The sociologist Jacques Ellul held that the core flaw of the technological system was its belief in the “one best way” of doing anything, which, of course, leads directly into totalitarian thinking. This “one best way” is best exemplified by Margaret Thatcher’s TINA principle: “There Is No Alternative”.
But, contrary to the ideology of “the one best way”, the fact is that the most resilience societies and economies are mixed. In every measure of human development and quality of life, it is these mixed economies, especially of Northern Europe (usually dismissed, not very truthfully, as “welfare states”) that fare well, especially in a downturn. By contrast, nations and economies which think of themselves as “pure”, as exclusively “capitalist” or “socialist” end in disaster. And the evidence for this is so overwhelming the case, and so self-evident, that it’s a wonder everyone overlooks it. But, as they say, it’s as “plain as the nose on your face”.
From Nietzsche’s announcement of the death of God through Margaret Thatcher’s pronouncement that “there is no such thing as society” to Fukuyama’s “end of history” to the present, there is pretty much a straight line descent into nihilism, or “post-modern predicament” and post-modern chaos. Few people realise at all that Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society” follows logically from Nietzsche’s death of God (which he actually called “the murder” of God).
Once it is recognised that Thatcher’s pronouncement of the death of society follows logically from the death of God, then everything since follows logically and in due course as well. And what has followed Thatcher’s death of society is what we might call “spree”. Maybe we should call the post-modern condition “Age of Spree”.
Today’s posting probably won’t make much sense unless you’ve taken the opportunity to listen to Alan Macfarlane’s talk on post-modern chaos and “post-modern predicament” (as “the new normal”) to which I linked in the last post on “A World Without a World View“.
For it is somewhat ironic, and perhaps even confusing, that in a time when the “Overview Effect” is overtaking the “point-of-view effect”, as it were, we should be talking about a “World Without a World View”, isn’t it? Has Mr. Macfarlane simply overlooked something obvious?
(And, by the way, if you haven’t also seen the video on The Overview Effect, it is well-worth watching too, because this effect lies at the heart of what we now call “globalism” and the global soul — as distinct from what we typically understand as contemporary “globalisation”).