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How Will the Modern Era Come to an End?

Modern Era

How is the Modern Era going to end? What will the transition to the next era in history be like? And what will the next era in history be?

We are currently over 100 years into the Modern Era at this point and I believe that whatever is going to end it can only be delayed at this point. I wonder if we will just experience the consequences of all the decision making over the past 100 years no matter what we do. In other words, we are caught up in the gears of history and are mostly at their mercy.

In the world that I live in, I see nothing but good people all around me. So how could anything bad ever happen? Yet there are whole societies out there that I have no idea about. It would take a tremendous effort for me to learn about all of the cultures in the world, or even in my own country of America. So the truth is that maybe I just don’t know what kinds of decisions people are capable of.

The Romantic Era

Western Civilization settled down around 1820 after the French Revolution. This is when our modern economies took off. We had 95 years of amazing peace and prosperity. A tremendous amount of culture, technology, and philosophy was created during the Romantic Era. And then a disaster happened in 1914.

Lets pause for a second and think about what it would take to stop World War I. Culture was quite different at this time, with nationalism being the dominant mood. Imagine standing up in front of your peers and saying, "Maybe we shouldn't fight this huge war, I think it's going to be a disaster." You would forego a strong sense of comradely with your fellow countrymen, and you might be called a traitor.

After World War I ended, all of the leaders of the western world gathered together to write the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and from what I have read the tone was one of disbelief. How could this have happened to us? Europe, the greatest and most civilized culture in all of human history sent their youth off to die in a monstrous and deadly war and absolutely nothing was gained.

The Modern Era

By 1938 the mood was one of dread for the future. We had just seen our civilization almost knocked out during WWI and the same thing was about to happen again, only worse. And nothing could stop it. WWI also began during a time of peace and prosperity. WWII began during a global economic depression. So you can see how many people thought that they were staring down what would be the permanent end of Western Civilization.

And yet we have survived and in fact thrived. I feel this only happened by the grace of God and hard work by our people.

The Future

I believe the Modern Era will end in about 25 years, around the year 2045. Will it end the way it started, with two giant world wars? I pray this does not happen. But what other conclusion can one draw? It could end with something beautiful instead.

My opinion is that we are in for another 30 years of consequences, which will end around 2070, after which a true Space Age will begin. That will be a solid 100 years of new settlements in space and perhaps around other star systems. So I feel that all I have to do is make my family tree survive the next round of adversity somehow. I couldn’t care less what happens to myself.

If civilization can survive the next period of consequences, the payoff is going to be hugely positive in terms of space settlements and living out there in Creation. I have recently heard a quote from Charlie Munger. He said, “It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”

If we can only avoid something stupid, like WWI, I believe civilization will persist without a major fall or decline, perhaps indefinitely. Its easy to just look at the past and think, ok, lets just not have a huge war. But the mistake we have made could be something completely different. Maybe its something that is just normal to us in our everyday lives right now. At any rate, like I have said earlier, we are so far down whatever path we’re on right now and it doesn’t feel like it can be changed. Whatever consequences we are in for, its too late to stop them, they can only be delayed as of now.

Good things can be taken too far. As previously stated, nationalism was a wonderful motivating force during the Romantic Era. It inspired people to create all kinds of art and culture and technology for the glory of their country. But this great thing went too far. It inspired people to fight gloriously for their countries. Anyone who spoke out against this was called a traitor. So WWI was almost impossible to stop.

There is likely something virtuous about our society that will or has been taken too far. If one were to question whatever this established truth is they would not receive a pleasant reaction from their peers or society at large.

Major Event

What will be the event that ends the Modern Era and sends the pendulum swinging back towards the other direction? In the past, long periods of peace and prosperity were followed by major altercations. So we could be facing some kind of WWI, French Revolution, or 30 Years War type of scenario.

I have had many conversations with people who observe that knowledge is not being passed down from one generation to the next. Schools, and to some extent universities, are forced to pass students regardless of how much they have learned or how intelligent they are. The trades are also suffering. Carpentry, plumbing, welding, and even gardening are not as robust with motivated people as they once were. Many younger people only want a quick path to wealth and a simple house that does not require much upkeep.

So it might be that we could simply be facing a general civilizational decline similar to what happened to the Roman Empire around 400 AD.

What Now?

How does one deal with this? As I’ve said above I believe that we are in for the consequences and they can only be delayed at this point. So all one can do is try to make your family tree survive the ensuing adversity of the near future. It would be a tremendous advantage to form some kind of a cohesive society that could carry on, this is the best option for a culture to survive.

These issues are so enormous that perhaps no culture could solve them. So my approach is to build strong relationships with God, my family, and friends. It is nearly time to hunker down and accept the consequences of the past 70 years of decision making. In other words, embrace the consequences and learn from them.

A More Positive Perspective

On the other hand, if time is running out for our current mode of living, perhaps we could outrun our problems rather than solving them. This seems ridiculous from a human perspective. You can't run away from your problems. But you can create something new if the ship you're on is sinking.

For most of history, humans were stuck in the Malthusian Trap. That is, whenever new agricultural technology was created, the population would increase and we went right back to subsistence living. And then all of a sudden we advanced our agricultural technology so much that we outran our population increase.

Perhaps there is some way to create something new before the current culture fails. And perhaps creating something new has always been the only option for survival.

Originally published


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The Discovery of the Future