Humanity’s progress through the ages could be described as a very powerful automobile with very poor steering. Technologically, humankind has become somewhat advanced. Science and medicine are progressing at a pace. Yet with each technological advance Man has employed it to produce more sophisticated capacity for killing, albeit at a huge economic cost.
Likewise, although we are grateful for advances in medicine there has been insufficient consideration given to the problems of ever increasing overpopulation and an ever increasing proportion of elderly people in those populations as life expectancy increases.
Following the dollar trail gives a great insight into what our species as a whole considers really important. Financial investment and incentives are thrown at science and technology while almost no resources are directed towards philosophy and the humanities. Philosophy can be considered as the steering of our metaphorical vehicle whereas science and technology equate to the power of the engine.
What is the value or point of ever increasing speed and power without adequate thought being given to the direction of travel? The questions of the environment, society and ultimately even the economy have been subjugated to the pursuit of power. While science and technology certainly increase the scope and depth of our knowledge, without accompanying philosophical considerations they do little to add to our wisdom.
Populism, short-sightedness and the triangle of Folly
As the challenges facing humanity grow more and more complex and difficult to overcome it is natural that people look with critical eyes on the ruling establishments and desire a quick fix. However, quick “fixes” generally only exacerbate underlying problems rather than providing a real solution. With the proliferation of possible news sources it is becoming increasingly difficult to know what to believe.
Taking advantage of democracy’s essential weakness (the lowest common denominator factor) populist movements and leaders have sprung into action around the globe. Fear of immigrants had much to do with the foolish Brexit vote. Despite the fact that most of the UK’s voters now have a much clearer idea of what the real costs of Brexit will be, Theresa May and her government seem determined to carry on with this folly rather than offering the people a second referendum. The likely outcome will be the breakup of the UK itself in addition to a very large economic burden.
The election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the USA is another example of voters being so desperate for change that they forget that a disastrous change is much worse than no change at all. With an unpredictable loose cannon in the White House, the USA and the world must surely experience increasing levels of anxiety.
Marie Le Pen
The third apex of the triangle hasn’t happened yet. If far right leaders, such as Marie Le Pen succeed in their presidential bids in upcoming European elections the collapse of the European Union would seem all but a certainty. The loss of Britain is a huge blow for the EU but the additional loss of France would be fatal. The collapse of the EU would be disastrous for Europe and the world. The outbreak of more armed conflict in the region would be all but certain.
With Putin’s Russia prepared to assert itself at all costs and China’s determination to steal sovereignty of much of the South China Sea the world is becoming increasingly a much more dangerous place. It is no wonder the Doomsday clock was reset at 2 ½ minutes to midnight after the inauguration of Donald Trump. We haven’t even considered yet that global warming and climate change is increasing all the time and has probably already reached tipping point and that the looney dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un is getting ever closer to having nuclear ICBMs. As the main suspect in the recent murder of his estranged half-brother, Kim Jong Un apparently will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on power. While the war in Syria drags on and millions of innocents suffer the power brokers in the world seem much more concerned with their own well-being than with any ethics, altruism or even common sense.
Kim Jong Un
We are facing desperate times. Any more short-sighted populist quick fixes are likely to throw us all over the edge.