The Times They Are A-Changin’

Recently a friend sent me a snippet of a conversation he saw in an online community. It read, Public school attendance is indoctrination in obedience. That’s a stark statement, but what struck me was not its bluntness, but that it has become common. 

Not many decades ago, people dared not say such things, even if they thought them. Now there are probably millions of people who feel free to say this.

The times, they are a-changin’.

Major changes (which we tend to call “revolutions”) arise from barely-visible changes that began decades earlier. One new thought begins and spreads, another does likewise, then another. Eventually they overlap and form a set of attitudes that millions of people share. Last of all the world changes, with the lords of the old way expressing their shock and horror.

This is the same pattern that created the modern world, over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries. Alan Charles Kors in The Birth of The Modern Mind: The Intellectual History of the 17th and 18th Centuries, explained it this way:

If we stopped the clock at any moment between 1685 and 1715, and you looked at the universities, looked at the educated and looked at the learned journals, it certainly would not have been obvious what was emerging that would so dominate and shape the 18th century. For this period between the 17th and 18th centuries is still very much a mixed intellectual world. But the new philosophers are emerging. They are increasingly setting the terms of debate.

During this thirty year passage when things really began to turn (driven by forces than began earlier), all things authorized, esteemed and revered were blind to it… either that or in disbelief. And that’s the way things have always gone: The lords of Rome were fully convinced that they and their system were eternal, the Pharaohs would have killed anyone suggesting fundamental change, and the overlords of our time see no further than the authorized veneer that reflects their glory back to themselves.

And so rulers and newsreaders are blind to what’s coming. Intel agencies see a good deal of it but can’t envision actual change. The old way sees the old way, and treats all else as absurd.

But a new way of thinking is already changing the terms of the debate. Consider that almost no one still believes in the virtues of the dominant political systems: A few well-meaning people are trying to repair them, but they freely admit they are broken. That’s fundamentally different from the way people thought during my youth.

Technologies of mass distraction have certainly delayed changes, but the forces bringing revolution forward are gaining power, no matter that all things large and loud promote the status quo as that which is, was, and ever shall be.

Consider that Bitcoin has created a new model of money and is presently spawning a new model of commerce. It may still be small in comparison to the the old way, but Bitcoiners are clearly moving the terms of the debate.

Likewise homeschoolers have created a new model of education. In the US, where the persecution of homeschoolers was local rather than national, some 11 percent of American kids are now homeschooled. And these people have very certainly changed the terms of the debate.

(In Europe national persecutions of homeschoolers continue. But even those barbarisms will have light shed upon their deeds.)

And so we’ve been living through a period of change that is not talked about in elite company. But these changes are known quite well among the young and the serious. The future will soon enough be impinging upon us. I can’t say when it all becomes clear, but I can say that the forces driving it have continued, even through the blind panic of the past few years.

Finally, since I borrowed my title from Bob Dylan, I’ll give him the last word:

The line, it is drawn, the curse, it is cast,
The slow one now will later be fast,
As the present now will later be past.
The order is rapidly fading,
And the first one now will later be last,
For the times, they are a-changin'.


Paul Rosenberg

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