As the world comes undone…

I keep thinking that living in today’s world is akin to someone holding on for dear life to an aircraft they somehow got outside of, but it’s about to crash anyway. People are on edge. Societies are bending before the strain of a whole raft of factors topped by a virus that, alas, won’t go away in a hurry.

More crucially, the globally botched economic response to that virus – in which one nation after another mistook the early lockdowns for an economic supply shock – is about to trigger the long-delayed super-depression. This has been coming ever since western governments tried to buy their way out of the General Financial Crisis, a dozen years ago, but failed to engage the reasons why that crisis happened in the first place. And there is only a certain distance that this particular can of worms can be kicked further up the road.

Woah! A photo I took of a 1:1 diorama in Peter Jackson’s WW1 aviation museum in Blenheim, New Zealand, which somehow sums up what I’m talking about.

It’s an insidious mix. The social inequities that have been growing in many major nations over the past couple of generations have reached breaking point. Beset with a virus, with increasing economic strain, and with an entrenched corporate elite that cannot be dislodged, it seems an ever-larger number of people are turning to social media and the certainties of polemic. When – not if, but when – the house-of-cards created by neo-liberalism collapses, what then? And that’s without considering the current war in Europe, which shows no sign of ending any time soon and might well get worse.

All I can see at the end is social breakdown and ruin, likely globally. And, quite possibly, soon. I hope I’m wrong, but this kind of thing has happened before, and it doesn’t end well. History doesn’t repeat, but human nature never changes, and therein is the problem.

Thoughts?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2022

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9 thoughts on “As the world comes undone…

  1. Ugh…I wish I could disagree with you Matthew, but I can’t. I know frogs don’t really stay in the proverbial pot until they boil, but that’s what this point in history feels like – us, swimming around, trying to be ‘normal’, while the water in the pot gets hotter and hotter. We tell ourselves it’ll cool down soon, but the pot’s still on the stove and the stove is /on/.
    Apologies for the kitchen analogy; must be time for breakfast. Keep swimming!

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  2. The problem seems to be that we haven’t learned the lesson of the lynx and the snowshoe hare. Somehow the lynx always seems to come up with a good argument that it should be allowed to eat all the hares it can catch, right down to babies in the nest. Then the lynx is always puzzled as to why, when it was just doing what God gave it the teeth and claws to do, the whole lynx tribe is starving because there are no hares. They lynx tribe leaves in search of other prey. Gradually the snowshoe hares return. Eventually, so does the lynx, and the cycle begins all over again. This will continue for humans until they realize that they are neither lynxes nor hares.

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    1. This story seems to be a metaphor for the human condition – and its on the money as far as I am concerned! As a species, we seem to have the unerring knack of being able to (a) exploit local environments to destruction, and (b) create social systems that are also self-destructive. I suspect both are hard-wired and possibly represented a successful survival technique in hunter-gatherer days.

      I speculate, but it’s certainly plausible (to me, anyway) that environment-stripping wasn’t a big deal when populations were small and hunter-gatherer bands sparse. It was always possible to move to a different and unspoiled environment. Similarly, if social tensions within the band grew to breaking point, it could always split away and the split group find new places to go. To me, this in part explains how humans spread: this dynamic drove movement across favourable environmental areas, which were not limited to north-eastern Africa. And, similarly, the wrecked environments usually recovered, in time. The problem today, of course, is that there isn’t anywhere to go… Mix into this the increasingly clear evidence that humans don’t handle large complex societies well, and there can be only one outcome.

      There is a kicker from this: paleo-anthropologists puzzle over why other forms of human – Neandertal and Denisovan especially – became extinct during the last glaciations, a mere eye-blink ago in geological terms. Why did we, alone, survive? The supposition that H. sapiens did so by being superior seems somehow difficult to sustain – and maybe it was just chance. Maybe all that happened was that we avoided that catastrophe by a few tens of thousands of years, but the end will be the same anyway.

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  3. Dear Matthew
    Many thanks for your post. Human nature does not change true but history does repeat. It has too because nobody listens, at least most don’t to the lessons of history.
    We are following a pattern after WW2 only 80 years ago which makes us in 1942. And it is the same enemy sadly, the Nazis, aided by the Marxists/communists, all of who came out of Germany.
    The Nazis never went away at the end of WW2, they dispersed over the world, many went to the USA. And many stayed in Germany too I gather.
    Thus we have a new war a WW3, only of medical, economic and educational nature and a battle of words primarily, the polemic you mention.
    Kind regards

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