Sunday, August 12, 2018

Please help, we are trapped in a dystopian nightmare

This is one of the political statements displayed during the concerts by former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters as part of his world tour "Us + Them".

The quote very precisely underlines the severity of the changes happened and happening to politics this decade. Many are not aware of the implications. Populism, mob rule or rather mobs ruled by demagogues and authoritarian rulers are destroying democracy. Diplomacy as a skillful art disappears and will be replaced by dictates, economic sanctions and the use of force from the big powers. Most people and even politicians seem not to be aware of the full scope of what is going on. After hearing or reading news  about a new grotesque tweet from Donald Trump people go on to view the last cat-video on Youtube or read the latest social updates from the friends on Facebook. The postmodern loss of political interest in the public makes people accept Dystopia as the natural background.

What or who is responsible for the political decay? As must be clear from my earlier posts, I see the pattern of a political decline in the end of modernities as a typical phenomenon in civilizations. But it is no law . It does not happen by itself as the result of a such law. For each civilization it happens because of other developments, which are also not the result of laws. Hence in principle the decline can be influenced. But for a a total ending of the development in our case it is probably too late. It would have demanded early and concerted actions decades ago. By now the process has moved  too far to be completely stopped and reversed.

But the decline is not a monolithic development affecting all with the same speed. When it concerns the degree of decline, there are differences between countries, between leaders and between political parties. This gives a possibility to influence the speed,  the degree and the form of the development in a country as a whole and in the world. The balance of influence over society between such sources can be altered. More influence and power given to more declined leaders and parties can accelerate and aggravate the general decline as we see in a frightening degree with Mr. Trump and parts of his party. But more power given to less declined leaders and parties can postpone and dampen it. And here I take it as an obvious truth that the political decline is negative because it causes economic and political instability, tensions, conflicts and suffering. Therefore a postponement and weakening of the development is desirable.

Compared to Obama the contrast could not be bigger. Obama was probably one of the best presidents in the newer history of the United States. The policies were intelligent, well-considered, as consistent as is possible in a multi-facetted world, and they aimed at reducing social inequality and thus reducing dangerous tensions in American society. Trumps policies are on a level nobody would have thought possible except for pessimistic futurologists like me. And even for us, the shift is too big and comes too soon and too sudden. But this fact may entail hope.

I have earlier predicted that the Democrats could end like the Republicans and become irresponsible populists as well. But by now we are still far from this. The contrast between the parties is very large in the level of the decline. Parts of the Republican party have for some years been characterized by opportunist hunger for power no matter the cost for good governance of their country.  Their obstruction of Democrat rule is notorious and is now even being extended into the future through the establishment of a large conservative majority in Supreme Court. In this way l'esprit des lois is blatantly disrespected. And the president is driving the decline to new depths.

But fortunately these forces are only one part of American society and politics. The Democratic Party is miles behind in decline, and many Republicans are very responsible people. Thus there are strong forces which can counterbalance the bad developments.

There is even the possibility that Trump as head of the Republicans is a such caricature -like and exaggerated version of the decline that it leads to general resentment and embarrassment. The possibility that his administration makes serious errors in its uncoordinated erratic policies, errors which result in so many problems that it makes people and politicians rethink. All this could lead to a counter-development in the form of a wish for a return to the more stable and well-governed days, a bit like a vaccine against too extreme decline. This could give support for both Democrats and moderate Republicans. Even though the comparison is not perfect, it could be a bit like the Roman republic which after the dictatorial and violent excesses under the "Democrat" Marius and the "Republican" Sulla returned to more orderly forms.

Roger Waters wants us to resist the decline. We should, but how? One way is to make people see the absurdities of the present developments. If the voters do not realize that they live in a dystopian nightmare, they will not vote to change it. The consequences must be made clear. Who is  longing for conflicts, violence and authoritarian rule? But the message should not repeat the errors of the populists by polarizing society and degrading the voters of the opponents.  Polarizations and tensions in society are fueling the decline. Also, it is important to remember that even though the Republicans are presently mostly affected by the decline, the problem is not political attitudes as such. It is not about left vs right. It is about extreme political views and actions creating polarization and tensions and about the modus agendi.

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