If one takes the trouble to review history, one discovers that we have always been like this: it is an avoidable apocalypse, or end times, though it is not easy or simple to do so, but setting to work towards that goal could divert the vector that leads us straight to the precipice.
By Aram Aharonian
Playing the apocalypse game, as a practising Catholic like US President Joe Biden does when he threatens the possibility of a third world war, perhaps the third but surely also the last, is not a new game: predictions that the apocalypse is just around the corner have been made throughout history and have always served to mobilise and above all manipulate people.
The managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, said that the outlook for the global economy has “darkened significantly” since April and that she cannot rule out a possible global recession next year. It came as no surprise that we were notified that 2022 would be tough, but that “perhaps 2023 will be even tougher. The risks of a recession have increased for 2023,” she added.
Popular uprisings and/or rulers resigning, in nations as far apart as Sri Lanka, the UK and Ecuador, against the common backdrop of political instability triggered by rising energy prices. But what is interesting is to see how states react.
From Ripley’s: an “evil bear” like Vladimir Putin coincides with the French “sophisticated democrat” Emmanuel Macron: while Moscow nationalised the world’s largest gas project (Sakhalin-2), Paris announced the total nationalisation of the French electricity company (EDF). And of course, Jair Bolsonaro sent the bill to Congress to privatise the huge pre-salt reserves, after privatising the state-owned Petrobras.
Despite Japan having the most stringent gun control policy in the world, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami used an incredible homemade device to shoot – and kill – Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the leading figure in Japanese politics in the 21st century, who governed between 2012 and 2020, while speaking at a small campaign rally in the city of Nara.
It seems that US and NATO strategists were unaware of the boomerang theory. The economic war they unleashed against Russia through sanctions of all kinds is already backfiring: they want to punish it, but it is the Europeans who end up paying more for everything, as electricity and petrol hikes have a negative impact on inflation that spreads to all areas and countries. The oil and natural gas they use to generate electricity largely comes from Russia.
Meanwhile, nationalism and the fascist far right are resurgent, from the “imperial” nationalism of Vladimir Putin in Russia to that of the French National Front, the Danish People’s Party, the Swiss People’s Party, the Swedish Democrats, the Greek Orthodox People’s Rally, the British UKIP, and Vox, the British UKIP, and Spain’s Vox, groups that include neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, the alternative right, white supremacism and other ideologies or organisations that present xenophobic, racist, homophobic, sexist, theocratic or reactionary aspects.
Some want to destroy, others try to prevent it
All (or at least almost all) of the hegemonic media are preparing us. The script is the same and is repeated by “serious” newspapers such as Le Monde, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, The Washington Post or The New York Times, which insist that the Russian incursion into Ukraine is a historic event that has the potential to accelerate structural transformations in the system of international relations.
The future is not an enigma and any dystopian series gets its predictions right. Since the political imagination can no longer conceive of a post-capitalist society and truthfully account for the exit from this order of domination, the world only seems to be divided between those who accelerate destruction and those who try to prevent it, argues the Argentinean Jorge Alemán. Stop the world, I want to get off.
Those who maintain a preventive attitude towards the potential catastrophe in which we live are losing the battle against those who accelerate the catastrophe. Just as the pandemic did not stop the capitalist drift, now war is the new scenario, which manages to mimic capitalism itself. For the first time the world is involved with something whose limits are unknown: it is not known where it leads or where it ends, he adds.
Everyone agrees that humanity is suffering from a confluence of crises and pandemics that are shaping a situation of chaos or collapse of life on the planet: that seems to be out of the question. It is also clear that the ruling classes are playing their game in order to maintain their privileged position and that politicians are using all their wiles in order not to lose their power.
This does not mean that we are seeing any major reactions from the sectors most affected by the ongoing collapse. For decades, the democracy and progress verse has anaesthetised many people who still believe (or prefer to believe) that the state or politicians are going to save them, or that the money of billionaires will help in the collapse.
