I did not know that Antonio García Martínez had a Substack, but he does, and he interviewed Martin Gurri on it last year, and as with all things Gurri, it’s a good read:
Human knowledge is much more limited than we like to admit. To shape the flux of events into a story that will persuade the public, therefore, the elites must control the means of communication. When that control slips, the elite class lapses into a state of crisis. Every major transformation in information technology has brought in train widespread chaos and disruption, often accompanied by bloodshed, as the old elites – wedded to obsolete forms of communication – were chased up their castle towers and heaved out the window. The most disruptive innovation of this nature was surely the printing press. It inspired revolutions in religion, politics, and science.
At the present time, we are in the first stages of a gigantic transformation from the industrial mode of information and communication to something that doesn’t even have a name yet. It’s an extinction event for the narratives. The ideal of representative democracy is in trouble, for example, and the institutions around that ideal will have to be reformed if they wish to retain any sort of legitimacy. But every possible ideology that might challenge representative democracy is even more discredited. Putting aside old threats like fascism or Marxism-Leninism, which are museum relics, there is no great cry among the global public for the “Chinese model” or Putinism, and Islamism seems to have sputtered out.
The causes, I repeat, are structural, and not dependent on the creativity of the elites. Today, even George Washington and FDR would be roasted alive over the fires of social media. Not surprisingly, the people in charge of running things are terrified of saying anything at all – it might come back to bite them. In a Darwinian sense, they are selected for the ability to use words that have no meaning.
The sterility of the ruling class in the production of meaning, in turn, has paradoxical consequences. Crude and incoherent versions of worn-out ideals like socialism and nationalism briefly regain currency, and are said to be the next big thing: amid the panicked babble of the elites, we watch these rough dreams slouch towards Bethlehem to be born again. But there is no second coming. History has never sponsored reruns of dead ideals, even as sitcoms. The appeal to the corpses of once-powerful ideologies itself is evidence of our exhausted powers of explanation, and these dusty mummies, dragged up by the swirl of surface effects, will almost certainly be swept away in the great transformation.