Mar 012020
 


John Waterhouse Diogenes 1882

 

 

This is a new essay from Alexander Aston. He describes how once the world has passed through the -narrow- bottleneck of the coronavirus and its effects on our societies, which are long overdue for a redo, and on the central bank-engineered distortions of the markets that are -make that were- supposed to be the foundation that allowed us to flourish, there will be a better world waiting.

I’m all for it, and I have no rational issues with it either, but when I read“..these are the moments at which humans are the most creative and most inspiring”, my warped mind can’t NOT think: ..yes, we’re moving towards a better world, and we’re terribly sorry that you didn’t make the cut..”

Here’s Alexander:

 

 

Dear Raúl, I hope you are well. Things are all right on my side. Submitted my thesis, am being examined by the heads of Archaeology for both Cambridge and Oxford, which is a huge, albeit intimidating complement. Otherwise, just watching the world come unglued, so I wrote you something to put up if you like it. All the best – Alex

 

 

“A mighty space it was, with gigantic machines here and there within it, huge mounds of material and strange shelter places.


And scattered about it, some in their overturned warmachines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians—dead!—slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in His wisdom, has put upon this earth.”

– HG Wells

 

 

It took until the first two months of 2020 for the long Twentieth Century to finally come to an end. One thing now seems absolutely clear, this will be the decade that the majority finally come to understand that things are never going back to “normal.” To be sure, the complex entanglements of institutions, narratives, cultural practices, and economic relationships that emerged during the previous century have been under immense strain these past two decades. Enormous effort has been expended to maintain the inertia of the global system, from the immense violence of imperial politics and regime change wars, to the more subtle violence of economic dispossession by a privileged elite that control the mechanisms of power.

A few years of relative, but diminishing stability were bought at great expense. Authoritarianism, rentier feudalism, political corruption, regional instability, distrust, anger, and disbelief have wormed their way into every facet of our global society. The cost of refusing to adapt, for the benefit of a very select few, is immense systemic fragility. It is fitting that the hubris, intransigence and bankruptcy of imagination in our modern political economy shall finally be brought low by a microscopic organism.

Some will read this and misunderstand me and believe that I am being apocalyptic about the physical illness brought about by the coronavirus. The virus is serious, and will have dramatic consequences, but it is no black death. The virus is a catalyst, something beyond our agency to control which is triggering cascading changes in a system that has been rotting for some time. As an archaeologist, if I found evidence of intensive and intersecting energetic, ecological and economic disruptions in society, what I would expect to find at the end of those stratigraphic layers is a new cultural phase.

 

That is, I would expect a very different kind of society and culture, albeit causally linked, from that which preceded it. Another way to frame this is that periods of systemic collapse and reorganisation generate new forms of social psychology, new narratives, beliefs and practices. A new epoch is here, and we will all quickly learn that we are very different kinds of people than we thought we were. Soon, things will start looking radically different from what we have known to be the order of things. States, institutions, practices and beliefs that once seemed permanent fixtures of our world will be swept away.

This may seem extreme, the momentum of history has not fully tipped us over the edge yet, which allows psychological space for defaulting to normalcy bias. The problem is that causality is not linear, and it does not operate at singular scales. What we are experiencing has been building for decades, but the synergy of these causal processes, their true emergent effects are about to become fully apparent. The virus is a spark, not the cause, and it is breaking down the last reinforcing bonds holding the global system together. If the ruling class had not been debasing our societies and parasitizing their citizenries for decades, our social resiliency to this pandemic would be much higher. High energy production costs, low demand, and low consumption have been masked by systemic financial fraud.

Instead of innovation, we have spent decades investing in a Potemkin economy. We are about to find out that, despite all our mathematical abstractions and sorcery, the hardcore material basis of our economies rules supreme. Simply put, one cannot shut down countries like China for months on end without powerful material ramifications. Supply chains are going to be severely disrupted, and this is going to implode the illusion of the financialised economy along with our disastrously entwined energy systems. People are going to have difficulty accessing everything from car parts to asthma inhalers, and this is going to shake their fundamental understanding of how the world works. People will be scared, they will be angry, and their final vestiges of faith in the system will begin to collapse.

