Quicksand of Our Past

History teaches men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives. [Eban]

Death is an abstraction — until it isn’t, of course. Then the distressing reality becomes the rate of decline to death:

  • sudden — ugly car crash
  • rapid deterioration — breathless panic of a heart attack or drowning
  • protracted — default as slow erosion of vitality as with cancer

You and I are biological systems. Like you and me, all systems grow old. And, as a system ages its ability to respond to internal or external change adequately or in a timely way becomes increasingly difficult.

Eventually responding to change becomes so difficult that a system becomes unstable and the decline toward death accelerates. Nothing lasts forever.

As societal management systems, political systems are no different. They, too, age, become unstable and decline toward death at different rates:

  • Japanese fascism — sudden catastrophic defeat
  • Soviet communism — rapid deterioration as failure was accepted
  • Western liberalism — protracted erosion of vitality

While Western political systems, including the U.S., have long been the dominate force on the global stage, they’re old systems. So it’s no surprise they’re increasingly described as dysfunctional and unstable. That is, as societal management systems they’re not responding to and resolving important political issues in an adequate or timely way.

Indeed, it’s fair to say signs of decline in Western political systems are increasingly visible. Given how powerful and influential these systems have been and their impact on humanity this decline should be seen as some kind of crisis. Yet, it’s not.

Vital Signs

Vital signs are measurements indicating the state of a patient’s essential body functions.

Part of the reason decline in Western systems isn’t recognized as a crisis is precisely because it’s a protracted, slow motion process. Additionally, there’s the knee-jerk reaction of politicians who off-handedly dismiss and deny it. (Though, given their consistent track record of erroneous self-serving pronouncements, why they still have credibility is a mystery.)

But a big part of why the decline isn’t seen as a crisis is how most people, including political elites, believe they understand what’s going on in the world and their country. And, to be sure, since everyone now has 24/7 access to unprecedented amounts of news, information and commentary it’s logical to feel that way.

However, as with Americans, for example, 60% read nothing more than headlines. Unfortunately, doing that makes it easy to misinterpret or misunderstand what’s actually happening — both in a contemporary and larger evolutionary context.

In this respect there’s a seminal book by historian Paul Kennedy, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers,” that meticulously lays out a useful context for assessing the decline of political systems.

First and foremost, and without exception, all political systems eventually experience decline and death. But, prior to their death, it appears all Great Powers in the past have exhibited two behaviors presaging decline:

  • Political — Military overreach leads to military spending becoming so expensive that it increasingly reduces government spending available for domestic programs and investment.
  • Cultural — Cultures become profoundly inward and or backward oriented as they seek to resurrect some glorious past rather than evolve novel, innovative, progressive and unconventional activities.

Symptoms of terminal decline

Symptoms to watch for in terminally ill patients include: severe mood swings or other mood disturbances.
Political symptoms

Internationally, despite the post WWII optimism, Western political systems have had relatively little success in substantively addressing or resolving consequential global issues — e.g., arms trade, arms-race, rise of autocrats, civil wars, governmental corruption, organized crime, human rights, and so on.

Nonetheless, stated military defense expenditures among Western countries now exceed $1.5 trillion annually. However, there’s a lot of creative accounting at work.

To start, ongoing conflicts, like Afghanistan and Iraq, often have special appropriations beyond annual military budgets. Furthermore, in the U.S., for example, expenditures for the NSA, CIA, Cyber-Command and various State department activities, while not called military expenses, do have a military mission. Then there’s the hiring of independent military contractors (e.g., mercenaries, logistics support) and substantial ongoing veteran costs.

Additionally, in today’s hyper-connected world, where malcontents can reach out and touch anyone anywhere, the distinction between foreign and domestic defense and security has blurred dramatically. Consequently, domestic security efforts (e.g., counterterrorism activities, homeland security for air and sea ports and borders, surveillance systems) have expanded and effectively become an extension of military efforts.

Viewed this way, the total amount expended annually on Western military related activities is probably closer to $3 trillion — with absolutely no end in sight.

While it’s obvious that international systems for diplomatic nation-state discussion are always better than military conflict, there’s still no robust global order. No system able to substantively address or resolve consequential global issues. As a result, the only explicit, albeit feeble, international nation-state norm is a prohibition against invading another nation.

In the 21st century, the absence of a robust global system still dependent on unrestrained nation-state sovereignty is symptomatic of a disease in the international system. A system infected with purely sovereign islands, each free to treat its citizens in any manner it chooses without consequences.

