Our national moment is mired in sunk costs.
And our sunk costs are much worse than normal because humans live longer than they used to, and, thanks to technology (and the technology that started this was poking a stick into the ground and dropping a seed in it. It’s been building up ever since) history moves faster than it ever has.
Oh, add to that some interesting things, like the fact that we’re drowning in story telling of all kinds (which was bound to happen as soon as we had the tech for it, since we’re wired to like story) and that a lot of stories we’re being told and have been told for 100 years not only have nothing to do with reality, but have actual counter-value for survival.
Yeah, it’s a fine mess we got ourselves into.
People living longer is a problem because people are designed to be fairly flexible and knowledge sponges when young, and then we’re supposed to settle in — around our late 20s or so — and run on what we learned then. Not just our profession, but our general picture of the world are pretty much set.
Now, of course, not all our ancestors lived in times of peace. Even Portugal, which was a relative backwater got to be… er…. the reservoir tip at the end of Europe not just because of regular visitors, tourists, sailors doing business, but because it got invaded or had some scuffle going on on the regular. On the regular being oh, once every few centuries.
Thing is most people’s lives were about 40 years or so. Which means that even if you had the really bad luck of living in one of those times, there was 50/50 chance that you’d get hit when you were young enough to adapt. And if you didn’t, well… in a disruption you had a good chance of dying anyway, and if you didn’t, you didn’t live all that long either.
Look, I’m mildly panicked at the birth dearth and have been for 20 years. Other people are starting to get where I am and I no longer get shouted down when I point out most of the figures we get from the third world fall under the highly technical term or “inventive bullshit.” And that what leaks out around the edges shows they’re really, really, really bad at feeding their population or allowing it to thrive, but the birth rate is shrinking along with everyone else’s, and sometimes harder. (And heck, in their case the population might be shrinking too, though they’re also experiencing a substantial rate of increase in longevity.)
But in historical terms our population isn’t just aging, or past its prime. Our population is geriatric.
I first became aware of this when the USSR fell, and communists, after a tiny little moment of surprise, went back to peddling the same rotten communist fish, with the addition of telling us that the “good guys lost” the cold war. And honestly, are now back to publishing articles about how communism was great and sexually empowering for women. (So, in the late eighties, just before the whole thing crashed, a charity of some sort came to talk to a group we were in. I can’t remember details. BUT one of the stories they presented — from people who had lived and grown in the USSR — was of the group of guy who shared a condom. I don’t remember exactly how many there were. It was either six or ten. Because the USSR had caught on population was falling and therefore was making contraceptives hard to come by. So these guys shared a condom, and washed it in between, and when it tore, the guy who worked in a plant that made rubber stuff would repair it. Great for women’s sex lives my poor sore feet.)
At the time I was reading a psychology book about how cognitive function changes and declines, and how after 45 most people have the hardest time changing their minds, and will follow what they heard in childhood.
And frankly, what most people 45 and older learned in childhood was through various kinds of movies and entertainment which were … wrong and slanted. As someone pointed out here, how the world say in the fifties is portrayed in current movies is completely different from what movies made at the time portrayed. And not in the way you’d expect. And this goes all the way down, including, you know, if you read Mark Twain, you find that no, the 19th century wasn’t uniformly racist. Yes, sure, Mark Twain was an oddity, but you know what, he neither died a pauper nor was run out of town. So, no, the nineteenth century was not the wasteland of racism and sexism you would expect.
I honestly think this is the reasons the SJWs and the older idiots who think they’re stunningbrave try so hard to discover problems in and cancel the past. Because if you read older authors, yes, you’re going to find things that rub you wrong (and not always the ones you expect) but you’re also going to find the uberstory you’ve been sold is …. false. And that’s a gentle way to put it. A complete, outrageous and self serving lie would be more accurate.
The problem is that as their control over media and entertainment breaks, these people are being bombarded with information that makes them uncomfortable and — if they were honest, which most aren’t — would make them question everything they’ve ever thought and did.
Heck, guys, just these four years as the masks came off, had enough “what now?” to make me question a lot of the things I believed in and supported. Including most of the GOP candidates. And on the war on terror…. Well, I never supported it the way it was fought. But now? Now I wonder if we really should just have bombed hard from the air, and then let them do whatever they did.
