This essay explores the human side of the world order and encourages the West to preserve itself.
Since the European colonial era, globalization opened the world markets to Western consumption and technology. But because Western populations, partly by external pressure, are aging, stagnating or even shrinking, in the 21st century, thanks to modern means of communication and transportation, the world’s poor are getting ready to move to the West with tens of millions at a time. The economies of their homelands in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East prove not to be able to provide their explosively growing populations with a meaningful future.
Conversely, Westerners flee in politically correct naivety, alcohol, drugs or consumer hedonism, while both the Left and the Right privately condemn mass immigration. As long as Westerners can still afford to do so, they will keep fooling themselves that everything surely will be okay again. But despite Western self-delusion, the Syrian refugee crisis that began in 2015 heralded the beginning of the decline of Europe, and perhaps that of America too. In the interest of our collective self-preservation, the time has come for the rebirth of the West.
2. Tragic Modernity
Globalization drove urban man to highest productivity and smallest specialization. To facilitate billions of individuals living on Earth, we’ve narrowed our lives, and fled in mind-altering drugs and virtual computer worlds, which mimic a long-lost freedom. The success of mass man knows no equal. Never have so many people lived so close to each other as for example in Paris, Seoul or Mumbai, cities housing over fifteen thousand people per square mile.
Cities have become human cowsheds, equipped for the tax industry. The pressure of his explosively growing numbers has reduced man to a small cog in an incomprehensible whole. Although modern ‘progress’ changed feudal serfs into modern employees with more prosperity than medieval kings, it did so at the expense of their humanity. The majority of all people alive today now live as sardines in stuffed residential towers, inhumane termite colonies.
The modernity that promised people infinite opportunities brought boundless self-deception. The technological revolution that Europe cranked up since the 17th century, among others accelerated by the invention of the combustion engine and later atomic energy, led only to worldwide overproduction and overpopulation. While the rest of the world, out of fear of losing the struggle for existence, blindly runs after the drunken Western example, the fate of humanity is rooted in the tragic question, “How much are we willing to sacrifice for our survival?”
3. Basic Social Order
The billions of people on Earth live in relative harmony thanks to a historically tried and tested system of hierarchy and order.
The human hierarchy is like a steep mountain made of loose sand. The more effort a subordinate makes in order to climb to the top, the further he will drop back down again. This discourages many to even try. You have to be born at the top, otherwise you normally won’t get there. But when everyone takes the hierarchy by storm at the same, the sand will disperse in all directions, dropping the elites to the bottom.
Because people always possess this latent power to humiliate their elites, and the elites can only defend their power by systematically oppressing the people, both parties treat each other with friendliest contempt. What we generally call ‘peacetime’ is actually a ceasefire between the people and the elite, between ordinary and ‘special’ folks, between the quantitative mass man and the self-proclaimed man of quality.
Human organization is based on a holy trinity.1 At the top of the hierarchy is the governing power elite with its slavish civil servantry. Below it are the relatively autonomous but loyal security forces, including police and army, and finally the people. Exclusively, the security forces have the right to use violence against civilians. In exchange for their loyalty, the security forces share in the elite’s prestige. As a consequence of that, the people experiences relative peace, like when shepherd dogs keep a herd of sheep in line with threatening barking.
But: the people is being oppressed. It is not free, because people must obey the societal order at all times. I call this the basic order. To maintain the basic order, all great civilizations invented the principles of wide-scale social oppression. Governing elites rule the people by means of social taboo, societal tradition, religious doctrine, one-sided news coverage and arbitrary legislation.2 In East Asia, for example, Confucius formulated the values of obedience, pacifism and what we nowadays would call mindfulness. In the West, clergy spread the teachings of Jesus Christ, the slave who submitted to his suffering.
Those social precepts are not set in stone, but continuously adapt to changing circumstances. Social taboos essentially serve to control the reproductive rate of the people, as well as its related economic output.3 Because the tameness of the people benefits its larger numbers, and thus increases the military might of its controlling elites, spiritual leaders submitted the masses to their leadership by means of most deceitful manipulation, for example by the promise of an afterlife, reincarnation or, nowadays, capitalist riches, like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.4
Although the role of tradition and religion appears to have decreased in the increasingly irreligious West, popular television hosts now formulate the political correct taboos that media elites impose a gullible people by threat of social exclusion. Political correctness is the religion of modernity.
4. The Role of Democracy
In the basic order the people doesn’t live free, but people accept their fate, because in the long term the social order brings them social security. That social stability is the strongest argument for democracy. Through consensus-driven decision making, a democracy moves considerably slower than other forms of organization, which has the advantage that governments must act less reckless. Therefore, the people risk less splurging by autocratic rulers who think they can afford their little adventures with the state.
Thanks to this delayed, but also more expensive form of governance, democracy makes the future more predictable to its citizens. Democratic citizens dare to invest more in the longer term, which benefits great public works such as infrastructure, health and education. A well-governed democracy guarantees its citizens a certain peace of mind. Imagine if everyone were allowed to just do whatever they wanted!
