The pillars that held us up now hold us back.
The institutions that held up our industrial society — governments, central banks, universities, regulators and more — have ossified and actually now serve to hold our civilization back. They prevent us from propelling forward at a time when new technologies make it possible to progress in ways never imagined in industrial society.
Equally terrible is that these institutions are failing to even serve their original purposes.
Instead of preparing people for their adult lives, universities waste years of people’s lives plunging them into huge debts to award many of them with useless degrees of no practical value or purpose.
Central banks, instead of creating any kind of long term stability, plunder people’s savings through inflation of the money supply while also inflating the price of necessities like homes through artificially low interest rates.
Regulators created to prevent risks, actually prevent innovation, and, worse, end up controlled by the behemoths in the industries they are meant to regulate, leading to the perverse outcome of them protecting those from whom they were meant to protect us.
2020 itself provided no clearer example of this type of institutional failure than the state of the global health system where the World Health Organization, supposedly a multinational group working in concert to protect us, failed at least in part because politics got in the way. Worse, the COVID-19 vaccine was developed in January 2020 but not approved by any regulators until November. Even in a global pandemic and with record breaking speed of vaccine development, the regulatory process failed us. Imagine the difference in outcomes if that vaccine could have been used in January of 2020 or even March of 2020; even if only for the most at risk.
Democratic government itself seems completely sick. Politicians promise what they can’t deliver, serve their own interests over those of their electors, are in the pockets of lobbyists, seek popularity by virtue signaling instead of acting to make a difference, repeat ideas that history has shown to be terrible, and generally lie like there is no tomorrow.
The fight for progress has, sadly, become a fight against these institutions which once deservedly held our reverence.
But the fight is making progress. Against each of these now dysfunctional institutions we see new movements of innovation emerge around alternative solutions to both the problems the institutions once solved and the problems they now create:
The movement against universities (and the government schooling system) is on-demand, as-needed online education.
The movement against central banks is Bitcoin, a decentralized money and finance system accessible to all and in control of nobody.
There are many movements against over-regulation of the healthcare industry. They include bio-hacking, self healthcare and alternative and holistic medicine approaches that are demonstrating their efficacy to people, but remain outside the scope of “approved medicine”. They also include the use of psychedelics instead of antidepressants to treat mental health issues; the adoption of diets that don’t adhere to government recommendations which are out of date and distorted by years of lobbying by special interest groups; the use of chiropractic and massage to deal with pain instead of painkillers and more of the like.
And there are many other massively regulated industries whose customers are crying out for solutions that entrepreneurs and researchers would be happy to explore but which regulators are unprepared to allow to develop freely.
Movements against a sick and corrupted political system are still a big question mark today as people desperately look for alternatives. We see rising despair in movements like populism, nationalism and censorshipism. Democracy itself is what isn’t working though — it seeks to solve for too many aspects of too many lives with heavy handed, top down solutions. It grows government power and authority when we need them to shrink.
And, interestingly, it is simply people turning their back on these institutions by lowering their expectations of them that will provide the basis for healing and progress our civilization needs. We cannot expect the next great leader to solve all the problems that these systems create by better managing these systems. We need to let nature take its course by letting people learn that they can’t rely on authority to solve their personal problems.
And that learning is exactly why we see a growing overlap of individuals who are embracing not just one alternative listed above but multiple of them. This willingness to abandon the old and experiment with the new leads to a healthy evolution (through trial and error) of new approaches and their combined use with one another. Ultimately, as these alternatives become widely accepted we will have transitioned to a new structure of our civilization — one that is more decentralized and less ruled by certified authorities.
And as this happens, it will become clearer to more people that we do not need the national-soul-destroying politics of our current era wherein politicians try to terrify us into believing their opponent represents armageddon while they instead will solve all the world’s problems if only given more power.
The power of individuals to opt out of the services of the tired old institutions will lead to the rise of far greater choice, of monitoring by the community instead of regulation by authority, and ultimately, to much smaller, but much more accountable government.