I find myself filled with optimism today, even as I’m quite sure we are ramping quickly into the era of chaos I’ve been prattling on about for nearly a thousand days. Everything feels a bit “hold on to your hats” as we collectively experience the fear and joy of an illegible moment without any dominant narratives.
And yet today inside this chaos without clarity, the internet is filled with enthusiasm as a small niche of enthusiasts try to replicate the results of a chemistry paper that claims to have made a superconducting at room temperature material LK-99 produced with common materials like lead and red phosphorus.
Add that on top of fervor over Congressional investigations “aliens” program whistleblowers while we all collectively wonder at the potential for artificial general intelligence to be accelerated and the zeitgeist is a fever pitch of vibe shifts from doom to foom.
All of these glimmers of joyful uncertainty and hopeful chaos are emerging from a youth culture that is quite sure it has been abandoned by its own past as it is bombarded by a dystopian future by its own geriatric elite. Is it any wonder it feels like the social contract is hanging on by a thread?
When the equilibrium between ruling elites and the majority tips too far in favor of elites, political instability is all but inevitable. As income inequality surges and prosperity flows disproportionately into the hands of the elites, the common people suffer, and society-wide efforts to become an elite grow ever more frenzied. He calls this process the wealth pump; it’s a world of the damned and the saved.Peter Turchin “End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites, and the Path of Political Disintegration
The broader popular rediscovery of historians Neil Howe and William Strauss is no coincidence. They wrote the The Forth Turning twenty five years ago.
Looking back at the last 500 years, they’d uncovered a distinct pattern: modern history moves in cycles, each one lasting roughly eighty to one hundred years, the length of a long human life, with each cycle composed of four eras—or “turnings”—that always arrive in the same order and each last about twenty years. The last of these eras—the fourth turning—was always the most perilous.The Fourth Turning Is Here
Clever Simon and Schuster realized it was an opportune moment to point out that the fourth turning had arrived with a new book from Howe.
So perhaps these glimmers are here to show us that the churn is here, the fourth turning is now, and Turchin’s race to become an elite to outrun the effects of dislocation may already have its winners.
Amidst all of that there are those of us seeking to believe that we might find a way forward. I’d rather be looking for the glimmers of hope. I’ve already done what I can to warn about the need to prepare for hard times. If you haven’t yet come to terms with the doom then I certainly won’t convince you of the need for optimism either.