Living in a Nihilistic Age
What happens when mankind is no longer motivated by a search for its meaning?
If you consider the past 20 months or so, you should see that:
Tyrants are everywhere. We knew this about the government, but there are tyrants in charge of major sections of our private sector economy.
Our supply chains and energy infrastructure are much weaker and fragile than we ever suspected.
Simply declaring a "public emergency" suspends the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
"Public/Private partnerships" are a new form of extra-constitutional government.
Giant corporations now operate as landless nations - they have their own laws and social structure and can impose both on the people of any nation without restriction.
The "news" is now Soviet style propaganda.
People have lost the skill of discernment, they cannot (or simply choose not to) separate the trivial from the important.
Lying is no longer a sin, it is an accepted tool to get what you want.
People are far more savage than they know, they are ready to turn on their fellow man at the drop of a hat. Like beauty, savagery is only skin deep, and there are a lot of thin-skinned people wandering about.
Too many people believe that because something is the way it is today, it can never change.
Sadly, for far too many Americans, God is dead and as a result, nihilism has replaced religion. Man has lost the drive to search for his own meaning, for if life is filled with simple nihilism, there is no meaning to life.
As important as having developed the skill of critical thought is the ability to think of things philosophically. Will Durant, in his book “The Story of Philosophy” informs the reader of the historical role of philosophy and what has happened to that role over the centuries. He writes:
“…theology crumbled, and political theory cracked; invention complicated life and war, and economic creeds overturned governments and inflamed the world; philosophy itself, which had once summoned all sciences to its aid in making a coherent image of the world and an alluring picture of the good, found its task of coordination too stupendous for its courage, ran away from all these battlefronts of truth, and hid itself in recondite and narrow lanes, timidly secure from the issues and responsibilities of life. Human knowledge had become too great for the human mind.”
Critical thought helps us reveal the facts, but philosophy allows us to understand what those facts mean. Critical analysis gives us all the pieces, philosophy gives us the box to put them in.
If it seems the absurdity of contemporary life is increasing, I will not argue - but the reality is that life has always been absurd, and while several branches of philosophical thought evolved to try to explain and understand it, it does seem that forces are conspiring today to create absurdity for the sake of creating absurdity. It is my belief that this is not a random occurrence, rather it is a “movement” of sorts, one coincidental rather that coordinated and driven by a shared ignorance, a state of mental laziness and surrender to the seductive, easy desires of the emotional being that are often destructive over the often distasteful and difficult – and ultimately correct – rational choices.
If you want to cause chaos, you can do it politically – but if you want to create ABSOLUTE chaos – and I mean Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers Infinity War level chaos – you can’t do that on a nation-to-nation basis – attacks on nations stimulate tribalism and nationalism and lead to a definitive winner. One country will defeat the other or an alliance of countries will defeat another alliance – the conflict becomes binary, antagonist vs. protagonist, good vs. evil, winners vs. losers. No, you can’t afford to do anything that binds people together, your objective is to break them apart. Like nuclear fission, you must attack and break the most basic individual bonds, in this case, not of atoms but those of humanity – and more than that, you must get individual humans to attack each other. You must break down any commonality tying people together – common religion, national allegiance, race identity, marriage, family, even love…like a going out of business sale, everything must go.
A dislocation of human existence of this magnitude can only be accomplished by using the 3 M’s – misogyny, misandry, and misanthropy.
Men must despise women; women must despise men and humans must despise humanity.
These are the 3M’s of national, cultural, and societal destruction.
And this is happening. Institutions are being destroyed – the Boy Scouts, the Church, capitalism – all are examples of institutions suffering declining power and influence. Gays ally with transsexuals to attack heterosexuals and then attack each other. Feminists attack men, the “men’s rights” movement attacks feminists. The rich are attacked by both progressive rich and the poor. Blacks attack whites while despising Hispanics and Asians.
These are facts. Critical examination reveals that they are.
Beyond the mechanical prosecution of our daily lives, or perhaps due to the rote mechanism of our lives, we are losing the thirst to understand what our lives mean.
A few years back I noted that over 200 years ago, Thomas Robert Malthus proposed that catastrophes such as famine, disease and war are the manners in which Nature culls the population. Thankfully, Western Civilization has largely found ways to avoid such catastrophes – or at least to blunt them. That is a wonderful accomplishment – and if one is truly honest about it, the reason for this is that the ideas of individual social and economic freedom are what unleashed the power of the human mind in a scale never seen in world history.
We are undeniably the healthiest, most prosperous, most free, and most socially mobile world that has ever existed (and those things are distributed more widely than ever before) but I must wonder if our very prosperity is our greatest enemy. I also must wonder if there is a valid Malthusian perspective where truth and reason are concerned. It seems that while painful catastrophes like the Great Depression and WWII do cull the population, they also serve to cull from society the irrationality, unseriousness and triviality that are so celebrated in our intellectually lazy society today.
In the financial industry, there is the concept of the "lender of last resort", usually a country's central bank, and entity that offers loans to banks or other eligible institutions that are experiencing financial difficulty or are considered highly risky or near collapse.
The US government has already established itself as the "lender of last resort" through the Federal Reserve, but it has also positioned itself as that from a survival perspective. It opens the door for serfdom as our currency collapses into worthlessness.
When all the above is considered, it seems clear that economic and social collapse is never more than a heartbeat away. Ronald Reagan famously said:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Freedom requires action. Complacency destroys it.
We must get back to our search for meaning.