The universe is getting entirely too literal for my taste.
In 2024, we face the likely prospect of two old men representing two dying ideologies competing for the presidency of the United States.
On the one hand, we have an old man representing those who would resurrect a past in which a certain version of Christian morality is enforced on all. Add to this a strongman ideology of law and order, national cohesion, etc. I don’t need to go on—we all know what I’m referring to.
On the other hand, we have an even older man representing the ideology of Progress, the vision of a technocratic elite bringing in an ever-more-glorious future. An ideology in which the experts are anointed to rule over us in the name of science and efficiency. And if you’re lucky and go to the right schools you can become one of the ruling elites too.
The only thing that unites these two groups is their absolute devotion to the capitalist imperative of continual economic growth.
Both of these ideologies are dying. They are dying because neither of them can or will face the actual future.
In a recent podcast episode, Dougald Hine mentioned the work of Frederico Campagna. (I haven’t read him so I can’t say whether Dougald’s summary of his ideas is correct.) Campagna apparently says that sometimes humans are born into the ending of a world. It is important to note that the ending of a world is not the end of the world but it may feel like it is. In any case, the way you know you’ve been born into the ending of a world is that the future doesn’t work anymore. In a more normal time, you’re able to look at the past and present and project into a future. When you’re at the ending of a world, this is no longer possible.
In some real way, the world ended in 2016. In America, we were watching the close of the age of Obama. It hadn’t quite delivered on what we had hoped, but it seemed like a time we could be proud of. (Never mind all those bombs.) Now the first woman president seemed all but assured of taking office. Then it all came crashing down.
The feeling I most remember from that time is that nothing made sense. I was a Bernie voter. I didn’t like Hillary. But the idea that Trump had won was crazy. None of the rules seemed to apply anymore. And that feeling only got worse.
The world ended in 2016. American life has now entered a zombie state. Wildfires. A plague. An attack on the Capitol. Climate change as a present reality. Hell, we can’t even make original entertainment anymore.
Now these two old men with their old ideologies present themselves before zombie America and ask us to choose. It’s no wonder that both men have had their mental competence called into question: they represent insane ideologies. It’s even literally the same two guys. We have to give one of them a second chance.
Hey, Cosmos, isn’t this getting a little heavy-handed? Try for a little nuance, maybe.
We cannot see the future from here. Don’t trust anyone who says they can. But I suspect it is out there, if we are willing to let the dead bury the dead.