The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, October 20, 2017


Richard Fernandez is an impressive thinker whose unique assessment of the world stage is often spot on. But he is not an optimist. Consider this comment:
After several ominous rumbles outside the tower the individual creaks have finally merged into a continuous roar. Brexit, the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the crumbling of the Iran deal, America quitting UNESCO, Trump dismantling Obamacare, consular withdrawal from Cuba, the pullout from the Paris accord -- these have piled on so fast they've acquired the character of a single collective event. Now the fall of Hollywood has followed like the inevitable comedic boulder right on Wile E. Coyote's head at the bottom of the gulch. Are we still in Kansas anymore?

It's becoming increasingly hard to believe the world can return to the status quo ante, even if Trump is impeached. It's too far gone. A whole landscape has vanished seemingly overnight going from the post-Cold War to the post-post Cold War; from a post-Modernist culture to post-everything in the blink of an eye. Even the political scene is unrecognizable. The Republican party is in shambles; the Democrats in disarray.

It is as if a demolition crew has cleared a site leaving only a vacant lot. Some ask "when are the builders due?" Others more ominously ask "when are the zombies due?"
But Fernandez' list of "creaks" doesn't even touch the surface of the instability that we're witnessing:
  • Universities that suppress free speech, rather than promote a worthwhile debate about controversial ideas?
  • Groups that would rather see statues destroyed than maintaining them as reminders of of a history that might make us uneasy, but likewise, teaches important lessons.
  • Entire groups of people who take on the mantle of victims, suggesting that they have little responsibility for their own achievement or lack thereof.
  • Language and thought police who condemn those who question conventional wisdom and politically correct orthodoxy.
  • A sitting president who alternately picks fights with members of his own party and B-list comedians,
  • A recent presidential candidate who whines about her loss, creating the impression that our elections were rigged
  • A recent presidential candidate who may yet be indicted for federal crimes in a bribery and corruption scandal that is breaking at this time.
  • A past president whose administration was mired in so many serial scandals that they are still under investigation to this day
In an age when information is pervasive as well as intrusive, when social media like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter bombard almost everyone with news and Fake News, something has begun to happen. There was once the widespread illusion that we have competent national leadership, that an elite class knows best and generally does the right thing, that corruption in the United States was relatively minor, that academics who value knowledge and empirically-based evidence will report their findings honestly, that the mainstream media would report objectively and investigate political wrong-doing thoroughly, and that the political class has the country's best interests at heart. Today, across wide swaths of the general public, that illusion is gone. As a consequence, the status quo is crumbling, trust has vanished, and the long shadow of chaos has appeared around a dark corner.

And the Zombies? Well ... that's a discussion for another day.