Interesting Times Revisited

We do live in interesting times. No times like these have happened before in the history of our species. In a mere century our innovators and entrepreneurs have given us cheap and abundant food, running water, sewage disposal, affordable housing, medical care beyond the imagination of our ancestors, proliferation of knowledge, electricity, telephony, air transport, space transport, personal computers, and the Internet. The early 21st Century is nothing like the early 20th Century, or any other.

But we also live with the ages-old paradigm of the way to organize society: a centralized physical force to rule over us. A resurrected pharaoh would not recognize the significance of a light switch, but he would recognize our political government all right and would, no doubt, immediately set out to dominate it.

In the introduction to Rights of Man in 1791, Thomas Paine wrote: "That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of Nations, is as shocking as it is true; …"

Tom Paine wrote the truth, and reaped the reward of vilification from those in power, not unlike the smear campaigns aimed at truth-tellers today, although with our communication technology today the smear can backfire overnight.

The fact remains that we still have men and women "who get their living by war," which is directly and obviously antithetical to the natural purpose of society, that is to live peacefully with our neighbors in quiet possession of our property. Thus the central force that rules over society, and makes war, is the chief enemy of society.

We are living in the middle of an unprecedented collision of paradigms, the one that calls for a better life for every individual through innovation, and the one that promises to destroy every individual through innovation. The power of innovation is undeniable, but when it is ruled by a smirking, illiterate, bumbling moron, and his Court of lying warmongers, all of whom "get their living by war," it is time for innovators to step back and ask themselves what they think they’re doing.

That might be a good idea for all of us living in these interesting times.