Is the Internet causing the whole cohesion of the world to fall apart?

According to the author Harari we made a huge jump forward with a Cognitive Revolution; a change in the brains of Homo sapiens that enabled us to believe in fictions. Those fictions were things such as Gods, Kings, Country and money. Their power only exists in the imagination of men but it enabled us to band together in large numbers, to trade, to work on projects and to be unified in the face of adversity. That simple change enabled us to more from a population 13000 years ago of 4-6 million to a population approaching 8 billion.

It worked very well. People could be pacified and unified around a set of fictional beliefs – God, King, Country and Money. We could join to fight in wars, to built massive temples and cathedrals, to conquer new lands, to evangelically convert the infidel and to trade between nations. Apart from the odd revolution, when people lost faith in a King or two, it all worked very well. People were united by faith and patriotism.

Then came the 1st World War and the onset of industrial slaughter. Bravery and patriotism lost their meaning. People no longer believed in the hierarchy. They thought their leaders were flawed – lions led by donkeys. They lost faith in King and Country. They saw the slaughter and lost faith in God.

As Wilfred Owen summed up:

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest  
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

The old lie; it is sweet and honorable to die for ones country.

With the Vietnam war people were losing faith in their leaders. The war seemed unjust. They rebelled.

There have always been a small number of people who did not believe in the mindless acceptance of God, King and Country. Some even rejected money and tried to live without it in a simple life.

The fictions no longer held true. They saw the hypocrisy and two-faced practice of the elite who paid lip-service to religion and were all pomp and ceremony with no substance; those who fought wars from their safe bunkers.

Now the internet has connected everyone and views are exchanged. The fictions of God/Gods, King, Leaders, Nations and even the Dollar are questioned and found wanting. Is the internet dismembering the cohesion?

People openly talk disparagingly of our leaders in a way that would have been treason a hundred years ago. Religions are castigated and examined but God can’t be found, the atrocities carried out in his name by fundamentalists are considered insane, and it is manifestly obvious that they can’t all be right. The believers of one religion claim they are the chosen and all the others are wrong. There is madness. But will the fiction continue to hold water in the face of such exposure? Even the Dollar is under pressure. Currencies fluctuate and the rich manipulate the system for their own end. Do we go back to gold and Carrie shells? It is a lottery.

The internet is exposing the fictions and myths.

What will happen if the fictions collapse and the cohesion breaks down? What happens when people no longer believe in Gods, Leaders, Nations and money?

Has the internet put us at a turning point? Can we invent new fictions to replace the archaic, outmoded ones?

Can we shift from Gods, Leaders and Nations to other beliefs?

I would suggest that beliefs in maintaining the ecosystem of the planet (nature), looking to a worldwide system of governance, a worldwide currency that does not fluctuate, and a faith in a coalition of leaders might be healthier fictions and more stable and sustaining.

I also thing that mankind needs goals and challenge to unite behind – space is the frontier that might just fulfill that.

22 thoughts on “Is the Internet causing the whole cohesion of the world to fall apart?

      1. As long as it isn’t lawlessness as in Libya and the Sudan, Dave. This could be good or disastrous. I put my faith in new fictions.

      2. Thinking more of a bottom-up creation of law rather than a top-down imposition. Agree that new fictions are the way forward to open up consciousness and forge collective links. We should think big.

      3. Well Dave it isn’t going to work if everybody doesn’t believe in it so I think it has to be bottom up. I don’t think you can impose it – just suggest it and let it evolve. But we do need shared fictions we can believe in or else it falls to pieces and I do not think that is ever good.
        I think the UN charter for Human Rights is a fiction I would happily support.

    1. John – I think that Harari’s books have made quite an impact on me. His view that following the cognitive revolution we were able to believe in things that were essentially unreal, that were fictions. We were able to be united into large effective groups because of these beliefs. I find that very convincing.
      I see those beliefs are beginning to disintegrate. Compared to how a medieval person believed about God, King, Country and money our current beliefs are, in general, much flimsier.

      1. Strange how common beliefs become stretched over time such as the accreditation to Wilfred Owen for stealing verbatim the works of Horace and his writings of Odes (III.2.13) which correctly translate as “It is sweet and proper to die for the fatherland”. I doubt very much that we preferred the term “fatherland” and opted for one’s country instead.
        Please add education to that list.
        Also isn’t it plausible to suggest that many medieval people were rather sceptical about God, King, Country, given the numerous secret signage and coded literature items that have been discovered since.
        Just a thought.

