We No Longer Know Who We Are
We have been changing so fast we are like nothing we ever have been. We can no longer relate to ourselves because we have no words to describe what we have become. We cannot understand ourselves and don’t know what we should be doing. We have no past and no future. In a very real sense we don’t even have a present – at least not one where we know who we are.
This is not a comfortable situation, but it is worse than that: whatever we are, it is not working – and nothing could be scarier that that. Our response to this has been amazing – we haven’t responded at all. To all outward appearances, we have simply died. We have become passive creatures, incapable of acting ourselves – because we no longer have any selves.
As I write this, I have to struggle for words, and the words I come up with are unsatisfactory. They seem to add up to no more than a word salad – a common effect of schizophrenia, where victims can no longer make sense of their world.
Perhaps Iain McGilchrist is right: we have become so developed, so left brain, we can no longer cope with our world, because only the right brain can tie everything together. This makes some sense. But we can also tackle this problem historically, by seeing how we have changed since Industrialization (how we have been overwhelmed by technology) – and even the simplest approach (or what should be the simplest approach) by paying close attention to our most important activity: the world of business.
This is what the occupy movement was trying to do, in its clumsy way – to try to make business responsible to the people. The response was sobering: the police showed up in overwhelming force, and showed that the land of the free is no longer free. And the rest of the people did nothing, one way or the other. They did nothing – because they were incapable of doing anything.
The conclusion is not hard to draw: a people without power is not a people at all. What they are, we have no words for.