by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ February 12, 2020
Apathy and the pretense that things aren’t as bad as they appear are useful defense mechanisms but can create chaos when they collapse. The climate emergency alone makes it clear that we cannot afford such avoidable confusion for the foreseeable future. That’s not a time scale we are familiar with and a harsh lesson that we must learn.
We also need to learn that none of our problems are fully isolated from all other parts of our planet. One of the products of some five thousand years of civilization capped by four hundred years of scientific learning is that everything is connected, and there is no distinction between us and everything else that exists or may exist. That is a painful pill to swallow for a significant percentage of the human population who have spent their lives struggling to, somehow, define themselves as superior to others. We need to get past this now also, but my point here is that we, in the US, have more immediate problems.
Looking at our reality is not pleasant. The levels of anxiety, fear, outrage, and depression, have been building firmly in the US, mainly, for the last three years. Things have been going downhill for several decades, with the dominance of neoliberal predatory capitalism justifying greed as the only virtue. But the Trump disaster, followed by the fully expected failure to remove him from office, leaves us exactly where we feared we would be.
That reality means that we are all going to have to ride this flaming wreck down to the ground. America is a colossal airship, and it is on fire. Unlike the Hindenberg disaster, the controls of America are no in the hands of a pack of angry monkeys who are now running amok incited by the lead monkey who is batshit crazy and in paranoid dementia.
That’s the depressing part of our current reality but we need to deal with it and plan for the recovery. But that presents an additional range of challenges and that is the point here. What parts will remain in the restoration, and what will be left laying where they fall?
A significant linkage here is that only a few countries are experiencing rampant tribalism, and the US is the worst. Several post-industrial countries are moving away from political tribalism. This movement away from tribalism reduces emotion and builds greater balance in, usually, multiple party versions of social democracy and bodes well for the future need for planetary solutions to our climate disaster.
The most challenging factor for the rest of this century is removing the tribal demand for exclusivity and reaction to large scale migration. The countries with the worst tribalist problems are those that have allowed control to slip to ethnocentrists and racists. Ethnocentrism and racism are moral failures but also pragmatically dangerous and counterproductive.
Within the next thirty years, we could have up to a billion people as climate refugees. The old hard bordered nation-states make no sense in this situation, particularly with significant equatorial areas likely to become uninhabitable. Growing climate disasters is the urgency that will force the end to the old nation-state pseudo representative political model.
It certainly appears that the US will be the lead in this change as the virulent propaganda campaigns of the Trump criminal group destroy what unity remains. The fact that Trump and accomplices will almost certainly lose the national vote in November 2020 makes the breakup of the Union long-delayed but soon to be completed.
This breakup is the contingency that needs to be thought about now by everyone. The fracture points are evident as the division is between metropolitan, diverse, and more educated populations and those that are still residents in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas.
Even in those exurban areas, the bigots and denialist population are a minority but have held political control by the departure of others. The breakup of the nation with the growing brutality and hardship of those remaining in Trumpistan will produce a politically driven migration in both directions.
The coastal and large interior metropolitan regions have already begun the separation with the sanctuary movement in support of refugees and immigrants. The sanctuary movement s the most visible break, but there are many others as metropoles are strongly oriented to and invested in their commons, parks, and shared facilities. This is a clear break with the neoliberal privatization of all commons.
In short, there is very little future to be seen in large nation-states except for authoritarian control. The desire of the most dependent parts of our population for tyrannical domination to protect their perceived exclusivity has produced the Trump destruction of democratic institutions. Less realized is that this is the collapse of the ideal liberal nation made up of self-governing diverse peoples holding the power of a large segment of our planetary resources.
The breakup of the USSR at the end of the 20th century was the sentinel collapse for nation-states managing planetary regions or continents. China is becoming more authoritarian as its leaders fear mass rebellion by any of its repressed ethnic groups or only by its youth as in Hong Kong. India, the other great ‘democratic’ continental state, has lurched into ethnocentrism and denial of citizenship for a significant part of its population. All of these events strongly related.
But the dominant driver of the climate crisis has bluntly marked the end of a hodgepodge of sovereign nation-states on this planet. While recognizing the vast wealth of diversity is breaking large, increasingly authoritarian nations apart in favor of urban region administration, the demands of climate management require planetary action.
The very nature of urban regions holding strong personal identities while firmly supporting diversity is the future. It has been the most robust attractor of human populations seeking security and wellbeing. It is easier to build a planetary alliance of these metropolitan regions with strong identities than the old nation-states polarized by authoritarian, corrupt governments that are increasingly feared and hated by their inhabitants.
The complexity of the human condition in the 21st century requires that we simultaneously reorganize on a local level while uniting on a planetary scale. Those who are unable to see this and act on it are now the potential source of our genocide.