 

The problem goes deeper than mere economic implosion, it goes to basic principles of trust and belief. Human history is a story of an incredible capacity to self-organise and work collectively. However, this requires collective attention upon shared forms of value, narratives and cultural practices that raise levels of trust necessary for stable social relationships to be organised. Faith in the promise of our societies has been severely eroded on all sides these past few years. People still believe in their societies, but just barely, and usually based on the misapprehension that either they can undo the damage or that their chosen leaders will solve all the problems.

Our narratives have been fundamentally shaken and fractured, but soon they will start collapsing and it is going to be very difficult to rebuild trust once they finally give. Our collective faith in the system will break down completely with the loss of the shared forms of value through which we incorporate ourselves into our social relationships and ensure our well-being; those things that glue our collective narratives together. This is when we will be most vulnerable to social violence, because we won’t know whom to trust, and we will be desperate to survive the upheaval. This is also when radically new forms of organisation will begin to emerge, as people build coalitions and communities to meet new challenges. These relationships will become the bedrock for new cultural relationships.

It is hard to tell exactly what happens, but there are a few predictions that are within reason. Prolonged quarantines could result in cascading defaults from the bottom up while severe supply chain disruptions have the ability to trigger institutional defaults. Likewise, the slowdown in air travel could potentially send Boeing into a complete tailspin. Regardless, we are liable to see massive deflationary pressures in everything other than essential goods. What’s more, the virus will probably devastate countries weakened by imperialist intervention and sanctioning. Places such as Syria and Yemen are very likely to see truly horrific outbreaks due to their obliterated social infrastructure.

 

The virus could also potentially collapse the weakened Iranian state. Ironically, the zero-sum logics of Empire have created conditions through which the pandemic can entrench and project itself. This raises another horrifying possibility, that certain sociopaths will use the synergetic fears of refugees and contagion as political weapons. This will only lead to atrocities against the most vulnerable. Furthermore, the fact that the Coronavirus has established itself in Italy, the most fragile of Europe’s major economies, is a harsh twist of fate. The shutdown of the country is likely to lead to major financial contagion in the Eurozone and place pressures upon core principals such as freedom of movement. Either the European Union will break apart in this process or it will transform into something very different than it has been.

Another likely outcome is that the American health profiteering system will finally be shown for the utter social failure that it is. The infection is liable to spread in a country where people refuse treatment because they are afraid of bankruptcy. Finally, if the virus is not contained, it could very well affect the U.S. elections. The loss of political legitimacy could make the country ungovernable given the social antagonisms surrounding the candidates. At the end of the day, our cultural logics have fetishized competition and treated our societies as zero-sum games designed to provide luxury communism for billionaires and debt slavery for the rest of us. It is not surprising that it is greed, selfishness and entitlement that are undoing our societies, we have failed the prisoners dilemma and now we are being sentenced.

We live in a moment of radical historical change, but do not despair. Things will be difficult, but these are the moments at which humans are the most creative and most inspiring. We will see hard, sometimes brutal things, but we are also going to see new kinds of beauty brought into this world. We must hold on to that, we must hold on to a sense of vision and endeavour, that something better is still possible. More than anything, take care of each other. The future belongs to those who know how to cooperate best, how to share effectively, how to generate new forms of value, new narratives, new communities. We are at the end of the beginning and much will depend on our choices, our courage and our compassion in the coming years. I wish all of you luck and solidarity as we become Twenty-First Century people.

 

 

I know about Persia and Xenophon,
Egypt and the Sudan,
But I prefer to be caressed
By fresh mountain air.

I know the age old history
Of human grudges,
But I prefer the bees that fly
Among the bellflowers.

I know the songs that breezes sing
In the chattering branches;
Don’t tell me that I lie –
I do prefer them.

I know about the frightened buck
Returned to its pen, expiring;
I know that weary hearts die darkly
But free from anger.

– José Martí

 

 

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Home Forums Grab Your Bits and Shoulder Your Kits, We’re Going In!