However, democracy also saddles citizens with annoying drawbacks. Democracy brings along with it a cumbersome civil servantry, as well as an inefficient or even pointless hierarchy. Often, democracy can adequately respond to internal crises, but not always, and even less well in case of unpredictable anarchy from the outside.
In addition, democracy erodes administrative responsibility, because even in case of big mistakes by her governing officials, the people foot the bill for their vote. Democratic officials hold much less power than autocratic rulers, but as a consequence, they also feel much less responsible for the result, because they can always pass that responsibility on to the people. The people, acting like a herd, fear individual responsibility and preferably wants to give it back to politicians.5 Thus people flee in politically correct conformism—see the bipartisan uniformity in the U.S. Senate.
It’s a misconception to think democracy naturally leads to prosperity. It’s also untrue that building high-quality governing institutions would lead to the foundation of a democracy. In reality, precisely the opposite is true: democracy presupposes prosperity6 and without democracy, high-quality institutions have no use.7 Only prosperous peoples can afford themselves the governing inefficiency of a democracy. Poor peoples have no use for impractically expensive institutions.
5. The Meaning of the Economy
To ensure the survival of sometimes up to hundreds of millions of people, governing elites encourage their citizens to keep the economy ‘running’ from their cradle to their grave. This is to say: each day anew, the masses must commit their physical and mental productivity for the benefit of the collective survival of the people.
We call this system capitalism, but despite that every human being on Earth owes his existence to this never-ending struggle against nature, because of its unfair result, capitalism harvests little appreciation. However, that doesn’t mean people have any other choice.8 Capitalism arises from the need to feed billions of people. Because the system may not fail under any condition, capitalism protects itself, perhaps counter-intuitively, with a buffer of inefficiency. The economy that keeps us alive is not some sort of politically desirable ‘ism’ politicians under the influence of progressive insight may impose from above.9
As a consequence of globalization, extremely diverse world economies overlap one another, but nonetheless, for psychological reasons, humankind invented relatively delimited systems to organize its economies, such as businesses and multinationals, but also cities, countries and so forth. Whoever says that a ‘country’ is just a socially constructed fiction apparently forgets that a country represents a group of collaborating people. Those people exist for real and through taxation, they donate their productivity to one another, in the mutual interest of their survival.
6. Land-Based Man
In the end, the basic order discussed earlier has made its citizens into land-based slaves. Because humankind’s survival depends on the collective productivity of collaborating individuals, the economy drove man to inexorable cost reduction. As a solution, we house people in unnatural, square boxes we call city apartments. The rhythm of the economy forces most citizens to perform their productive duty at fixes times and locations.
In short, modern people are not much better off than medieval serfs. We live longer and healthier lives, but the healthy years won rather serve our continued exploitation than our personal freedom. Few manage to escape this mechanical existence—a rich minority—but the masses never can. Ordinary man is born and raised into the system, thus conditioned to accept his artificial reality as real. The promise of old age and security motivate him like the carrot before the donkey.
Because The System may not fail, freedom of opinion makes way for intellectual conformism. Bureaucracy tempers entrepreneurial freedom. Politically correct taboos replace an own outlook on life. Parents voluntarily impose the system’s ideals onto their children, because they too don’t know any better. Even judges and psychiatrists, who have internalized the system’s ideals, make sure to keep calm rebellious citizens. A ‘good’ child must sit still, waiting for the teacher’s, priest’s or king’s lessons. A strong child that wants to become a real person has ‘issues’, is ‘maladjusted’, needs ‘discipline’ or suffers from a ‘disorder’.
Because the law of diminishing returns controls the economy like a law of physics, people have to work increasingly harder for increasingly less life. Men and women go through the motions of life, but without really living. They have become machines. They work as gears in factories, as tools in construction, or at the office as computer extensions. Citizens have become the living furniture in the household of their elites.
Because of the worldwide population pressure, many richer, Western women instinctively feel they will have to delay or even call off their desire to have children. Many Western women did not stay childless, because they wanted to study, but decided to study, because they could not find enough living space to provide for children of their own.
