Here Thar Be Monsters!
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The feeling seems to be coming from the top down. Leadership, and by that I mean the "elite" power behind the babbling faces in the media, appears to be itching for a fight, yet terrified of getting one. It's like a heavy-weight prize-fighter going up against a bantam-weight challenger and feeling dread that this may be the mouse that roared.
In the late 1600s and early 1700s, a group of French, British and German philosophers devised a rather amazing set of concepts that became the Enlightenment. They proposed that a well-educated populace was more than capable of leading itself without the need for "divine" monarchies. They also proposed that individuals were endowed at birth with rights that were above human ability to amend or edit.
Governments, they said, were devised by the masses to protect those basic rights from any individual or group that wanted to take them away. This included secular and religious leaders and institutions who claimed "divine right" to do so. In effect, every single person was his or her own "sovereign" within the confines of his or her property, which included one's self.
I am convinced that a group, founded in Ingolstadt, Germany in the late 1700s, that called itself the Bavarian Illuminati (lit. the Enlightened Ones), was founded based on the ideals of the Enlightenment and charged with undermining social institutions, especially the Roman Church and the various European monarchies, in order to bring about the Great Awakening, the New Atlantis or Golden Age, that they believed was possible using this revolutionary new philosophy.
Certainly, the US and French Revolutions can be traced directly to the work of this group. World Wars 1 & 2, which did away with most of the monarchies and left the Roman Church severely neutered would easily fall within their charter.
But then the backlash happened.
The Bavarian Illuminati were infiltrated by loyalists and conservatives who liked the Old World Order. They thrived using complete control and "divine right," especially the Roman Church, which under Pope Bonaface VIII, had declared dominion over the entire world and everything in it in the form of the Unam Sanctam. They didn't take kindly to having all that wealth and privilege swept out from under them, and sovereign individuals in no way fit their worldviews. As Mel Brooks so aptly put it, "It's good to be da king!"
Seeing their thousand-year reign of absolute power and privilege slipping away, these desperate folks made a deal with the Devil, so to speak. They allied with forces that had no one's interests at heart. As Alfred put it in The Dark Knight, "Some men just want to see the world burn."
These deposed kings made a deal with forces whose only motivations were to destroy everything. They didn't want power or wealth, they wanted death and destruction. The great kinds of old didn't understand this mentality and thought they could easily control the dark forces with carrots and sticks.
It didn't work and it set up an epic battle that began in the 20th century, with deeply entrenched forces on both sides that would never give up until they were ultimately victorious. The dark forces infiltrated every secret society on both sides of the battle, and like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, each time one of these dark minions were cut down, the pieces would animate and come back in greater numbers. And just when either side thought they had things under control, and would make their next move, everything would spiral out of control, making any plan, any action a parody of itself.
Thus, we find ourselves in a world no one understands. We normal folks can't comprehend forces that do not have any motivation other than utter destruction. The Old Powers and the New Powers unleashed something they can't control, and all their intricate and centuries-old plans fly quickly out of hand any time they try to advance their causes.
So here we sit, caught between two entrenched forces, one trying to reestablish "divine right," and the other seeking the "sovereign individual." Both sides think their goal is to bring about the Great Rebirth of the Golden Age, yet both have built their redoubts on the foundation of a dark force neither can control. Every attempt they make to advance their cause results in several steps backward. It's a Chinese Finger Puzzle of massive proportions, and what was ultimately a European battle has now engulfed the world.
Suppose every act of kindness you made resulted in death and destruction. Your natural instinct is to help people in need, but every time you do, you cause unspeakable pain and suffering. How would you react?
That is where we stand. Civilization is fighting its own greed and lust for power. Two formidable and diametrically opposed ideals went to war with each other. Out of desperation, one or both of them made a deal with a third force that neither could control, and which wanted neither to win.
It's as if we face another Tower of Babel. Seeing that humanity will join together to "achieve whatsoever they imagine to do," the gods have stepped in, by our own invitation, to scramble our efforts and reduce everything to rubble once again. It at least explains a great deal of the insanity and anxiety that we see in the world now, and to an even greater extent the insane brinksmanship that is evident in global events.
Everyone is gearing up for a war no one wants, with goals no one understands, using weapons and tactics that are doomed to fail. It's the proverbial rock-and-a-hard-spot writ large.
If you've got a better explanation, I am all ears.