It’s impossible to tell when we will come out the other side, or what the view will be like from there. That’s why it’s important to be clear on basic principles, which act as bulwarks in times of great change.
The fundamental divide in the cognitive war that is unfolding is between individuals and forces who favor centralizing systems, and those who support more decentralized models. Many are afraid of the free-wheeling, highly disruptive dynamism of American culture. They focus only on grievances to contain it. Others thrive in big open spaces, and resist the uniformity that is being pushed on them, sensing rigidity and decline. The centralizing pressures are very great right now, but they are giving rise to an opposite response (the Blue Church / Red Religion clash previously referenced).
Humanity is also grappling with the power of science to overwrite previous sense-making grids. Historically such clashes have sometimes lasted centuries. When Protestants began dismantling the Catholic Church’s grip on the European mind, decades of warfare ensued and a new way of thinking about the world emerged on the other side, i.e. The Enlightenment; which ushered in the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, The American and French revolutions and the birth of the modern age.
The transition that is now under way will likely be as epic and as fundamentally transformative, perhaps even more so, and it will be global in scale since the war is also taking place at a civilizational level.
There is no way to control the deluge once the floodgates burst. It will be the gritty trial of battle, both cognitive and kinetic, which will determine which new model prevails.
For me a key strategic question is how do we continue dispersing the enabling power of digital platforms, while denying those interested in totalitarian power the ability to use those platforms to monitor and ultimately control us?
Our species was bound to reach this crisis when we first committed ourselves to the use of adaptive technology to exploit our changing environment. It is our privilege to live to see this day and hopefully, be part of the search for solutions that will allow us to continue to evolve in an expansive and adaptive way.