Armageddon is just a few steps away

The world seems to be teetering on the precipice of a cliff right now. Just this week the Russo-Ukranian war has escalated to a new and dangerous level, Russian people are fleeing their own country, there appears to be war ‘by other means’ being waged against NATO – evidenced by the destruction of the gas pipeline in the Baltic – and the new British government has scored an ‘own goal’ of apocalyptic scale against its economy, with possible repercussions for the rest of the world’s economies.

Such a concatenation is bad, but it’s come on top of a pile of other issues – including massive social strains on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a point where society simply breaks. It’s the old story of the jenga blocks: the tower stays apparently stable and intact despite the steady whittling away at the blocks holding it up. Then suddenly it collapses.

The world is at a crossroads, and not one as benign as the one in this photo I took in the Hobbiton Movie Set.

The possibility of a nuclear war in Europe – for the first time in a generation – is disturbing. I think deterrence remains valid, though, at least for now. What worries me more is the economic crisis that’s rolling over us like a tide, for which that war is one clear driver. But there are others, including systemic problems. It’s been long predicted. Back in 2008, major world governments bought their way out of a looming super-depression with ‘stimulus packages’. The problem, then, was the way the neoliberal system had enabled debts, themselves, to be bought and sold without due consideration as to whether they could be paid back. But the ‘stimulus packages’ didn’t fix the problem: they merely kicked the can into the future. Nor was anything done to stop this kind of behaviour continuing.

The General Financial crisis didn’t end

Right now we are in 2008’s future, and it’s all coming home to bite us. Societies worldwide have been under massive strain thanks to nearly three years of Covid pandemic restrictions which – generally – have rendered the governments imposing them deeply unpopular. Ordinary people – mostly the middling classes – have discovered they are powerless to stop the ongoing action of neo-liberal economic structures that impoverish everybody except a small number of wealthy (it’s to do with tax structures). That’s led to a swing to hard-right demagogues – most recently in Italy, which has its first fascist government since 1943. This isn’t because the powerless and dispossessed want fascist dictatorships. It’s because those demagogues have promised to give the people what they want – something that big business and conventional politicians (who rely on that big business for their funds) have not done.

All this is sending the world into a very dangerous place politically. Democracy isn’t automatic – most countries had to fight to get it. The system very nearly lost out, during the twentieth century, to the powers of totalitarianism. To now throw it away seems foolish. But that is what is happening.

The looming economic crash

I can’t help thinking that the looming economic crash will only make that problem worse. The problem is multi-layered. First, everything was under stress during the late 2010s because of the failure to fix the neo-liberal mechanisms. Then Covid crashed the party – leading one central bank after another to blast money into the world’s economies. All that did was fuel inflation. Into this mix has come the Russo-Ukranian war, where the major global impact – even if it escalates further – will likely remain economic. And the British government’s incredible ‘own goal’ this week underscores just how fragile and jumpy the whole system is.

Will the world get out of this mess? What worries me is that everything has happened because of (wait for it) rational decisions. Step by step. And we’re moving closer and closer to the precipice – rationally. In reality, human ‘rationality’ always has an emotional basis. But that doesn’t undo the fact of such decisions being made, apparently rationally. And so we inch ever-closer to inevitable collapse.

I hope everything will stay together for a while, at least until Christmas. But who really knows. Thoughts?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2022

15 thoughts on “Armageddon is just a few steps away

  1. Putin wages a war of terror on Europe and we are on the brink of destruction but who will have the **** to stop him?

    Nato should have stepped in the moment he waged war on the Ukraine. I can only say it’s lucky Portugal has invested in renewable energy and we are on the furthest edge of Europe to the West. As for the UK and LT … fancy letting a few thousand party members vote for her when she did not even get full support from her party. Now they pay the price … My cost of living will escalate thanks to the£ dramatic fall against the Europe

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s bad where I am in in New Zealand too – consumers’ price inflation is around for the first time in a generation and nobody today is used to it. The cure is to crush the economy down so demand meets money supply, which is the role of the Reserve Bank, but that’s always damaging. And the Truss adventure in the UK is simply gob-smacking. Sixty five billion quid worth of prop-up by the BoE? Unheard of! Last time anything came close to that was the General Financial Crisis 15 years ago, when banking systems came VERY close to collapse – the issue was that the ‘liquidity’ (the cash floating around the bank settlement systems by which they enable everyday transactions) dried up. The economic issues worry me far more than Putin.


