Between impending nuclear holocaust and the oncoming Age of Aquarius, I have been expecting our institutions to crumble as long as I've been aware. But I never paid attention the specifics of what it meant for institutions to fail or why they might fail; that is beyond the fact that they pissed me off. The current state of our system seems to be one of clashing movements: gridlock and nastiness; deregulation of corporations and regulation of individual behavior; frantic enforcement of intellectual property and the decline of publishing. This state can be read as the on-going collapse of political and economic institutions. We believed that the institutions would leave the building and let us new people move in and take over. Now that us new people are old people the collapse seems far less orderly than when Jefferson Airplane declared that we were: volunteers of America. But did we really expect collapse to be a dance party?

Our institutions are failing and it's about time; we've been expecting it and maybe even hoping for it since I was a boy. The conservatives are right to be annoyed by the 60s; we didn't know what we were celebrating. But neither our wanting change or the conservatives dreading change, changes anything. Change is happening and it is happening faster every day; our institutions built on deliberation and debate in an era when change occurred over the span of decades are freezing up and failing. Our most treasured preconceptions and notions are being whipped away in a hurricane of change.

Meanwhile, our life is considerably improved. We are healthier, wealthier, better entertained, better informed; and, this is making us very cranky. In part we are cranky because the world won't leave us alone to enjoy our new-found advantages. We fear things that a generation ago we wouldn't even been aware of. A mad man, half a world away, packs explosives into his underpants and we end up being poked and prodded every time we fly. Who would have guessed fifty years ago that air flight would become a part of our daily life? And,that it would make sense to travel a thousand miles to spend a long weekend somewhere?

How can we progress and preserve? Does it even make sense that we can have the mobility, wealth and technology to enjoy the fruits of all the world without being inflicted with the problems of all the world? To quote Harry Partch's hitchhiker in Barstow: "Why did you come here, anyway?" In response, we really didn't decide to come here; we was brought. The tide of social and technical changes has swept us along and the parts of society that were supposed to stop and consider have stopped considering. Perhaps, it is not about us. In the past things happened slowly enough that we thought we could understand the world and pick the changes that suited us. Now it is clear, no one understands how to make even the simplest gadget from materials found in nature; only the world-spanning complex of industries and trading relations can bring about the creation of the TV set in our living room or the car we drive to work. If there is no one who knows how to make such a thing who decides its future? If our health, wealth and happiness depend on such things who decides our future?


Created by steve. Last Modification: Sunday 13 of November, 2022 18:03:21 EST by steve.