To The Daily Sun,
There's a new, decades-in-the-making malaise seeping deeper and deeper into the Western psyche. I have touched on this notion before, but the impart of the subject matter is starting to scream at me.
Two of America's famous innovators — Bill Gates of Microsoft and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook — have both recently given commencement speeches at their respective alma maters. Both have delivered what I believe to be one of the most important thoughts regarding the future of the Western world.
In short, both have intimated that automation and the fear of automation is responsible for this new malaise — i.e., the new lack of purpose felt by humans worldwide that is aggravated by persistent job loss. Both have suggested that one of the most important challenges facing humans is the ability to revamp, redefine and rekindle what it means to have purpose in life. This is not a hard notion to swallow.
All around us we see human crisis exposed in the form of uncontrolled drug addictions and fragmentation of general society across numerous boundaries. To wit, never-ending wars and worldwide strife, fractured and ill-considered philosophical attitudes about religion and science, male/female-oriented social struggles, the decimation of the family unit, increasingly strident and untenable political differences, the rise of corporate power, ethically illicit wealth and arrogance, etc., etc.
All around us I see complete, stark fear and the inability to even define what is wrong. And the hunger for doing so has vanished. I believe this accounts for what amounts to (my aversion of) the Trump phenomena. I swear that Trump followers would continue their blind loyalty to this charlatan even if he burned down an orphanage on national television. I can understand why this is so. Both Trump and Sanders were the first to publicly snub the reviled "system," and people followed their instincts and, mostly, their blind rage, to support one or the other for basically the same reason.
Both the "system" and the fear of purposelessness (i.e., the future/automation/job loss) share the same characteristics of being perceived as outside of human control. So, what do humans do when they're not in control anymore? They get frustrated, angry and fight each other with or without cause. Newspapers blare never-ending stories of war and seething hatreds. Uber-nationalists understand this intimately and operate from the politics of fear. On a personal note, I live in a section of Laconia and I see this virtually every night in front of my home.
Now that the old Industrial Revolution has come and gone, we are seemingly stuck in the ideas and tenets of the older Western world. For sure, many continue to hold water. But all of the conservative arguments about austerity and budget constraints actually seem to make sense in this context. Right here in Laconia, the online Daily Sun articles with the most hits are about (misspent) taxes and religion — certainly not articles about new challenges, investments or paths to the future. All around the world, political aspirations look to the past for solutions in a world that incessantly morphs and accelerates out of the old world into a completely new animal. That is why we are in a political knot. I believe that the very same people who are voting for the past actually realize that this approach will not work. But in today’s world, fear and hopelessness ‘Trump’ optimism and vision.
Regarding the American cut on all of this, I’d like to finish with a quote from Gregory Adams Rotello. It’s an online response to a Washington Post article about the recent secret congressional testimony of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein:
"Rightfully concerned people are searching for truth, literally. Other people are trying to keep the truth from being uncovered, by fighting to keep it a secret. We Americans used to think the good guys were the people among us that valued truth over political expediency and personal gain. That used to be The Thing about us. Being American was about being a Good Guy, even though we knew we were far from perfect. Now it seems that norm has changed.
"It is now being suggested that lying, cheating, deceiving, stealing and selling out to the highest amoral bidders is a functional rational choice for All-American "winners." Game-Theory predicts the outcome of this kind of self-entitled thinking: Utter Chaos....."
Paul B. Utiger
- Written by Mike Mortensen
- Category: Letters
- Hits: 498