Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

The world is ending? Probably not!

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While we live in a time of great societal problems, including a failing democracy (e.g. [1]), a climate of censorship and intolerance of opinions (e.g. [2]), and the whims of the masses unduly influencing decision making (e.g. [3]), there is one very good reason to not give up hope: Great societal problems are historically the rule rather than the exception—and society has still managed to survive and move on.

If we look at the 20th* century we have such global or near** global issues like the sequence WWI, depression, WWII, cold war, which dominated most of the century. Specific countries have had additional “individual” problems on a similar scale, e.g. decades of dictatorships, genocides, civil wars or revolutions, … However, even the luckier countries have had a great number of problems. Consider e.g. the U.S. and the McCarthy era, which is an astonishing parallel*** to what happens today, or the “Monkey trials” era, which is another strong parallel****. Or consider the crime epidemics (be it organized crime or individual crime). Or the Vietnam War, as well as the political turmoil around it. Or the “Jim Crow” situation that covered a significant part of the century.

*The one I and, likely, almost all readers will know the best, barring the 21st. From what I know of other centuries, the 20th was by no means exceptional, although the set of problems has to some degree varied over time.

**Note that the effects of e.g. a war is not limited to those nominally involved: For instance, the non-combatant Sweden suffered far less from WWII than did Germany, Russia, and Britain, but it was still impacted severely—to the point that rationing was in place for most of the war. (For some products even for years after the war…)

***I suspect, however, that the worst “McCarthies” of today would be among the first to condemn what happened back then—without realizing that they are doing the same thing: Either you believe what I believe, or you have no right to speak, to work, to teach, … (Just like e.g. the Antifa has so much in common with the fascists they claim to fight against.)

****With the addition of the “let us ignore science—we know better what is correct” aspect that also permeates e.g. feminism and gender studies. I might even have larger sympathies for the creationists: They drew on a radically different source of knowledge and disagreed about which type of source was the better. Feminists and their ilk either have no source of knowledge, instead relying on wishful thinking and personal prejudice; or claim the authority of science while ignoring any contradictory science and opening their arms to pseudo-science that agrees—astrologers pretending to be astronomers.

Chances are that some of the problems we have now will eventually blow over, be looked upon by future generations like the current looks upon the McCarthy era, and, sadly, have been replaced by a new set of problems… The extreme political correctness of today is a prime candidate.

Others might see a turn-around, as public opinion sways back-and-forth, or as the back-lash grows enough to make politicians take heed, e.g. regarding privacy and the rights of the individual.

Others yet, regrettably, could prove quite problematic, and either lead us on to a dystopia (likely something Orwellian) or require some form of radical upheaval to be rid of. Even here, however, long-term events are likely to prove this a temporary state: It took decades for the communist dictatorships of eastern Europe* to fall, but fall they did. I am a little loath to give a specific modern example, because the border towards the prior paragraph can be hard to predict. For instance, it seems likely that government will continue to grow and try to become more and more involved in our lives—as has been the trend for a very long time. However, possibly a point will be reached where even a majority of the broad masses have had too much, and the long-term** trend is reversed.

*Others remain, but I can only think of North-Korea as a strong counter-example—and that too is likely just a matter of time. China, e.g., is still a very oppressive state, but has moved quite a long-way in the right direction on other counts and is not the religiously communist country it once was. Cuba, the last “poster country”, was never that bad, was likely artificially held down by the personal presence of Castro, and appears to be gradually changing after his recent death.

**As opposed to e.g. a brief fluctuation for the better; say, a single President, preceded and followed by more expansionist colleagues.

A particularly interesting example is the worsening of many school systems.* These negative trends has been countered by a positive trend towards home schooling in the U.S., taking several percent of the children out of a negative environment, and with numbers rising. This simultaneously shows how too large a deterioration eventually brings the populace up against it and demonstrates how fragile a counter-movement can be before it reaches a critical mass: With the still low numbers, it would be possible for home-schooling to be banned**, forcing the children back into regular school. The few percent are dwarfed by the majority that has no stake in the issue and are counter-weighed by groups that oppose home schooling (e.g. out of ignorance or a drive for “equity”, because they laud the indoctrination by normal schools, or because they see home schooling as removing resources from the school system).

*Notably through declining academic standards; and increasing dominance of politically correct (or leftist) thought and propaganda at various levels of the school systems, clearly noticeable during my own school years in Sweden (starting in 1982) and entirely out of control in today’s U.S. (And possibly other places, likely including Sweden. As a negative side-effect of reading mostly in English, I am not up-to-date with the details of Sweden in this regard. I do know, however, that problems are present like political pressure groups trying to re-write books on math and physics to remove “gender disparities”…)

**I note that the U.S. stance on home schooling is not shared world wide. In e.g. Germany and Sweden (since a ban a few years ago; it was very rare before that) it is not an option.

On the down-side, the repetition of certain problems is a cause for pessimism: One implication might be that society will not end this time either (as above), but another is that society will remain in a state of crisis and that these repetitions will continue. (Those who do not know history are bound to repeat it—and knowledge of history is not very impressive these days…) The underlying problem is human nature, with its irrationality, emotionality, lack of critical thinking, … Human nature changes only slowly over time, and quite possibly for the worse. Educational efforts can to some degree help, but, more often than not, school systems appear to have the opposite effect.

As an aside, there is an other category of problems that could give the impression that things are going to hell, namely misinterpretation of a difference over e.g. the human life-span as a difference over time. A notable example would be older generations viewing younger generations as immature, lazy, uneducated, rude, …, which is an age-old phenomenon. The explanation of the perceived difference is often that the older generations compare themselves as they are now with the younger generation, and/or that they have a too rosy recollection of their own behaviors. The fair comparison is, obviously, with the older generations as they were then, say grand-child at twenty with grand-parent at twenty—not grand-parent at seventy. (However, sometimes these complaints are justified, as may very well be the case at the moment, and then this paragraph does not apply.) These cases are deliberately left out above, because they do not fit the pattern of new, or even continual, problems that alter the threat situation; they are continuous problems that leave the threat situation unchanged.


Written by michaeleriksson

November 25, 2017 at 12:05 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] indoctrination and the inefficient school system, and which I have long feared (cf. portions of [3]). My fears have been increasing greatly recently, as even many Conservative debaters are yelling […]

  2. […] education and then did not earn his keep”.*** Etc. As late as five years ago, almost to the day, I wrote “Cuba, […], was never that bad”, but that claim seems optimistic in light of information […]

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