Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015: The Year Everything Breaks

Very probably I shouldn’t write this post. I’m not a psychic. I rarely make predictions about anything. Experience has taught me just how bad I am at it. But I have a feeling 2015 will be the year everything breaks, and I want to make sure the feeling is on record. I hope I’m wrong. Then again, perhaps not. The way the world is going, change will only follow on collapse. My intuition may just be that everything is going to change.

The world is already broken, of course. It’s hardly news. Capitalism is imploding. Whole countries teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. The sleeping giant, Russia, is stirring again. China has abandoned its Middle Kingdom insularity and seeks to dominate the world economic stage. Much of Africa is now a post-colonial cesspool, ravaged by AIDS, Ebola, and genocide. The populations of Central and South America live in fear of kidnapping, torture, and murder. The citizens of Britain can’t walk to the corner store without being tracked by CCTV cameras. Totalitarian governments in Southeast Asia are courted for child labour. America is ruled by a handful of elites who together hold more wealth than 99% of the rest of its population. The Middle-East is a killing field for warring fundamentalists and oil-dependent foreign interests. Sovereignty is dead in many countries, with legislative power handed over to trans-global corporations or the World Bank. Everywhere, the very rich are getting very richer while the very poor sink deeper into hunger, thirst, disease, and desperation.

Our functional vocabularies have shrunk to Newspeak size. Memory Holes are growing, and Big Lies pass for journalism. Liberal education, once a virtue, is dismissed, while greed, a vice, is fervently promoted. Debate on almost anything is now impossible. Illiterate opinions pass for arguments, and futile online rants replace the rhetoric of discourse.

Advertising has become the propaganda tool for a new corporate order. Citizens already crushed by debt are pressured into purchasing on credit just to bolster “The Economy,” a tool for prosperity that’s turned into an overseer’s whip.

Sexual liberation, so desperately needed to cast off the yoke of Victorian morality, has devolved into obligatory hedonism. Feminism has been cynically corrupted by the entertainment media. The liberated woman now is All About That Bass, with “...that boom boom that all the boys chase” and “All the right junk in all the right places.” Racism and homophobia are as rampant as they ever were.

Anomie and disempowerment afflict the globe. The Internet, which in its infancy we thought would usher in a golden age, is cancerous with narcissistic social media. Smart phones fool people into thinking they’re connected with the world, while addiction to the tiny digital displays cuts off the opportunity for real interaction. They and their bigger brothers, tablets, are like crack, a drug whose high, apparently, consists of simply craving more.

Non-medicinal use of psychotropic drugs is pandemic. Krokodil, a brew of match-tips, gasoline, and codeine that devours the body from inside, has left its native Russia and is popping up in North America and Western Europe. Alcohol continues to enjoy most-favoured status despite millenia of family breakdown, ruined lives, and violence, while marijuana, peaceable and medically useful, still earns its sellers and consumers prison terms.

The world is undergoing climate change, but rather than preparing for it, right-wing PR think-tanks and environmentalists shout insults at each other, neither group acknowledging that whether God or Man’s to blame, the process has begun and needs a global strategy to deal with the consequences.

Video games and CGI have saturated an entire generation with hyper-real images of brutality unknown as entertainment since Caligula and Commodus. In real life, students slaughter classmates, fathers massacre their wives and children, young men with an axe to grind spray theatres and restaurants and shopping malls with automatic weapons.

The Earth is being raped for resources a fool can see won’t last. Ecosystems vital to the planet’s health are being destroyed for short-term profit. Monsanto manufactures costly seed whose fruit is barren so that farmers can’t replant and have to buy new seed each year. Biotech unleashes GMOs into the wild with no regard for consequences. Fresh water, once abundant and the property of all, is dwindling; profiteers are scrambling to make it a commodity, like gold.

If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering what’s left to break if 2015 is the year everything breaks. I suspect what my intuition is telling me is that the cracks in the facade are widening, the lies are getting more transparent, the fictions that allow us to ignore the truth are stretched to snapping.

The source of nearly all our present woes is greed, and the wealthy’s mania for power. Global revolution, impossible before the Internet, may be the only way to stop them. I’m no fan of revolutions. They’re bloody, innocents die, and the inevitable counter-revolutions often leave things in a worse state than before. Alternatively—and this is what I believe—the whole stochastic house of cards we call the global economy is about to tumble down, with cataclysmic impact on all but a very few, self-sufficient nations. The mighty American Empire will likely be the hardest hit, given the obscene disparity between the numbers of its rich and poor.

Let’s hope my intuition is as bad as usual.