You can't get enough of me. And what's even worse, I can't get enough of me. I love the sound of my voice. And so should you.
So today, the second video of the day, a twofer.
And today's topic is, are we living in an era of transition or are we in the throes of the disintegration and meltdown of civilization, as we had known it for, at the very least, 500 years?
Now, this is a complex topic, not as simple as it sounds, because there's a lot of disagreement. When you talk to some people, they say, oh, don't worry, they comfort themselves. They say this is merely a transitional period. And in a transitional period, there's a lot of mayhem and disorientation and dislocation and confusion and fear and panic and conspiracy theories and crazy making. And you know, it's normal for a transition. Things will settle down soon. The dust will settle and everything will become clear and organized and structured and order will prevail. That's one camp.
In the other camp, the doomsayers, they say it's the end of the world. Those are the last days. Armageddon, Armageddon is at the gates.
And what I attempt, what I will attempt to do today in this video is to weigh in into this debate and for my own opinion as to which of these two camps is closer to the truth.
And I don't want you to hold your breath because all my videos are very long because I like to hear my voice and I like to demonstrate to you my amazing, totally incomprehensible vocabulary. So I don't want you to hold your breath for so long.
And I can tell you that I believe we are in a period of breakdown and meltdown and disintegration. No, I don't think we're in a period of transition. And I will try to substantiate this resolution throughout the rest of the video.
So those people who are comforting themselves, in my view, they're delusional, they're self deceiving, and they're trying to resolve serious of cognitive dissonances.
Take, for example, the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages had lasted for 1000 years. And there is very little argument that the Middle Ages had constituted a total breakdown of civilization. With the fall of Rome, the fifth century, everything fell apart. The structure of empire, the conduits of power, the hierarchies, the institutions, the ethos and ethics, whatever ethics they may have had, the mores social and otherwise, the legal structure, everything crumbled.
Civilization, as we had known it until then, had disappeared and dissipated and evaporated, barbarians took over with their proto civilization. And while technological progress was not impeded, it's a myth. There was a lot of technological progress in the Middle Ages. And while even science progressed, particularly in some enclaves, for example, the Muslim countries, the Arab countries, Spain, after it had been conquered by the Moors, science flourished in these parts.
Science and technology alone do not a civilization make. And so the Middle Ages were an uncivilized age. And we are on the precipice of a new such phase. We are not entering another era of enlightenment.
This transition is not from one good thing to another good thing is from one thing to nothing. We are entering an age of chaos.
So it's not merely a transitional period. And things will not settle down. Not soon at any rate.
But how can you tell the difference? How can you tell the difference between transition and disintegration?
I mean, looking from the outside, there are many similarities. Things fall apart, things reform. New institutions emerge. There's a reconception of ethical percepts and doctrines and dogmas and beliefs and values are reconstituted in both these types of periods.
There's a lot of mayhem. And there's a feeling of drifting apart, of lack of control or losing control.
So there's a lot in common as far as mass or collective psychology is involved, and a lot in common institutionally, in terms of disintegration of institutions and their replacement with new ones.
So how can you tell apart the two?
I'll try to offer five differential criteria, which will kind of help us to position ourselves in this flow of history.
Transitions and gender affirming of new ideas and numerous paradigm shifts.
One of the critical feature of transitions is, it's not only about destruction, but about construction.
Granted, destruction, disruption could be productive and could lead to construction. Schumpeter's work deals with this.
But in a typical transition, there's a simultaneous process of out with the old and in with the new.
There's a contemporaneous, there's a coterminous set of evolutions, of progressions that as one thing is destroyed, it gives rise naturally, inherently, and ineluctably to other things which are new, better, more adaptable, and confer advantage on humanity. They are in other words, positive adaptations.
So in a typical transition, the new emerges from the ruins of the old. The new uses the bricks of the old to reconstruct itself.
The new, anything new that emerges, new beliefs, new values, new religions, new institutions, new science, new anything, new communities, new family structures, new anything, anything new that emerges, you can see the footprints and the head prints and the bricks and the elements and the constituents of the old in the new.
In other words, there is continuity. Transition involves continuity amidst discontinuity.
Not so in breakdowns. In periods or eras of meltdowns and breakdowns and disintegration, there is the impoverishment of both culture and the individual's inner experience.
Human relations themselves fall apart on every conceivable level individually and collectively. Institutions vanish and are not replaced. There's no substitution effect. The old is discarded and none of the good aspects of the old, none of the positive aspects of the old, none of the adaptive aspects of the old is integrated in the new.
It's like there is a discontinuity, a sharp chasm, a break, a gap, an abyss between all the new and everything that's old is gone out of the window, is discarded with contempt usually.
There's an emphasis on youth and young and new and novel, but without the benefit of being informed by the old.
So human interactions fall apart and begin to be minimized. People are beginning to avoid each other because they are not constellated and structured ways of interacting safely and productively anymore.
And so this is replaced by narcissism. Narcissism, psychopathy and other forms of mental illness go off the charts because society and the collective do not afford the individual any solution.
Individual withdraws and renders itself the seat of authority. The rulemaking function is internalized and defiance takes the place of assertiveness and boundaries. Recklessness takes the place of innovation because everything is disjointed and not harmoniously integrated with the past. Everything starts anew from zero, from square one and everything therefore is infantile, is regressive, baby steps forever.
I've been teaching for 40 years, so I've had the dubious pleasure of interacting with at least seven generations of students.
Currently I notice, for example, the profound lack of curiosity about other people and about the world among the young. The young are not curious.
Narcissistic gazing combines with cool superficiality to yield shallow surface communication which amounts to staccatoed meaninglessness.
Ask the young any personal or deep question and they cast you as either derisive or offensive, deriding. Why are you deriding? They don't want to go deep, possibly because there is no depth, possibly because they are afraid of what they might find should they become instant archeologists of their soul.
