I'm sitting here Saturday morning typing after finishing up today's grading. I can only grade in bursts or I get crabby pointing out non-sequiturs and poor grammar. Too much of those things can produce indigestion. Although, I know I'm guilty also of producing them in this age of constant acceleration.
I haven't posted in a few days due to the end of the semester rush. It was an insane semester because of a very high workload and because of the general climate of anxiety that pervades the university.
Uncertainty is high and trust in institutions is low. People feel pushed to their limits. This is a dysfunctional gestalt.
As I write this, Leonard Cohen croons in the background that "things are going to slide" in his song about the future:
There'll be a breakdown of the ancient western code. Your private life will explode...
Leonard Cohen captures the darkness in a zeitgeist. I worry that darkness and disorder are growing.
One of the papers produced by my graduate students this semester addressed the perceived breakdown of the ancient western code in their analysis of comments posted in response to a New York Times article addressing civil rights ( here ) posted at Facebook February 2017.
The students' analysis of 972 comments revealed deep suspicion regarding government with a strong us/them distinction.
I suggested that they apply Habermas' theory of "legitimation crisis" to explain what happens when the public loses trust in government. (see Plant for discussion here ). Habermas' analysis reveals that this type of crisis can unravel liberal democratic capitalism.
Corporations are also losing legitimacy, the legitimacy that rising wages, public relations and propaganda forged during the twentieth century. Growing cracks in corporate promises of endless consumption and improving standards of living shatter the ideological foundations of western liberal capitalism.
Fragmentation and radicalization across the political spectrum are accelerating as broken promises and outright lies unfold in accelerating automation, outsourcing, and economic polarization.
The appeal of strong men grows, as will the resistance against them.
How long can the center hold while legitimacy shatters?
Perhaps my exhaustion is exaggerating my pessimism. Perhaps my local conditions aren't representative of the zeitgeist.
I hope for improved conditions but my academic research on crisis communications and responses suggest otherwise, as my posts at this blog have illustrated (e.g., see http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/links-plutonmy-despotism-dispossession.html).
Our leaders had better realize soon that social or "normative" legitimacy is foundation to the perpetuation of the extant order, an order that is ultimately precarious and prone to radical re-structuring....