Today’s nation-state sovereignty arrangement is odd because, despite vanquishing repressive WWII and Cold War adversaries, there’s a growing consensus that Western representative systems have become dysfunctional. A cancerous situation akin to the way ancient Chinese Mandarins eventually plagued the functionality of their system.

A version of this is now readily apparent in Western systems increasingly populated by rabid partisan and ideological careerists and opportunists. People who primarily act as agents of wealthy special interests and as a legalized protection racket.

As the prime beneficiaries of the status quo, these political elites have long demonstrated a strong aversion to both accountability and advancing democratic ideals. As such, it’s no surprise these people are also the progenitors and perpetuators of today’s post-truth, post-fact political information war that’s aimed at confounding domestic populations.

Today’s information war is akin to classic military psychological warfare. But, as applied domestically in Western national systems, the amplification of the “Big Lie” and other disinformation techniques is symptomatic of a diseased Orwellian state of societal management.

So, internationally, Western military overreach is growing while diplomatic systems have stagnated. Meanwhile, Western nations have become so dysfunctional that Orwellian double-speak has become an accepted norm.

Cultural symptoms

Together, old dysfunctional political systems and new online media systems are whipsawing emotions and fostering a highly toxic cultural milieu. The situation is exacerbated by partisans, ideologues and media pundits that consciously prey upon people’s fears for profit.

Invariably these fleckless, self-aggrandizing trolls frame all politics as a gladiatorial, zero-sum bloodsport. A myopic game where they relentlessly castigate any alternative viewpoint as less patriotic or somehow evil in order to advance a binary us versus them, atavistic tribal rivalry.

Meanwhile, the Internet land-grab has led to willful blindness about toxic behavior online. Despite having constituencies (i.e., users) larger than most nations, rhetorically these companies deny any social or legal responsibility for enabling these toxic environments and their consequences to flourish.
 
The result of all this is a polarized and emotionally charged culture. A dispirited culture experiencing a mix of societal loss aversion, dread about the future and an overall sense of powerlessness. Fertile ground for demagogues to romanticize some simple, glorious, albeit nonexistent, past — i.e., a backward and inward orientation.

So, it’s reasonable to suggest Western systems are indeed experiencing a protracted decline, both politically and culturally. A decline manifesting itself like the five emotional stages of grief commonly confronted by the terminally ill — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Denial

In this stage patients believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and clings to a false, preferable reality.
Political denial

Western political systems are predicated on medieval Enlightenment ideals formulated in connection with the rise of print media, all encased in a “social contract” between governments and their citizens. While these goals were historically unprecedented when initially advanced, they were, nonetheless, really very basic individual and economic rights. Still, this succeeded in fostering

  • nation-state designs reflecting republican representative political systems starting in the 17th century
  • international systems centered on nation-state sovereignty beginning with 1648 Treaty of Westphalia

As noted, Western international systems have had little success in developing a robust global order. National political systems, on the other hand, delivered many of the social contract’s print-era rights and goals. Still, there’s something amiss that should be, but isn’t, obvious.

That is, despite centuries of evolution in the scale, complexity and rate of change in virtually all domains, the rights, goals and operation of these national systems have effectively remained unchanged. Yet, by any measure, the individual and economic rights, issues and problems important today are light-years beyond those basic ones set out in the original nation-state designs.

Given such dramatic change in the international and national environments, it should be apparent that the evolution of political systems has not only stagnated, it’s been arrested. This denies and defies reality.

Cultural denial

Evolution demonstrates a key to survival is the ability to adapt to a changing environment. Still, it’s rare for a biological system — rarer still in human history for a culture — to adapt to a completely different environment within a single lifetime.

Yet, it’s clear that the spread of the industrial and then digital revolution over the last 150 years has repeatedly produced rapid and dramatic change in the human environment. The pace and magnitude of this change represents an extraordinarily unique historical epoch.

All this change required multiple cultural adaptions — from a purely rural agrarian society, to an urban industrial one and now a dense, predominately urban globally cosmopolitan society — often within a single lifetime. Still, cultural change at such accelerated pace and scale is unprecedented.

So, unsurprisingly, resistance to such change is endemic. Be that as it may, this, too, is an attempt to deny and defy reality.

Paradox

So, politically, the core reality of the Western situation is one where old, antiquated systems have been diluted and polluted while political evolution was arrested. Culturally, the core reality of the situation is one where there’s been continuous change into something new and unfamiliar that precluded any sense of an adapted identity or stability.