This topic contains 7 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Dr. D 7 months, 3 weeks ago.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
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  • #54641

    John Waterhouse Diogenes 1882     This is a new essay from Alexander Aston. He describes how once the world has passed through the -narrow-
    [See the full post at: Grab Your Bits and Shoulder Your Kits, We’re Going In!]

    #54644

    Dave Note
    Participant

    An old professor of philosophy I had used to say that Diogenes was not wandering the streets of Athens late at night looking for an honest man but for a dishonest woman.

    Nice painting

    #54645

    Professorlocknload
    Participant

    “There is nothing more certain and unchanging than uncertainty and change.”
    JFK

    #54646

    Maxwell Quest
    Participant

    I love that painting of Diogenes, how it contrasts his ascetic life with luxuries of the curious women strolling by, their minds filled with a thousand little things, while his ponders upon the great problems of life and the Law.

    Nice essay! One can only hope that Alexander’s vision of the future is correct, in that this pandemic will be the catalyst needed to break up the old, corrupt institutions which are currently blocking the birth a more equitable and socially enlightened era.

    I’m reminded of Max Planck’s famous statement that “science advances one funeral at a time”, meaning that the old guard are generally hostile to new ideas, often doing everything in their power to suffocate them in their cribs. As paradoxical as it may seem, even the sciences have their high priests who rigorously guard the status quo, determining which new ideas will be blessed and which will be cast into outer darkness.

    #54647

    seychelles
    Participant

    Sabbatean-Frankist psyop/ritual or emerging pandemic of consequence? Who knows for sure in an AntiLogos world? I personally will be exercising an abundance of caution towards the Wuhan virus until the tea leaves seem clearer. Alternative essays well worth reading:

    Plunging stocks, pandemic fears, quarantines—what’s the real operation?

    5G and the China epidemic

    #54648

    zerosum
    Participant

    John Waterhouse Diogenes 1882

    !n 2020 this picture would be “man living under a bridge”, or “Helping the homeless”

    ” things are never going back to “normal.” …. “the benefit of a very select few,” …. things will start looking radically different from what we have known to be the order of things. States, institutions, practices and beliefs that once seemed permanent fixtures of our world will be swept away.”

    For the elites and the enablers, and facilitators that serve them.

    If the ruling class ….
    Let’s name those groups: Bankers, lawyers, accountants.
    The blue collar workers are not the ruling class.

    I agree,
    “our societies as zero-sum games designed to provide luxury communism for billionaires and debt slavery for the rest of us.”

    You could have said, corporate welfare bums billionaires

    but we are also going to see new kinds of beauty brought into this world
    Who is “We” Maybe most of the people will get a new cardboard box.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distribution_of_wealth

    half of the world’s net wealth belongs to the top 1%,
    top 10% of adults hold 85%, while the bottom 90% hold the remaining 15% of the world’s total wealth,
    top 30% of adults hold 97% of the total wealth.

    Finally:
    ” …. The future belongs to those ….” who have a monopoly on energy

    #54649

    VietnamVet
    Participant

    It is certain that change is coming. A consumer economy with nothing to sell is dead. Manufacturing in China and South Korea has stopped; at best, for months. 51 million South Koreans are sheltering in place. The Wuhan coronavirus is here in the USA. There is community transmission on the West Coast and one death. Unless there is a divine miracle, the pandemic will sweep across North America which will also be in an economic depression.

    Three seventy years old white males are the top contenders for President. The present President is too incompetent and stupid to address this extraordinary black swan event. The other two old white males will try to ignore it. Joe Biden is senile and will blame Russia. He is the last of the ancient regime that restarted the Cold War.

    Most Americans will survive the epidemic. Rich areas will hardly notice it. They will telecommute from home, stock up with supplies and have Concierge Medical Care. But around 50% of the Middle Class infected with the virus will not be able to pay the bills or co-payments even if they still have jobs and insurance. But most will lose their jobs. It costs thousands of dollars for a COV-19 test and the CDC requires at least one to detect the virus and two to prove the virus is gone. A day in the ICU costs on average $10,794. The last wealth remaining in the USA will be extracted by bill collectors for the rich.

