After the European colonial era, globalization opened the world markets to Western consumption and technology. But because Western populations are aging, stagnating or even shrinking in the 21st century, modern means of communication and transportation are helping the world’s poor to move to the West, tens of millions at a time. The economies of their homelands in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East have proven unable to provide their explosively growing populations with a meaningful future.
Conversely, Westerners flee into politically correct naivety, alcohol, drugs or consumer hedonism while both the Left and the Right privately condemn mass immigration. As long as Westerners can still afford to do so, they will keep fooling themselves that everything will be okay again. Despite Western self-delusion, the Syrian refugee crisis that began in 2015 heralded the beginning of the decline of Europe. Perhaps that of America, too.
In the interest of our collective self-preservation, the time has come for the rebirth of the West.
Globalization has driven urban man to his highest productivity yet with the smallest specialization. To facilitate billions of individuals living on Earth, we’ve narrowed our lives down to that of gears in a machine. To cope, we’ve fled in mind-altering drugs and virtual computer worlds that simulate long-lost worlds of freedom. The success of mass man has no equal. Never have so many people lived so close to each other as for example in Paris, Seoul or Mumbai, cities housing over fifteen thousand people per square mile.
Cities have become human cowsheds, self-regulated prison equipped for the tax industry. The pressure of mankind’s explosively growing numbers has reduced man to an obedient executioner in an incomprehensible system. Although modern ‘progress’ changed feudal serfs into modern employees with more prosperity than medieval kings, it did so at the expense of their humanity. The majority of people alive today live out their lives as sardines, stuffed together in residential towers like termite colonies.
The modernity that promised people infinite opportunities brought them boundless self-deception. The technological revolution that Europe has cranked up since the 17th century, accelerated by the invention of the combustion engine and later atomic energy, had only led to worldwide overproduction and overpopulation. While the rest of the world, out of fear of losing the struggle for existence, is blindly running after the drunken Western example, the fate of mankind is rooted in the tragic question,
“What are we willing to sacrifice for our survival?”
Basic Social Order
The billions of people on Earth live in relative harmony, thanks to a historically tried and tested system of hierarchy and order.
This human hierarchy is like a steep mountain made of loose sand. The more effort a subordinate makes in order to climb to the top, the further he will drop back down again. This discourages many to even try. You have to be born at the top. There’s no path to the top but when everyone takes the hierarchy by storm, the sands will disperse in all directions, eventually dropping the elites to the bottom.
Because a people always possess this latent power to humiliate its elites and because the elites can only defend their power by oppressing the people, both parties must treat each other with the friendliest contempt. What we generally call ‘peacetime’ is a ceasefire between the people and its elites, between ordinary folks and special snowflakes, between the quantitative mass man and the self-proclaimed man of quality.
Human organization is based on a holy trinity. At the top of the hierarchy, a governing power elite rules with the help of its slavish civil servantry. Below it, the relatively autonomous but loyal security forces operate, including a police force and an army. Down at the bottom live the people. The security forces have the exclusive right to use violence against civilians. In exchange for their loyalty, the security forces share in the elite’s prestige. As a consequence, people experience relative peace of the sort shepherd dogs maintain by barking at a herd of sheep.
The people are being oppressed. Society is not free because people are required to obey the social order. I call this the basic order. To maintain the basic order, great civilizations invented principles of wide-scale social oppression. Governing elites rule the people by means of social taboos, traditions, religious doctrine, one-sided news coverage, and arbitrary legislation. In East Asia, for example, Confucius formulated the values of obedience, pacifism, and what we would nowadays call mindfulness. In the West, Catholic clergy spread the teachings of Jesus Christ, the slave who submitted to his suffering.
Those social precepts are not set in stone but continuously adapt to changing circumstances. Social taboos serve to control the reproductive rate of the people as well as its economic output. Because the tameness of the people benefits larger numbers, which helps increase the military might of its controlling elites, spiritual leaders submitted the masses to their leadership by means of most deceitful manipulation, for example, by the promise of an afterlife, reincarnation or, nowadays, capitalist riches, like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Although the role of tradition and religion appears to have decreased in the increasingly irreligious West, popular television hosts now formulate the political correct taboos that media elites impose a gullible people by threat of social exclusion. Political correctness is the religion of modernity.
The Role of Democracy
In the basic order, the people are serfs. They accept their fate because, in the long term, the social order brings them social security. That social stability is the strongest argument for democracy. Through consensus-driven decision making, a democracy moves considerably slower than other forms of organization. This has the advantage that governments must avoid reckless behavior and side-track autocratic rulers who think the State exists to afford them their adventures.
