According to Steven Pinker, the world is actually getting better. Pinker uses history and statistics to outline world trends that position progress within a broader context. With all of the data Pinker has collected, he suggests the world is actually getting better.
“The world has made tremendous progress against extreme poverty, the minimum amount of income necessary to feed your family. Now, about less than 10% of the world falls in extreme poverty. Just three decades ago, it was 30%.”
There’s a tough lesson in the subtext of Pinker’s fact-based assessment that the world is making progress across all these thousands of metrics.
Climate change is a time bomb, nuclear proliferation is a hair trigger Armageddon, sure. But those excepted, the world has been materially improving for the majority of human beings. Good. Probably true.
But what about for the Anglosphere, the US now and the UK before us, who’s quality of life has been partly predicated on centuries’ exploitation of Untermensch countries, on an economic imperialism made manifest.
The data that’s so unequivocal about the world’s averages improving don’t show such a rosy picture for America (or the UK).
So what’s the lesson in Pinker’s facts? The free ride is long since over. The momentum that followed is fast running out. Bad policy and entitled xenophobia is increasingly eroding international goodwill and positive shared-interest inertia.
What we’re seeing today is an early stage in the tangible degradation of the Anglosphere. It isn’t going to be pretty. Ecological disaster may make all these themes irrelevant, maybe, but hoping for it is no basis for fixing the downtrends.
Bottom line: life isn’t getting better in America, year on year, and if the culture of ignorance and screeching tribes isn’t reversed, things are just going to get more desperate, less stable and eventually cross a line into some kind of dystopian breakdown.