Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Are we near the dawn of a new dark age?

I am encouraged by the present populist uprising in American politics, but I don't expect it to deliver a swift or stunning reversal of affairs. 

If successful, the populist revolution will displace the elites, or at least drastically diminish their grip on power.  Yet a populist uprising also holds potential to usher in deeper political clashes, perhaps even a sort of dark age until our civilization returns to basic, proven civics and discards the folly of political correctness.

In an online discussion, Don Dickinson responded to my assessment:
Dark ages are required for the same reason as recessions and depressions. 
Recessions and depressions are part of the normal business cycle. 
Dark ages are part of the normal social cycle. 
Populists are part of the normal cycle because they are the only ones who can form large groups in times of insanity. 
Artificially preventing either the business cycle or the social cycle for an extended time only insures that when nature again takes hold, the snap back to the mean will be more powerful than if nature had been allowed to take its course.
 The new dark age will be especially bleak as it will almost certainly involve Internet outages if not a complete collapse.

In previous dark ages, people at least retained knowledge of basic things like farming, how to start fires, or how to take a leak or take a dump in the woods if need be.

Few of this generation, at least in the U.S. (and in much of Europe), have ever had an interest in operating at a more basic level, and have increasingly abandoned skills of both the un-mechanized world as well as technologies formerly embraced in the analog one.

Seems like a decent topic to kick around on this Friday's Don and Doug webcast.

On a related note: Popularist party politics as assessed in cartoon, 1895:

Print shows three women cyclists labeled "Republican Party, Dem. Party, [and] Populist Party"; the Democrat has hit broken glass and ruined her front tire and the Populist is having a bumpy ride on the rocks along the side of the road; they cannot keep up with the Republican cyclist.
Source: Library of Congress

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