American Elephants

Peter Thiel: The Decline of Western Civilization by The Elephant's Child

This is a fun commentary on today’s world. Food for thought, which is always welcome. Congressmen are just ordinary folks who don’t know very much? Yet are designated to make the laws that govern us? Perhaps we should think a little more deeply about just whom we elect to office. We have had great eras of ideas and invention. What is the situation that creates and encourages those ideas? Is it the desire for profit? The simple desire to carry an idea through to fruition?


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The work to review is not Peter Thiel’s but Jacques Barzun’s (1907 – 2012) magisterial “Dawn to Decadence” (2000), detailing 500 years of Western Civilization from AD 1500 to the Third Millennium.

Just as the 19th Century “Innovation Age” gave way –amidst horrific global cataclysms– to 20th Century computational-DNA-nuclear and space-science “Info-Tech”, so this accelerating 21st Century’s looming Pleistocene re-glaciations plus a robotic/AI “Singularity” bid fair not only to drive humanity en masse off Planet Earth but in so doing end nature’s organic evolutionary processes in favor of a hyperlinked, self-emergent, exo-symbiontic order spreading ever outward– to the stars.

No-one in 1800 could have conceived commonplace features of AD 1900, nor could anyone from Planck and Einstein on down have possibly projected AD 2000. Just so, anyone born c. 2010 – 2020+ will witness what Arthur C. Clarke called “technological feats indistinguishable from magic”, themselves paling by comparison to AD 2200 and beyond.


Comment by Pyrthroes

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