We live in an era of unsurpassed peace and prosperity. Europe’s great powers hadn’t been at war for over 7 decades. Billions have been lifted out of poverty and have increasingly high expectations. Diseases rapidly vanish. Science and engineering have replaced creed and manipulation. And yet we’re obviously only come so far, human beings still can be handled by baseless mythology, can be easily captured by anger and hatred and all too easily steered towards old school destruction.
Politically, increasingly populists are on the rise who cater to those base instincts and emotions. Who ride the discontent of “stupid old white men” and establish irrational platforms based on outdated if not fictitious ideas. Today, they’re sometimes able to achieve functional majorities.
But it’s a bit like in Egypt isn’t it, the revolution stalled because nobody knew what was next. So, those determined enough to act out their self-interest prevailed. Equally so, we democrats, liberals and well-educated internationalist who used to be the majority have insufficient narrative, our myths have been largely realized (some called it the end of history) and now we’re just sitting here, deeply divided and without answers and sometimes even without bearings, while the louts are on the march.
The problems of today such as debt, climate change, automation and robotization and cross-border terror require global answers though, and exactly that layer of governance is the first to be assaulted. We exit our alliances and post-national institutions looking for answers in a past that never existed and that has receded for reasons that we understood all too well 70 years ago.
We ought to listen better to idealists like Elon Musk and Barack Obama, visionaries who largely stick to science and engineering and who advocate a positive and positivist future. It’s a true pity that we have trouble listing more like him. We do need positive dreams to keep the regressivists at bay.