Together, in civilizational terms, this is an exceedingly paradoxical situation.

  • Politically, there’s been NO substantive change in the structure and operation of societal management systems needed to insure and enhance survival in a dramatically changing environment
  • Culturally, there’s been continuous and overwhelming change in the basic human systems least capable or prepared to adapt to a dramatically changing environment

Simply put, by arresting political system evolution, Western systems have become seriously contorted, distorted and dysfunctional. The cultural fallout from this is a type of “future shock” with societies increasingly populated by paranoid survivalists. In both instances the extent of denial is profound with little grasp of the dire consequences.

The decline of Western political systems is bad enough in its own right. But, when you stir in the escalating information wars reanimating and elevating atavistic adversarial tribal rivalries, it’s clear Western civilization is sinking ever faster and deeper into the quicksand of its past.

In effect, Western civilization is in denial that it’s made a Faustian deal with the dead.

Anger

In this stage patients recognize denial cannot continue so frustration and psychological responses emerge, often directed at proximate parties.
Political anger

Given the ruthless, often bizarre, zero-sum struggle for political power within nations, there’s no intrinsic incentive for political elites to explore, let alone acquiesce, to some new international system that might emasculate their power.

Consequently, critical international and national issues are always hostage to the temperamental vagaries of narcissistic egos, base emotions and power politics. Thus, absent an efficacious international system, this means any conflict between nations can escalate to become a precarious crisis.

As a practical matter, most political elites are simultaneously playing an international game of poker and Russian roulette. That is, behind the reassuring photo-ops and fuzzy rhetoric, elites often have their fingers crossed in the hope rational self-preservation dominates and military conflict avoided.

Obviously, betting a nation or civilization on universally rational political egos is an incredibly thin reed to rely upon. This is especially so inasmuch as most of history has seen the winning bet favor irrationality and errors in judgment.

The absurd reality of this international situation has led most nations to run as hard and fast as possible to increase their military capacity. Thus, there’s an accelerating arms-race against an ever expanding array of new lethal weapons and endless confrontational scenarios. A bizarre situation in which the only real solace lies in mutually assured destruction. Incredible!

Cultural anger

To further state the obvious, no political system today was designed for a hyper-connected global population. This is problematic because, as the Soviet Union experienced during the Cold War, the Achilles’ heel of any national political system is surfaced whenever there’s access to more progressive cultures and lifestyles that act as a comparative for change.

Today, the comparative is urban globally cosmopolitan cultures and lifestyles. As we’re witnessing, this is creating emotionally polarized cultures, which has created more emotionally polarized politics in both Western and non-Western countries.

In Western countries the polarization has rural agrarian and urban industrial populations on one side and urban cosmopolitan populations on the other.

The rural and industrial populations are angry their traditional lifestyles are being undermined. But, what really makes their blood boil is the strong belief that changes promoted by cosmopolitan cultures target their survival. Thus, they want to return society back to how they imagine it once was — i.e., to turn inward and backward.

Meanwhile, Western cosmopolitan populations believe the backward and inward orientation of rural and industrial people is dangerous to both existing social contracts and self-actualizing technological trends. They strongly believe the changes they’re promoting are inevitable and necessary for societies to continue evolving.

In non-Western countries many seek to emulate urban cosmopolitan lifestyles and attain a similar quality of life. Despite the absence of any historical foundation for liberal political systems, they nonetheless strongly believe such systems and lifestyles are inevitable and necessary steps in modernization.

On the other hand, large, influential and especially religious segments of non-Western countries view Western civilization generally, and cosmopolitan lifestyles in particular, as anathema to their traditional ways of life and values. Their anger is directed at preempting any modernization by any means possible — i.e., to turn inward and backward.

Paradox

Internationally, these cultural polarizations are exacerbated by vastly disparate levels of individual and economic rights. Disparities often amplified by centuries of adversarial political, military, cultural and religious hostilities within and between societies. Domestically, this polarization is described as culture wars and internationally as a “clash of civilizations.”

Ironically, these wars and clashes resemble medieval anarchical competition in Europe prior to the emergence of Western civilization as the Great Power. The critical difference in today’s version of this competition is that it’s

  • being played out on a hyper-connected global scale
  • occurring in a far more complex, multilayered environment
  • experiencing intense change at an accelerating rate.

Consequently, the number and types of international and national points of political, economic, cultural and military friction are increasing dramatically. Adding fuel to the fire is the growing panoply of cheap, portable, stealthy and lethal weapon technologies. Weapons available not only to nations but equally so to angry small groups and individuals alike.