But imagine you’re in your late sixties, and suddenly you’re going “Maybe everything I knew about Vietnam is wrong?” “Maybe people aren’t against communism because they’re racists” maybe….
Even if you’re determined not to pay attention, some things will break through. And they have to hurt and make you uncomfortable.
Add to that that most of our professional lives were in turmoil even before the covidiocy. Being a person of her words, and working mostly in writing, I had no clue until a friend told her that retail was (already) being hit with the same “rapid technological change” stick as writing. Teaching, of course, is on the same train. But so is stuff like…. dentistry. And probably a ton more things where no one pulled me aside to say “Hey, my field–“
And most people in these fields are older than 45. I’ve gone through a heck of a time to figure out how to start again in writing, as the field turned upside down and sideways. And I’m RELATIVELY flexible. Most writers who had as long a career in trad pub would probably retire. (Heck, I considered it.)
Middle-aged-unemployed-man syndrome is a thing. (And it’s man, because most women don’t put their entire worth into a career.) You basically sit and do nothing and can’t adapt.
Well, we were on our way to a bunch of that, already. And it’s only going to get worse. Massively, exponentially worse.
Why? Mostly because the left has the most sunk costs. They’re the ones who still think the world would be a better place if the USSR had won. (And no, they don’t understand without the US being so productive we could FEED the USSR, it would have imploded in a decade or less. Or that most of the USSR achievements were imaginary and existed only on paper. Much less what a bizarre complex horror the place was.) To think otherwise would mean they not only wasted most of their lives, but were on the wrong side for a vast portion of it.
It is human to throw the good after the bad. And not just money. It’s human to try to justify a posteriori our mistakes, so they weren’t mistakes after all.
And the left is trying so hard to do this, they have their fingers stuck in their ears and are repeating soothing mantras to themselves.
Which is why they’ve managed to invent a vast menace of white supremacy where none exists or to make a president that was a little left of center “worse than Hitler.”
Unfortunately it’s getting harder and harder for them to avoid a cognitive reckoning. And because things keep accelerating, everything they do actually breaks the reality — unified media, entertainment, opinion, unified everything — they want a little further apart.
Covidiocy has put a fork into most of the fields they control completely. As in, they’re done. They might still be shambling on their feet, but it’s like a turkey running with the head cut off. They’re done. They had maybe one more generation — 10 or 20 more years — to shamble gently into irrelevancy, but now if they — trad pub, Hollywood, the news, etc. — have five years remaining to them, I’d be shocked.
And it’s strong odds their political shenanigans, obvious “occupation Junta”, attempted purge of the armed services and ridiculous war on largely imaginary “white supremacy” is only going to accelerate things.
A violent convulsion was always on the books. There’s a reason that the industrial revolution (the fastest tech change before today) was accompanied by “the age of revolutions.” (And world wars, as idiots — mostly kings, later well, various “leaders” — tried to create multinational polities. Which is what we should have taken out of the world wars “cultures are different, and shouldn’t be shoved together for no reason”– instead of “nationalism is bad, which was so stupid only communists could have invented it.)
But there was a chance with our geriatric population, and relative abundance, it wouldn’t happen. That the process in place since the mid-seventies would continue, and eventually, sometime in the late 21st century we’d have gone around to a sane-ish society again.
Alas, humans will fight to preserve sunk costs. And the humans who had carefully insulated themselves from reality and who believe fairytales about perfect communist utopias are the ones in the greatest panic and trying to make things go back to a place where they felt comfortable.
Since they couldn’t find reality with two hands, a seeing eye dog, and sonar, what they’re doing is actually destroying the remnants of the things they like
And increasing — almost to certainty — the possibility of violent convulsions.
All the lock downs, covidiocies, green new deals, and great resets are just them covering their ears and screaming “make the past come back.”
It ain’t gonna happen. And they’re not going to win, for one because their ideas have no basis in anything real, including and up to “what humans eat.”
There will be a great reset. Not the one they want.
But on the way there? Things are going to get crazier and crazier.
Be prepared. Don’t panic. Yes, some of us will end up caught in the mess. It’s inevitable.
But over all, I expect only a small proportion of us will get in any real, final trouble.
In the end, we win, they lose.
On the way there? Oh, you haven’t seen interesting times yet. Look to yourself and those you love. And be not afraid.