What is the benefit of democracy? By slowing down decision making, democracy makes the future more predictable to its citizens. Democratic citizens can invest more in the longer term which benefits the creation of great public works such as infrastructure, health, and education. A well-governed democracy guarantees its citizens a certain peace of mind.
However, democracy also saddles citizens with annoying drawbacks. Democracy brings along a cumbersome civil servantry, as well as an inefficient if not pointless hierarchy. Democracy can often adequately respond to internal crises, but not always and even less so in case of unpredictable anarchy coming from the outside world.
In addition, democracy erodes administrative responsibility because even in case of big mistakes by her governing officials, the people foot the bill for their vote. Democratic officials hold less power than autocratic rulers, but as a consequence, they also feel much less responsible for the result. They can always pass that responsibility on to the people. The people, acting like a herd, fears individual responsibility and preferably wants to give it back to politicians. Thus, people flee into politically correct conformism — e.g. into bipartisan uniformity.
It’s a misconception to think democracy leads to prosperity naturally. It’s also untrue that building high-quality governing institutions lead to the foundation of a democracy. In reality, precisely the opposite is true: democracy presupposes prosperity and without democracy, high-quality institutions have no use. Only prosperous peoples can afford the governing inefficiency of a democracy. Poor peoples have no use for impractically expensive institutions.
The Meaning of the Economy
To ensure the survival of sometimes up to hundreds of millions of people, governing elites encourage their citizens to keep the economy ‘running’ from their cradle to their grave. This is to say: each day anew, the masses must commit their physical and mental productivity for the benefit of the collective survival of the people.
We call this system capitalism. Despite the fact that every human being on Earth owes his existence to this never-ending struggle against nature, capitalism harvests little appreciation due to its unfair distribution of the outcome. That doesn’t mean people have any other choice. Capitalism arises from the need to feed billions of people. The desire to treat people equally does not affect it. The system that feeds so many people may, under no condition fail. Capitalism protects itself, counter-intuitively, with a buffer of inefficiency that leads to inequality. Besides, capitalism isn’t an ‘ism’. There is no ideology. Capitalism is a decentralized system of people going to work each day.
When Marxists criticize capitalism, they mean the centralization of capital. Their only criticism is that the men who are in charge of it are not the intellectuals.
The basic order discussed earlier has transformed its citizens into land-based (or urban-based) slaves. Because humankind’s survival depends on the collective productivity of collaborating individuals, the economy has driven man to reduce cost by all means necessary. We house people in unnatural, square boxes we call city apartments. Like capital, we centralize the workers in working-class neighborhoods. The economy forces most citizens to perform their productive duties at fixed times and locations.
Modern citizens are not much better off than medieval serfs. They just have more luxury and more money to buy drugs. We live longer and healthier lives but the healthy years won rather serve our continued exploitation than our personal freedom. Few manage to escape this mechanical existence — a rich minority — but the masses never can. The ordinary man is born and raised in the System, conditioned to accept his artificial reality as real. The promise of old age and security motivate him like the carrot before the donkey.
Because the System may not fail, freedom of opinion makes way for intellectual conformism. Bureaucracy tempers entrepreneurial freedom. Politically correct taboos have replaced an individual outlook on life. Parents impose the System’s ideals onto their children because they too don’t know any better. Even judges and psychiatrists, who have internalized the System’s ideals, make sure to calm down rebellious citizens. A ‘good’ child learns to sit still, waiting for the teacher’s, priest’s or king’s lessons. A strong-willed child that wants to be an independent individual has ‘issues’, is ‘maladjusted’, needs ‘discipline’ or suffers from a ‘disorder’.
The law of diminishing returns controls the economy like a law of physics, so, increasingly, people have to work harder for increasingly less life. Men and women go through the motions of life but without really living. They have become machines. They work as gears in factories, as tools in construction, or at the office as computer extensions. Citizens have become the living furniture in the households of their elites.
The System puts a lot of pressure on people, on men to become achievers and on women, too. Many Western women did not stay childless because they wanted to study but decided to study because they could not have children.
The Dual Role of Socialism
Modern life is in stark contrast to the life in, for example, Europe around the year 1000. Almost all inhabitants of Norway were still free farmers that didn’t owe anyone a dime in taxes. The Viking-age Norway was an egalitarian society — socialists’ wet dream — until King Harald introduced taxes for the first time to fund his wars against England.