      2. Heather – I think the use of a line from Horace does not totally dominate the force of the poem created by Owen. It was the way he deployed it that was so important wasn’t it?
        Or are we castigating writers like Huxley and Hemingway for naming books after extracts from John Donne or Shakespeare?
        As for the translation – well that is subject to interpretation isn’t it?
        You mean add education to the list of fictions? Or am I misunderstanding you?
        Oh I am sure that there were some who did not subscribe to the myths of God, King and Country. But I bet they were a small minority. The cohesion existed because most bought into them didn’t it? Probably the more intelligent and learned might have had other ideas and seen through it. But the elite at least paid lip-service to it, just like the aristocracy do today. After all, it is in their interest to do so.

      3. I think his theory makes much sense too. Yes, those beliefs are disintegrating – churches on this side of the pond are increasingly emptier as time goes on. Perhaps the Bitcoin is evidence that trust in currencies are in decline. I’d never heard of this author.

      4. Yuval Noah Harari John – he’s written two fabulous books – Sapiens and Homo Deus. They are compulsive and packed full of great insights into how things develop. I thoroughly recommend them.

      5. Lack of accreditation is a loss of knowledge.
        No, it does not totally dominate but adds conclusively to the dominating force and would be a far lesser work were for its exclusion.
        Yes Owen deployed it and it is certainly a matter of degrees of interest that measure any importance. I am not making suggestion that it would be anything of a minor work otherwise. The fact of the matter that I do not chose to select it as a master work is of no interest.

        My point was INHO – it would have perhaps been even more prestigious were it wholly from his hand.
        If I named my record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, would I get away with it completely unscathed from comment even if the music contained within was of a particularly high standard? I should think not.
        In that context I remain unconvinced with your defence.
        As for the translation – the word Patri is a derivative of the noun Pater, which translates from the Latin only as Father.
        Do I detect that perhaps you were never a serious scholar of the classics?
        It would be a paucity of linguistic abilities and inarticulate to concoct any other delivery.

        Castigate is far too severe a choice of word in this context. Accreditation will suffice.

        Yes, in many respects education is fictional. For many people it is fictional.

        My point was that it was not quite as small a minority as perhaps originally believed. Subsequent discoveries particularly over the last 50 years has lead to a renewed understanding that it was common ground, widespread and generally subject to all spheres in society. It is also worthy to note most armies of these times had to be bought in which automatically accounts for a certain lack of heart felt loyalty and promotes the concept of loyalty to the silver purse.
        I refer to the levels below that of the Knights who were the enforcers.

        You assume that most bought into them – I take that is slang for a willingness to follow as in the scope of God, King and Country. There must have been many but I also suggest large numbers were otherwise because the principal ploy maintained by monarchy and elite was fear and intimidation. Seldom does fear and intimidation whet an appetite for respect and adulation.
        I would also suggest that the state of cohesion was solely a manifest of the elite classes. That the serfs had no other options on the simple basis of eternal reliance for food sources from the land owned by the elite and that they too engaged in the falsism of lip-service as likewise it was also in their best interests and highly dangerous to be seen to be indolent.
        Perhaps another indicator would be the legalities with a lengthy list of penalty codes and unlawful activities all in due place to protect against any such insurrection or insolence. The elite were completely paranoid.

      6. Well for me Heather this poem of Owen was one of his best and he was the best of the war poets. I don’t personally mind that he used a classic quote with which to make his point. It seems valid to me to do so – particularly in light of the way the war was being ‘sold’ at the time. I thought the deployment was masterly.
        Going back in time I do think there was much more of a buying in to belief in god, deference to leaders and the king and the idea of country. That was probably necessary due to the belligerence, violence and threats of the times. It is that unifying belief in those fictions that enabled a cohesive defence. That was the thrust of my argument. I am sure there were many who were not so convinced.

      7. I can’t agree with the magnitude of deference that you hold towards Owen. He was one of many and lucky enough to be published. He’s always lost points for that bit of plagiarism. Ask any English literature teacher – you must have known of a few.

        A cohesive defence – that didn’t actually exist! Total fabrication, hence revolt after revolt. It was anything but cohesive. My! LOL.
        I’m eternally grateful never to been there!

      8. Heather I’ve always liked him. He’s one of my favourite poets. I don’t see his use of Horace as plagiarism at all. I think it was expertly placed. I’ve had a number of friends who were English Heads of Department who rated him too. I guess it is always personal choice. He speaks to me and makes that terrible time real.

      9. Had that been published today he might well have been challenged and taken to court.
        Intellectual Property Rights etc.

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