Ban Ki-Moon: Our “Darkening Horizons”
In a speech yesterday, which unfortunately didn’t seem to get the media attention it deserved, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned that the global situation is worsening and that our horizons are darkening.
Did I retire The Dark Age Blog too soon? Or, just in time?
Readers of The Chrysalis who were also former subscribers to TDAB probably recall how bleak it was. For almost a decade, and through around 900 essays, TDAB raged against the blind tunnel-vision of the Mr. Happy Face “end of history” Polyannas while tracking the evident signs of civilisational disintegration and decay to which they seemed oblivious. I have to admit I frequently felt like a Cassandra. A time of Polyannas and Cassandras. What an age!
I retired The Dark Age Blog, to the lament of some subscribers, because I felt the need to refocus attention on the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” — the possibilities of a “new era” or a “new mutation”, as Jean Gebser would have it — arising and emerging from the ruins of the old era and its consciousness. I wanted to explore the possibilities of our outrunning or leaping ahead of the tsunami that seemed to me increasingly unavoidable — a new Dark Age, a new eclipse of the spirit, Nietzsche’s “two centuries of nihilism”. I wanted to explore that question of whether the disintegration and incoherence of the times — its deconstruction — hid an essential re-structuration, too: a civilisational “dark night of the s0ul” that presaged a new dawn.
But, whether or not we can anticipate such a new dawn, it now occurs to one of the highest offices in the world that, yes, our horizons are indeed darkening and that, yes indeed, we could be facing a new Dark Age — something not exactly anticipated as the real meaning of “the end of history” and its myopic, polyanna-ish, and darkly comic triumphalism. I had to ask myself how human beings could be so deluded and so amenable to being deluded.
It took me a while to understand that Dark Age wasn’t something looming on the horizon, but what we were in already, although perhaps not the uttermost depths of it. The Dark Age Blog felt increasingly like closing the barn doors after the horses had already bolted. Why belabour it?
So, now the UN Secretary General has said it, four years after I retried The Dark Age Blog — our horizons are darkened. We aren’t walking in very good paths. Whatever opportunities and moments we had to outrun the worst of it we seem to have missed taking. The question now is not how to outrun it, but how to get out of it — “in one piece”, as the saying goes.
The disintegration and de-coherence of the Modern Era may not be the literal end of the world (although it may come pretty damned close). The cure for Dark Age is to lighten up. So, I think TDAB was retired at just the right time. It was beginning to feel like I was looking at our reality through a rear-view mirror.
There are still too many self-important and self-aggrandising conceits, too many mass delusions and self-deceptions, too much narcissism for Ban Ki-Moon’s warning to be taken seriously. That’s why it didn’t get the attention it should have received. “You can’t stop progress”, eh?
It’s the Age of Ironies, too.