Are you ready for the upcoming 500-year cultural shift?
Those with a vested interest in the success of Western culture observe the passage of the past weeks with a sense of foreboding. Events unfolding in Afghanistan, actions relating to COVID, and countless other contentious issues have served to shine a bright light on what has been a general unraveling of Western global primacy and, specifically, the intellectual and functional failure of the Western leadership elite. It feels as though the Western world is falling apart!
Our culture exists today in a transitional period. The 504-years-long Western Post-Reformation cultural epoch is collapsing, and we are moving into the next 500-year cultural epoch.
This transition appears to be a distinct echo of what happened 504 years ago. At that time, the movable-type printing press was a new invention. German theologian Martin Luther, along with others, was able to ignite a movement using this breakthrough communication technology. His statements, the "95 Theses," were printed in several languages and distributed widely. Ordinary Germans and others were able to access Luther's writings, and the Gutenberg Bible, which motivated them to engage Church leadership to justify its theology, traditions, and cultural power in relation to written Scripture and Luther's commentary.
The printing press, therefore, enabled an entirely new broad-based cultural and intellectual perspective, a perspective that could not exist previously. The existing institutions of Western cultural life, like the Roman Church, were found to be inadequate in light of the new perspectives the technology made possible. Luther's and others' efforts morphed into the Protestant Reformation, which completely reordered the 16th-century Western world.
Today's internet is directly analogous to the 16th-century printing press. We are finding that our existing cultural institutions are inadequate in light of the new perspectives internet technology has made possible. As the printing press enabled Luther and his supporters to challenge entrenched institutionalized powers, the internet, specifically social media, is enabling many ordinary people to challenge modern institutionalized, entrenched powers.
Education, government, marriage, family, science/medicine, the Boy Scouts, organized religion, athletics, entertainment...all of these Western institutions, and many others, are in deep crisis. These institutions will be remade or replaced because they don't comport to the contours of the emerging digitally adapted culture.
Will the coming Digital Cultural Epoch bring a new Renaissance? Or will the West descend into a 500-year Dark Age? We likely won't live long enough to know. Forces far greater and more complex than any one person or group of people are in play. Just as no single human act caused the Roman Empire to fall, no single human act is precipitating this transition to the Digital Cultural Epoch...though friends of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would have us think so.
Hang on tight — it's gonna be a rough ride!
Image via Pxhere.
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