by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ April 30, 2021
We are so focused on the disasters perpetrated by the collapse of the Republican Party into a fascist, authoritarian, and corrupt set of criminal conspiracies that it is hard to see the larger signs of social failure. Institutional destruction producing the inevitable physical and social infrastructure decay is a wasting disease.
Things work for decades until more and more things break. Large and powerful states can survive for those decades, not noticing the decline and then actively ignoring it. As we see in America, failure to invest in your infrastructure and people is not a road to social well-being or a way to reduce waste if the power is held by the extremely rich who can privatize the parts of public service and healthcare as they collapse for everyone else.
The chickens eventually come home to roost. A steadily increasing authoritarian rule can suppress reaction and keep the shrinking political class from having to worry about the consequences of their actions. Populations have descended into oppression and widespread poverty in these situations, but something eventually breaks it all open.
The pandemic has broken it open, and in America, the Trumpist disaster was the arrival of a huge number of very ugly chickens. The same neo-fascist, racist/nationalist model in Britain, Brazil, Poland, India, and, on a smaller scale, other countries are battling these bad consequences over the last year. Unfortunately for these people, bullshit doesn’t work as weakened and corrupted institutions fail in the face of massive disasters.
It is also tough to hide the structural and institutional collapse from the population who are forced to suffer it, first hand, over months in the repeated waves of a major pandemic. As always now, science tells us what consequences to expect. Choosing to ignore scientific knowledge is equivalent to ignoring a million tons of ice sliding down a mountainside following the laws of classical physics. At a very predictable point, your shit will cease to exist under the weight of that ice.
While our major focus in these benighted lands is the percent of the population actively suckered or entrapped by these regimes of hatred and ignorance, there are deeper currents and confluences at work. In times of planetary disaster with a tremendous dependence on a planetary economy, we deal with accelerated evolutionary change.
This is not the product of the simplified and popularized genetic adaption but the building of environmental pressures producing epigenetic change. These are phenotype changes not related to DNA. But they can shift a population significantly over the course of a generation by triggering behaviors on biological changes in response to environmental pressure.
I’ve thought this could be a factor in what is happening as we face planetary problems that we have caused and struggle to deal with an expanding range of hyperobjects that we struggle to understand? But there is a very human and specific aspect of this that we seem to be missing as we look at costumed whack nuts and conscienceless opportunists performing for the media.
We see the struggling, often impoverished communities typified by Black Lives Matter marches and demonstrations that are increasingly effective because these communities are at the urban core of our civilization. These are the people who have had enough and are using the 21st-century tools of communication to stop the disaster, even though it is a long and brutal fight against institutionalized racism and institutional collapse. But others do not have the understanding, let alone the tools to become known.
These others are disappearing through cultural changes and their own confusion and difficulty adapting to a rapidly changing world. These are the rust belt and Appalachian communities that are prime targets for fascist opportunists but have bigger and more diverse problems.
These people and their communities are now significant because they are part of the resistance to COVID vaccination. They are a major risk to all of us that could look like India on a microscopic scale. Not surprisingly, they have already been walloped by COVID after years of being decimated by big pharma’s opioid products and suicide.
They are not necessarily manipulated by political gibbering but by their own religions and a long history of being on the fringe they take as a point of pride. To these people, becoming part of the American precariat class would be a step up in the world that they would probably reject anyway.
They have been left to their fate in America because, in a late-stage capitalist system, their inability to consume adequately marks them as non-existent, and they know that. This is the tragedy of, I think, the first wave of the decline of those parts of the human population unable to adapt to the new pressures. The Trumpists in America and their ilk elsewhere are a larger wave of decline, but their children have mostly already moved away. Epigenetic change is, after all, reversible.
What we are seeing, I think, is not just a growing political rift. That idea has already begun to fall by the wayside. The problems created by choosing to believe and think in ways that are not compatible with the changing physical and environmental reality on this planet produce major risks for all of us.
This is not the result of conscious evil intent, just as global warming was not the result of conscious evil intent on the part of millions of people involved over four hundred years. But the consequences come due, no matter the ignorance of the perpetrators. We have come to learn slowly over the last hundred or more years that subsequent knowledge changes our understanding and unleashes an inevitable burden of guilt on us whether we acknowledge it or not.
The usual claim that it seemed like a good idea at the time won’t save us. Nor will it remove the burden and obligation to correct the failure that belongs to us all now. That is, of course, another reality being denied by those groups with no goal but escaping responsibility, but we know that for what it is; a form of social psychosis.
The lost populations, and I have only referenced one here, may not be active participants in a criminal movement but have been and continue to be collateral damage ignore by almost everyone. This is jarring and ironic as the great desire to claim victory and return to past ways at the end of the pandemic is impossible to control. That these populations are a reason that this pandemic may never completely end until it is replaced by another is not what people want to hear.
But the scientifically defined paths of asteroids, planets, sliding masses of ice and rock, or pandemics are well within our understanding. Consciously choosing to ignore that is another way of accepting a change the results of which you will not be around to see. It is another too large dose of opioid to eliminate the pain.