Together, an accelerating global arms-race, the growing diversity of potential political and cultural conflicts, and the sheer number of angry and irrational malcontents able to access ever more lethal weapons means the risk of a catastrophe grows daily. Unfortunately, the amount of time available for a considered reaction in any conflict or to preempt dangerous malcontents is steadily being reduced as is the margin for error in any response.

Bargaining

In this stage the hope is death can still be avoided with some change, reform or compromise.

Clearly, the rate of technological and economic change experienced since the end of WWII has been dramatic. But, the fact is that the rate of technological and economic change is just now reaching its inflection point and about to accelerate.

Simply put, humanity is on the cusp of acquiring the power to design any imagined world — genomics to program our bodies, synthetic biology to program organisms to grow organic and inorganic objects and A.I. to build new forms of intelligence. Thus, we’re fast entering a new, far more radical, era of human existence.

Unfortunately, no one’s articulated a vision of how we mitigate or avoid the political and cultural problems that come along with these god-like powers. So, in effect, civilization is standing on the shoreline of history with its back to an unbelievably large tsunami wave, oblivious to how it’s about to wash over the landscape and rearrange everything in the world.

Over just the next 10–15 years, for example, the implications of political and cultural changes already visible will make all past societal changes pale in comparison.

  • Hardware — Self-driving vehicles, ambient voice and gesture activated knowledge systems, robots populating service and retail areas, and the internet of things will change how we live completely.
  • Software — AI will qualitatively improve the responsiveness of most personal experiences, enhance the diagnosis of societal problems and turn the totality of our environment into a 24/7 monitoring and surveillance system.
  • Internet –With the entirety of our lives on the Internet everything will be tracked, stored, filtered, rated and curated. Since reputations and trust will be ever more important, control over the accuracy and interpretation, access and use of personal data will be paramount to the options available in life.

Of course, every day it’ll cost less for technology to do the same tasks a person does. Increasingly, this erodes the underpinnings of the economic system and, in the process, those of the political and cultural systems as well. Thus,

  • For businesses to stay competitively profitable mandates ever greater automation and market scale. So robotics, algorithms and AI will steadily replace more jobs, which will steadily increase the number of under - and un - employed workers.
  • While technology is inherently deflationary, the magnitude of economic dislocation ahead will profoundly rewire every aspect of society. In particular, it’s reasonable to expect an increase in psychological distress and interpersonal conflict, big decline in government revenue for public services and growing societal unrest everywhere.
Political bargain

The political bargain we’re tacitly making with the coming technologies will dramatically change the rules and expectations for all of society’s existing systems. But, for the existing dysfunctional political systems — designed to operate at a print era pace — this bargain will be exceedingly problematic because it’ll simultaneously be more overwhelmed and less able to respond adequately or in a timely manner.

Cultural bargain

Inasmuch as the coming political bargain exacerbates already messy cultural problems, there needs to be a way to mitigate the resulting problems, especially those related to economic dislocation. However, since there’s no effort aimed at exploring new political or economic systems, the default response is an increased reliance on both overt and covert repressive techniques.

Paradox

While repression is the classic response to political and cultural unrest, in the 21st century it’s a seriously flawed, counterproductive and unsustainable political bargain in at least two ways:

  • Repressive actions do nothing to mitigate the complexity and velocity of change already overwhelming old dysfunctional political systems, let alone what’s straight ahead
  • Invariably repressive actions act as an accelerant for the recruitment of ever more hostile and dangerous malcontents

So, as a practical matter, employing repressive techniques as a default response to problems, especially those related to economic dislocation, is bad bargain. One that’s symptomatic of seriously diseased political systems. It’s like being immersed in quicksand — the more you struggle, the more it’ll pull you down into its depths.

Depression

At this stage there’s despair at the recognition of mortality, so time and energy are spent in mournful and sullen behaviors.
Political depression

After centuries as a Great Power Western civilization’s print era political systems are not only old, outdated and dysfunctional, substantively they’re exhausted and unstable. Thus, it seems exceedingly unlikely they’ll be capable of constructively addressing the complex problems and issues ahead in a timely manner.

This leads many to predict China, and to a lesser extent India, ultimately assumes the mantle of Great Power status. While they’re certainly the first to address scale issues, the complexity issues associated with an accelerating rate of technological change and related economic dislocation are still unprecedented.

Inasmuch as their current political complexity has tangibly placed them at the forefront of repressive practices, the impact of coming changes is likely to make the management of domestic unrest even more of an all-consuming task for the foreseeable future.

