Posted: November 21, 2014 in Blogroll, Debate, Idle Nonsense, Politics, Technophilia
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A few weeks ago, I added Gin and Tacos to my blogroll. Lots of interesting content, though not necessarily accurate or admirable. Shortly thereafter, I learned that the blogger active there finds it distinctly not worthwhile to interact with those who make comment, this despite the fact that he attracts very good commentary. (I’ve yet to see a troll appear). That’s his choice, but it’s nonetheless a loss for someone (like me) seeking discussion rather than subscription to yet another broadcast. So I decided to comment here, at length, rather than there. (In this, I’m probably sending traffic his way but won’t attempt to divert his traffic here.)

Today’s post poses the question (and then provides several potential answers), “What’s the next big thing?” The comments provide several additional possibilities we might hope or expect from the future. Naturally, he begs numerous questions while soliciting a wide range of responses. Is the thing a technology, an idea, or merely a money-making scheme? How much overlap is allowed? Must the thing be entirely new (and unanticipated) or can it be an improvement, a refinement, or something that finally gains traction? I’m inclined to answer the question in terms of what creates a fundamental shift, discontinuity, or transformation, and I recognize that ideas do it more handily but technological shifts are far easier to recognize, introducing obvious bias.

My candidate is statelessness, which is not a new idea, but it’s gaining traction. My reasons spring partly from my pessimism that the world is not in fact progressing toward more/better but is in the initial phase of unwinding toward less/worse. Accordingly, the future will be about conservation, holding on, and hoarding rather than frivolous entertainments and distractions, which tend to be more captivating to contemplate. Furthermore, the expectation of new energy and information delivery systems is IMO foolhardy. Statelessness has already made its appearance in the forms of multinational corporations and supranational individuals, at least those who possess the wealth and wherewithal to refuse meaningful participation in any social system or context, including paying taxes, in favor of standing alone and employing goons (lawyers, politicians, and mercenaries) to insulate them from the rabble. Statelessness has also appeared in the form of terrorist, revolutionary, and secessionist groups that seek to disassociate from and/or overthrow existing states. Whereas we’re programmed by the mainstream media to believe such groups are enemies of the state (which is quite literally true), that does not make them existential threats to the people. For instance, ISIS is being trotted out as the newest ultimate evil in the world, following the Taliban and Al-Qaeda (and before them the North Koreans, the Red Chinese, the godless Soviets, and quelle horreur the Nazis), but ISIS may instead be an emerging Arab state, arising with all the attendant violence out of the destabilized, delegitimized ruins of the West’s client states in the region.

The concept of statelessness is gradually filtering down to ever-smaller groups and even individuals, but in the interregnum before full-on collapse, and in a bit of fitting irony, the conservative impulse inspires misguided attempts to reintegrate just as the world begins to disintegrate. Anarchy experienced in the wake of a failed state is nothing to be relished, but it will be the next big thing.

  1. Brian says:

    The current sense of statelessness seems more a consumer choice, rather than an anarchic one. An interesting trend in this peak global culture is the increase in a middle class of tech and business workers who spend their lives shuttling around the globe, calling nowhere home.

    But what, to me, will be of more interest in the wake of collapsed nation states will be the process by which people reassign their loyalties and self-interest. Interesting post and topic, thanks.

  2. Brutus says:

    Your contrast between anarchic power vacuums and mere consumer choice seems to me pretty accurate at this stage. Choice is limited, however, to those without some degree of independence. Eventually, though, the world in disarray will catch up with everyone, and I wonder if reassigned loyalties won’t be equivalent to shrinking concentric circles of relocalization.

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