Times change. To keep the economy running and the people in check, socialism plays a particularly mean double-play. In theory, socialism means to strive for the emancipation of the working classes. Socialism wants to make it possible for workers to provide themselves with their daily needs without having to submit to artificial consumption, according to the definition of socialism as understood by Noam Chomsky, similar to what Karl Marx pursued.
At least, that’s the philosophy. In practice, socialism rather plays the role of an urban religion that seeks to reduce the people to servile sheep, or “turn tigers into cats.”
Socialism serves as the lubricant between the gears in densely populated human machinery. More conservative values can only survive in the countryside. Once people had mastered modern city planning that allowed for millions of people to live together in small spaces, city dwellers were forced to become more tolerant of deviating behavior by their neighbors in order to maintain social harmony. This has consequences for the psyche. The modern family, locked between four walls, is the source of violence in the lives of many young children.
In our time, globalization has led to the emergence of a sort of hyper-socialism that tries to assimilate people from all corners of the world, of all cultures, beliefs, and traditions. This hyper-socialism cannot succeed without a high dose of self-deceit. The so-called multicultural societies push the boundaries of tolerance so far, they can only succeed in their intent by distorting every child’s psyche through far-reaching propaganda. Nowadays, the lies we have to take for truths have become as indispensable to world peace as the air we breathe.
That makes multicultural societies unstable — at any given moment, the whole thing threatens to fall apart. The basic order remains standing with great effort. We have reached the limit of the humanly possible.
A Looming Revolt
The state of the present world order is tragic: predatory capitalism, which feeds man but plunders nature, and predatory socialism, which brings a man peace but plunders his freedom, have pushed both man and nature towards the edge of the abyss. Already condemned to a life of labor and maximal productivity, social precepts imposed from above further restrict man’s life. The slavery of his mind is complete.
The rigidity of the basic order clashes with the human need for freedom and self-determination. In world history, this conflict shows itself in periodic waves of war and peace. Near the end of a long peace period, the masses, who now experience their slavish existence as degrading to their humanity, reach a boiling point. The people demand new leaders, a new future, and a revolution. Under pressure from a forlorn lower class, the middle classes rise up and seize the opportunity to steal back their rightful dues from the egocentric elites.
Both revolutionary radicals, as well as reactionaries, then pursue the same goal: to overthrow the current order in favor of an idealized future. In most cases, revolutions strand because the security forces remain loyal to the elites. Only in extraordinary cases do the security forces side with the people. That happens, for example, when governing officials have endangered the survival of their people through corrupt governance.
The Decline of the West
Economies behave irrationally. They are driven by positive feedback loops. For example, families see that their neighbors are getting a loan for a second car, so they also decide to do so themselves out of fear of falling behind financially. Both unjustly assume that the economy will always continue to grow.
History shows that economies do collapse. The Viennese stock market crash of 1873 signaled the end of half a century of economic growth. During this so-called Gründerzeit or Founder’s Era, German and Austrian entrepreneurs became rich overnight. Thanks to the construction of an elaborate network of railroads, people from the countryside migrated to the city en masse to meet economic demand. After the crash, the German industry came to a standstill for almost twenty years, called the Gründerkrise or Founder’s Crisis. The new middle class again threatened to drop back into a starving lower class.
Professor Didier Sornette (ETH Zurich) researched if perhaps the world economy is also a bubble in crisis. He sketched three scenarios for the future:
we may unexpectedly invent new means of transportation that will enable us to colonize other worlds so that we can relieve the exhausted Earth;
people satisfy their economic appetite and voluntarily reduce their family size;
we hit a world market crash after which only the super-rich and their private armies manage to survive among clans of barbarians — the scorched Earth scenario.
But before it even comes to a global economic collapse, the current situation in the West already strongly resembles that of the German Gründerzeit. Just like then, we have experienced half a century of economic prosperity. Like then, millions of people from the countryside, this time from Middle-Eastern, East-Asian, Latin-American and North-African areas, migrated to European and American cities. Like then, our economy characterizes itself by unfounded expectations; we think it’s normal that virtual companies that produce nothing can be valued at over a hundred billion dollars.
Westerners are living in the repetition of the Gründerzeit, on the eve of their economic destruction. But what will Westerners do in case of a total crisis — fight or flight?
An economic crash of this proportion means that the money and the means to sustain multicultural appeasement politics will dry up. We will no longer be able to afford our progressive values. In times of crisis, we shall witness a return to conservative values.
Will the West choose collective suicide or will it embrace a combative people that won’t hesitate to reconquer its world?
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Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (New York: First Perennial Classic, 2010), 52.
Didier Sornette, Why Stock Markets Crash: Critical Events in Complex Financial Systems (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), chap. 10.