Thursday, October 16, 2014

A synoptic screed

Intemperate as it's expression may be, it behooves me to set out for the records my skepticism about the benefits of modern communication. 

Better communication and more pervasive interconnections between human beings has been widely heralded as the key condition for peace on earth. I do not see the basis in reality. Civilization is arguably defined more by how conflicts are regulated than how bloodless they are. People become accustomed to a certain amount and certain kinds of antipathy and competition in life. In these conditions - called peace -we may discover by personal encounter the sort of violence characteristic of a peaceful order. It is one thing to acknowledge this but, I assure you, the naive experience of peace can be a most striking novelty.

Accelerating interconnections does, however, deliver the promised disequilibrium. Revolutionary change can involve beneficial outcomes, but the order of nature is not as easily reformed as voting conventions. Horsemanship, shipbuilding, steam-power and gasoline – all have brought humankind closer together. Any of these can boast of expanded horizons of culture, trade and opportunities. They have also had the effect of catalyzing the most appalling warfare.

Internet activity is also bringing us together! Blessedly, we are simultaneously spared the loathesome responsibility of loving one's neighbor first hand. It facilitates a physical and psychical distance that dampens the sense of inter-personal responsibility inherent in proximity. Today, old enmities are rekindled, misunderstandings and rumors spread among cliques, but spirited arguments are carried on without a shot fired – sure. They are also carried on in a spirit of contemptuous indifference. Modern annihilation requires more of callousness than hot blood.

The internet epoch will surely live up to it's globalist billing. I'm sure it will inspire global interdependence as much as any technology that will ever be devised – excepting perhaps religion. That humanity is more interconnected than ever is precisely my point: It provides also conditions to internationalize the perennial struggle for existence. I don't hold with the utopians who assume that this will tend make our race a more peaceable one. Although recent history is rife with cautionary examples of man-made plagues, whose visitation we should fear, I observe many intellectuals warming to their hollow promises - again!

One may sagely point out that I might count my blessings to be here in Canada during 2014. This is very true, and I count myself among the luckiest human beings to have walked the earth. Now, if only I could find a sober optimist.

1 comment:

  1. One may soberly point out I count my optimism by unwisdom of it's expression and that I miscount.