As I write this, huge fires are erupting throughout California, and massive protests are erupting all over the world. Is the previous a aspect of the local weather disaster? Is the latter a symptom of hyperpolarization attributable to hyperconnectivity? Sure, I imply no, I imply it’s inconceivable to say. That’s what it means to dwell in a stochastic age.
That is an period of stochastic terrorism: “Using mass public communication, often in opposition to a selected particular person or group, which incites or evokes acts of terrorism that are statistically possible however occur seemingly at random.” It’s also an period of local weather disaster as a stochastic catastrophe, inflicting a complete spectrum of ‘random’ pure disasters to turn out to be ever extra possible and horrible.
Is ours additionally an period of stochastic political strife? Does the world’s elevated connectivity, aided by social media’s inherent amplification of outrage, have second-, third-, or fourth-order results which warmth rhetoric and protest, triggering secession actions and large rejection of the established order? Is our hyperconnectivity the political equal of worldwide warming?
In that case, it will clarify so much. The baffling and horrifying rise of neo-Nazis and white supremacy world wide. The growing political polarization of seemingly each polity. The rising dearth of something like a political center floor. The large protests scattered throughout the globe, in opposition to virtually each type of authorities.
However let’s not be too fast to diagnose this. This may be one way or the other periodic: terrorism and protests have been each extra frequent (per capita) within the late 60s and early 70s than they’re immediately. It’d simply be a symptom of, and backlash in opposition to, a worldwide pattern of neoliberalism-morphing-towards-antidemocratic-oligarchy, which, sadly, is the latest financial / political historical past of a lot of the world.
The speculation is that this stochastic strife has one thing to do with expertise and hyperconnectivity, that internationally we’re experiencing the political equal of worldwide warming. Intriguing, however removed from confirmed. How may we check or measure it?
The plain check is to introduce a management group, A/B throughout a consultant slice of the planet — however that appears fairly unlikely, and I’m not conscious of any dependable quantitative measures of political strife, and both method it suffers from the inevitable drawback that it’s inconceivable to tease out simply one of many myriad components which accumulate (or not) into political fury and protest.
— A minimum of it’s inconceivable at any given second. However we do know that connectivity is more likely to simply maintain growing, particularly throughout the growing world, and that averaged throughout nations it’s more likely to change sooner than virtually some other issue at play.
So if this speculation is right, we ain’t seen nothin’ but. Political outrage, huge protests, and secession actions will proceed to develop worldwide, ultimately at a tempo which makes California wildfires appear leisurely.
Let’s hope that both the speculation is proved incorrect, or that we discover a new method, transcending conventional nation-states, to distribute political energy … earlier than all these eruptions flip into conflagrations.