The Coming Dark Ages?
September 22, 2018Posted by on
This week on Facebook: Judao-Christian and Greco-Roman values is under vicious attack everywhere, or so the writer of ‘Return of the Dark Ages’ (1) believes. The article seems to be written as defence for the values of Western Philosophy, and yet it is the ethos of this Western Philosophy that suggests its evolving interpretation into the beginning of a new dark age (2).
As the article ‘A New Dark Age’ (3) states, “Almost ex definition economic globalisation rips into people’s cultural identity rooted in nationalism, regionalism, religion, and family culture perceived as norms for daily life.” Going on to state that a willingness to sacrifice a part of their cultural identity for the rewards of economic growth through globalisation is not the case when global economic growth falls. As fiscal policy fails to ensure economic growth an electorate becomes alienated, perhaps coming to realise that fiscal policy has never has been set up, run, and controlled in their interests, and that globalisation is for the benefit of the elites.
The world is passing through one of these rare but tumultuous phases where an existing order is unable to accommodate changes. Possibly the age of economics will be recorded as an interregnum to build the materialistic foundation to take humanity into an age of non-materialistic values as was the case for many ancient cultures. If so, it is unlikely that the shift emerges in the US having been so committed to economic thinking. A New Dark Age? (3)
There is some debate regarding China’s circumnavigation of the world, one point put forward is that 500 years ago China destroyed its world-dominating navy because its elite was afraid of free trade. It’s a pity that this article chose to use China’s circumnavigation of the world, which is unlikely to be true, to support a view on the USA withdrawal from the world stage. The world continually evolves, with the Deep State and the power exercised by the military machine, perhaps indicating where the empires in decline ‘allow’ new empires to arise¹.
Just as how China pulling up its drawbridge after circumnavigating the world in the early 1400’s (having decided that there was nothing of import outside their own country) allowed for the rise of the Ottoman empire, the European empires, and most recently the American empire, the U.S.A pulling up its drawbridge and withdrawing into itself will give other nations, and indeed other empires, a chance to rise. America Enters The Dark Ages (4)
Judging by most of comments that the article (4) generated, it seriously misses the point. Its statement that, “In the USA the fading of truth may be just one aspect of what is happening and that in reality the USA may be moving from a fact-based era to a faith-based era.” That this era is less to do with a religious faith more to do with internet access based faith (wherever that leads to), seems to be the norm.
This also links to my last article (5), where the use of word medieval is not only used in terms of what Western Philosophy called the middle ages but is (to my mind) intended to imply their dark age. Dr Edward Said and his book Orientalism point directly at internet access based faith and at the use of word medieval in Western Philosophy². The literary critic Paul De Man wrote that Said took a step further than any other modern scholar of his time, something he dare not do. Nevertheless Said’s book is not without its critics.
In a semantic sleight of hand, Said appropriated the term “Orientalism”, as a label for the ideological prejudice he described, thereby, neatly implicating the scholars who called themselves Orientalist’s. At best, charged Said, the work of these scholars was biased, so as to confirm the inferiority of Islam. At worst, Orientalists had directly served European empires, showing proconsuls how best to conquer and control Muslims. To substantiate his indictment, Said cherry-picked evidence, ignored whatever contradicted his thesis, and filled the gaps with conspiracy theories. Dangerous Knowledge
The above articles point to the global hegemony of Western Philosophy, in particular the Christianity and Political Philosophy that is still driving Western Philosophy. The articles (1-5) only allude to the question of a reserve currency in a fiat money world. Money, and especially a reserve currency, is at the centre of globalisation whether it be trade or war that is to be the dominant driving force for global economic growth. However money and war supported by contemporary nationalism are likely to be the harbingers a new dark age to which I am sure the elites will lead us³.
1. Return of the Dark Ages? As the West declines, who is rising? The unholy trinity of Iran, Russia and China, three states ranging from the totalitarian to the authoritarian; three countries run by kleptocratic elites hiding behind religious and secular dogmas. Two are already thoroughly nuclear equipped and the third will be in a few short years – yes, facilitated by those pillars of Western values the US, France, Great Britain and Germany. The great writers of satire could not have done better.
2. The Dawn of a New Dark Age: The greatest of these end-of-everything moments was the fall of the Roman Empire. In the last three centuries B.C., Rome conquered the whole Mediterranean Basin; within another 100 years it ruled everywhere between the borders of Scotland and Iran. The empire linked together some 60 million people, one million of them in the city of Rome itself, and extended trade routes all across Eurasia. By the second century A.D., aristocrats in Korea could marvel at Roman glass vases while soldiers on Hadrian’s Wall spiced their food with Indian black pepper. Living standards within the empire probably rose by 50-100 percent between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200; and while this growth rate sounds glacially slow today, the world had never before seen anything like it.
3. A New Dark Age? The alpha male of the world order, the US, is neither willing nor capable of defending the steering system. It has ceased being the indispensable nation. The streak of idealism has disappeared, forcing the US to fall back on raw power despite the talk about soft power. Moral authority has slipped away, no longer available to support and substantiate US policies and interventions.
4. America Enters The Dark Ages: After several centuries, there was movement again via the Renaissance and the Enlightenment into the fact-based Industrial Revolution. And now, once again, the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way in America. Where facts and evidence are not important, education is not essential, analysis is not necessary, experts are powerless, and traditional news media is an anachronism. Facts can be complicated. Faith – like a tweet – is simple and difficult to argue against. And faith can morphed at will to support our thinking at any given moment in time.
5. ‘Medieval’ makes a comeback in modern politics: what’s going on? The post-9/11 usage of “medieval” to describe Islamist terrorism tells us as much about vocabularies within Western political thought as it does about the ideologies of al-Qaeda and IS. Edward Said devoted his very famous book Orientalism to describing the Western penchant for imagining the East as outside of history, and as erotic and oppressive in the same instance.
Referenced Articles & Books:
- A text subscript above and preceding the title here, refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download that is usually free.
- Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) are used above to reference a particular article (1-5).
- A long read url* is followed by an asterisk.
- Occasionally an Open University (OU) free course is cited.
- JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.
¹How Do Empires Work? (url/OU) How are empires ruled? How do military, economic, logistic and cultural constructs combine to create ‘systems of empire’? This free course, How do empires work?, introduces these questions by briefly sketching in the dramatic events of the Anglo-Chinese conflict over Hong Kong from 1839 to 1842.
²Christianity and Political Democracy in the Middle Ages and Modern Times (pdf): Today there is a fruitful dispute between secularists and those who argue the compatibility between Christianity, with its religious precepts and intrinsic system of ethical values, and the liberal democracy. The second group is however hopelessly wrong, as much as the first. This endeavor is epistemologically wrong and the argument is pretty simple. The institutions of divine right, such as the Church or family, shall be subject to the single principle or hierarchy of being, that goes beyond the narrow human consciousness and action. From this perspective, these institutions may be called undemocratic or they do not respect the ideology of inalienable human rights, as formulated at the present time.
³Why the elites always rule (url*): Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign was based on the rejection of the “establishment”. Theresa May condemned the rootless “international elites” in her leader’s speech at last October’s Conservative party conference. On the European continent, increasingly popular right-wing parties such as Marine Le Pen’s Front National and the German Alternative für Deutschland, as well as Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, delight in denouncing the “Eurocratic” elites. But where does the term “elite” come from, and what does it mean?