7. The Dual Role of Socialism
Modern life is in stark contrast with the life in, for example, Europe around the year 1000. Then, almost all inhabitants of Norway were still free farmers that didn’t owe anyone a dime in taxes. The Viking-age Norway was an egalitarian society—socialists’ wet dream—until King Harald introduced taxes for the first time to fund his wars against England.10
But times change. To keep the economy running as well as the people in check, socialism nowadays plays a particularly mean double play. In theory, socialism means to strive for the emancipation of the working class. Socialism wants to make it possible for workers to provide themselves with their daily needs without having to submit to artificial consumption, according to the definition of socialism as understood by Noam Chomsky,11 similar to what Karl Marx pursued.12
At least, that’s the philosophy. In practice, socialism rather plays the role of an urban religion that seeks to reduce the people to servile sheep, or “turn tigers into cats.”13
Socialism serves as the lubricant between the gears in densely populated human machinery, while more conservative values can only survive in the countryside. Once people mastered modern city planning that allowed for millions of people to live together in a small space, in order to maintain harmony, city dwellers were forced to become more tolerant of deviating behavior by their neighbors. Nonetheless, the modern family, locked between four walls, is the source of violence in the lives of many young children.14
In our time, globalization lead to the emergence of a sort of hyper-socialism that tries to integrate people from all corners of the world, of all cultures, beliefs and traditions. However, hyper-socialism cannot succeed without a high dose of self-deceit. These so-called multicultural societies push the boundaries of tolerance so far they can only succeed in their intent by distorting every child’s psyche through far-reaching propaganda. Nowadays, the lies we have to take for truths have become as indispensable to world peace as the air we breathe.
That makes multicultural societies unstable—at any given moment, the whole thing threatens to fall apart. The basic order remains standing only with great effort. We have reached the limit of the humanly possible.
8. A Looming Revolt
The state of the world order is tragic: predatory capitalism, which feeds man, but plunders nature, and predatory socialism, which brings man peace, but plunders his freedom, have pushed both man and nature towards the edge of the abyss. Already condemned to a life of labor and maximal productivity, social precepts imposed from above further restrict man’s life. His slavery is complete.
The rigidity of the basic order increasingly clashes with the human need for freedom and self-determination. In world history, this conflict shows itself as periodic waves of war and peace. Near the end of a long peace period, the masses, who now experience their slavish existence as degrading to their humanity, reach a boiling point. The people demand new leaders and a new future, and thus a revolution. During such a revolution, first of all the middle class, under pressure from a forlorn lower class, seizes the opportunity to steal back its rightful dues from the egocentric elites.15
Both revolutionary radicals as well as reactionaries often pursue the same goal: to overthrow the current order in favor of an idealized future.16 But in most cases, revolutions strand, because the security forces will loyally side with the societal elites. The security forces beat down rebellions, because this is often ‘cheaper’ to do than to support an all-out war against entire populations or other nations. Anyone who attacks another people runs the risk of being wiped off the map himself.17
But in extraordinary cases, the security forces do side with the people. That happens, for example, when governing officials have endangered the survival of their people through malgovernance. Then even members of the police and army can no longer protect their own (extended) families.
9. The Decline of the West
Economies behave irrationally. They are driven by positive feedback loops. For example, families see that their neighbors are getting a loan for a second car, so they also decide to do so themselves, out of fear of falling behind financially. But both unjustly assume that the economy will always continue to grow. They don’t consider the opposite.
History shows that economies do collapse. The Viennese stock market crash of 1873 signaled the end of half a century of economic growth. During this so-called Gründerzeit or Founder’s Era, German and Austrian entrepreneurs could get rich overnight. Thanks to the construction of an elaborate network of railroads, people from the countryside migrated to the city en masse to meet economic demands. But after the crash, the German industry came to a standstill for almost twenty years, the Gründerkrise or Founder’s Crisis. The new middle class threatened to drop back into a starving lower class.
From rise to fall, this phenomenon often shows the same pattern: some kind of innovation—like the invention of the railroads—ushers in an era of economic growth that enters into exponential acceleration (“bull years”), but eventually, due to a growing shortage of resources and labor, slows down and peaks. During that peak phase, there is always the possibility for a crisis: the bubble can burst.
Professor Didier Sornette (ETH Zurich) researched if perhaps the world economy is also a bubble. He sketched three scenarios for the future: 1. we may unexpectedly invent new means of transportation that will enable us to colonize other worlds, so that we can relieve the exhausted Earth; 2. people satisfy their economic appetite and voluntarily reduce their family size; 3. we hit a world market crash where after only the super rich and their private armies manage to survive among clans of barbarians—the scorched Earth scenario.18
But before it even comes to a global economic collapse, the current situation in the West already strongly resembles that of the German Gründerzeit. Just like then, we have experienced half a century of economic prosperity. Just like then, millions of people from the countryside, this time from Middle-Eastern, East-Asian, Latin-American and North-African areas, migrated to European and American cities. Just like then, our economy characterizes itself by unfounded expectations; we think it’s normal that virtual companies that produce nothing at all ought to be worth over a hundred billion dollars.
Westerners are living in the repetition of the Gründerzeit, on the eve of their economic destruction. But what will Westerners do in case of a total crisis—fight or flight?
An economic crash of this proportion means that the money and the means to sustain multicultural appeasement politics will dry up. We will no longer be able to afford our progressive values, which were always the result of our prosperity, because priorities will shift towards our primary survival. In times of crisis, we will inevitably witness a return to highly conservative values.
The West must act. Will the West choose collective suicide, or will it embrace a combative people that won’t hesitate to conquer the world if necessary?