An Unreal Existence

At the end of the 20th century people believed in the truth.  While they had several truths, -- liberalism, conservativism, classic Communism of the kind once espoused by Che Guevara and in places a naive form of apocalyptic Islam -- at least each believed the world's problems could be solved if their truth should triumph over the rest.

The clash of civilizations since September 11, 2001 has left every culture wounded and guilty in its own way.  Western civilization, dominant through the modern era appears to be destroying itself in self-hatred, literally choosing extinction.  "In 2015, all European Union countries had a sub-replacement fertility rate."  With the replacement fertility at 2.33, the average for the EU was 1.58. At the same time Islam was tearing itself apart in a global civil war while the United States was riven by discord.

No one seems to have the answers any more.  Technological warfare only seems to increase entropy rather than reduce it.  Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan are stories of one set of villains replacing another.  So many Black Swans have appeared that they are no longer novelties.  The old status quo faces the possibility that Brexit, Trump, Catalonia and the North Korean nuclear breakout far from being exceptions to the rule are harbingers of things to come.

What seems to have changed is our mental furniture though we don't quite understand how it happened. Globalization has allowed drastic mutations that biologist Ernst Mayr notes often originates "in a relatively small and isolated population" to propagate very rapidly into a new normal.  The new normal in Europe is depopulation, don't ask how because the periphery can now become the center with surprising speed.  The New York Times report that "major liberal donors, posing an insurgent challenge to some of the left’s most venerable institutions — and the Democratic Party itself" are no longer funding politicians like Hillary but the Resistance itself should come as no surprise.

“We’re in a disruptive period, and when we get through it, the progressive infrastructure landscape may look different,” said Gara LaMarche, president of the Democracy Alliance, a club of wealthy liberals who donate at least $200,000 a year to recommended groups.

The new variability is overwhelming the old political elite. As the World Wars and the Black Death demonstrated upheaval can produce wild mood swings in a populace. "The tremendous emotional shock [of the Black Death] ... created a state of ... depression and sometimes even panic" which turned people to fanaticism as others sought scapegoats for their troubles or lost themselves in a debauchery made famous by Poe's Masque of the Red Death and the wild abandon of Weimar.

The underlying disruption is creating a similar volatility today.  Currently we are obsessed with 71 genders but a nuclear or biological disaster can can flip decades of political correctness and deference to technology into their opposite. Considering all the freedoms and privacy the West has already given up to preserve the status quo the mantra "we can't let it change us" is mockingly ironic.  It is change, not changelessness which is characteristic of the present.