History is a funny old thing, we cut it up into days and weeks and months, then years, decades and centuries, We talk about eras like the 60s or the 80s, we talk about the 20th century as if it were a single 100 year block where everything was the same but what we really mean is the part of that century that has established itself as being that century because the new traditions and customs of that century were in place for those decades.
There is an old saying, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, that has been proven again and again and here we are, looking around us at our world and not noticing the historic changes that we stand on the edge of. But often that’s the way it is, afterwards it looks so clear, but while it’s happening it’s much harder to see.
What I’m talking about is the transition between the traditions of one century and the next, the point where things change and the rest of the century is created. Today in 2016 we are still more or less living with the customs and traditions established during the 20th century, the world order is the same, governments and nations are mostly the same, the technology is smaller and faster but nothing is radically new. Apart from broadband and mobiles our lives are not so very different from the latter half of last century.
Note that I said the latter half, because the early half was very much the transition point from the 19th century. Those living in the first decade or so of the 1900s lived in the same world as that of much of the 1800s, the technology had changed but society, governments and nations, the way things were done, very much 19th century. The transition point was the culmination of the rivalry between the great European Empires and it started in 1914 and lasted until 1945 with the world order changed, the 19th century Empires broken apart and a new world came into being. From that point on we had what we think of as the 20th century and we developed the customs of that century, which is where we are now.
A century earlier we had the 19th century, the 1800s where we had the war with America, the wars against France, the wars of German Unification and the industrial revolution which meant that what we most often think of as the 1800s, Victoria, steam trains and the European Empires waving swords at each other didn’t come about until well into the second half of the century.
So why am I trying to put people to sleep with history.
Well it’s all about not noticing the transition point till it’s too late. Because I suspect that’s what we are doing right now, no noticing we are in the transition point where the 20th century actually ends and where we end up with a new world, new traditions and customs, a new society and more.
Some of the signs are clear though getting people to pay attention is difficult because, well, it sounds like paranoia. The robots are coming to take our jobs. Yep, that but relax, I’m not going to go into it at any length today. Instead I’m looking at other events, other signs, that show we are moving into another transition and that things are going to be very different. Though getting there is likely to take time and involve the usual death and destruction as the old orders resist being replaced.
Firstly we have a worldwide rebellion against the old order; yes we do but bear with me as it takes many forms. The political systems we live with are very much from last century, democracies (or lack thereof) are the same ones we had in the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. The lines on the map are, with some exceptions, the ones drawn by the post WW2 agreements.
Some nations have already had their battles and broken apart into new nations, but there are many others where huge numbers of people want to kick out the old ways and start something new. We watched the Arab spring and we saw it crushed in nation after nation, we watched our own country topple dictators and then walk away, snatching hope from those who thought the new world had arrived. We see and hear of fighting, not just across the middle east but around the world as people take up arms to throw down the old century and it’s ways and demand something new.
But, you say, that’s happened for decades. Yes it has and it happens all the time, but in such numbers, in so many nations. This has, I believe, a landslide effect caused by modern communications, people who want change see others fighting for change and are emboldened to act themselves. We sit watching the news on TV and it’s yet another country being bombed or fighting a civil war, but to people around the world it is far more, it is a sign that governments can be overthrown.
Here in the west we are looking at a massive demand for change and for something new though not through civil war and armed mass uprising, instead we are looking at the old order, the old traditional political parties and the old leaders fighting increasingly bloody battles to hang on to power with every means at their disposal (including the illegal ones) while the mobs form up and instead of throwing bricks. cast votes.
In Scotland the Tories and Labour were the old order, the 20th century still hanging around and ruling them. So we had a mass rebellion and a new political order. Across Europe we are watching the rise and rise of political groups at the extremes of the political spectrum, groups who offer to overthrow the 20th century politics and bring in a new world.
Look to the US and Donald Trump, the man is a walking attack on the old order and the old politics, and much more. The establishment is beginning to panic over Trump becoming the Republican candidate because he is, for good and for ill, one of those events that herald the transition and the death of 20th century politics. The support he receives, the number of people voting Trump becasue he isn't the old order, that is a very clear sign of the rebellion growing.
This is going to get steadily worse and more common, people voting for change in ever greater numbers and then turning to other means as democracy fails them.
Then we have technology and the effect it is having on our world though as great as it has been it’s still not thrown down the old world. Give it time though. Global markets, global shopping, global business and friendships. The rise and rise of online Media which is successfully challenging the propaganda of the 20th century main stream media. The collapse of shops and businesses and chains and well known names who have failed to understand the changes brought to the world by on line shopping, bricks and mortar stores who haven’t noticed that they need to offer a wider range of services when their customers can shop around the world and often have the items delivered to their homes more cheaply that buying in a shop when you include parking and fuel and time and that coffee they needed so badly.
The rule of the nation states is also crumbling away to be replaced by the corporate state, corporate cronyism has become so commonplace it takes something truly huge or bad to even merit notice, politicians bought and sold in the halls of power like bags of groceries, the rise of TTiP as it stalks ever closer.
This is simply another sign of the changes all around us, as is the perhaps permanent low price of oil as oversupply struggles with alternative energy technology which is still trying to find its footing and establish itself as the mainstream.
Knowledge has become power but control over knowledge is maintained by 20th century laws and attitudes enforced by people who live within and fight to protect last centuries political system.
The world economy wobbled and then steadied but it is hardly what you would call stable, the petro dollar, traditional markets and currencies, all are less that solid and China on its own can bring the economic house of cards crashing down.
What will the economic system of the 21st century be, who can say right now, but it will be differant. The 19th century was the time of the European empires and their currency ruled supreme, the 20th century (or the half of the century we think of as being the 20th century) was the day of the dollar, what will the 21st century bring, will cash itself be obsolete,
Will we be living in a utopia where food and clothing and shelter is provided for all and people log hours of work because they want to and then swap those hours for luxury items, or will we live in a corporate controlled dystopia where people struggle to work enough hours to afford to replace the air filters they need to avoid dying young because of the pollution, using the company script they are paid in, that can only be spent in the stores run by their employers.
The world around us is changing, the signs are there. History is happening again and the 21st century is trying to set it’s stamp on the world, but for this to happen the 20th century must be killed off and that’s likely to be a rocky ride.
So buckle up. The 21st century is on it’s way.