If one takes the trouble to review history, one discovers that we have always been like this: it is an avoidable apocalypse, or end times, although it is not easy or simple to do so, but by setting to work with that goal in mind, the vector leading us straight to the precipice could be diverted.
What the recent G7 and NATO summits – signalled by smiles and hugs, some of them pub-drunk style, like those of Britain’s Boris Johnson – show is the spirit of the age they are marking, confrontational, warlike, not hesitating to sacrifice even the welfare of their own peoples for the sake of what ultimately matters, the prevalence of one over the other, says Rafael Cuevas.
There is a long-tested strategy by those at the top to redesign the world since pre-collapse: militarism and war. New technologies offer those in command an unprecedented breadth of power. It is a pity that it favours ever more obscene profits for big business, such as those of the oil transnationals and the arms industry, which is no longer able to keep up.
Meanwhile, the poles are melting and sea levels are rising, and there are repeated speeches about the need for alternative energy sources to fossil fuels, the need to save the Amazon after having wiped out the European forests. Yes, while in their country abortion is banned, they continue to kill each other, the United States deploys its military might in Eastern Europe, and Joe Biden dares to talk about climate change.
While they want to silence Julian Assange and the Wikileaks revelations of horrendous war crimes for good, they want to convince us that the outlook for the world is grey and pessimistic. Some speak of recession, others of depression, and still others of stagflation, but they all come to the same conclusion: if 2022 was difficult, you will see what 2023 will be like.
I am not writing this note to scare people, but what is certain is that the US, Russia and China, armed with chemical and biological devices and enough nuclear and thermonuclear warheads, have the destructive capacity to transform the planet into the battlefield of the Third World War (WWIII), which would be the terminal one, which is why dialogue with attention to geostrategic knots is essential, starting in Ukraine and Taiwan.
When they are on hair trigger alert, the risky intercontinental ballistic systems and others (Russia and the US account for 90 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal) can devastate civilisation and leave life on Earth in a calamitous state, at best, Alvaro Verzi reminds us, while hundreds of millions of people in this world continue their struggle for bread and work.
The powers play to impose their hegemony, and perhaps today’s young people do not know about the atomic bombs dropped by the US in 1945, in the midst of the post-war period, as a warning to the Soviet military, who were the ones who really won the war against Nazi Germany. The Japanese, 77 years afterwards, still remember the US “final solution” on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
One would have thought that after its debacle in Afghanistan, the US had no chance of a new military adventure, in the midst of worsening pandemics, hyperinflation and the impending mid-term elections in November 2022, where the Democratic Party does not look optimistic at all. One should learn to think like an American leader, because in the rest of the world we know that a Democrat is the same as a Republican, who only think of “America first”.
There is no need to announce them: the “wars of the future” are not only in the movies, they are already here. If current conflicts become more hostile, the first thing that would happen would be massive cyber attacks from both sides. There would be attempts to “blind” the other by destroying their communications, including satellites, or even cutting the vital undersea cables that transmit data. Yes, our countries’ data too.
China is anticipating this: it created a new agency called the Strategic Support Force that focuses on space, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities,” warned Meia Nouwens, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
One was taught that economics is about the relationships between things, and how humans enter into these relationships, but it is more akin to communication sciences or behaviourism. It is impossible to separate in it the problems formulated by the language used, which today expresses an anticipated mourning, or at least an attempt to frighten us all under the slogan of every man for himself, if he can. Let’s play apocalypse, while the atomic bombs don’t explode. Apocalypse, are you?
The unsustainable dependence on the United States for trade and investment, as well as Brexit (the UK’s exit from the European Union), led to the progressive integration of European countries with Russian energy markets and a greater acceptance of China’s investment opportunities and production capacity, recalls Indian historian Vijay Prashad.
