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A fortress once stood upon a stately hill just ahead of an ancient glacier, frozen in its tracks. The ice did not intrude into the valley below the fortress. The rambunctious round valley was rich, exuding warmth, the perfect incubator for treasures both living and geological.
The people of the valley grew wealthy on the bounty of the ground beneath their feet. They reveled in the warmth that protected them against the cold. They had never known another reality, and they accepted the tremors as they enjoyed the hot springs: basic facts that life would be unimaginable without.
Until, that is, the day the ground split open.
As I have chronicled for the last few years in my Unfolding World series, the world is changing—not “evolving” slowly, not shifting with a generation gap, but changing radically, fundamentally, and irrevocably. Experts in technology, politics, geopolitics, the arts, the sciences, and culture have sounded one kind of alarm or another for years that the rules of everything seem to have changed around them. Students of academic history argue about the intellectual fads that dominate the universities and seep out into the rest of the world.
The problems faced by experts (a lack of public confidence, fractious shattering of consensus, ideological pogroms, and a visceral awareness of the tenuousness of their positions) mean that they no longer meaningfully guide our culture. They are also the same problems currently faced by every other powerful class and cadre in the western world, and they share a same root cause. The cause is not ideological. It’s not financial. It’s not even political. It’s so basic to our civilization that few of us have ever even noticed it. It is the ground in which our civilization has grown.
That ground is now splitting beneath our feet, and in so doing it is destroying castles, frightening kings, shattering communities, and—like other, more minor such events before it—exposing the riches buried deep beneath from which we may rebuild everything in a way that, ironically, may satisfy the bulk of humanity’s preferences for how to live the good life.
Assuming we live through the earthquake.
Join me in this journey as I survey the history of how we got here, examine the ground beneath our feet, and look not at where I’d hope we might go, but where we must go, and whether or not we have any prayer of getting there, and what may happen along the way.
A preview of coming installments:
1) The World As It Once Was
2) The Technological Forces of Centralization
3) The Geopolitical Forces of Centralization
4) The Institutional Centralization
5)The Seeds of Destruction
6) The Halted Revolution
7) A Very Bad Hair Day
8) The World On Pause
9) Where Have all the Children Gone?
10) Serpents in The Walled Garden
11) The Desolation of Trust
12) Bring Me The Head of the Dragon
13) Leviathan Awakes
14) Nothing Left to Kill For
15) The Still, Small Voice
16) A Modular Future