Liberty is an eccentricity of human order. Our natural inclination is to rebel against anarchy and seek safety under the shelter of rules. We function best when these are backed by threat and rewarded with riches. This is the basic root between religion, politics and philosophy – the careless smear that blurs together the three structures of civilisation. We bend between these, battered by all manner of external force. War. Disaster. Surplus. Exploration. Find me a political system that does not dream of utopia while wrestling with the ever-closing reality of dystopia. One is impossible – the other, probable.
Take care with that.
So it is that the countries of the world present a unique expression of this trio of souls. For ease, we cluster them into generic political systems, but each came to their position along different roads – not all followed willingly. Communist regimes displace religion in favour of politics while Western democracies fill that void with the philosophy of Enlightenment. Theocratic entities prefer the absolution of worship while failed states manifest purely political persuasions. Power is the constant that binds these uneasy marriages. It is also the glue that loosely holds the tectonic plates steady on the geopolitical board.
These chaotic systems run several layers deep. Imagine them as glasses of water precariously close to the table’s edge. You may pick one up, carefully tilt another, brush against the table – all of which may cause a ripple to stir. These are the casual skirmishes of election and neighbourly disagreement. Hold the glass too tight, tip the table or pour one glass into another and civilisation spills over the floor.
Change is the flavour of the decade. All our interactions have become turbulent. Predicting these outcomes is a roulette of empty shell casings where even the most esteemed conjecture is dragged out and tossed on the pyre along with the plebs’ empty gossip.
I must say, Machiavelli gets a bad rap. Though his observations are often quoted as cruel, that does not make them any less true. His clarity has civilisation exact. “...[F]or men to easily part with their prince upon hopes of bettering their condition, and that hope provokes them to rebel; but most commonly they are mistaken, and experience tells them that their condition is much worse.”
I advise you to watch closely as our geopolitical crust folds over into a core of heat and tectonic pressure. Tensions with China will necessitate a renewed interest in Nuclear, (I suspect with the endorsement of the United Nations who are clawing their way through share portfolios to recover lost capital). Corporate brand obsession with domestic activism will erupt between Freedom and a mountain range of authoritarian cash. They’ll either fumble their way into diminishing returns or sit themselves on the bench, bowing out of social politics.
As for the Brits? No matter which way BREXIT falls, the European Union has inflicted the fatal wound upon itself. Having not quite followed the Oxford definition of “voluntary”, the extraction of the UK has played out as a haphazard series of hostage negotiations. Its remaining members are probably picking the locks and testing the strength of their restraints. Expect them to rebel towards sovereignty as soon-to-be-extinct eco-socialists alienate the working class, who have more in common with each other than the private jet cult with a fetish for asphalt bondage.
When John Stuart Mill discussed liberty in 1859, his masterwork laid out the words of a fearful man. Although they were written outside living memory, his nightmares are the mirror of ours. Between then and now the world has survived unfathomable uplift. Ironically, amidst all this cataclysm – we remain exactly the same.
Humanity’s lust for upheaval is also our one true constant.