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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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When Nature Gazes Back

When Nature Gazes Back

It’s been a month since I last posted on the theme of disenchantment, and a lively month at that. The cracks in America’s global empire have become increasingly visible around the world.  Here at home the mentally challenged resident of the White House continues to blunder through a vague approximation of his constitutional duties while the coterie of neoconservative zealots that hand him his talking (or rather mumbling) points is busy trying to start more wars the United States no longer has the resources or the national unity to win. Donald Trump is basking in the success of his recent CNN town hall, Robert Kennedy Jr. is rising steadily in the polls as he campaigns to unseat Biden for the Democratic nomination—well, let’s just sum things up by saying that it’s a good time to go long on popcorn futures.

With all this and more happening, it may not seem timely to return to so apparently abstract a point as the historical alternation between eras of enchantment and disenchantment. Here as so often, however, appearances deceive.  What Max Weber called “the disenchantment of the world” is a massive political fact, but it’s by no means as cut and dried as Weber apparently thought—and it’s also not a one-way process. Grasp the way that the modern experience of disenchantment unfolded across historical time, and where it can be expected to lead next, and you understand much that is otherwise obscure about how we got into our present predicament and what we can expect in the years ahead.  This is the theme I plan on developing in this and a sequence of future posts.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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