So whether you choose to perceive the dissolution of the American Dream as the hero’s journey or as the collapse of industrial civilization—or both, the American Dream was fated to fail each time the collective refused to be instructed by something greater than itself.
To put it bluntly, Eurocentric modernism is not compatible with human civilization. One of them has got to go.
In a recent article “Beyond Trump: Rebooting the System from inside the Death Machine,” Nafeez Ahmed, Andrew Markell, and Gunther Sonnenfeld articulated their perspective on Trump’s rise to power less succinctly and with fewer no-nonsense tools than I intend to offer in this essay. While coming close to the heart of the matter, they didn’t quite arrive which often happens when attempting to clarify “the crisis of civilization.” After all, we’ve never been here before, and if we’re honest, we must admit that we have difficulty articulating it for ourselves and never quite know how to articulate it to others.
Chaos in the White House reflects the deepening turmoil in the psyche of the president as deep-seated inner conflicts become projected as radical dangers and threats in the outside world. Because there can be no genuine reflection and no failure can be admitted, the desperate sense of superiority demands that all enterprises be deemed a success. The need to be seen as omnipotent and uniquely able to solve everything means not only that the truth and the facts will be routinely rejected, but also that the security of the country and the guiding principles of democracy may also be sacrificed.
King Donald is the ultimate finished product of industrial civilization’s paradigm and the consummate mirror of our personal and collective shadows. It may be that before he completes his first term, he will be impeached or removed by some other means. Catabolic collapse and the climate catastrophe that he is presently exacerbating will continue unabated. Other madmen or madwomen will succeed him. But more importantly, he isn’t just one politician who isn’t any worse than another.
Can we adapt cooperatively and evolve collectively? Can we use this profoundly challenging situation as an opportunity to grow?
And ecological collapse — the sixth great extinction of life on Earth — is already well underway, since the loss of the world’s great mammals some 12,000 years ago and continuing with the expected loss of half of all animal species by mid-century, and the onset of runaway climate change that will render much of the Earth uninhabitable by humans, and require another Great Migration of the survivors toward the poles. Almost any climate scientist will now admit, off the record, that this extermination and climate upheaval cannot be prevented or significantly mitigated. So now the question becomes how we can prepare for, and adapt to, collapse and the end of civilization culture, not how we can prevent or lessen this collapse.