Thus, it’s ironic how the twin forces of faster technological and economic change produce growing cultural complexity that results in both

  • a decline of the West as a Great Power
  • a brake on any country becoming a Great Power in the traditional sense

It may well be that the idea of a Great Power internationally may have reached its zenith for the foreseeable future. As odd as this might seem initially, it’s not actually that surprising.

The fact is, historically, the lifespan of a Great Power has consistently contracted as civilization has evolved; for example, early China had some 2,000 years as a Great Power, the British just 400 years, and the U.S. a mere 70 years since the end of WWII.

So, what’s next?

Internationally, mutually assured destruction is the remaining high-stakes military game. Given the range of new, lethal technologies, any military adventurism or efforts to assert military power is a risky recipe for accelerated global decline.

This means the pursuit of military overreach ultimately benefits no one and is simply the mindless waste of valuable resources. Unfortunately, egged on by political hubris and testosterone, military hopes and fears spring eternal.

Thus, as is already apparent with a stalemated, hyper-connected international system, there’s an accelerated arms-race underway. What makes this arms-race different is that it’s predicated on the hope and fear of some unilateral technological breakout (e.g., artificial general intelligence).

Of course, both this new arms-race and the domestic tendency to increase repression constitute depressing death spirals. Yet, none of the political elites in any system seems to grasp how any of this ends well.

Cultural depression

Increasingly, people everywhere feel disoriented, abandoned, distressed and believe, correctly, their problems and situation are likely to grow worse. And, indeed, with political evolution arrested and greater economic dislocation ahead, their current malaise is mere prologue to what’s coming.

Perhaps the most depressing — yet predictable — aspect of the contemporary milieu is how political elites attempt to mollify the public with misleading and disingenuous narratives. Fanciful stories about striking down the villain de jure and the glory of returning to past values and worldviews. Magical platitudes about how everything will soon be fine. Trust us!

Of course, when the velocity of change is married to the scale of economic dislocation ahead, these self-serving narratives are grossly counterproductive. In fact, they’re guaranteed to exacerbate public depression because people’s past and contemporary lived experiences have repeatedly demonstrated the hollowness of these stories.

Thus, from a cultural standpoint, what people will tacitly be seeing, hearing and experiencing is a

  • monumental failure of reason — a deliberate choice to maintain the status quo and arrest political evolution
  • gross failure of imagination — an inability to grasp the context of human evolution and its trajectory
  • fundamental failure of leadership — mindless career opportunism uber alles
Paradox

Internationally, a stagnating and arrested political situation, combined with an obsessive military arms-race in search of a technological breakout, means each passing day grows more dangerous.

Nationally, stagnating, festering and arrested political evolution, combined with an ever more polarized and angry culture means domestic unrest and repression will be growth industries. Indeed, more repression will succeed in fueling more malcontent behavior, which will generate still more repression. An endless feedback loop that will continue until something truly catastrophic happens.

What’s particularly depressing is how none of the political elites in Western or non-Western systems grasps that what they’re doing feeds these death spirals. That none understand the need to adapt and respond to extraordinary changes coming in a completely different manner than heretofore and benefits all humanity. So, it’s wise to expect that things are going to get really ugly.

What should be obvious, but isn’t, is that none of today’s political systems is remotely sustainable. From the cosmos to all of human history, change is the only constant. Thus, from a political system point of view, we’re facing a terminal situation.

For a 21st century civilization, in a world pregnant with possibilities, finding ourselves in this depressing situation is inexcusable

Acceptance

In this last stage, there is an embrace of mortality as an inevitable future.
Political acceptance

By all accounts, Western political systems have capitulated to the quicksand of the past. So, it’s incredibly easy to diagnose that Western civilization has not only peaked as a Great Power but is, in the classic sense, in decline.

It’s also easy to assess the root cause of the decline. Namely, that with political evolution arrested, these old, dysfunctional and diseased political systems are unable to accurately diagnosis the actual situation. Thus, these societal management systems no longer match today’s evolved environment and have failed to adapt to reality. So, political elites in these systems have become

  • blind — no longer seeing the world the way it really exists
  • deaf — no longer listening to the algorithms of human evolution
  • dumb — no longer interested in feeding our innate curiosity to explore novel and innovative political capabilities

For the rest of mere mortals, historical evidence substantiates the well-known maxim, ‘First we shape our tools and thereafter they shape us.

