An occasional sputtering of literary output, rants and opinion.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The World Mind and it's Politics

If there is a world mind in the sense of a recognizable epiphenomena of millions of primates messaging each other on the shiny new networks they've just grown, it's just barely coming in to existence. By world mind, I mean something both less and more than Teilhard De Chardin's concept of the Noosphere, think of the sum total of all the thoughts and actions taking place in the biome that clings to the surface of this precious and unique planet as the body, think of the semantically coherent messages passed by some of the creatures that make up this body as the thoughts of the body. Do not stretch this metaphor too far, it is a fragile and delicate thing, easily broken, but instead examine it carefully to see if it contains any insight.

At the present time we are witnessing a fruition as the electric nervous system begins to allow thoughts to pass to and from all points of the body in next to no time. From a vantage point down among the primates, it is just barely possible to see how ideas get passed along, get echoed, and reechoed, cancel each other out, reinforce each other, form stable self reinforcing suites, lead to action, prevent action, and spark new thoughts. And yet, it is probably impossible for any primate to both participate in this mind and understand it anything but the broadest of generalities.

One can see the world of politics as one expression of this mind, one those closest to action on broad scales. Primate politics is generally a roisterous emotional affair, and not particularly rational in the first place, but the accelaration of the world mind has wrought changes. From the slow, considered, political philosophy (and occasional duello) of the 18th century to the hairtrigger echo chambers of the first years of the 21st there is a direct lineal relationship. But the change has been a progression from ponderous big ideas that took much explication, to fast talking points that are easily communicated, quickly grasped and visceral out of all proportion to their importance.

If the world mind were a human mind we would say that it was one in the throes of an epileptic seizure. The thoughts are sloshing back and forth so quickly and so strongly, that only the grossest and most crude ones can be the spur to action. Fear, Anger, Greed and Pride are the levers that move populations, enlightened self-interest isn't even in the running. And yet we ourselves as primates go through a similar phase as infants. Perhaps there is hope.


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