I think I can see it; it’s clear. We’re heading for our self-destruction.
I’m not going to be able to offer any clear thesis here. To write about the world, to pinpoint exactly which direction it’s going like a soothsayer or a good science fiction writer, would need some kind of research to parse it all together. But put aside the academic approach for a while, and just immerse yourself in the buzz of the news, and you can feel it. I can’t predict the future, but I feel that we’re heading down, not up. It troubles me enough to make me want to write something about it.
Growing up, we all knew the world wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t a utopia, but I think many of us could hope that it was heading towards one. No big world war in a while, better technologies were developing, everyone was getting more well-informed, the macroeconomy was rising. And the Internet! What a beautiful thing.
But maybe even the hope of utopia too much. The world seems to be descending in either of two ways: increasing repression, or unbridled chaos.
It wasn’t always so problematic to me. Post-Cold War, democracy seemed to be the way to go. Francis Fukuyama said so. I think many of us believed it. We thank God we are allowed to use all our favourite websites while we pity China, and North Korea. Poor, deprived people.
But how free are we, actually? Is our freedom an illusion? Maybe our communications are unfettered so the authorities can monitor it and thus hold power by the information they have over us. It might be that way, even in the Land of the Free, where an ex-FBI counterterrorism agent alleges that all US communications are monitored, just like a police state. And in democracies, even the more authoritarian ones like Singapore, we believe that the people ultimately hold the power through voting slips. “Wait for the General Elections in 2016”, say those opposed to the PAP whenever they criticise what’s going on now. But just across the Causeway in Malaysia, ballots are getting stuffed way too absurdly. At some point, we might just become exploited workers like Marx predicted, and there would be nothing we could do about it.
Yet, it doesn’t appear that reducing the government’s power to increase the people’s may be a Pareto improvement. What if everyone had the chance to own a gun, regardless of laws? We might be reaching the stage where we could print one ourselves. Anyone could have one; all sorts of people – good people, bad people, crazy, people, stupid people. More people will get the chance to understand the feeling of getting shot. My knee-jerk reaction would be that something like this should be restricted and controlled by the government. And open up any news feed about what’s going on in developing third world countries and count the number of times you read about people getting killed in bomb blasts or getting raped on buses. I’m pretty sure I read a couple in the past week alone. What would be the solution? A stronger government, with a strong police force? But I think I was arguing against that in the previous paragraph…
I don’t see clearly which political model is ideal for something as broken as human society. I think human intelligence and nature doomed us from the very get-go; we were evolved/created to have flashes of brilliance but to ultimately destroy ourselves. Maybe we’re just following the life cycle of a bacteria colony, but on larger scales of space and time. But that’s something to mull over for a subsequent post.