Author Jonathan Taplin refers to the beginning of the 21st Century as an “intergennum” (2008):

We are, I argue, in what Gramsci called an interregnum.  Gramsci said “The old is dying and the new cannot be born.  In this interregnum there arises a great diversity of morbid symptoms.”

The first interregnum was the English Civil War, the English Civil War when Charles I had his head cut off in 1649 and Cromwell ruled for 12 years before Charles II was restored.  But I am not using the term interregnum in that sense but in a more metaphorical sense and so the beginning of the 20th century was the kind of interregnum I’m trying to depict. Sometimes the leaders of the world don’t understand that things have profoundly changed.

When Queen Victoria died in 1901 all the kings and emperors and crown princes of Europe–who walked behind the horse-drawn caisson in her funeral, because there were no cars–ruled more than half the world’s people.  The British Empire alone ruled a quarter of the world’s people and the English pound sterling was the reserve currency for all financial transactions.

But these feudal leaders didn’t have any clue that at the very moment that this was going on Marconi was erecting the first wireless antenna in southern England to link across the ocean to Nova Scotia.  That Sigmund Freud was publishing his early papers about the subconscious.  That Albert Einstein had filed his first paper about a unified field theory.  That Henry Ford was tinkering in his garage and the Wright Brothers were tinkering in their garage and so this extraordinary technological revolution that was going on that was completely unknown to the rulers of the world.

Many of the institutions established to safeguard our well being have lost the faith of those they are charged to protect.  Humans are social by nature, living and working in groups. Our very existence is often dependent on non-visible ties to others.  Surviving and prospering often requires cooperation, coordination, and collaboration, all of which require communication.  Where we once may have looked to government, religion, or charity in times of need, it appears we may now need to look to each other.

Works Cited

Taplin, J. (Performer). (2008). America 3.0 & The Interregnum. [Video,]. Los Angeles, CA.

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