I'm just going to write, without stopping to edit for as long as I can. James Joyce up in dis bitch. No sources, google it.
I, in general and in specific, agree that society is collapsing. The environment is collapsing. Our systems of governance are collapsing. Our moral and ethical systems are collapsing. All of the tiny, interpersonal, environmental, financial and purely luck based threads which held the cloth of society have been stressed and their failure is the sound of the gravediggers of our great human experiment. 1) THE COLLAPSE: where are you now?
Your chair, your phone & computer, your clothing, your house, your food: you made none of it. What ownership do you have over any aspect of your life, really... Will you spin cloth and smelt iron and forge mono-crystalline silicone to replace what others can take from you? We sit at a local maximum of 'goodness.' Much of human history is not happy. Those people starved more than they feasted. They died of disease. They died of exposure, in their own homes. They died in warfare and died by murder at rates higher than we have for most of our lifetimes (unless one of you reading this was alive for WWII,). In the face of this unprecedented peace we have stockpiled the most modern, deadliest, most viscous weapons. Machines of war far beyond anything the likes of monsters Hannibal, Genghis, Alexander or Napoleon saw in their wildest night terrors.
You sit atop 6000 years of recorded history. You can read my shitposts, from your bathroom wirelessly! We can commiserate about the unlikely tragedies on TIFU, give total strangers advice, identify the most mysterious objects. The breadth and depth and width of our collective knowledge has never been greater; but our ability to organize and impact the world has sunk. We have ignored for 100 years the issues of our industrial society. Together society has pushed farther beyond the bounds of our ignorance, delved deeper, flew higher and mastered our personal sphere with endless commodities. But there is a limit, a filter and a endpoint to this local maximum. Nothing can grow exponentially in a finite universe, our stock market included.
Return to your comfortable bed, your mediocre chair at work or (hopefully not) your uncomfortable street corner. Think how boundless the built environment is around you. Countless hours of work; plastic forming, concrete, wood milling, industrial paper manufacturing, glass manufacturing not to mention the artists, programmers, musicians, lawyers, doctors, researchers, janitors, corporate committees and other random, but important, individuals which MAKE everything work. The missing issues in that sentence merely belay the huge complexity of the stated areas. The world has become more complex than any one human a long time ago, and more complex than any comprehension by huge groups in our modern age.
You sit atop a huge throbbing mass; Hobbs's leviathan has begun to falte// 2) THE OCEANIC FEELING: Is Society dead?
Maybe society has died, as Nietzsche proclaimed God's death in an earlier age. I've always found the famous utterance "God is dead" lacking. So, I will reproduce Nietzsche's full verse here:
THE MADMAN Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!" -- As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? -- Thus they yelled and laughed. Bolding damn well mine!
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him -- you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
"How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us -- for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto."
Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars -- and yet they have done it themselves.
It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"
[Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882, 1887) para. 125; Walter Kaufmann ed. (New York: Vintage, 1974), pp.181-82.]
The oceanic feeling is one of "a sensation of ‘eternity’, a feeling of "being one with the external world as a whole." The uneasiness of civilization has washed back over us like a hellish wave. How could we take these massive gears of civilization. Those which produced your phone, your snack and your clothing and begin to have it fail? Is consumer culture, industrial society eternal, ever present and all powerful. It is not, but from the oceanic feeling adrift in the currents of retail management.... It might as well be.
Our feelings of pulling together have dissipated. The moral, ethical and logical standards of previous generations have fallen away in the psychotic break of our civilization's historical pathway. We have begun the exponential growth of knowledge and any slow down feels like death. COVID, fire, hurricanes, global climate change and the huge, crushing weight of the ignorant have conspired to grind our journey to the stars to a halt.
Those 'in charge' of society are now but socially attuned Shipwreck Kellys: sitting atop the ever shaking societal ladder. Even the horrific leaders of ages past had some goal, some great project, some gulag archipelago or even a final solution to bring moral rectitude. What is our
goal beyond a fleet of nesting doll boats, a private plane and a dozen mansions? You with nice, moral goals -nursing the sick, teaching children, building prostheses - where does your ambition take society? Together all of our nice, moral goals matter little before Mark Zuckerberges, Jeff Bezoes and the thousands of smaller titans of industry. With their near infinite wealth, what use is our struggle? It is everything! They can sit on their piles of gold by themselves, if it were not for our participation in that wealth.
And what do we get for it? A dying planet, a ruined society and a worldwide failure of government to DO SOMETHING about EVERYTHING happening!
Those sitting on top have never been well plugged into the reality on the ground below them. The French Revolution and the Fall of Rome show how high a society can get and plummet back in only a human lifetime, because those in charge were completely disconnected from what we plebeians experience. We thought competent leadership was a modern phenomenon but, looking at history, it turns out it comes down to luck most of the time. 3) A NEW MORAL SYSTEM: Where do we go from here?
Well, lets return. Zooming out only made the problem look bigger. Society has much work to do! The chief among them is to take the incredible heights we have reached and glide back down. Maybe we have gone too far into the sections of map marked 'here be dragons.' We delved too deep and awakened the Balrog of environmental collapse. We flew too high and our government's wings melted in the intense heat of the ignorant, angry sun. We have struck The Dolorous Stroke upon the interpersonal connection between individuals.
First, we must consider the effects of information. An information diet, if you will. One must limit the intake of potentially damaging ideas. Serial killers, conspiracy theories, mindless celebrity worship, unquestioned obedience to corporate overlords, stupid YouTube videos (sorry Gus) and other impediments to logical, consistent thought must be banished. These detriments to the mind must be banished as demons were in earlier eons.
With a clear mind one must consider our personal effect upon the world around us. Radiate magnanimous goodness. Build strong relationships. Be a light upon the world, not for some religious purpose; but because society is based upon everyone working together. Zeus, first and foremost, was the God of Guests and Hospitality. Many a tragedy began with a uncaring host or an insult to the hearth.
Finally, we must build a more robust system. The collapse will tear down much of what we know; but it won't destroy the celestial sphere. The Earth will remain. The collapse may take out our environment, but geo-engineering is still an option. The collapse may ruin any number of businesses (or the capitalist systems themselves), but individuals will remember the exchange of goods as they have for thousands of years. The collapse could reduce our population to pre-industrial levels but what knowledge we can preserve will remain. I hope it does not come to that, but the collapse is not the end. 4) THE END: What happens now?
I have no clue. May the endless void have mercy on your soul.
(That is my hour of writing. 10,777 characters. I have another beer to drink. It was good to get that off my chest. Pretty good catharsis. Peace out dudes!)