I’ve written before of the accelerating Information Age and the changes it has and will continue to bring. Look across Western History to arguably the biggest philosophical change since the advent of Christianity: The Enlightenment; liberty from a Church opposed to it. What drove the Enlightenment? What drove the intellectual class, policy makers and finally governments from a dependence on Faith to a dependence on Reason?
Information: The printing press and mass literacy drove a demand for liberty that created the largest, fastest alteration in government and governing philosophy in history.
It’s doing so again. People from Scotland to Texas, from Hong Kong to Catalonia, from Iraq to Venice, are demanding liberty, demanding to be released from Statist rulers and enforced nations with which they lack commonality.
As we find ourselves in the Information Age with its mass literacy and mass delivery technology, and the curve of who knows what-when is rising asymptotically. Soon it will be possible that no one in Western Civilization, and few in any civilized nation anywhere, will be unaware of anything of which they desire awareness.
It’s not just information we read/watch/consume driving our awareness. It’s also the increased time we have to consume both that information and the opinions of others based on that information, and the self-selecting we are doing to only listen to those in our own echo chambers that have been enabled by that information.
Numerous columns have been written that we now are selecting friends, workplaces and even living locations based on worldview. This self-selection is increasing regional cultural cohesion as people associate and move to those with shared worldviews, and decreasing national cohesion at the same time. This is a new, but not necessarily a bad, thing.
If access to information drives a lack of national cohesion, is the answer to limit information? Or is the answer to recognize that our earlier cohesion, created in an Industrial Age of less information and less ability to share it, is in the rearview mirror of history?
No one is going to slow our access to information. And THAT is what it driving the MSM nuts and causing Congressional Democrats, for the first time in our nation’s history, to attempt to limit speech, to act as do rulers from Moscow to Beijing in limiting our access to information.
Three regions of the world are in varying levels of alteration because of worldview… because of information, shared worldview and the new anticipation people can do something about their conditions by using their increased access to increased information to act together, whether in Tahrir Square or Ukraine, Scotland or Catalonia.
First, obviously, is the Islamic world. It is splitting (Shia, Sunni, Kurd). Peoples part of the same general worldview, but with lethally divergent interpretations, these countries were forced together by the Brits following WW1 and the creation of artificial “nations,” or were forced apart (Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and neighboring ‘Stans) concurrent with those artificialities.
What is preventing these upheavals from being peaceful or suffering only localized violence? The inability of Western leaders to grasp history… and to put their egos out of the way of progress.
People civilized Mesopotamia millennia ago. Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, etc., have existed for 70 years. The idea, first enacted by GWH Bush in Gulf-I, that these artificial, historically instant borders must be sacrosanct was, and is, absurd.
Afghanistan. Did it need whacking after 9-11? Sure. That’s why even the UN voted several times to go whack them, and why tens of nations joined us. But did we take advantage of our incursion to split it into cohesive Kurd, Shia, Sunni, units that would have shared worldviews and not spent their days killing each other and their nights planning to? No. This was an enormous moral failure on the part of those with the ability, and the historic instant, to enact change.
Iraq. Again, even the UN (and even Democrats in Congress) voted to remove Saddam. Why? Historical ignorance. The refusal to recognize that in a region of ignorant killers, the only way to keep the peace is with a strongman keeping those killers in check. Not only did we remove Saddam and create the lasting regional violence we now are going back again – foolishly – to “stop,” we followed the same formula of ignorance in Egypt, Libya and, soon, in Syria: removing a strongman who had kept secular tensions from spilling into regional violence.
Even if it were necessary to whack Saddam, and it wasn’t, tossing a secular strongman who kept-down the sectarian (worldview) violence was an historically stupid action. But to follow that by not splitting Iraq into Sunni, Shia and Kurd parts, was Western ego at its worst.
We now find ourselves with the same rejected solution – partition – to the same problems – violently opposed worldviews – that we created in Afghanistan. And the same “solution” – Industrial Age violence – that will solve nothing.