    In China about 15% of the infected need hospitalization. Around 5% (8 million Americans) will need respiratory ventilation. That is twice the number of ICU visits in the USA in a whole year. In poor areas the infected will die at home or on the floors of overwhelmed hospitals. If 1% of the infected die (the projected mortality rate for the Wuhan coronavirus) that will be one and half million Americans. Care the poor in hot spots will revert to medieval levels and the mortality rate will be much higher.

    The only way the USA can survive the twin disasters is if government by and for the people is restored. A new government will need to tackle the pandemic, unemployment and inequality. If not, the States will splinter. No matter what happens Globalization is dead for a generation. The post WWII Western Empire is over.

    #54650

    lasttwo
    Participant

    Excellent essay

    Yes reduce income inequality – reduce corporate welfare for billionaires – healthcare for all – no more regime change wars – free education – for the people by the people – sounds good to me. But where is the world are we going to find a president who would go for that kind of revolution?

    #54651

    V. Arnold
    Participant

    I wish I could muster Alexander Aston’s optimism; but, I just can’t…
    …at least when looking at the west…

    #54673

    Dr. D
    Participant

    Great article from a much better writer than I.

    They’ve long planned this, (read the papers, please) and intend to push humanity to and fro while they’re unmoored for maximum death and disaster capitalism extraction. Then they can rebuild the system in their violent, crooked image, as their motto states. We, of course will resist that, as always. Unfortunately, people overwhelmingly help them by refusing to believe there’s anyone out there that would do them the slightest harm, and believe like a puppy every man is their very special friend, and there’s no slaughterhouse anywhere, ever, where they take your rings and gold teeth.

    I have no idea where they got such an idea, but it’s not from the history of earth.

    “Places such as Syria and Yemen are very likely to see truly horrific outbreaks”

    Quite the opposite, I think. They “collapsed” early to beat the rush. You at Oxford are going to become like them, not that they will kill twice as many when everyone who isn’t rock-hard is already dead, dead, dead. Don’t worry for them but prepare for yourself. What you did to them and was authorized and loved will, as always, now be done to you. How can you say no? For decades you all said it was fine, moral, justified.

    horrifying possibility, that certain sociopaths will use the synergetic fears of refugees”

    Like the total destruction of privacy, free speech, and intentional austerity killing tens of thousands a year for sport, this is no ‘possibility’ but already happening for decades everywhere, on purpose, and well-reported. For example, just yesterday Erdogan did it for the 100th time.

    we must hold on to a sense of vision and endeavour, that something better is still possible.”

    With universal corruption, the only fix is within the heart, and that is religion. That you will do good and are willing to die for it. Materialism, atheism cannot provide this fortitude which is why it’s hated so violently and opposed and undermined constantly. A placid, abstract, “sense of vision” is inadequate when the soldiers tell you to perjure the innocent and persecute someone, or they’ll burn your house, shoot your kids, send you to jail. And they’ve already been doing those light, cheerful things for decades. And people’s constant surrender to any challenge has not stopped them. Only if you say “No”, remove your consent, and hand them your useless broken body will that mean a whit. As that homeless Indian guy said. And only religion, faith, will provide that, but that sense, honor, faith, #Logos, is our arch-enemy and will be persecuted the hardest. More than now even.

    USA can survive the twin disasters is if government by and for the people is restored.”

    Government has never worked, especially in health care. Our whole 230 year history shows that. So although there may be solutions, they’re not one of them. Cutting off 90% of their taxes so we can afford health care might be because slowly giving them 90% of our taxes did not. Pandemic? Meh. Unless somebody wants to admit to 100,000 dead in Wuhan, Corona appears safer than the common cold. It’s one way or the other: either admit the dead, or stop saying this is a thing that exists. 3k dead when the common cold has killed 100,000 in the same time is as many as were hit by lightning while fighting sharks. Now I don’t believe those numbers, but you can’t have it both ways: either it is or it isn’t; pony up.

    If not, there’s nothing to tackle. “Habeus corpus”: “Produce the body.” No death rate = no pandemic = no collapse. They will counterattack in April.

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