People once again believe in moral towers to bring us closer to divine powers. Climate policy is a mega-project that devours billions and concentrates all social resources on one card.
“It used to be better.” This could be the first line of a popular lamentation titled “I don’t understand the world anymore.” This corresponds to the view that this lamentation is mainly expressed by the elderly. However, this perception does not mean that they cannot be partially right – just because they are old, bitter, and therefore not entirely sane. This is a popular aversion to the overbearing, frightened, who fear that their future will be stolen from them and that heaven will fall on our heads, of course due to their own fault.
As if one would have to distrust the advice of the “elders” in order to better throw off their own ideas, the life plans of the post-war generations are slandered and shelved. These life plans brought little prosperity, high life expectancy, and decades of peace. In contrast, many in the cultural and war environment of recent years have had contemptible spanking. The peaceful coexistence of both statements – accepting the old, trying out, and researching the new – is outright rejected. That would be pure common sense. Breakthroughs that sell so well for us politically and economically may soon turn out to be bloopers. This is the drawback of utopias: their effect is irreversible.
Renunciation, confession, sanction and social control
In the eyes of the 180-degree turn, the demand for equal liberalism is not radical enough. The old life must go away, the new life must be lived as intended. No contradiction! What is compulsive about it implies renunciation, religion, sanctions, and social control. From this we can already draw a picture of the future of Germany, which turns working together into a fight against each other. Politically, socially and culturally, it is about principles. Therefore, we already live in an ideologically overloaded era that transforms the former informal coexistence into an overly ritualized social act of palpation, caution and disguise.
Living “in the best Germany that has ever existed” (Steinmeier) can become an event for the obsessed and compulsive neurotics who distrust industrial progress and blame their fellow men with “solidarity” for their individual well-being. Thus arises a cult around the ecological collective guilt of the “elders” which hangs like the sword of Damocles over the future of mankind. The result is an ambivalent attitude to technology that couldn’t be dumber.
On the one hand, the global commodity industry, energy and consumption are denounced as resource eaters, and on the other hand, they blindly trust digitization and “renewable energies”. However, the aura of the latter does not correspond to reality, the fact that these “things” can only be obtained and maintained under industrial conditions is simply ignored. Complexity cannot be mastered by simple means. Belief in a CO2 free society, sustainable product development and digital society performance often sounds like you are dealing with a perpetual motion machine. Even in the supposed state of complete equilibrium, the physical laws of thermodynamics and entropy apply. No matter how we twist and turn it: humans consume and convert energy into heat in order to survive.
Mythical contradiction to nature
The concept of technology, which in ancient Greece was still understood as the unity of arts, science and craftsmanship, has turned into something that is mythically contrary to nature. In this regard, man, a stray evil technological being, is an opponent of nature, the supposedly gentle Mother Earth, who cries out for help in all her defenselessness. The ecological moment in this thinking is the benefactors’ helper syndrome and their vain pride. They believe superman can both destroy and save the earth. It is the other way around. When it happens to nature, it allows us to survive.
Maybe it will be different. If we do not die from what is claimed to be self-induced global warming or because of nuclear war, it may be due to the consequences of a supervolcano eruption or a (statistically late) impact from a large meteor, which is clearly not our fault. Incidentally, the probability of a super-eruption in the next million years is at least 75 percent, according to the Helmholtz Society’s Earth and Environment Research Division Knowledge Platform. The impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter in 1994 showed that the gigantic impact of celestial bodies should be considered a real threat scenario.
The decimation of our species is ultimately a nature project that we should definitely avoid. It is also a task that creation made possible by our intelligence and reason. In the meantime, however, we will have to indulge in other misfortunes that we have inflicted on ourselves. Leaving aside the short-term dips in our prosperity aspirations, I want to mention two things that I believe are serious pitfalls in our future planning: dangerous complexity and a new gigantomania.
Monopolizing the complexity of civilization
The declared political goal is the digitization of our society. This large project has been running for two decades and is gaining momentum. More and more AI, artificial intelligence, comes to the rescue. Few realize that formerly analog (non-electronic) processes, economic methods and social aspects are now digitized, and old, separate knowledge is being completely replaced. Everything that makes up our civilization is now to be connected: planning, production, warehousing, archiving, taxation, administration, procurement and logistics, medicine, lifestyle, community and culture.
All knowledge should become an always available virtual universe that accompanies, controls and ultimately consumes society. With the monopolization of the complexity of civilization that was once managed in autarkic sub-units (analog), we become completely dependent and immature to an operating system whose holistic properties we do not even know.
If digitization is more than the sum of its parts – it must be so – we will be dominated by it because we are no longer masters of individual processes. I ask myself whether a fully digitized society can still afford freedom. Because freedom means being able to disappear as an individual in the crowd whenever you feel like it, without any suspicion. In digital holism, immersion will no longer be possible. Everything is technically officially present there.
Then participation in the goods of the state and community is combined with submission. We already see ourselves powerless in the face of digital “services” that push us and our fears aside, we see ourselves powerless in the face of digital processes that require us to have an obligation that causes us discomfort, we are dealing with cold performance that is used to data management, but not the needs of emotionally motivated people.
A gigantic symbol of moral superiority
The digital homogenization of the young generation, capturing thoughts and words in stereotypical network communication, but also banal technical dependence are previous processes of deprivation of civil rights and signs of blind transfer of ownership to the structures of the surveillance state. Even the naive belief in ecologically harmless digitization technology remains almost paradoxically related to the fear of traditional analog, industrial, mechanical technology that has always retained the nature of a tool, while the human being on the Internet increasingly loses the subject to be turned into a data object.
Another field is gigantomania. People once again believe in moral towers to bring us closer to divine powers. Climate policy is a mega-project that gobbles up billions and puts all social resources on one card to prevent something you have no idea if it can be prevented. We Germans alone will not be able to do this for the planet, that’s for sure. But the moral skyscraper that the Germans have already built in a shell will be a gigantic symbol of moral superiority, and therefore faith. But in the eyes of the world, it is a more static mistake, a historical idiocy, a self-absorbed squad of suicides. The principle of hope applies in Germany. Gigantic as always.
The Saudis are planning a completely different skyscraper on the Red Sea. On an area of 26,500 square kilometers, more than 30 times the size of New York City, a building will be erected 170 kilometers long, 200 meters wide and almost 500 meters high. The technologically advanced city “The Line” is to be built as a linear building, spanning three geographic zones, free from cars and emissions, and communicating with its surroundings through a mirrored glass facade. Nine million people should live there. Important businesses and stores must be available within five minutes, and the journey from one end to the other should only take 20 minutes. The Saudi ruling family also wants to set an example like Germany. It’s just great.
It is strange how two nations as different as Germany and Saudi Arabia (want to) exhaust their financial resources and endless resources in similar scale projects just to show the world just how big they are. For my part, I believe that both are just megalomania and a waste.
This text first appeared – somewhat abbreviated – in the weekly newsletter of Achgut.com (every Friday), which can be ordered for free here.