In the West in the 21st century, things basically work and we have it pretty good. We are for the most part basically good people, fed, safe, free, and able to sing and celebrate together and regularly chase adventure in the local mountains and forests. One might think that everything is ok.
But if we look a little closer we find a few cracks in this narrative:
Social Decay. Crime and social decay have increased for the past century. There is widespread atomization, misery, hedonism, cynicism, broken families, etc.
Retreating Civilization. There are burned out no-go zones in inner cities. Formerly civilized colonies have been reclaimed by savagery and despotism. Global terrorism and associated loss of freedom are rising.
Government Waste. Our wasteful and growing government consumes 40% of GDP. It should cost an order of magnitude less.
Stagnation. We are seeing technological and economic stagnation outside of a few growth areas like information technology.
Polarization. People incresingly identify with smaller political tribes and more extreme ideology, and see everyone else as hated competitors for power.
Civilizational Incompetence. Many independent thinkers are pessimistic about the ability of our civilization to handle the demographic, technological, and political challenges of the 21st century.
As the Berlin wall stood monument to the failures of the USSR under Communism, these symptoms surely must stand for some failure of the modern system. Something is wrong with our society. We could be doing much better.
While these problems and their history are complicated, they are well known and yet unsolved, so the important problem to diagnose is why we have been unable to solve them.
We think the core of the problem is bad government. A competent government without internal conflicts would be able to identify and address these issues quickly. Our problem with bad government manifests in two major dysfunctions:
Our political system is a mess with no leadership. The USG-led "International Community" is a tangle of soft power empires and bureaucratic limitations. It's too easy for ideological interests, bureaucratic subgroups, and corporate lobbyists to add dysfunction and corruption, and too hard for any big-picture reformer to clean anything up. The separation of powers idea failed to prevent federal creep, and now we have the worst of both worlds: a giant oppressive mess with nobody in charge.
Our understanding of society is heavily distorted by politics. Fragmented elite power uses "progressive" ideology as a signalling currency to gain status and attack competitors. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a dominant ideology that is corrosive to civilization, is composed mostly of lies and delusions, and has a tendency to take over and cripple organizations. Despite having nominal separation of church and state, and free speech, our society is now crippled by a quasi-religious ideological order with tight speech codes. The dominance of this worldview precludes any rational understanding of our real problems.
These problems are interrelated, and cause each other. The current system with its distorted view of society is incompetent to navigate the challenges of the future. The operational behaviour of these systems is exactly the problem, so business as usual cannot fix this.