Endgame – almost.

These are strange days we’re living through. It seems that the whole world is at a point of change. Struggles are going on to do with climate change, power and control, religious ideology, and the settling of old scores.  And while this purge is taking place, ordinary people live, suffer and die, unheeded by all save those nearest to them.

In trying to make some sense of all this BREXIT induced mayhem, I’ve been working backwards. I came across two old books in a local junk shop, the first one intriguingly titled OUROBOROS, the Mechanical Extension of  Mankind, by an American writer called Garet Garrett writing in 1925. Students of Williams Blake will be familiar with Ouroboros – it’s the mythical serpent that eats its own tail.

Garrett’s book reminds us that civilization makes demands on us and satisfying those demands requires more of us than we are prepared to give. Mechanization has enabled us to produce things – lots of things – but we can’t do that and provide food at the same time, so the population becomes divided. Rural and industrial activities both demand time, money and effort. The products of mechanization – cars, guns, technology are exported to other countries who sell us their food in exchange. But once the needs of the industrial workers exceed the amount produced by the local rural economy, Garrett claims the world is out of balance. In order to buy food not available locally, men either have to sell their goods overseas, or travel to where the food is produced. The balance between consumption and production of goods as well as food creates a cycle described in the book as Ouroboros. Garrett felt that the mechanized world and the agricultural world were in conflict, that nationalism and the desire for economic independence were dangerous destabilizing forces unless well controlled. Garrett was ahead of his time in his thinking and writing, and he was punished for it.

The second book is an edition of Mannheim’s DIAGNOSIS OF OUR TIME, written in 1943.
“The dangers involved in failing to achieve a democratic reorganization of the world might act as a pressure similar to that of fear of the enemy…” he wrote, fearing that unless this could be achieved  we might be at the mercy of a totalitarian government or a dictator. Mannheim, a respected psychologist, had something to say about public schools and how they create an opportunity for gang experience and do not foster ‘the self-regulating aspects of group life’ – rather the reverse. He writes further about the Hitler Youth movement and the gang mentality.

Why are these writers relevant today?  Industrial revolution and world wars are not just past events. The growth of the internet, climate change crisis and the rise of extremist groups are creating a perfect storm and we are having a hard time trying to achieve the democratic reorganization Mannheim advocated.

For me, as an ex Relate counsellor, I see the split between Europe and the UK as very like a marital breakdown. The ending is protracted, because the alimony is complicated and the reasons for the breakdown have not been fully divulged to us.  Also, we’re beginning to lose sight of what it was that was good about our membership; the freedom to travel, agricultural subsidies, agreed standards of practice, the ability to speak with a collective voice, assurance of mutual protection and help when push comes to shove, plus the money injected into projects we conveniently forget to mention.

We gained a lot, and gave away a few precious things with little compensation, including the fisheries policy. Perhaps the MEPs should have fought harder to save the marriage while it was still possible to do so.  Disgruntled family members need to know where they stand, and that means us.

You may also like

Two Poems
What is going on?

22 Responses

  1. AMAN

    Yes, you very well explained it. Climate change is the major issue in today’s world. I came across a news recently, where it was said that plastics we use are the major reason behind these effects. These particles are now travelling in air also and creating more damage to the mankind.

  2. Alex

    Even if it is the END game I do believe that the planets destruction or creation is in our hands. END game? Ultimately it boils down to us and how we use nature.

  3. Wilson Jake

    So many things we cant explain this days are really killing, little did we know it’s all our doing. I love this, found myself reading trice

  4. Meldred Judith

    Most likely, an endgame indeed. We are almost at the end, change is the only constant thing in the world. After this change, a new one will surely come.

  5. Prince

    I just dont want to believe we are in the end game, I still have alot to accomplish here on earth. Anyways we still have the power to change it all

  6. David Mureithi

    The world is winding to something if not the terminal. There is in as much truth in whatever the idea talked about by anyone.

  7. Danielle M

    I cans see the fragility of how the society models, politics, and use of resources can be so strong and so weak at the same time. When the balance gets broken the situation gets out of control and the good or bad decisions will have consequences.

  8. Ben

    Climatic change will always occur so long as the earth exist I think It is one thing we need to live with.

  9. Irene

    Both books are quite interesting. There really are questions in this world that don’t have yet valid answers. But I am really hoping that people will continue to grow wiser.

  10. Oyeyipo Oladele

    This is serious. End shouldn’t come now, this life is still interesting despite the troubles in it. I love this meaningful post of yours man.

  11. Mary V Williams

    It probably helps to have a religious conviction. I don’t. But I do think we have it in us to change our own little bit of the world and, as they say in Scotland, ‘Many a Mickle Makes a Muckle.’
    Things will always change, for reasons we can’t control, like solar flares, or volcanic eruptions, but we can learn to make the best use of today, take care of each other and our surroundings and be thankful for what we’ve got.
    The endless pursuit of money is what’s killing many of us, even more than Covid. I’ll have to go back and reread those books. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments.

  12. Roy

    I totally agree that the mechanized world and the agricultural world are in conflict. Garret’s words ring so true.

  13. Meg W

    Modernization and industrialization does come with its shortcomings. The key is to strike the right balance.

  14. Patricia

    I am very much interested in reading OUROBOROS thanks to your article. I think the book explores some interesting concepts.

  15. Oliver

    The books are very dated. Interestingly enough they are just as relevant today as they were all those decades ago.

  16. Daphne

    Brexit has happened and we have to deal with it. How I wish things turned out differently.

  17. Teddy

    Many thanks for this well written article. It does bring a new perspective to the whole Brexit fiasco.

  18. Shantel

    You must be a very ferocious reader. I doubt I could read anything from the 40s.

  19. Anderson

    This makes me question whether civilization is good or bad. So many questions yet very few answers.

  20. Storm

    For the most part, the products of mechanization have only served to bring more wars. Moreover, thanks to mechanization we have issues like climate change.

  21. Sylvia

    The world needs to better balance its need to become more mechanized and its ability to feed itself. It is such a delicate balance.

Leave a Reply