Monday, August 19, 2013

The Next Religion

Organized religion is on its way out.  Probably not to extinction, but definitely leaving the mainstream.  This should have been obvious to the Republicans, but they backed the wrong horse, and underestimated just how irrelevant conservative Christian values have become in America.  Even though Republicans had defensible ideas regarding government spending and lower taxes, the fiscal message got lost under the old timey avalanche of anti-abortions and anti-gay marriage.  Sure that was cool back in the day, but it seems the Grand Old Party forgot to update their demographics.  America is trending toward social liberalism.  Backing social conservatism with a Christian banner is backing the Pony Express versus email.  

Individuals and small pockets will always believe, but as the economy grows and technology amazes, society will have less need for religion.  The last few hundred years can be categorized as a steady transference from column A to column B, where inexplicable things from column A get explained by science in column B.  What will happen where there are no more items in column A?  Why do we need faith for if everything can be explained without it?

But that's the easy prediction; anybody with a  history book can see that religion is in a secular bear market (no pun intended).  So is there another institution out there that's right behind religion?  I would like to call out sovereign nation states as the next entity to march toward oblivion.  It does make sense as organized religion ceded more and more power to nation states that nation states and their governments are next on the chopping block.  And just as faith is less and less needed, so is the declining need for citizenship.

In-groups and out-groups are innate, but nations are human creations--artificial barriers built on different cultures, customs, languages, and geography, all of which will increasingly smudge together.  As the world gets smaller with exponentially advancing technology, all the principles that make borders of nation states so strong begin to dissolve.  Geography will matter less and less as technology allows easier and cheaper travel.  People will fluidly relocate to get the best deal for their standard of living.  Can patriotism really stand against economic gains?  We are already seeing this with the ultra high net worth individuals, who typically see more in common with other Scrooge McDucks than whatever country they hail from.  Only us plebians still cling on to nationalism because we are too poor to travel and thus we have to.

This is not to say that we are embarking on some grand age of individualism where every person is sovereign.  Rather, I believe governments see the writing on the wall and are willing to strike grand bargains with the largest corporations to achieve a new balance of power.  We see it already where Department of Homeland Security worked hand in hand with the largest corporations to make the spying possible.

Ultimately, it comes down to standard of living.  As technology and connectivity improves, there will be fewer and fewer impediments to relocating as well as different increases in standards of living as different places try different policies.  A sort of free market in standards of living will occur where individuals try to move to places with the best standard of living and most opportunities.  At that point, I doubt anybody will care about nationalities anymore.