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.
Because the universe doesn’t care what you think you deserve. It really doesn’t—and, by the way, the willingness of your fellow human beings to take your wants and needs into account will by and large be precisely measured by your willingness to do the same for them.
Not only does civilization cause depression, civilization causes the extinction of 200 species daily. Civilization threatens life on earth. And, still it seems, as my friend Max Wilbert says, that we could fit the number of humans on the entire planet willing to criticize civilization in one small building.
Imagine a future in which humanity’s accumulated wisdom about Earth — our vast experience with weather trends, fish spawning and migration patterns, plant pollination and much more — turns increasingly obsolete. As each decade passes, knowledge of Earth’s past becomes progressively less effective as a guide to the future. Civilization enters a dark age in its practical understanding of our planet.
What matters in the story of our human relationships is not whether they lead to “happily ever after” but who and what they make of us. All relationships are our teachers, and this is especially so in a time of societal unraveling.
We need to know that someone, somewhere, has noticed and that they CARE. Which makes US the village, and it’s a job we need to be more careful about getting right. We need to keep a look-out for one another, let ourselves care about strangers, act on behalf of those who are helpless, and encourage everyone we know to do the same.
“Put succinctly, the HANDY study found that, given our present circumstances and the current intransigence of the Elites, a preventative strategy that attempts to evade a crisis in one part of the problem causes a crisis in the other part of the problem. The Elites can neither continue exploiting the poor to maintain wealth and power, nor can they create sufficient wealth to elevate the poor out of poverty without doing irreparable damage to ecosystems. Motesharri and his colleagues found that under conditions “closely reflecting the reality of the world today . . . we find that collapse is difficult to avoid.” Not surprisingly, the report was not well received.”
When civilizations start to die they go insane. Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt. Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die. Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft. Reality, at the end, gets unplugged.