Francis Sealey started a discussion in the Linked in Group “Our System” about the impending cultural change humanity might face. The topic was, essentially, what are the cultural changes that are happening nationally and globally in the 21st century that may well shape our future and how can we recognize what the next big shift in cultural change will be? Indeed how important is cultural change and is it in the area of cultural change rather than politics that we should be working if we are to make any real significant difference? Will the changing balance of generations; the vast global migrations, the complex diversity of race and ethnicity and the changing mosaic of popular culture rather than changes in the ballot box shape our political life? And if so how can we develop consciousness around these changes so that they have positive social impact?
The most important factor I think we need to be aware of related to cultural change is that we are about to see radical changes. I think we are at a point not unlike the collapse of Rome. Second, people often think of culture and moral beliefs as interrelated. And they believe that morality is based on religious beliefs. But, studies have shown that religion’s actually adjust to follow society, rather than the other way around, and society primary adjusts due to technology. In the last part of the 20th century, we saw the collapse of fraternal organizations ( see the book: Bowling Alone ), and the beginning of the collapse of the nuclear family in modern society. Both of these factors have been primarily associated with the invention of birth control. And, now, the people in this discussion can be anywhere in the world, not just neighbors. So, they don’t even share our living environment. These are radical changes! And they may NOT lead to a sustainable society that is anything like the one we’ve known.
The most immanent change I think we need to prepare for is world wide anarchy.
It will be due to the combination of two forces: the internet, which allows global communication, and a cultural flaw I refer to as the “multiple religions problem”. Modern governments were founded on what appeared to be a very noble and equitable principle: freedom of religion. But, when examined rigorously, that principle raises many contradictions. In short, each person is allowed to hold very different beliefs about the world. Everyone is EXPECTED to show RESPECT for other beliefs. This worked in the past because most countries, i.e. collections of people, were assembled around a single belief. But as the world’s people interact, this convenience breaks down.
Here’s an example. Let’s say one country establishes an institution called “prisons” because they believe in a principle called “sin”, that people have free will and should be “punished” when they break the rules. All of a sudden, a whole new group of people enter the country, and they don’t believe in punishment. They don’t believe in either heaven or hell or even the basic moral rules of the country.
Now here’s the point. If we invoke the “freedom of religion” principle, then what society tells both of these groups is that they have to RESPECT the other groups beliefs! As long as the word “respect” only means “tolerate”, then things are ok. But if “respect” actually means agree with and act upon to make happen, then it falls apart. The result is, the society becomes a mental institution where people only believe what’s in their own head. Common action breaks down. That’s what we have already. The internet is only exposing the problem. To control this, governments will have to become more dictatorial. That, of course, will stomp on freedom. This is NOT an easily solved problem. More discussion on my website, A3society.org, which was set up to address exactly this question.