    1. It’s end-game territory: a concatenation of issues combining to collapse a society built on a specific ideology. it’s happened before – the ‘crisis of the seventeenth century’ in Europe is a good example. There are many others. And something will emerge from the wreckage, no doubt. But not before a period of dislocation and chaos.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think you are being overly pesimistic.
    A number of commentators predicted that the democracies stance against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine would soon shatter. This has not happened and we are (rightly) supporting the struggle of the Ukrainian people for self determination and democracy. We have no choice other than to do so for we are fighting against Putin’s dictatorship and there is evidence he will (if we allow him to do so) not stop at Ukraine.
    We survived the 30’s (and this is not, I think in the same league as then), and we can survive this.
    Best. Kevin


    1. What worries me, as I argue in the post, are the economic issues. Putin is secondary, although the war has due effect on economic uncertainties. Back in 2007-08 I was working in the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and there was open talk then of the General Financial Crisis turning into a global economic collapse of the kind that would make the 1930s depression look like a kiddie game. That was averted through the ‘stimulus’ packages – the first time anything like it had been tried. I recall an all-staff meeting at which the Governor pointed out that nobody had ever done this before and nobody knew what would happen. It averted the issue, but the structural underpinnings weren’t changed, so all that it really did was kick the can up the road a bit. Now we’re in that future, as I argue. The specifics that trip the globalised economy over in detail – Putin’s war, Truss’s attempt to re-run Thatcherism, and the secondary effects of the faulty central bank responses to Covid – are secondary to the underlying structural problems.


    2. I believe the underlying democratic structures are strong here in the UK. We have an increasingly confident (and it appears competent) opposition and there are voices within the Conservative Party other than those of Liz Trus, so I’m not invisioning a collapse of democratic institutions here in the UK. I think there is a danger of spreading no hope which in and of itself becomes a contagion. Best. Kevin


    1. Thanks. Yeah, the ‘like’ option is a bit ambiguous when it comes to a topic such as this one! And the world is, indeed, wrapped with insanity just now. It’s akin to a satire in which the whole scenario gets more and more insane until finally it bursts. The frightening part is that all of it is ‘rational’ – but nobody seems to be noticing where the ‘rational answers’ are actually leading.

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  3. History, politics and economics are just disciplines I’m interested in; philosophy is something I’ve studied in depth, and my take home lesson from philosophy is that it is quite possible to construct a perfectly rational, /logical/ argument that turns out to be completely wrong. In fact, we do it all the time. The reason is that the foundational premise on which all the logic is built is wrong, usually because it’s based on faith, or hope, or some other misconception. Or plain old human bias. We accept as a given that what humans want is /right/ and that our priorities should take precedence over everything else. That’s the foundation stone to most of what we do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I did a certain amount of philosophy as part of my first post-grad degree (studied under Peter Munz, who’d himself been a student of both Wittgenstein and Popper – dunno how he managed the politics of that). Not in great depth, though. I agree completely about the false-premise/logic problem. Indeed, the failure point of today’s neo-liberal system it is that it is entirely based on nested false-premises: the ‘logical’ concept that every individual is a ‘rational’ decision-maker, and they will always act relative to maximising personal gain. And as you say, ‘logic’ itself, as implicitly understood and applied in such instances, is itself based on false premises. We’re talking multiple levels of conceptual failure vs the practical way humans actually behave.

      I keep wondering what Spock might say – given that, as portrayed by Nimoy at least, Spock was actually a deeply emotional character, clearly fighting to keep those emotions in check, and by this deeply self-aware of the parameters of thought.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. OMG…HIGH FIVE!

        -cough- apologies for shouting. Your Spock-Nimoy comment is spot on…and I love meeting another Spock fan. 🙂
        I also like your idea of the nested false premises. It seems to me that every single ‘ism’ we have is based on some mistaken idea about how humans function. I wish someone would come up with a system that understood the dual nature of homo sapiens and compensated for the bad bits.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks, Matthew. We watch in horror as our stable world appears to be slowly unravelling.
    Isn’t it in the nature of things that systems only work for so long before they are overwhelmed by their inherent problems. We need to pray that those in charge at the time have the wisdom to navigate us to the next generation of system!
    Is armageddon possible? We know that individual human beings can be totally and crazily destructive, but even in Russia there is hopefully more than one finger on the nuclear button. What sort of people could collectively press that? Especially against their supposed brothers.

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