Two opposing forces of evolution work in our world: one pulls us together; the other pulls apart. One emphasizes Cooperation, and the other, Competition. One manifests in Globalism, the other, Tribalism, and even these concepts themselves seem locked in a long, never-ending struggle against each other. When will it ever end?
Over the long term—and I don’t mean next week or next year or next decade, but the next century, millennium, or million years—the long, long term—Globalism will win. That’s my prediction and I’m stickin’ to it, but as much as I’d like to see it happen, I won’t be around to collect any bets.
In the short-term, Tribalism kicks ass lately in the form of the rise of ultra-nationalism and the breaking apart of a world order and modest stability—e.g., the United Nations, world trade agreements, the European Union—that’s been around or developed since World War II.
In the long perspective, the unifying forces represented, until recently, three steps forward in the evolution of mankind, but it now appears that we’re taking two steps backward into a world of strongmen (like Putin, Turkish president Erdogan, Kim Jong-Un, and possibly Trump) and feudal societies (as manifested by Brexit, the threatening breakup of NATO, the dissolution of trade agreements, terrorism, and the deep polarization of American politics). Sadly, even the internet—once our vain hope for global enlightenment—facilitates this divisiveness and conflict, providing bubbles and echo chambers, fake news, and pockets of tribal beliefs seething with hatred and immune from reality.
The forces of division ascend. The great experiment of cooperative democracy begun a few hundred years ago sadly appears to be ending. The short-term future does not look good; disaster looms, an almost inevitable dark mushroom cloud looming at the horizon.
But be of good cheer! We are a hardy species and some of us will survive; some of our children and grandchildren will see a better day after the earthquakes of political and military tectonic shifts level the playing fields and the radioactive rubble begins to cool. Some will survive and strive to take another three forward steps of Globalism, the reawakening of Cooperation and Community while the forces of Tribalism (read Evil and Entropy) fall back and begin to plot another two steps against us.
Some will survive, some will thrive, and eventually—maybe after a long series of global disasters followed by recoveries followed by disasters—mankind will evolve the stupidity and mean-streak out of itself and begin expanding off this little world into the vaster reaches of the Universe. That will take some time, maybe millions of years, but it is, I think, inevitable.
Evolution— biological, political, technological—is a slow but powerful organizing force, perhaps ultimately the most powerful in the Universe. I believe—against doctrine—more as an article of faith than understanding—that evolution does indeed have direction and a destination, with the purpose of bringing forth consciousness throughout the Universe. Ultimately the Universe will come to know itself.
So, be thou of good cheer! Takest thou solace in the long perspective. (There’s little else to be happy about at the moment.)
Thus spake Tony.