The Corner

World

Ever Closer Disunion

Here, for some Monday cheer, is historian Niall Ferguson, writing in the Boston Globe and anticipating a “systemic crisis”:

Regardless of who is president of the United States, the crisis is coming. The networked world born in Silicon Valley was supposed to create a “global community” of netizens, just as the Reformation was supposed to create a priesthood of all believers — in both cases the result was polarization, and spiraling conflict. People have never been more closely connected than they are today; and yet people have never been so estranged from one another — fractured bitterly along sectarian lines, racial lines, generational lines and all the other lines fetishized in the ugly name of “inter-sectionality.” If the Internet is the world’s town square, it increasingly resembles Tahrir Square shortly before the military crackdown. Anyone who wants to take umbrage at anything shrieks “hate speech!” — the modern term for heresy.

The brotherhood of man has always been a fantasy, the stuff of sermons, not reality.

As for reality:

[T]he world probably is slouching toward a grave systemic crisis. That crisis is already manifesting itself in mass online hysteria, rampant cyberwarfare, and accelerating nuclear proliferation.

I’ll take some comfort in that “probably”. As Ferguson concludes, “the history of the future shrouds itself in its customary mystery, mocking our attempts to predict it.”

But still…

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