking," and they are bound and determined because of this to forge their own way. God speed, I say.

Ryan Harris said...

Bloomberg had a nice article about some interesting parallels between our predicament and the China real estate collapse and their government bailouts of business and banks followed by angry populism.

GLH said...

Tom Hickey: I think you are correct in your assement of the political situation in that the political "elites" have failed us and we are in the midst of great change. But, I must point out that our religions have also failed us. They have become captive to dogma and elitism. I believe that the end is near for all present religions and even our present idea of science. The two must merge to present us with a more comprehensive idea of Life and Consciousness. Present civilization won't survive unless we learn and change.
Mr. Franko: I also see the end of present day Christianity. It will not last in its present form. Our understanding of Life must change.

Matt Franko said...

GLH,
I see a lot of parallels between the operations within the orthodoxy of Christendom and those of the orthodoxy of the Economics Academe (unfortunately)...

Resp,

Tom Hickey said...

Agree, GLH, these are in the works. Big shift in global consciousness is now underway. That is really what is going on and that is the ultimate cause for change.

This is what Zeitgeist means. The spirit of the age is determined by the prevailing collective consciousness of the people of that time. The avant-garde is the indicator of where things are headed. The role of conservatives is to slow down radical change so that fools don't rush in where angels fear to tread.

But when big changes come, it is often due to a single, apparently small proximate cause, like Luther nailing his "demands" to the cathedral door. But the Protest Revolution could never have occurred without the collective consciousness to support it. Then, as now, the enemy was corruption at the top.

What is happening is sweeping institutional change that will usher in new rules, new approaches and new ways of doing things in all major areas of life. The pace of change has been swift and institutions have not kept up, largely due to the drag of vested interests that resist change.

This can be viewed as a process of species adaptation to globalism brought about through technological innovation materially and a change of consciousness subjectively.

Scott R. said...

So expect big things to be happening, but not all at once or linearly — unless the world is very, very lucky.

Yeah..., I expect the winter weather is going to cool quite a few jets soon. Let's hope you are right and and this movement has some non-linear staying power.

Thanks for posting an original piece here Tom..., hope to lots more in the future. Right on partner..., write on.