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Sunday, 8 June 2014

When Civilisations Collapse …

History shows that when civilisations begin to collapse, to disintegrate, and to come to their natural end, people in these civilisations retreat into the past, into that which is familiar and reassuring. But this does not stop the collapse. Most likely it hastens the end, for what such civilisations usually need is a radical transformation, a process of revolutionary renewal, a rebirth, where what exists, is overturned and new ideas flow into the body of society, bringing new life. This does not mean violence, for most often what is needed are changes within the mind, changes of thought, which can come in the form of something like the renaissance.

In the aftermath of the European Parliament elections is looks as though many Europeans are beginning to seek refuge in the comfortingly familiar, and are opting for far-right parties – a mixture of neo-fascists, racists, xenophobes, and nationalists. A retreat into the past!

But this is not the only retreat into the past that is becoming evident. In the United Kingdom we have a government that is retreating into familiar industrial era economic policies which involve growing the industrial era sector of the economy, through capital and resource intensive projects: the high speed rail link HS2; Fracking; and Nuclear Power, are three examples of this. They are also pushing the development of what seem to be new industries, but which in reality are not: biotech. The technology may be new, but the mindset of these companies is routed in industrial era thinking.

There is also a retreat into science, which has become over the past decades highly discredited. Science apparently, is going to save us, so we need more of it which is bad news given the increasingly unethical nature of modern science, not the mention the highly deluded nature of scientists.

So retreat into the past seems to be everywhere. The prospects therefore of a renaissance, which is what the New Narrative for Europe declaration calls for, is largely being ignore as those with power stampede towards that which is safe and reassuring – the past. And from this great woes will flow in due course.

This rush to reinvent the past highlights the failure of existing institutions and illustrates well why ordinary people now need to act to peacefully bring about radical changes. One way they can do this is to create a renaissance from the bottom up, and this is where artists and writers, who are generally more connected with ordinary people and local communities, can show the way, as I do in effect through my writings (this blog, my books, my tweets, my web site). This is the way towards rebuilding civilisation, and it is most necessary as it seems that the early signs of a collapse of our existing civilisation are starting to appear, which will in due course lead governments to engage in authoritarian actions as they struggle to retain control. And it is from these governments that will come forth the violence and restrictions of civil liberties that accompany collapse. Only they will not call it such, for they have different names for it: maintaining order; the rule of law; state of emergency; anti-terrorism; national security. The joys of the Nation State!

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