The Fate of the World

Civilization as we know it now will collapse by 2070 and humans will be extinct by 2100 – an obvious destiny. Why is humanity’s imminent demise not widely recognized?

People have a strong predilection for optimism. The idea of apocalypse is repugnant and therefore readily denied.

Abetting denial is the modern mindset which disfavors fate in lieu of controllable destiny. This shift in worldview owes to capitalist propaganda.

The corporate press touts individual initiative as the key to success. In this fictional account hard work pays off. Instead, fortunes are largely inherited.

The lie that wealth is earned is a ruse. The aspirational “American Dream” was a post-war (WW2) corporate promotion that was effectively dead by the 1970s. But the fiction is still advertised, if not as overtly as it once was.

With their grip on power, the ruling class maintains the unsustainable status quo with all the surety of fate. But the idea that wealth is a just reward acts as a mental steam valve against trying to overthrow the existing regime.

A core reason for the fate of the world resides under the umbrella of institutionalization. Modernity is synonymous with institutionalized societies which run like tottering clockwork. The implications of institutionalization are a prism, with multiple facets.

The way that societies are is generally taken as representing a natural order – save for some tinkering around the edges. This view is encouraged by the ruling class, as it anchors belief in the status quo as the best that can be had.

Social psychology reflects culture. Modern culture is now largely a creature of mass media, which is largely steered by corporate interests.

Averting revolution via sloganeering is just one facet of plutocratic brainwashing. Pop psychology promotes a caricature of mental health: that optimistic self-confidence is the way to carry on. That popular school of thought is rubbish. But it explains why denial of the imminent apocalypse is so facilely made.

Post-apocalyptic landscapes litter the fictional realm of popular media. Rare indeed are stories where revolutions against a resemblance to the actual status quo have a happy ending – for such tales may prove too instructive.

Mainstream media engenders denial of self-extinction by piecemeal coverage of environmental devastation. Separately you may read of an oil spill, an extreme weather event, traffic jams, melting ice sheets, water shortages, a dearth of insects, or a species going extinct. The dots are left unconnected. The only book that puts all the pieces together and explains their interrelated causation is The Fruits of Civilization.

The mainstream press specializes in diversion: titillating trivia laden with “human interest”: a dandy idiom for what used to be nakedly called gossip. Corporate media is never radical because advertisers would revolt from such a stance – and advertisers are essential to keeping presses running and shows produced.

People are small-minded, as social media amply shows. Newspapers survive and gossip magazines thrive because of peoples’ pettiness.

Our social instincts are tuned to gossip. By contrast, the holistic conceptualization needed to contemplate the fate of the world is an esoteric, philosophical abstraction: over most peoples’ heads, even as the facts rendering that fate concrete are readily found.

In short, it’s easy not to know the fate of the world, because that’s a story corporate media will never tell as anything more than hypothetical – a horror story for entertainment only.

Another aspect of institutionalization is confidence in technology: an illusion of knowledge in a time of wondrous industrial innovation, if you believe the mainstream media. New technology is invariably promoted as cool.

That high-tech is environmentally destructive and unsustainable goes unmentioned. If there is so much amazing technology constantly being developed then surely there is a technological fix to self-extinction, beginning with “green” technology – which doesn’t exist, though you wouldn’t know that from reading the mainstream press.

It is no coincidence that modern societies have become more conservative and oppressive toward minorities. Such is the signification that corporate propaganda has succeeded. Keeping the underclass in their place is key to maintaining the status quo.

A hearty minority in every society, rubes buy the lies told to them by the powers-that-be. This triumph is presently most vividly illustrated by the president of the United States, Donald Trump. On this you either know what I’m referring to or seriously don’t have a clue.

In a larger historical perspective, nationalism is a tribal idea counterproductive to humanity’s well-being but nevertheless collectively popular.

People believe in ideas as if they were real when none of them are. Right there is the root of the problem: people believe what they choose to, regardless of actuality. The failures that have propelled human self-extinction are the echoes of the Collective mindset.

Modern politics is a marketing exercise fueled by financial resources. The path to power is paved with lucre. Progressives may occasionally squeak by, but revolutionaries go unfunded. The institutionalization of politics works against change when it is most needed.

The irony of institutionalization is that humanity might save itself from self-extinction if that fate was soon recognized and rational, albeit radical, measures taken. Besides scale of influence, the power of institutions lies in their adaptability when well led – a rarity, admittedly.

If this piece were in the popular press, it would end with the salve: don’t give up hope; instead: get real. The fate of the world is what it is not just because people are gullibly optimistic, but because they refuse to give up hope. Accept that doom is impending and there might be collective motivation to try to avert the inevitable – if only because fatalism makes a lousy epitaph for a species that prided itself on can-do. For getting things done, grim determination beats optimistic hope any day.

Further reading:

Ishi Nobu, The Fruits of Civilization (2019).

Ishi Nobu, “Climate sensitivity,” (27 August 2020).

Ishi Nobu, “Hotting up & dying out,” (21 August 2020).

Ishi Nobu, “Sunny damnation,” (16 August 2020).