“The idea of the flood myth goes something like this. If societies deviate from a necessarily emergent kind of morality, a morality that takes the viewpoint of all the inhabitants of the society into account. If society deviates from that viewpoint sufficiently-it dooms itself to annihilation. That annihilation being represented mythologically by the flooding of society by the pre cosmogonic waters the primordial element or chaos. Societies that are tyrannical therefore doom themselves to annihilation by chaos
–a simple equation. But made more complicated by Eliade’s observation that more than one factor plays a role in the establishment of the tyranny.
On the one hand, there is the straight degeneration of cultural presuppositions, in that if you establish a state or a game which has particular rules, because the environment is constantly transforming itself the rules by necessity become out of date. So merely as a consequence of the progression of time the presuppositions upon which any state are founded tend to become less and less relevant to the current environment over time. So there is this aging and senility merely as a consequence of thermodynamic processes.
But then Eliade points out that there is one additional factor that has to be attributed not to society but to individuals that make up that society. Which is to say that the strictures and rules on which society is founded, can be constantly and carefully updated, when necessary, if all the individuals that make up that society are perfectly willing to confront exemplars of emerging chaos in their own lives - When those exemplars emerge. ….. What Eliade points out is the individual that removes him or herself from the responsibility of confronting their own anomaly speeds the process at which the state decays.”
I suppose the reason for my pessimistic tone on many of these pages is that neither the state nor individuals seem to be responding to the changes in the underlying economic environment in any substantial manner. That both individual responsibility and societal responsibility (think of the root of the word ability to respond) seem to be waning. For instance, the yearning of the Tea Party for the good old days of the 1700’s, seems to be dangerously rooted in a fantasy past.
Some things such as the nature of global competition, inequaility, social mobility, financial innovations change and require repsonses at both a societal and individual level. Others such as values of work ethic and family remain vital ingredients to the potential sustainability of our society; these messages, however, are often delegitimized when they are delivered from politicians or corporate elites whose personal and professional behaviour belie loyalty to either family or community.
The solutions lie at a symbiotic nexus between individual and social responsibility, but are we ready for the required changes?
“Billionaire investor George Soros warned that the global economic system could collapse and street riots “moving” throughout the United States. On the other hand, Europe is also struggling against something that would drive them to chaos and
Meanwhile the central banks are “flooding” the world with cash as they expand their monetary bases at unprecedented levels. They are fighting today's crisis as if it were the Great Depression. No matter how much money they print they will not be able to make up for the mistakes of the 1930s. This isn't the 1930s, we need more nuanced responses from our leaders.
Otherwsise, expect chaos to continue to increase..
Peter Gabriel sings
When the night shows
the signals grow on radios
All the strange things they come and go, as early warnings
Stranded starfish have no place to hide
still waiting for the swollen Easter tide
There's no point in direction
we cannot even choose a side.