Conversations even between ostensibly intimate partners are extinct. They've been totally replaced by video games, brainless social media posts and other dumbing pursuits.
This profound breakdown in interactions results in an incapacity to maintain intimacy or relationships and this is very typical of a period of decivilising, a period of breakdown, meltdown, regression. Everything from sex to learning is now casual and random.
The young invest the bare minimum in their rote learning in their academic studies in order to eke out a living in our dystopian world.
Having acquired a degree or a skill, the young suspend all thinking and involvement and they turn into glazed eyed zombies or virtue signalling narcissists in victimhood movements, climate change, black lives matter and so on.
Young people today and increasingly older people are in a binary state, devoid of nuances and subtleties.
I feel bad or awkward, I feel good, bad, good, nothing in between, no grey, a splitting defense against a crumbling disintegrating world and a very threatening and hostile reality.
And this is extremely and extremely typical mental landscape of periods of the period of the end, not a transition but the end, the end of the line or the end of this line.
And inevitably in due time there is a backlash, the backlash usually led by either the elites or the masses.
Backlash is composed of regressive, totalitarian and rigid doctrines enforced by total institutions.
The former, the previous social polarisation and conflicts, they are suppressed and they are supplanted with homogenizing authoritarianism, censorship, incarceration and abuse and ultimately torture and executions.
Authoritarianism and totalitarianism always follow, always follow in the wake of a period of breakdown, in the wake of transition there is democracy, in the wake of transition there is enlightenment, in the wake of transition there is an upward surge in elation and elevation of mankind.
In the wake of transition there is more, not less, more freedom, more irredition, more access, more empowerment.
In the wake of a period of breakdown, melting and disintegration of civilization there is less, less freedoms, less access, less power, less knowledge, less of everything.
Yes, you can order a pizza through Uber Eats and you can order video games through Amazon. That's not empowerment, that is enslavement to consumerism and to the moneyed elite.
And so at some point there is this backlash and I said this backlash is driven either by the elites, where the elites impose themselves by force, law enforcement, the military, police, militias, mercenaries, the elites impose themselves on the populace and it becomes a dictatorship of the elite.
Or as Jose Ortega Yigaset said in the 1930s, called it the revolt of the masses. The masses impose a new regime, a regime of terror, a Russian revolution, French revolution, the guillotine.
So populism is another hallmark of dissolution, another hallmark of the decline of civilization. It's a contummation and defiant wave against authority and against learning and expertise and against intellectuals and against any members of any elite, financial, academic, political, you name it, populism, hypocrisy, mob rule coupled with a rise in willful, proud ignorance and obscurantism.
Periods of transition are the offspring of science and knowledge. Science and knowledge, the inquiry of the human mind into the secrets of the universe and its own secrets.
The redirection of curiosity in a structured methodical way, the beauty of poetry and literature, creativity, these are the hallmarks of periods of transition.
But eras of decomposition, decomposition, decay, decadence and disintegration, these eras are characterised by an abundance of unstructured information.
Information is not knowledge. If it is not synoptic structured, it's not knowledge. It's raw material.
So eras of disintegration, the end times, the period of breakdown, it's characterised by a profusion of information, but very little scanned knowledge.
They are empowering technologies, but nothing to do with them.
So there's a lot of empowering technology, technologies, but no content to consume with these technologies. The technologies are used to dumb down, enslave and monetize the masses, to convert them into profit centers for the elites, into slaves in mega factories.
Creativity in such periods is on the wane. It consists of replication, imitation, narcissistic navel gazing on the ascendance. It creates nothing new. It creates nothing new, it just sloshes around in the same swamp.
During periods of disintegration, when civilisation gradually descends into chaos, when everything falls apart and it seems we are hurtling through space out of control, one of the main hallmarks of such periods is that gender roles shift and often become inverted when social institutions crumble.
Relations between men and women degenerate into open warfare and abusive exploitation.
This had happened in the transition between hunter-gatherer societies and agricultural societies, agricultural societies and urban societies, between the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
In all these periods, we had massive disruptions to the fruitful interaction between men and women. That this is happening now worse than ever before is a seriously frightening sign of the times to come. It's a harbinger of the utter existential threat to the human species.
I regard it as far more serious than climate change. Far more serious than climate change and climate change is an existential serious threat.
Finally, as Toynbee, a famous historian, noted, civilisations decline when multiple natural and man-made calamities coalesce and strike in tandemand when grandiose self-depleting projects are embarked upon by societies who teeter on the brink of utter dysfunction.
He mentions the pyramids in his books. We have both, of course.
There's a confluence of man-made and natural calamities, anything from climate change to the pandemic, a confluence that had happened only once before in the 14th century.
And we are all embarking on the individual level, collective level, from the nation state to the most humble home. We have all become grandiose. We're all embarking on ever more grandiose projects, some of them utterly self-delusional, some of them consume an inordinate amount of resources, misallocate an inordinate amount of resources.
This, according to Toynbee, is the sign of impending doom.
So, you would forgive me if, looking back at history, I don't think this is the worst of times and the best of times. It's just the worst of times.
And even compared to the 14th century, when about half the population of Europe had died, of the Black Death of the plague, the bubonic plague, even compared to that horrible, absolutely horrible period of dislocation and disorientation and ruination, they were better off because their institutions held the family, the community, the aristocracy, the monarchy. They held, they survived.
We are coping with multiple catastrophes on a global scaleand none of our institutions are held. We are all alone afloat, adrift, atomized, self-sufficient as far as food and video games, but otherwise mentally ill, broken, damaged, terrified, with no support networks to talk of, each one for himself, the law of the jungle. It's a hostile world out there, like never, ever before in human history.