The Temporal Illusion

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We’re at the brink of the police state, the Orwellian 1984 surveillance and control society, and on top of this horror there seems to be an environmental disaster approaching. All kinds of bad things seem to be happening in the not so distant future.

The war on drugs seems to be losing, it might not work as good as we thought and if we don’t do anything about it, it might fail. The war on terrorism seems hopeless; no matter how much money is spent, how many laws are enacted, or how much controls are enforced, the terrorists might always be one step ahead of us. The war in (on) Iraq is not going too well; unless more troops are sent there and more money invested in stifling resistance and wiping out insurgents the war might be lost.

Government spending is increasing rapidly and the national debt is increasing even faster; unless things change we might end up a bankrupt nation. Public schools seem to be unable to educate our children; the number of people not learning how to read in our schools is increasing — if nothing is done things might become very, very bad. The quality of public health care might turn into a right-out nightmare if we don’t do anything.

There is one common denominator in the above paragraphs: they are all about horrors that might become real in the future. Not a single one of them discusses the outright and obvious failure of each and every one of these policies and issues — they all might fail, they are approaching failure, they could go wrong if nothing is done.

How come we as humans always tend to realize the real risk of horrors tomorrow, but not understanding the horrors that are already upon us? We are not at the brink of an Orwellian police state — it is already here. The wars on drugs, terrorism, poverty, and Iraq aren’t approaching failure — they have failed, and failed good.

People say we should learn from history or we might relive its horrors — history tends to repeat itself because we don’t know about it or consider our collective experience of sufficient importance. There is truth to these words, but why do we think people could learn from history when most of us regularly fail to identify the nature of the now? If we cannot even see what we’re in the midst of, then how can we expect to learn from the experience of previous years — or even previous generations?

The fact is we’re doomed to have history repeat itself simply because we always aim for the future — we never stop to bethink what we really have and what mess we’re in, our minds are fixed on what might be. This is a huge problem, not only because we as individuals might lose the greater part of our lives simply because we’re not living it — we’re living only in dreams of the future. The real problem is political.

In a world where people tend to forget the now and always aim for the dream of a possible future, political policies become very, very important. Of course, politics is short-term rather than long-term, but political decisions are made in the not too distant future and enforced soon thereafter — only after that do they have effect. Politics cements and reinforces the illusion of life being in the future rather than in the now — it forcefully teaches that the uncertainty of the future can only be managed by government.

It is in the interest of political power to keep people from seeing the horrors of today. Whatever is happening in the now can be settled in the future — a little more power granted government, and the future is safe. We do not really care about the thousands of dead American soldiers on foreign soil as long as we have our eyes fixed on the possibility of a future terrorist attack. We don’t really care about our rights going down the drain if we have our minds on possible horrors in the future. What are dead soldiers and rights anyway, if we believe someone we know could be killed or harmed in the future — especially if dead soldiers and annulled rights might establish control of the future?

This is the fact that makes the size of government expand — if people only think of the future, government plans bring order and control to a seemingly chaotic and uncertain existence. Most people would give up benefits of the now for profits of the future — we’re all investors. The problem is that we’re tricked to believe that the future is a threat and that government is the savior.

We’re not at the brink of a police state — habeas corpus is already gone. We’re not about to lose the wars on drugs and Iraq — they’re already lost, and were probably lost even before they started. We’re not, as a nation, about to get broke — we’re so deep in debt that it is already quite impossible "do something." We don’t see a school system becoming unable to educate our children — the system has already failed. The quality of health care and health care systems isn’t about to fall — it has already fallen.

Face it, we’re already there. It is time to see the now and its horrors — there’s no time to plan to do something; it is well past time to act.

Per Bylund [send him mail] works as a CIO/IT and Development Manager in Sweden, in preparation for PhD studies. He is the founder of Anarchism.net. Visit his website.

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