Thoughts at Easter

The long Easter weekend was often a lonely one for me as a young man when I lived in Rhodesia, a country at war. My friends were either on call up for military duties or visiting their families; my family was too far away for a long weekend.

So, I often pondered the meaning of life, god and my own trajectory, making myself melancholy by listening to Kristofferson’s “Sunday morning coming down”

Now I listen to old, sad Easter hymns on Good Friday and Handel’s Messiah on Easter Sunday. I am still moved by the memories and emotions of old beliefs.

My mind seems to be stimulated by the four quiet days of the long weekend – in fact it is in a whirl, tormented by the mess the world seems to be in.

We are in need of a Messiah in our world today, or several Messiahs….

Peter Turchin is a complexity scientist who works in the field of historical social science that he and his colleagues call Cliodynamics

He has done extensive analysis of historical societal collapses and writes:

…. data indicated that we were well along the road to political disintegration. The structural factors undermining social stability in past societies—popular immiseration, elite overproduction, and state fragility—were all trending in negative directions in the early twenty first century America.*

I would extend his analysis to the the whole western world, at least, if not the whole world. We do not need another world war in less than a century since the last one…. or do we? Maybe we deserve the pain and horrors of holocausts and brutality in order to get our world straight?

Back to what I see as a global mess: Russia /Ukraine, China, Africa in general, some of the South Americas, the whole of the Middle East, all in the grip of corrupt autocrats who have little regard for the worth of individuals other than themselves. (Dare I add the US to that list?)

The bickering over climate and the lack of common environmental purpose. The iconoclasm of the Woke erosion of free expression and re-ordering of morality, the inertia of the worlds’ middle orders, the universal reverence of mammon.

The total disintegration of morality apparent in the Trump phenomenon can not and is not being denied. A huge number of US citizens are rallying around a man being pilloried for lying about paying off women with whom he committed adultery. He denies the adultery … so why did he pay them? Duhh!

Mind you it seems that almost as many US Presidents were philanderers as were not!

But it is so serious, the very fabric of politics in that country is being tattered. Couple it with the whole Woke wave demanding and receiving remuneration for injustices perpetrated on long dead people by long dead people – history is going to become expensive. That is state fragility and popular immiseration.

Elite over-production describes the condition of a society which is producing too many potential elite-members relative to its ability to absorb them into the power structure. This means too many people with too much education accompanied by higher expectations than can be accommodated.

Just look at the issues with student loans in welfare societies – it is too easy to get a degree on borrowed money. Attempts to cut off that flow is a suicidal political move which will generate radical reaction from the most volatile segment of the demographic. Collecting the debt is risky enough for government!

A Marxist would probably call this bourgeois overproduction; these days we would call them wannabe elites.

That encapsulates the root illness of modern western democracies: too much entitlement and not enough individual responsibility – anything is ok if it is NIMBY (not in my back yard).

It takes catstrophic societal upheaval to get citizens to recalibrate their expectations.

Well, looks like we may be headed there…