Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Next Revolution

A malaise – that vague sense that something is not right – has us in its grip.

It’s not the March malaise that accompanies the weariness of winter and yearning for spring. It’s a malaise that has been growing for some time, and it is shared by others beyond our own confines, in fact throughout the western world.

This malaise is a deep uneasiness about our economy, our political systems and our way of life in general.

Feelings that something is not right with our lives are not uncommon. They are part of the tides of life, flowing and ebbing on the tragedies and triumphs of living. They usually are chased away by optimism that things can and will get better.

I hope I am wrong with this one, but I don’t believe that things will get better. At least not for a long time. There is a evidence that we are stuck in this one and only revolutionary change will begin to move us forward again.

We have lived with a stagnant economy for years, either in or skirting the edges of recession. New full-time jobs are not abundant and job security and long-employment are relics from the last century.

The growing inequality between the rich and the so-called middle class is obvious. Many of us have a harder time keeping up with costs than we did last year. More of us are working long past when we expected to be retired.

A growing number of people now believe that life for their children and grandchildren will not be better, or even as good, as theirs.

Listening to all the high-tech sales people out there you would think we are living in a life-altering revolution. We are not. The much touted information technology revolution has not changed the basics of our lives. In fact, real changes in living have been few over the past 50 years or more.

Sure, medical advances have increased life spans but almost all of our modern advances are built on discoveries and inventions made many decades ago. The only genuine new thing is the Internet.

My home today is much the same as my grandparents’ home of the late 1950s. Turn a tap and water runs. Flick a switch and lights come on. There is a TV in the living room and an automobile in the driveway. The only thing I have that they did not is a personal computer, which allows me to do things much more quickly, and unfortunately sometimes with less thought.

Shapes, colours and the general quality of our stuff have changed, but the basics have not.

Nowhere is the malaise more obvious than in the U.S. where this year’s presidential election race sees voters turning to outsiders such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Noam Chomsky, the famed American academic, said in an interview last week that economic uncertainty and loss of social cohesion are driving more people to right wing leaders.

“People feel isolated, helpless, victim(s) of powerful forces that they do not understand and cannot influence.”

However, the political outsiders are not going to help them. Neither are the establishment insiders.

Our governments are ad agencies rolling out fantasies that life is getting better for all. Whatever you need, whatever you want  they are going to get it for you because they cannot exist without your vote.

It is easy sometimes to think of our politicians as corrupt, or just plain stupid. In most cases they are not. They are just people like us, but who spend too much time in meetings convincing each other they have discovered brilliant new ways to change anything.

Our world has stalled and will stay stalled until we realize that we must change a system that demands more building, more production, more profits, and more of everything. We are going to have to learn to live happily and comfortably with less.

How we get ourselves and our politicians to realize and accept that presents a huge challenge. How we manage to achieve it after accepting it is another.

Changing our systems of living is where the next revolution lies.


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