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Megatrends and megatraumas

By Mark Wegierski
web posted November 24, 2008

Canada certainly participates today in worldwide trends involving:

  1. technology (sci-tech)
  2. urbanization and migration
  3. media
  4. tribalism and
  5. violence

Together, these might generally be seen as constituting the ongoing crisis of national sovereignty and meaningful democracy in today's world.

Although these problems are relatively easy to see around us, and although the proposed remedies are also to some extent obvious, effecting these solutions will, of course, be far, far more difficult.

The world today is characterized by the exponential growth of various modern technologies, which ultimately result in an ever-expanding "technosphere" that tends to annihilate the natural world, and that challenges a stable and durable sense of human nature.

At the same time, the unsettled and rootless world created by modern technology results in the burgeoning of anomic urban cityscapes, as well as in massive migrations across the planet.

Western societies are characterized by the problem of media (or "the mediacracy") -- which combines processes of "amusing ourselves to death" in the promotion of a commodity-consumption society, as well as antinomian impulses -- in advertising, entertainment, and the purveying of news. Those who are deemed to be representatives of notions of traditional nation, family, and religion are frequently under relentless media attack in most Western societies. There is also not much of a hearing offered to those on the left who criticize the dogma of economism and the current-day imperative of unending economic expansion.

Largely because of the pressures of assimilation to the global pop-culture, there is the reaction of rampant tribalism (as well as of religious extremism), mostly in societies outside of the West.

Violence has become an increasing element of the planet today, whether in the shape of irregular wars that are extremely difficult to win by "conventional" armed forces, endemic conflicts in the Third World, or crime-prone urban areas within the West itself.

The problems of modern technology, as well as of urbanization and migration, could be addressed by the coming of a new ecological paradigm of "limits to growth".

The problem of media (or "mediacracy") could be addressed in the West by a renewed emphasis on literary-humanistic culture, and on a renewal of the truly reflective spirit of Western humanism and rooted diversity.

The problems of rampant tribalism and religious extremisms in the world today could be addressed by an increasingly reflective (and therefore more moderate, but not non-existent) nationalism or religious spirit.

The problem of increasing violence in the world today could be addressed by a renewed emphasis on state-authority, and on the acceptance of the legitimacy of the exercise of state-power, in terms of upholding the civil order – in the context of a reasonably and undogmatically conceived legal framework. It may also be suggested that the way to resolve many regional and ethnic conflicts is through true federalism and subsidiarity emphasizing locality – rather than a centralized, behemoth bureaucracy.

Indeed, what all of the megaproblems or "megatraumas" above have in common is a degree of "illimitedness" or "boundarylessness" --  an over-all sense of limits or "horizons" is needed.

To discuss the questions of how these are to be called into being would be practically a lifetime endeavor for the greatest thinkers, high-politicians, and cultural and religious figures of the age.

Among the sages who have begun this work are Philip Rieff, who identified today's  "triumph of the therapeutic" -- and called for a "sacred sociology" in response -- and Christopher Lasch, who criticized "the culture of narcissism" and "the revolt of the elites" – pointing to the family as a "haven in a heartless world." ESR

Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.






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