14 October 2018

The Paradox Of Technological Progress And Societal Decay

Technologically, the world has never been more advanced. And, there is currently nothing so profoundly screwing up our world that this seems likely to be stopped, even if it may be slowed down by political mismanagement and negative cultural trends.

But, the larger context does look bleak. The economic gains from technology are concentrated with oligarchs. Trump and a Republican party that seems to have gone mad along with him is doing incredible damage to our country, our world and our culture. Looming trade wars, already partially in progress, threaten the global economy. 

Far right movements are making gains not just in the United States, but across Europe, in Hungary, Greece, Poland, Sweden, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. And, it isn't just far right movements. Russia has grown militant, ruthless and corrupt, has illegally annexed Crimea and is fighting an ongoing conventional proxy war in the Ukraine. The former Central Asian Republics of the Soviet Union have become authoritarian dictatorships.

China seems to be falling into a period of more severe totalitarian tendencies, ramping up censorship, persecuting dissidents and oppressing minorities in its frontier territories.

Saudi Arabia has a leader who on one hand seems to have some reformist tendencies, but on the other seems to condone some of the Kingdom's darkest tactics. Fundamentalist Islam may have retreated to a simmer with the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but battles for the fates of civilizations continue in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the African Sahel. Violent civil wars are ongoing in Syria and Yemen and Afghanistan. 

Venezuela has collapsed economically and much of Latin American is overwhelmed with gang violence, much of it fought with guns imported from the United States where they are loosely regulated and money from the ongoing drug trade. The Philippines is also riven with an out of control drug war and battles against Islamist insurgents.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? What are we to make of a paradox in which science advances while society falls apart?

No comments: