So the History Channel has been running these Nostradamus Effect shows of late. The most recent one being on the prophesies of Sir Isaac Newton and his prediction of the date of Armageddon in 2060. For the sake of argument I want to explore this idea a little bit as there are some rather interesting dynamics behind the creation of both a prophesy and how it may manifests itself.
Let’s assume for a moment that both 2012 and 2060 represent significant turning points in human consciousness. Most religious prophesies indicate the coming of a new golden age after this period of fire and rebirth. In order to be reborn however one has to grow through some psychological trauma which effectively shatters old root beliefs in order to make way for new and healthier thinking.
Consider the alcoholic for a moment (or any addiction really). In order for that person to change it is not enough for the person to want to change. They need to shatter the root beliefs that are the trigger for drinking responses in the first place. Otherwise what you wind up with is simply will power self imposed over top of a cycle of behavior that really hasn’t changed. This is the reason why most people with additions, even if they have been ‘clean’ for decades tend to go back to the point they would have been at had they never stopped the addictive process in the first place. Because the root belief on which that person bases their reality upon never really changed.
The cycle of addition is fairly straight forward. Some type of emotional or psychological pain brought about through disillusionment (i.e. an inability to have justified true belief in alternative patterns of behavior) leads to a sense of entitlement and demand for relief via the self destructive tendencies. Such relief will form the symptoms of the addition until such time as dissatisfaction settles in. This dissatisfaction may be in the form of shame or guilt which either accompanies the addictive behavior or leads to promises of amending the self destructive behaviors. This may mask the original disillusionment if the root beliefs have not changed which eventually lead to the patterns of behavior eventually reasserting themselves.
In order to understand Armageddon we must first understand what it is we are addicted to: power, capitalism, nationalism, control, ideology, religious dogma. Any one of these could be the basis on which there may be a need for a global intervention. As a number of prophesies address the idea that it will be the 3rd rebuilding of Soloman’s Temple I choose to focus on concepts related to nationalism which will be called into question. This is in part because the will to rebuild Soloman’s Temple would only be an undertaking that would be possible through nationalistic after some conflict in the area settled the land ownership rights in one form or another.
I further chose the idea of nationalism as the principles by which religious fervor and zealotry is built up in order to send people to war is almost exclusively established on principles of ‘us’ verses ‘them’. Rather than looking upon society as a cohesive whole, most conflicts are built on the principles of power, access to scarce resources, and control of populations which is most easily accomplished through a systematic rhetoric of group think based on simple principles of what makes ‘us’ better from ‘them’ .
- We are Americans – they are terrorists.
- We are Christians – they are unholy.
- We are enlightened – they are primitive.
Beyond this however the previous two world wars appear to have been wars of nationalism with the rise of nationalist sentiment rising out of world war 1 to a fevered pitch during world war 2. Today we are seeing extremisms taking root as counter-cultures within nation states which is a far more difficult beast to slay. The ‘enemy’ has no geographical borders and as a result everyone becomes suspect. Whereas before there were clear geographical lines, today the roots of the new nationalism is buried in the backyard of all counties.
In order to fight the beast what we (potentially) need to give up is nationality. We are all one race. But that is a very big pill for people to swallow and likely will continue to be until people realize just how small this planet truly is.
So how would Armageddon come about? Likely through a series of escalating conflicts which focus more broadly on the subjugation of populations based on racial profiling. I realize that is an unpopular concept at the moment but if you think about it for a moment it makes sense. If the last 10 attempts to blow up the nation’s capital have all consistently been by Muslims (or Chinese or Hispanics or Neo-Nazis or Mormons, or field mice, or whatever) then sooner or later people are going to take the hint that stopping people who are of African descent in the street isn’t going to solve the problem simply because you are afraid of offending someone’s sensibilities.
The problem is not the one-off conflict. Rather it is a systematic process of 1000 cuts that leads to an extremist position in mainstream political systems and is very difficult to back down from. While the solution is not to get there in the first place, the principles of extreme nationalism can lead to a form of group think that, by the time people realize what has happened, it is already too late to reverse course. The energy needs to burn itself out. In the case of WW II, that resulted in the deaths of 60M lives. For the next series of wars there is no reason to think that the cost will be in the 100s of millions.
Herein becomes the problem. In the past, when populations rebelled, they did so against a political system that had essentially the same weapon arsenal as the uprising population. Today, political leaders have access to weapons of mass destruction at their disposal that can be launched in relative security remotely. The tables are no longer balanced. And that is what makes the next set of wars so devastating – not the fact that they happen but who it is that will eventually pay the price.
There is a theory of social cycles that suggests there is a pattern to social upheaval. Societies are ruled by military regimes, then intellectuals, then acquisitors (capitalists) and finally for a very brief moment in time, laborers. This cycle is known as the Sarkar Theory of social cycles and if the pattern holds, the next big revolution will be lead by laborers. So what is a little revolution here or there?
The problem is this: the blue collar class is the one that actually make the world work. So if you use massive retaliatory tactics against your agricultural base, for example, then who is going to sow the fields to produce wheat or rice to feed people? Where are the medicines going to come from? Who is going to triage patients or run the water waste reclamation plants?
The process isn’t going to happen all at once. Likely the conditions under which this type of doomsday scenario will take years before it happens. Similar to the recovering alcoholic there will be periods of violent outbursts followed by passive-aggressive responses to solve the underlying problems. However where such issues are couched in the language of diplomacy such that the true underlying causes cannot be agreed to, much less reconciled, these solutions would be like putting a band-aid over a 6” knife wound. It will not last.
Global consciousness changed radically during both World War I and World War II. Should another such conflict erupt it would similarly change global consciousness again only this time we have the conflicts of several thousand cultures which are all interconnected via the Internet. A populist uprising wouldn’t necessarily start in any one particular location but rather using the principles of mob dynamics would like erupt at similar time frames around the world. A war with no geographical boundaries but for which the only tool that governments have to fight it is nationalism.
What causes this uprising? Most likely a backlash from fascist elements of national and transnational corporations which are being supported through the democratic process in the name of moderation. Principles of copyright and ownership which are entangled with the idea of Freedom of Speech but for which only serve to restrict the rights of individuals to envision, communicate, and seek out new ideas and information. The escalating encroachment on personal liberties to the point of totalitarianism under the disguise of a free and open society.
With 7-8 billion people on the planet the first battles will be for rights to resources. As the conflicts escalate to the point where leaders are willing to take larger and more dangerous actions that impact the entire world, not just a specific regions, people will start to go into collective shock over exactly what our nationalistic tendencies have wrought upon us. Collective disillusionment will leave cultures susceptible to ‘false prophets’ as cultures look for a way to recover and regroup. And it will be the shattering of this illusion that could trigger the final battle as a smaller population starts to realize in a global identity.
This is not an overnight process however and looking at a 40-50 year time horizon between the initial confrontations and resolution of those conflicts would not be out of question based on historical trends and the fact that time needs to be given for a new generation with new ideas opportunity to come to power and influence in their own right.
Do I believe in all this? I neither believe nor disbelieve – it is a thought experiment and one for which the timeframe between 2012 and 2060 seems to be viable based on the way our society is headed. Personally I’d like to think we are better than this but the whole of human history seems to be against cultures being able to do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time.