Looking for Winners in a World of Victims

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The success of India’s lunar lander and China’s space exploits underscores how much the world has changed. Europe and Russia have been struggling while the U.S. focuses on Wokery. In the meantime, “India has become the first country to land near the Moon’s south pole, just days after a Russian spacecraft crashed trying to reach the area.” Russia’s rival Luna 25 had previously failed for reasons yet unknown.

One might make the reasonable case that India is now the third most powerful country in the world. The statistics tell the story. India has ten times Russia’s population. It has surpassed China as the most populous country in the world. Russia’s population is in decline. “Russia’s population is in a historic decline as emigration, war and a plunging birth rate form a ‘perfect storm’,” writes Fortune. Perhaps most alarmingly, the life expectancy of Russian men is now two years less than their Indian counterparts, 64 vs 66 years, respectively. Tellingly, India’s economy is 1.5 times bigger than Russia’s, but Moscow’s military expenditures are 9 times New Delhi’s. Russia, once the peer of the mighty United States, has within a single generation become junior partner to China and now, as a final insult, threatens to fall beneath India.

And the mighty United States itself is not what it used to be.

The world has changed since 1945. “When the security council was founded … it was built as ‘an extension of the powers that defeated Hitler and Japan’”  But now the problem it was designed to solve no longer exists. “The Security Council doesn’t correspond anymore to contemporary geopolitical dynamics.” In place of the “great powers” of 1945 a menagerie of ad hoc coalitions, with different memberships, was formed for sundry purposes. APEC, G20, WTO, TPP, Quad and other acronyms may come to mind. The shift in power relationships is a reminder that civilizations, no less than international organizations, can lose their mojo.

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Things may have changed invisibly within the once dominant powers. “Societal collapse (also known as civilizational collapse) is the fall of a complex human society characterized by the loss of cultural identity and of social complexity as an adaptive system, the downfall of government, and the rise of violence”; it has long fascinated academics. But the breadth of the current power shift seems to go beyond a single society. Not only does the Western “One World” seem on the brink of collapse, but so too do the other “worlds” beloved of political scientists. Russia’s world and China’s world are faring no better. It’s like everyone is marking time waiting for some doom, in the sense of judgment, as if we were not merely at the end of an empire but of all empires without knowing what comes next.

One of the key themes of collapse is the loss of cultural identity. Focusing on the West, it appears that the interior life of that civilization has disappeared. Good and evil are now determined by external factors like ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, power dynamics or class and not by inner choice. The ideology of victimhood is universal and the road to salvation lies no longer within one’s individual power but through public entitlement. The Western man’s relationship with the world and consequently himself has been radically redefined from a position where he once existed as special in the eyes of the universe, was accounted and therefore accountable and consequently possessed agency, to an absurd plaything of absurd fate where everything that happens to him is someone else’s fault;  now the ultimate nothing, the eternal victim.

In the Christian view, now denounced as delusion, one could stop despairing and start living. With salvation assured. one was free to look around. And if we were “not in Kansas anymore” and lions and witches were still about, we contended with them as agents, not designated losers. Perhaps “modernity, science, and engineering are created by good theology (not the other way around).”

Now we care about pronouns and will tolerate math so long as it isn’t too hard. Perhaps we are in a battle for the soul of the West. One of the reasons no one can sit this out is that while there used to be two distinct sides to American politics, it is now increasingly hard to inhabit some imagined middle because there’s nothing there. Usedtobeville is a ghost town. No one is letting anyone alone; everyone is coming for everyone and there’s no place to hide, not even in outer space.

The Biden administration sued Elon Musk-owned rocket and satellite company SpaceX on Thursday for allegedly discriminating against asylum seekers and refugees in hiring.

“The lawsuit alleges that, from at least September 2018 to May 2022, SpaceX routinely discouraged asylees and refugees from applying and refused to hire or consider them, because of their citizenship status, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

“In job postings and public statements over several years, SpaceX wrongly claimed that under federal regulations known as ‘export control laws,’ SpaceX could hire only US citizens and lawful permanent residents, sometimes referred to as ‘green card holders,’” the DOJ added.

Who can say how big the present shift will turn out to be? Many people will sit it out, or try to, but in the end nearly every one will be assorted by circumstance, impressment or epiphany into one side or the other. Most people on the BB Missouri in Tokyo Bay had other plans on Dec 6, 1941, but events took them by the hand and gathered them there. Great conflicts are like that. Perhaps the lesson of the Ukraine War was that it eventually took over everything, including normalcy. Nobody gets his life back till it’s over.

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