Just a little musing here this morning.
We were thinking back, in world-historical terms, and reminding ourselves of our now long ago educational experience as an undergrad, where for a time we were infatuated with the ideas of GWF Hegel.
Hegel was not a communist – he predated communism – but some of his ideas were preludes, as it were.
For example, communism is known for its “dialectical materialism”. Hegel wasn’t a reductionist/materialist at all, but damned if he didn’t virtually invent this notion of “dialectic”: thesis, antithesis, synthesis, doncha know.
But not being a materialist, there was this spiritual gloss over the whole thing, and it had a name: weltgeist. Literally, “world ghost”.
What was, or is, the weltgeist? Sort of a “spirit of the age” kind of thing. But Hegel imbued it with a personality, an independent identity, and it became in his mind and the minds of his followers a spirit that moved things and determined events in the world. Its methodology? Why, the dialectic, of course!
It can be thought provoking to view certain historical events through this prism, and particularly this: those periods where we make the transition from one century to the next.
Which brings us to the title of this post.
As the world transitioned from the 19th century to the 20th we were reaching a crescendo of a certain weltgeist that might be termed the industrialization and collectivization trend, which in turn produced mass armed conflict that we called the “Great War” at the time, until there was another one a decade or so later, whereupon we called both of them “World Wars”. Weltkriegs, Hegel might have said.
As we may have said elsewhere, there was then push back against the collectivist trend – kind of a decentralizing trend, we probably opined – in which we figured the internet was a prominent piece. A profoundly decentralizing medium, we think we put it at the time.
So now we a roughly at the point in time in the 21st century where the world had just put the Great War behind itself, and lo what do we have? A Great Pandemic, and some sort of “Great Reset” in the offing. And the internet, which we had originally described as a profoundly decentralizing medium – well, we might have been mistaken about that. Because there is a powerful trend afoot now to exert a rather profound centralizing effect on the world wide web, where it seems to be more of a collective hive mind than a free-for-all.
So the point this morning is this: the centralization weltgeist of the 19th to 20th century transition that led to the collectivist phenomena of world wars is duplicated in the centralization weltgeist of the 21st century transition that has led to the phenomena of one continual, collectivist public health “emergency” in which all are compelled to participate, much as men were drafted to fight the collectivist wars of the 20th century.
And this outlook somewhat explains the sort of natural ideological division that surrounds the pandemic. The people who reflexively or instinctively approve of the collectivist action on the pandemic do so because they are, basically, collectivists more than anything else and in the first place. And the people who reflexively or instinctively recoil at the same phenomenon are more individualists.
So that is our morning musing on the state of things in the world. It’s all about Hegel. And collectivism. And the weltgeist.
And, you know, religion. But that part will have to wait.