The US and its Euro-Western allies aim to remain hegemonic and weaken China and Russia by building a new iron (or steel) curtain to isolate these two countries. Either approach could lead to a suicidal conflict.
It may seem strange that Biden has claimed not to want a nuclear war with Russia, while fuelling the nuclear bonfire with his $56 billion funding to Ukraine, the most corrupt country in Europe. Its president, the comedian Volodymir Zelensky, denounced in the Pandora Papers, has an eight million dollar house in Israel and a 34 million dollar villa in Miami (not in Kiev, of course).
Mexico’s Alfredo Jalife says we are witnessing a third “30-year war” in Ukraine – the first was fought in Central Europe between Catholics and Protestants between 1618-1648 and the second between the first and second World Wars – which translates into a “proxy war” between the US and Russia that could degenerate into nuclear war at any moment.
Hungarian-American neo-conservative Evelyn Farkas does not fear nuclear war in order to preserve the “NATO international order”. “I don’t think we should be deterred by the fear that [Vladimir Putin] will use nuclear weapons. We can’t rule it out, but I also think about the objective we have now, with the stakes so high. It’s not just about Ukraine. It’s about the international order.
It changes, everything changes… and it has already changed. From technology, to education, to war, to communication… Only one mysterious figure has remained constant and unchanged: the eight-hour working day. It was not an angry trade unionist, nor a radical economist, but Mexican mega-businessman Carlos Slim who suggested how to avoid recessions in another simple and radical way: reduce the working day to three days a week and raise the retirement age to 75.
Not that Don Carlos was out of his depth. Germany and France have already adopted the first part of the proposal in some industries with considerable success and are announcing that the second part is already on its way. It is true that life expectancy has lengthened in the last two decades, while the numbers of unemployed, underemployed, informal workers and slaves have grown and grown…
The global capitalist world has grown in the last 11 years at a rate of 1.9 percent, too little in terms of population growth and current needs, but we cannot forget that in that period we have witnessed two recessions and a depression and we are psychologically preparing for the next one, which still has no name.
The same scaffolding separates China from these considerations, for the simple fact that it is the only country that has grown permanently with the exact opposite strategy: an industrial policy aimed at expanding job opportunities and oriented, for the most part, towards the domestic market. Is there anyone who wants to learn?
The world we knew has disappeared, or is disappearing – real and virtual – without us even realising it, driven perhaps to worry about the World Cup, the next Netflix series or how to make ends meet without losing in the attempt. That tomorrow has already arrived (and it is not the one promised to us by those at the top). Inertia prevents us from reacting to the collapse, explains Raúl Zibechi.
And as Karl Marx said, capitalism will collapse in the same way it was born: dripping blood and mud from every pore. And those of us who did not have the capacity to come together and create new, collective forms of organisation, precisely in the face of reality and what is to come, will fall into this collapse. But it is one thing for capitalism to collapse; it is another for the world to collapse, and that includes the almost octogenarian Biden.
Three decades ago, Cuban President Fidel Castro gave his long-awaited speech in Rio at the first Earth Summit. If humanity is to be saved from self-destruction, the wealth and technology available on the planet must be better distributed. Less luxury and less waste in a few countries so that there is less poverty and less hunger in much of the Earth, he said.
No more transfers to the Third World of lifestyles and consumption habits that ruin the environment. Make human life more rational. Implement a just international economic order. Use all the science necessary for sustained development without pollution. Pay off ecological debt, not foreign debt. Let hunger disappear, not man, said Fidel in June 1992, 30 years ago.
Now, they are constantly instilling fear in us, selling us terror, in order to paralyse us. If there is no tomorrow, there would be no need to change the now, let alone fight for a different future. They promise us paradise if we behave well (with power) or hell if we rebel.
Albert Einstein once said that insanity consisted in repeating the same thing over and over again in the belief that we could achieve different results. Today, repeating the same formula could end in tragedy… and even destroy what we affectionately call Planet Earth.