Civilization In Transition, Uncertainty and Opportunity
British filmmaker Adam Curtis recently released his new documentary ‘HyperNormalisation’. [See video below.] Brilliant in parts, this ambitious film reveals an image of a civilisation in turmoil. It shows how duplicitous, inadequate politicians have repeatedly deceived the public over the last forty years, and how their actions have caused increasing levels of chaos in the world, which they are unable to resolve. “We live in a strange time, extraordinary events keep happening that undermine the stability of our world,” the director declares, and yet, “those in control seem unable to deal with them. Nobody has any vision of a different or better kind of future.”
That we are witnessing a crumbling civilisation in terminal decline is certainly true. It is not, however, the end of the world as the prophets of doom would have us believe, but the end of an age or cosmic cycle, that of Pisces, and with it the collapse of a worn out civilisation, itself the product of certain influences. A 2,000 year-old civilisation increasingly dominated by an unjust, unbalanced economic system.
Decay in all we see
These are times of transition, of uncertainty and opportunity, as we move from one cosmic cycle, Pisces, into another, Aquarius. From one civilisation imbued with a particular set of ideals and values, into a new, potentially more just and peaceful way of living. The current structures – political, economic, religious and social – that govern our lives are dead or dying: they no longer serve the needs of humanity, and whilst politicians (because they are not directly affected) and their benefactors seem largely blind or ignorant to this fact, millions of people around the world recognise it and are crying out for a radical shift in approach and a fundamental change.
The economic crisis that started in 2008, and is, according to many economists and observers, yet to run its course, was perhaps the most severe symptom of systemic disintegration, certainly in the West. But instead of seeing the crisis as an opportunity to redesign the world economy, all efforts were made to save the banks and shore up the existing unstable, unfair system.
The neo-liberal model that politicians and the ruling elite were so terrified of losing is inherently unjust and has caused extreme levels of wealth and income inequality – both amongst individuals and countries; inequality, which continues to grow, concentrating wealth and with it political power, in the hands of fewer and fewer people. It is a model that sits at the poisonous centre of many of the world’s problems, from trafficking of persons to homelessness, armed conflict and hunger. It is an extreme product of the ideals of the past; ideals of individuality that have given the world a great deal, but ideals that have been distorted and perverted, encouraging selfishness and division instead of true individuality and mutual responsibilty.
Symptoms of decay and desperation are all around us, loud, ugly, and often violent. All forms of ideological extremism, religious, political and economic have increased, fomenting intolerance and prejudice, causing division, conflict and anger. Reactionary, manipulative rhetoric feeds intolerance and bigotry; dishonesty and mistrust is mainstream – ‘Post-Truth Politics’ abounds – and the space for alternative ideas, open-minded discussion and fundamental change is closed down.
In opposition, and in response to the emerging ideals of the time, growing numbers of people are uniting, organising and acting. Many recognise the urgent need for systemic change, as well as the necessity for a shift in thinking in which we move away from competitive individualism and greed, to a realisation of our essential unity, and consequently greater cooperation and sharing.
Some have been expressing their frustration and anger at the polling booth. Brexit in the UK and the rise of Donald Trump in America are two prominent, and to many perplexing, examples. Actions undertaken by large numbers of people who feel ignored, exploited, and betrayed by corporate-aligned governments and the market driven policies they have adopted. By voting in these ways, and no doubt more will follow, people are sending a message that change is what they want, albeit a distorted message inhibited by seeing such change in terms of manipulating the existing model.
Others have been taking to the streets: since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 unprecedented numbers of people have been uniting and demonstrating. It is a global movement, uncoordinated but connected, with common issues and demands: social justice, political freedom, an end to the power of institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, and to be listened to by arrogant politicians wedded to banks and corporate money.
The response of the political class and ruling elite, both to displays of ‘people power’, and the failure of politics and the economic system to meet the demands of the time, has been feeble and reactionary. Fearful of loss of power, lacking vision, imagination and understanding, politicians have resisted change, ignored the people and attempted to apply worn out remedies to patch up a dying system and maintain the status quo. “Rather than face up to the real complexities of the world [the politicians and financiers] retreated….” Adam Curtis states, and “constructed a simpler version of the world in order to hang on to power.” A complacent construct rooted in the past, which offers no solutions to the calamities of the day.
The ‘simpler version of the world’ defines life in purely materialistic terms; it is a false and ugly place, where most people are consigned to second or third class living, and human dignity is squashed. An extreme form of capitalism, which the Indian writer Palagummi Sainath calls Market Fundamentalism, is the ideological framework of this divided world, where compassion is driven into the shadows. It encourages the worst aspects of human behaviour and has reduced us to greedy, materialistically obsessed individuals driven by selfish desire. Discontent, anxiety, depression, suspicion and hate are some of the myriad consequences. These in turn fuel a range of social ills from drug and alcohol dependency to suicide and violence.
This cynical view of life is in direct opposition to human nature and those inclusive ideals of goodness being championed by many. Within the illusion divisive values are promoted, competition championed, and everything is seen as a commodity to be exploited and profited from. It is an unsustainable ‘dream world’ as Curtis describes it, one that has “allowed dark and destructive forces to fester and grow outside, forces that are now returning to pierce the fragile surface of our carefully constructed fake world.” Forces of ideological totalitarianism, distrust and hate; forces that must be countered by tolerance, understanding, cooperation and compassion.
Such perennial values need to be at the heart of an alternative economic system designed to meet the needs of all, for food, shelter, health care and education. A system predicated on the underlying unity of humanity with sharing, social justice and environmental responsibility at its heart.
Building the New
Although on the chaotic surface the reactionary forces of the world appear to in the ascendency – the election of Donald Trump being the most recent sign – there is an unstoppable current for real change sweeping through our world. It is simply a question of when that growing force for good will dominate not if, because with each passing day the energies of the new grow, and the forces of the past weaken.
Out of the debris of the old we will build a new civilisation, and whilst the responsibility to create a different way of living rests firmly with humanity, many believe we are not alone in this work. Consistent with what is known in the East as ‘The Doctrine of Avatars’, or ‘The Doctrine of The Coming One’ in the West, and as has historically been the case at such a juncture, a teacher and guide is close at hand. The World Teacher, by name Maitreya, foretold to come at this time by Gautama Buddha 2,500 years ago and awaited by all religious groups throughout the world – albeit under different names (the Christ, Krishna, Maitreya Buddha, the Imam Mahdi, the Messiah). He has been prophesised to emerge now together with a large number of his group, the Masters of Wisdom by writer and lecturer Benjamin Crème.
Maitreya, according to Crème, is emerging gradually, and will inspire us to construct a new and just world. A world where peace is a reality and war becomes a distant memory, where everyone has a decent home and nobody goes hungry or sleeps on the streets; a world where good health care and inspiring education is available to all; a happy world in which space exists to question and enquire, to explore the mysteries of life and to realise our true nature.