To wit, there’s no doubt the medieval political tools created to manage societies have shaped us into what we are and led us to where we are at today. But, as happens with all tools, these old civilizational tools have become dull, rusted and worn out.

Moreover, in the context of what’s technologically possible today, these are primitive, blunt stone-age instruments. Tools that were never designed to work on the different materials available today and the hard problems in need of fixing to further shape civilization’s evolution.

So, it’s not surprising that every attempt to continue using these old political tools on new problems ends up undermining our adaptation to the rapidly evolving environment. What is surprising, however, is how continued use of these tools is actively precluding us from engaging in the effort that will be needed to adapt.

Cultural acceptance

Just as the changing world isn’t going to stop evolving, our ability to thrive as a civilization won’t be found in clinging to the disease ridden bodies of old, dying Western political systems. So, like it or not, ready or not, we’re approaching a crossroad in human history.

Depending on the road pursued existing political systems will be remembered for either failing humankind or leading it into a new universe. Remembered for either exacerbating today’s problems and fomenting large scale suffering and unrest or providing a clearly articulated vision that offers a tangible sense of a viable path forward.

But, the stone cold truth is that no one knows for sure what new political systems might work or work best. What’s known for certain, and must be accepted, is that it’s imperative we explore and build new systems. Systems capable of adapting to a rapidly changing environment.

In this respect, it’s also imperative to recognize emotional cultural contagion matters.

That the ghost in humanity’s civilizational machine is telling us we need to snap out of our malaise and move on.

Paradox

Nature doesn’t reward and punish according to any set of human morals or ethics. Rather, it does so in terms of the response to the environmental context and the overall evolutionary trajectory.

This is a problem because, just as an 18th century farmer, weaver, or politician would find it hard to imagine life with cars, planes, TVs, and the Internet, it’s hard for most people and politicians now to imagine what society will soon be like technologically and economically.

Nonetheless, the core political challenge is clear. We need to explore and self-organize new political systems before the velocity of events overtake and harms us irreparably.

It further seems clear that to survive and thrive with the changes ahead we need to develop an adaptable and evolvable system. One designed to respond to an accelerating rate of change in a wise and constructive way.

So, reason dictates the need to explore new national and international political systems. Emotion dictates the need to develop a vision of a new self-actualizing future humanity can use as its North-star.

Sadly, we appear politically starved for either the wisdom or the cultural awareness of the initiative needed. Sadder still is why, both practically and emotionally, we’ve fail to learn what evolution teaches.

Star-stuff

Our Sun is a second- or third-generation star. All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff. [Sagan]

The human brain is the most complex management system known. It dynamically self-organizes, self-regulates and evolves itself by continuously adapting to its internal and external environments.

A central feature of this system is the minimizing of errors in assessing what’s in the stream of incoming signals from the sensorial peripheries and forecasting scenarios in response to them.

Thus, if the sensory signals are as forecasted, a prepared response is launched. If, however, the signals aren’t as forecasted, then an “error” signal highlights that its prepared response was wrong and the brain tries again until it’s able to forecast a useful scenario.

In other words, our brains are forever creating scenarios to forecast the shape of our internal and external environments and respond in a way that best enables us to survive, evolve and thrive.

Inasmuch as the existing old political systems are in decline and terminal, it should come as no surprise their error signaling mechanisms are no longer very effective at separating error signals from the noise in the system. No surprise they’re unable to adequately develop accurate scenario forecasts about changes in either the internal or external environments and develop appropriate responses.

What should be of great concern and critical to realize is that the problem of separating the signals from the noise is about to get a significantly harder.

Rebirth

Agile software development is a set of principles in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

Looked at in an historical context, the design and operation of existing medieval Western political systems were based on mechanical clockwork technology — essentially a fixed structural organization. Today, a far more appropriate technological design would reflect agile software that’s capable of adapting and evolving in response to change.

In this respect, different political management systems are akin to different software operating systems (e.g., Windows, Chrome, IOS, Android). Each one is intended to effectively accomplish the same thing.

However, the way any operating systems accomplishes its tasks makes a big difference in its performance. In particular, performance depends not only on the system design but also on the quality, flexibility and currency of the software, and the number of exploitable bugs in the code.

The design of the existing political systems is not only an old clockwork technology, it’s of poor quality, inflexible and rusting — in effect it’s exceedingly buggy. Together, these defects are seriously interfering with their functionality, which is accelerating decline and portends a system crash — death.

Thus, we need to recode these systems if we’re to recode our future.

But, there’s no time to waste because we’re already up to our neck in quicksand.

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Doc Huston