Sometimes I wish that my soapbox were just a little bit taller.
Over the past two or three decades, I have more-or-less accidentally made a number of historically significant predictions in various of my books and essays that have turned out to be correct. In 1977, for example, in my first novel, The Probability Broach, I predicted the Internet, wall-sized computer/television screens, laptop/tablets, computer-aided forensics, and laser designators for handguns. Some time around the same period, I talked about what would become known as the “Strategic Defense Initiative” or “Star Wars” (in an article for Reason/Frontlines, and I predict now that the concept is coming around again). In 1981, in The Gallatin Divergence, I said that the Marxist regime in Russia would not survive to celebrate its 100th anniversary. My editor at the time, supposedly an expert on Soviet affairs, dismissed that as “wishful thinking”. In numerous books and articles, I insisted that Global Warming is a crooked scam, that the very notion of “peak oil” was absurd, and that our species would be far better off emphasizing travel to and exploitation of the Asteroid Belt than the Moon or Mars.
But the thinking I’m proudest of, and believe to be my most important is this: primarily as a result of the Internet turning human communications completely sideways, depriving those who have falsely believed they own us of their lofty perches, the 10,000-year-old Age of Authority is ending. Communication between human beings is now lateral, egalitarian, even Tweets from the President, and it doesn’t matter at all how much governments stomp their jackbooted feet or scream and shout. Their kind of social structure is doomed as humanity enters a new era.
One set of consequences of this change is examined, if a bit superficially, in a June article on Breitbart.com by one Liam Deacon, who informs us that a new study finds that “Traditional Views on Same Sex Marriage, Abortion, Pornography [and sex before marriage] in Britain [are] Rapidly Diminishing”. These are trends of the last four years, and to the extent they’ve also occurred long since in America—add in the legalization of marijuana and the increased tendency of individuals to arm themselves against crime and terrorism—it means that most academic and official analyses of socio-political events from, perhaps, the Tea Party Uprising of 2009. through the election of Donald Trump to the triumph of Brexit are dead wrong. We are not undergoing any merely conservative or populist (whatever that means) swing of the pendulum, but an all-out libertarian revolution. I think I know one when I see one: I’ve been doing my best to arrange one for my entire adult life.
According to the study, conducted in 2016, the latest edition of the “British Social Attitudes” survey, resistance from organized Christianity, even the Roman Catholic Church, which used to form a bulwark against social changes like this, is now crumbling, with 64 percent in favor of gay marriage, and 75 percent favoring pre-marital sex. Seventy percent of Catholics believe that abortion is within a woman’s rights. Pornography, too, is now approved by a majority.
Researchers somehow, irrationally, believe that these changes are in opposition to other events, such as “Brexit, Trump, and Le Pen” but they’re wrong. The object in all cases, is self-determination, which is the very heart of libertarianism. Increasingly, people—of all ages, the article observed with a note of amazement—are unwilling to accept dictation from once-respected leaders and traditional social, political, and economic structures. I’d like to believe this is because of the conspicuous failures of authority over the past century or so, but, entirely without condescending— most people are just too busy earning a living and living their lives for theories—I’m not certain that the average person’s thinking is that informed or organized.
More likely, the soap-opera of everyday living has taught them far better than the pompous pronouncements of the fat-heads in power. And for those of us who never believed in Authority, that’s very good news.