An entire generation of Germans, Italians, and Spaniards are aging into their twilight years right now wishing they’d had such imagination in the early 1930s.
In 2016, Andrew Harvey and I published Savage Grace: Living Resiliently In The Dark Night of The Globe. In Chapter 1 of the book, we forecasted essentially what is happening in this moment in terms of the demise of the last vestiges of democracy and human rights on this planet. We chose the image of Kali, the Hindu goddess of creation and destruction as the symbol of our current global predicament. Two years later, we are witnessing a virulent, worldwide embrace of white nationalist, authoritarian rule. Ultimately, Kali seeks to transform the human ego and rational mind and bring us into a more permanent residence in the heart, but the process is often excruciating. Might she also want to transform the image a country or a community has of itself? “This is not who we are.”—Or is it? How shall awake human beings respond? What is our work? What is our calling? How do we reconnect with the authentic sources of meaning in our lives and the web of life itself as totalitarian rule is poised to dominate our consciousness and our countries as we stand on the threshold of the potential extinction of all life on Earth as a result of catastrophic climate change? We will be posting portions of Savage Grace in the coming weeks because it is proving itself to be prescient and empowering in this very dark time.
I have been writing about collapse for more than a decade, and perhaps you have been reading about it for even longer. While I know that it is inevitable and that in tandem with climate catastrophe it will be even more horrific than seasoned students of collapse anticipated, it matters to me how it unfolds. Throughout history, the collapse of societies has played out in a manner unique to each one. How this collapse plays out matters to me. It is poised to be violent, and my intention has always been to minimize the brutality. The first step in that project is to name what is so at this moment in time and to stop minimizing it by pointing to the myriad evils the Unites States has perpetrated on other countries in the past. Indeed, the chickens have come home to roost, and now it is our turn to deal with them.
So the fascist society — which can’t be a democracy, remember — becomes one giant authoritarian exercise is seeing just who these people that are “born better” really are. Who among them is the most cunning, vicious, and ruthless predators of all, the Nietzschean uberman, who can dominate the weak the most savagely? It usually begins like this: can they exploit the weak, the alien, the immigrant, the foreigner, the disabled? Take their wealth and belongings? Kick and punch them down? But it’s a contest now. Who will go further? Soon enough, there is someone willing to put the weak in ghettoes. Then to split up families. Then to put children in camps. And then the unthinkable happens.
A continued exploration of my family history and how the past can guide us through turbulent and dangerous times.
What all of this portends, worldwide, is far from clear. Though there are also significant signs of hope, some commentators have — with good reason — been quoting Gramsci’s observation from his prison cell: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”
The very sobering data of our planetary predicament
You have to accept there is a time frame. Nobody can be sure how long this particular regime change with Trump will take, but there is a clock, and the clock really is ticking. It’s three years on the outside, but in more likelihood something like a year. In January 2018 we will probably have a pretty good idea which way this thing is going. It’s going to depend more on us than on them in the meantime. Once you get past a certain threshold, it starts to depend more on them than on us, and then things are much, much worse. It makes me sad to think how Americans would behave at that point.
Consider this nightmare scenario: a military coup. You don’t have to strain your imagination—all you have to do is watch Thursday’s White House press briefing, in which the chief of staff, John Kelly, defended President Trump’s phone call to a military widow, Myeshia Johnson. The press briefing could serve as a preview of what a military coup in this country would look like, for it was in the logic of such a coup that Kelly advanced his four arguments