It’s almost like no one in any position of power in the entire West has any grasp of history.
The second region just now bubbling into the intelligent action of partition by worldview, but again being rejected by Western leadership, is Europe.
Yugoslavia underwent violent division a generation ago. This will not be the last European nation to split. But if the West were intelligent enough to accept that worldviews diverge, and that when they diverge far enough for enough people then partition/secession, like divorce due to irreconcilable differences, can be a good idea, then we would assist in, or at least stand-aside for, these splits, resulting in less violence. We may be learning this in Scotland’s yearning for liberty; at least – so far – it doesn’t look as though it will be violent. Once the new borders are set, if people want to move… move. At that point, perhaps, it makes sense for leaders to ensure people are allowed to move. People move all the time in America; why should they not be able to move in Europe? Or out of Europe? Or around S Asia?
We have moved our borders; why can’t they?
Why is that not better than violence?
Ukraine is done. But even people as intelligent as Condi Rice maintain that its borders are “sacrosanct.” Why? No reason other than an inability to accept change. An inability to take a new look at the world, put aside one’s ego and recognize – Hey! Things can be different and, when they are, might be better!
Scotland is about to vote on secession from the UK. If that’s what they want, what’s the problem? Again, Scots have been living there for thousands of years. If 300 is long enough under the Brits, what’s the big deal? Isn’t a nation an expression of individual will? Don’t we in the West believe in self-expression and liberty? If not, when did we stop?
Catalonia. If Scotland votes itself out of the UK, look for Catalonia to desire to vote itself out of Spain. Is this a problem? No. Smaller nations, like smaller cities, have more liberty. And if they choose representative government, as they most likely will, smaller nations have governments that are more, not less, representative of the people, which drives what many hold to be the standard (though not historically normal – yet) human condition: Liberty.
That’s two regions, S Asia and Europe.
The third, of course, is America.
The access to information by the same people who invented the Information Age is driving divergence in communities. The self-selection is driving regional movement of people as it is driving more freedom (fewer taxes and regulation) in some geographies and the opposite in others. Because Americans are movers, and always have been, we are moving.
Those moving to increase liberty are concentrating their worldview of less government and more liberty in Red States. Their moving is concentrating those less-desirous of liberty, and desirous of more government, in the Blue States they leave behind (much as those Europeans desiring liberty moved to America and left behind those not desiring liberty). Soon those loving liberty will stop paying the bill for those loving more government.
At that point it will suck to be Blue. But it will still be their choice. And it will be the liberty of the Reds (interesting the evolution of that term, isn’t it?) not to pay Blue bills.
The logical end-point in America is the same as in other regions and civilizations: partition / secession. Only ego will attempt to prevent this, and even that can only last for so long. It may be decades, it may be generations, but secession for liberty is coming to America, as it came in 1776.
Regions from Britain to Turkey left the early Roman Empire for their liberty. Following the Enlightenment countries left an illiberal Church for liberty. America split from Britain for liberty. All was based on information and the worldview provided by access to it.
Where liberty has not been allowed has come violence. In every civilization. In Yugoslavia, in Mesopotamia, in Ukraine. The most destructive war in history was a result of liberty being taken away.
Increased flow of information drives a higher demand for liberty. Who are those opposing liberty in America, for example? Those who reject information – we even call them “low information voters” – and the political party dependent on them: Democrats.
Information drives liberty. Liberty is the basic human desire. Liberty drives peace. The lack of liberty drives war. No one is going to slow or stop the accelerating access to information.
The demand by today’s leaders precluding liberty by rejecting new borders is in opposition to information and the demand for liberty it drives, regardless of region or culture; it is in opposition to peace.
From Tahrir to Donetsk, from Aberdeen to Austin, from Baghdad to Damascus, rejection of liberty today will be no more successful than it was for George III or Pope Leo X.
Liberty is coming. Western leaders can choose to embrace it or reject it. With only one of those choices comes peace.
It is the not choice they are making now.