The Reason We’re Repeating History, Instead of Forging a Better Future
There’s a theme that keeps coming up in discussion I have lately, with people from around the world. “If the rich and powerful countries of the world are failing…who should we aspire to be?” It’s a good question. It cuts to the heart of now. This age, where all the old ways, systems, ideas seem to be failing catastrophically, brings with it a crisis of selfhood (which is why identity politics have flared up, too.) We don’t know who we are anymore — or who we should be.
That’s not so strange. Capitalism, which ruled the world, and is now collapsing, tells us we’re nobody, that we have no inherent value, worth, our purpose whatsoever. The price of modern capitalism was any deeper self than what you earned, acquired, exploited. And yet we can see that happily trading away our souls and selves for riches that never came wasn’t exactly the world’s best idea. So on the one hand, we have a new kind of freedom, but that leaves us in a bind. Who are we? Are we just failed proles? Are we budding social democrats? Are we the same old brutal colonizers and slavers we’re descended from? Wait — who should we want to be? Can you feel that pained cry rising up around the world? I can.