“What we missed is that nobody cared about solutions... ...They just wanted to burn it all down.”
So says Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of Mike Huckabee. That’s defeated Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, not Mike Huckaby one of my favourite DJs.
If we can take anything from that quote, or last month’s U.S. election result, it’s that spoils went to a victor who understood old priorities are gone. In their place a new age has risen where anger and fear trump logic and desperation beats progress.
From pundits to members of the public people claim not to have seen this coming, so much so they’re accusing Russia of hacking the win, despite impermanence being the only reality we have ever lived. But then you never know what you had until it’s gone; relationships, jobs, periods in life, family, weekends, health, and every other aspect of human experience, including kingdoms and the world itself.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and whilst the empire didn’t burn in 24 hours either it may as well have. What’s interesting is that this seems inevitable looking back until you imagine living at the height of a superpower, when life would look as it always had and, in that moment, was destined to appear forever more.
Perhaps we don’t have to imagine very hard, given similar thoughts have gone through similar heads much more recently. The Ottomans, Austro-Hungarians, British, USSR; even the comparatively brief and unsettled Nazi German and imperial Japanese expansions during World War II would have felt unstoppable at one point.
For the last six decades there has been an established empire of sorts, and I’d guess few reading this sentence thought it could ever be brought to a halt. All other systems have fallen by the wayside during that time, or are currently impotent. A formalised Way of Doing Things has become almost completely universal- the focus being on profit by advancing to exciting futures and pushing ourselves forward with long term plans.
There are signs this is changing, though. There’s widespread talk of fascism re-appearing wholesale, only this time with 4G phones and better guns, but to be honest I’m more worried about the mounting evidence those at the top believe our collective fate is sealed. The planet is failing, today and tomorrow are now all about extracting the most before it finally goes belly up proper.
Kleptocracy is a word that has been banded about a lot recently. The basic idea is a system of governance where those in the political elite are solely concerned with getting richer, at the expense of everyone else in the country and long term economic health.
That sounds familiar, but in reality there are few full blown examples- Ukraine and Kazakhstan were cited by Attn in an article claiming the U.S. may not be far behind those two. If the most powerful nation at the top of the current economic system- one that sells us the future- opts for a path that only ever ends in collapse and the need to restart from the bottom, does the richest nation on Earth think soon there will be nothing left to restart? Maybe not, given its new leader denies climate change, but it makes you wonder.
The solid gold team being assembled by Donald Trump for when he takes the White House in January will be the wealthiest cabinet ever assembled in the history of modern America, or so says the Washington Post, with a host of billionaires taking centre stage and a handful of millionaires in there too. To give an example, Gary Cohn is now director of the U.S. National Economic Council, but was Goldman Sachs president before that.
Here in the U.K., 200 NHS departments in Bath and north-East Somerset, including adult social care, have been handed over to Virgin despite public outcry. The National Grid is also up for sale, probably to the same company that bought the Green Investment Bank, previously publicly owned, for £2billion. The GIB decides how funds for clean energy projects in the U.K. are allocated, the big reveal being Australian financial giant Macquarie, heavily involved in the purchases, has long had interests in fossil fuels.
Back in 2014 people were talking about how Britain had 100 food harvests remaining, give or take. This was up on the global average of 60. The cause is soil erosion, yet another environmental nightmare for a list that also includes radioactive marine carcasses washing up on America’s West Coast as Fukushima’s toxic waste floods into the ocean system, and Arctic temperatures hitting their highest on record, causing melting to accelerate as we speak. And let’s not even start on depleting fresh water supplies inland, or the mystery surrounding where all the fucking bees have gone.
Now picture all these crises worsening over the coming decades as we refuse to stop acting like fools en masse. Issues like population density, immigration, and the fight for remaining resources look much more volatile when half the planet is uninhabitable, and in the chaos our chances fade. Today we have the capacity to tackle many problems that, with every passing year, grow more difficult to tackle. All we need is co-operation, and not to give up now it is infinitely harder to stop the end of days than it is to sit back and watch the last of the markets implode in Ultra 4K.
Still, if that does happen at least the whole impermanency rant will make sense.
Sketch courtesy of DonkeyHotey.