BY TAL EREZ
The imagination has its capacity. Ten years ago, Facebook was an infant, a web-trend. Ten years ago, a delicate, yet stable status quo seemed to have controlled the middle east. Ten years ago, a new cold war was decades away. Ten years ago, the game of global politics seemed to preserve its quasi-respectable facade. How could one ever gamble on the world of today?
Technological shifts change daily life quicker than is possible to predict, and its influences are out of the control even of those who develop it. The transitions these technologies create are so far reaching that it appears as though the makers of technology try to figure out how to react to the transformations they themselves have instigated.
Geopolitical transformations happen so rapidly and unpredictably that they appear to be not only unfathomable to the ordinary man but out of the reach of understanding and influence even for political leaders. More than ever, and propagated by global media, these global calamities seem to be happening almost on a daily basis. In the words of documentarist Adam Curtis: “Increasingly we live in a world where nothing makes any sense. Events come and go like waves of a fever leaving us confused and uncertain. Those in power tell stories to help us make sense of the complexity of reality, but those stories are increasingly unconvincing and hollow.”
The great Ideological and technological wages made towards a better future are repeatedly proving as misguided and miscalculated, leading to new catastrophes, ecological, social and cultural. Be it the nationalist self definition of the early twentieth century, the social policies of left-winged europe, or the postmodern free market capitalism. Be it the techno-optimist future promised by the invention and dispersion of the private car, of plastic, or of the internet. They are so much so, that a deep sense of hesitance hovers over every prediction over the influence of any new forward-guided movement, and politics seem to be a zero-sum game.
Flooded by uncorroborated information and opinions, arguments and counter-arguments, truths and fake truths, the future is out of control. It is out of the hands of the citizens, leaders, ideologists and corporations. It is as if the present, and humanity’s destiny with it, is a raft on a river, floating and tugged by the occasional current, obstacle or random rowing in multiple directions by its passengers, guided by no-one, led to nowhere known, reactionary to its core.Those on the raft not only know not where it goes, but even where it should go, or how it can be guided there, fearful of any decision, as they nihilistically try only to find a better seat, scourging for food, comfort and some view in its unguided journey.
What room is there then for the imagination? What promise does it carry? What possible influence does it have? The imagination, it seems, is reserved for something else, as reality itself is growing increasingly unimaginable. So imagination is pushed aside, and so is the future, for a better view of the past. The past is what is known, from where the truth can be aggregated, its branches can be cling to.
The imagination is out of question. It is the values of the known, it is that which has been examined and proven that is safe. It is the “wisdom of the ages” - in the words of Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, facing in these words an earlier provoked shift in reality, that of the french revolution - that is trustworthy. To relentlessly try to fix that which has persisted, in face of the river’s currents, anchors of society. In an unimaginable future, it is not imagination which prevails, but the grounded stability of what is known.
This action is called conservation. This concept is called conservatism. We are conservatives. Today, this is the role expected from us. To preserve the status quo at any cost, in a constant struggle against the currents of time. To be the guardians of culture against the flow of history.This is not the first time in history this “open call” has been set out. Yet it is more open than ever, and our awareness and influence greater than before, as both exposure to the details of the complexities that conflicts us, as well as the tools to react to it are increasingly available. To knowingly explore the idea of creation not from the pools of imagination, but from the values and customs crystallized through social evolution. Today this idea in itself seems quite a radical future-thinking agenda, and in the current dynamics of time, quite imaginative in its own right.