Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Future fiction: What lies ahead in 2016

Yesterday I featured some retrospection on 2015. Today we'll take a prospective look at 2016. Bear in mind that my predictions, and those I feature in these articles, are about as good as the prognostications of Nostradamus so you can make up your own future fiction.

The lead set of musings about 2016 are from the Daily Beast. The author speculates about the Presidential primary and who might win over whom, the fate of the two parties, and ISIS. The answer to "Anything Else?" is disturbing, especially so in the context of the demagoguery practiced in 2015.

Anything Else?: As a matter of fact, yes. One of the more disturbing little factoids I happened across recently is this poll result showing that less than 30 percent of millennials think it’s essential to live in a democracy.

I have many thoughts on this, but this column is almost over, so maybe we’ll get to them next year. However: This is not a prediction for 2016 per se, but an observation about the entropic direction we seem to be heading in as a country. We aren’t really citizens anymore in any meaningful sense. Most of us are chiefly consumers and spenders. Those of us who do take citizenship more seriously and are engaged in politics aren’t sitting down together to figure out solutions to problems, as citizens are supposed to do (in the imaginations, say, of the Founders); we’re ripping each others’ bowels out. It’s no wonder young people care less about democracy—they’re not seeing much democratic practice in their lives that’s appealing or salutary.

In addition, the market has trained our brains to demand efficiency, to value it above all else; and democracy is terribly inefficient. Isn’t this part of Trump’s appeal? His supporters just want it done now; build the wall, to hell with Congress and lawsuits. This may or may not descend into fascism, but it’s something I worry about a lot—not just with regard to Trump, but with regard to where we’ll be 20 or 40 years from now—and you should too.

Happy New Year.

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