You know something strange is happening, when you have to check each day to find out how many wars, declared and undeclared Barack actually has going on. Apparently if you call it a peace action or a humanitarian intervention, dropping cluster bombs on civilians is okay. The funny thing is, he seems to have figured out, that if you don’t call it a war, then the markets don’t freak out as much. They do still freak out, but they don’t go into a tailspin of fear about losing access to oil and gas or something.
This is a good example of how I see the current world situation: I used to think that we were engaged in some inexorable slide into the abyss, and that a renewal would come from those who cannibalized the old order to build a new one. The prevailing narrative was apocalyptic and grandiose and seemingly oblivious to the rot in the floorboards.
Now in some ways, it’s worse. There is no longer any forward looking narrative, apocalyptic or otherwise. NASA is about to be shut down, budget cuts will gut every progressive project before it can get off the ground, there is no serious talk about how to grow the economy, harness new resources, or even repair the collapsing infrastructure. There is increasingly no sense of a future, no sense of ‘going’ anywhere, no sense of meaningful change of any kind. Lots of translation, tons of translation, but no transformation. We have entered a period where the only thing that happens is navigating an ongoing crisis, and our only preoccupation is not losing any more than we have already. Governments get elected and re-elected on the basis that they won’t make things much worse. People increasingly make decisions about how to stay in the same place most effectively.
This is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a civilization in the accelerating stages of entropic breakdown. If we are indeed on the backside of the peak oil curve, as I think we are, this mentality can only dominate mainstream thought more and more. We don’t have leaders, because there doesn’t appear to be anywhere for them to lead us to. All we can do is position ourselves in the crisis narrative the best possible way, as termites eat the less-vital parts of the house. It’s an ongoing and essentially permanent condition of triage.
In some ways this is worse than a fast collapse, because a catastrophic dissolution of some systems would at least get the trauma over with and allow people to focus on building something new in the cleared space. But if the overwhelming concern is simply avoiding the trauma, period, a lot of people with positive ideas will be banging on the door fruitlessly, because they aren’t playing along with the idea of a permanent crisis where the only growth is from looting other parts of the system on your way into the black hole, where you will inevitably be looted yourself. You could lose a whole generation of creative people that way, or pour their energies into half-ass repair jobs that were only meant to last until the next election, or the next shift in the crisis narrative.
The main characteristic of a permanent crisis narrative is that nobody knows exactly what anyone else is doing, and frequently don’t even know what they themselves are doing. There is no ability to think beyond the needs of the moment. This is why Barack appears to have no coherent policy about anything, ever. He would probably like to, but is constantly getting pulled in opposite directions, to net effect zero. Lots happening, no progress.
This is why we kill terrorists and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, but try to install the exact same people as the government of Libya, even though Ghadaffi provides the highest standard of living in Africa, and Afghanistan is a corrupt hellhole littered with IUD’s where you can’t even get electricity most of the time. Hate to break it to anyone, but you don’t get a crowd of a million people in the streets firing AK-47’s into the air, unless you have popular support. Especially if you’re the one GIVING them the AK-47’s.
This bullshit with debt/default in the states is a great example: how many times do the tea party lunatics get to use the encroaching debt ceiling to shake down the white house for genocidal spending cuts? They’re not going to fix the spending problem and they’re not going to default. It’s just going to be a way for the rich to loot the poor for as long as that story holds together, then they’ll go back to raising the ceiling quietly, just like they always did, because the alternative would be catastrophic. Barack is likely to go down as a tragically gifted politician who just couldn’t find the courage to challenge the logic he was embedded in.
My house is a great example too. The land lady is apparently so in fear of her finances, she can’t do anything but the most critical repairs to the place. The basement floods, the deck is falling apart, the staircase is peeling away, there are five layers of shingles on the roof, and she hires the cheapest, dodgiest people to patch it all together when need be. We could take her to the authorities for having an unsafe house, but that would only bankrupt her with repairs she can’t afford and force us to find somewhere else to live that we might not be able to afford either.
I went into school to get away from the front lines of social decay and the toll it was taking on me. I consented to huge debts, hard study, and frequent stress and boredom, with no promise of anything on the other end. I benefit from greater understanding, but from a resource point of view, I’m just navigating the crisis too. Sooner or later I will need to pay those debts, make some money, and invest in future security. The problem is, there may not be money to be made, or security to be had, at least not in the normal terms.
There has to be a change in our view. We need to stop clinging to a way of life, and a view of the world and ourselves, that is bankrupt in every sense of the word. Economically, morally, intellectually. We have to stop thinking like victims or bystanders. We have to stop patching things together as they fall apart and start really building again. We have to admit we are really better than this, that we can really do better than this, that we have a right to expect leadership from leaders, that there is more to living than not dying.