People exist in two ways – as individuals and as groups of individuals. The power struggle between the two is a necessary part of our existence.
We exist as individuals first because we exist in individual bodies – bodies with highly-developed nervous systems – that are perhaps over-developed. We exist as groups because we are social animals, keenly attuned to everybody else in our group – and in the tiniest changes in their moods.
Being alive, we should be keenly aware of our bodies and our surroundings – like any other animal. But we are not; we only a have limited awareness of either one – and we are determined to not be more aware. Why is this?
This is a hard question to answer, because the processes that caused our present world started over two hundred years ago, and because one of our fundamental weaknesses is our inability to notice social changes. Instead we pretend no changes are happening.
The reason for this, I believe, is simple. Biological change is slow, taking hundreds of thousands of years. This gives the organisms involved plenty of time to adapt at their own pace. Living beings are very complicated, and any overall change requires many smaller ones, and these all have to be coordinated with each other. Often new parts or processes have to be developed in order for all this to happen. This is a lot of work, and it is only done reluctantly. Living organisms (including our own species) are conservative because they have to be.
But man has a new way of changing. These have been called memes – social mechanisms that make change possible, and function as genes do – but much faster. Other animals can do this too. It didn’t take herds of wild elephants long to learn that people raised tasty crops.
But with us, this social learning, which probably began with our language skills, has gotten out of control. This could be the history of our race – lots of changes we could not resist that turned out badly. Even the Old Testament has a record of this. The Hebrews saw all their neighbors having kings, and they wanted one too. God didn’t think it was such a good idea, and said so. The Hebrews insisted – and we know what happened.
We managed to survive the first of these great changes – Civilization. But we ended up being entirely different – even though our genes had not changed a bit. We came out of that proud of ourselves, convinced we were something special – although the wisest of us had grave doubts about whether we had improved or not.
These doubts were resolved when the Roman Empire collapsed. Clearly, something had gone very wrong. And it took well over a thousand years for us to recover.
The next big change was the transition to what we call the Modern World. I have made a serious study of this – and have found to my amazement, that Post-Modern man has little interest in what happened then. The reasons for this will become clear.
The history of how the Modern World developed is a complicated one – even professional historians, who specialize in only one area and one time period, have trouble keeping it straight. The rest of us will have to settle for lesser understandings – but at least we should try.
For the purposes of this essay, I will concentrate one event – the Industrial Revolution, because this is when things got really crazy. The effects of this on our minds has been overlooked, because we have learned to concentrate on all the things we developed instead. The result of this transfer of attention has been fatal. Here is the summary of my own findings:
We forgot ourselves – and not only that, because we felt inferior to our things, we destroyed our selves – including our ability to be aware of what we were doing.
What we ended up with, once again, was a new kind of people – but this time a degenerate people we can just barely understand. A people who have no interest in understanding themselves. Humpty-Dumpty had fallen and could not be put back together again.
This is amazing enough, but to me something else is even more amazing – no one knows this has happened! When I say no one, I mean no one, not the smartest people alive. True, lots of people were aware of it in various ways, even including some of our intelligentsia, but no one I am aware of has put all the pieces of this puzzle together, and arrived at this simple conclusion. And no one is likely to thank me for telling them about this.
The next step is also amazing – after we had destroyed our selves, we started to destroy everything else – the whole world! And we are taking this task very seriously. As we can see easily from our environment, our politics – and even our economy.
The end of the world is not in the future, it has already happened.