an unveiling, a revealing
April 21, 2020 8:59 AM   Subscribe

It has become of late en vogue to talk of how the COVID-19 pandemic is "exposing" [more] or "revealing" the already existing "fault lines" and "underlying conditions" in the United States, the United Kingdom, and more, around the world. But what if The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun?

@GreatDismal [author WIlliam Gibson]
The thing people are missing about the jackpot is that’s it’s easily 300 years long, started at least 100 years ago, and we’re just reaching the point where we notice that.
posted by the man of twists and turns (58 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
From Packer:

Whatever their differences on issues like trade and immigration, they shared a basic goal: to strip-mine public assets for the benefit of private interests.

That is the shining light of conservatism, to take our contributed tax dollars and dole them out to their benefactors.

Also, at some point, we have to excise the digital accumulation of "capital" from the actual results labor produces.

I have no ideas, just been bugging me.
posted by Max Power at 9:26 AM on April 21 [12 favorites]


The author of the Vice article, Nafeez Ahmed, seems to have written some interesting things that I will check out.

I'm also interested in my own immediately hostile reaction to this kind of "collapse of civilization" discourse.

I think about Rebecca Solnit's A Paradise Built in Hell when I read about the collapse of civilization. (I also noticed that Ahmed seems to have cited/consulted 90% men for the article, a citational politics to which I have begun to pay attention to as to how broadly the author reads).

I also think about eco-fascism's usage of "collapse of civilization" discourse and the specter of brown refugees to justify militarized borders.

Obviously I want societies and governments to take this shit seriously, but I super hate the ways "limits to growth" and other such frames are either coopted for anti-poor and xenophobia policies, or how militarized the arguments become.
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:30 AM on April 21 [36 favorites]


I think as well there's a danger in forming the expectation that the consequences of the current arrangement of things falling apart will look exciting and dramatic - because it mostly won't. It'll mostly be slow degradation of material quality of life and stability, utilities breaking down, roads getting worse, brownouts and blackouts becoming more frequent, basic medical care becoming more and more patchy, diseases like malaria returning to areas they've been eliminated from. If people are warned of a cliff edge and encounter a ragged slope downward instead, they tend to treat it as proof that everything is fine.
posted by PMdixon at 9:42 AM on April 21 [89 favorites]


It'll mostly be slow degradation of material quality of life and stability

cf Rome Didn't Fall In A Day
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:45 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


~...they shared a basic goal: to strip-mine public assets for the benefit of private interests.

~That is the shining light of conservatism, to take our contributed tax dollars and dole them out to their benefactors.


And this is what will make rebuilding the government post-Trump so difficult, if not impossible. In order to line his and his cronies' pockets, he's so thoroughly gutted so many departments that fixing the damage will most likely entail significant increases in spending, not to mention an uptick in taxation of some sort. Which will, of course, act as fodder for another wave of reactionary conservatives to sweep in on promises of stopping uncontrolled librul spending.

I have no hope for any immediate future. And very little hope for anything long-term.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:04 AM on April 21 [14 favorites]


I'm also interested in my own immediately hostile reaction to this kind of "collapse of civilization" discourse.

Personally, I find the fatalism of the “collapse of civilization has already begun” narrative deeply dangerous. “Civilization” isn’t a mass hurtling through space whose trajectory we can predict perfectly with Newtonian physics. Humans built civilization, and humans can change its course. While adaptation may be the only strategy left for the scientific inevitability of climate change, revolution is still viable for civilization, and I don’t think revolution should be mistaken for collapse.

That said, the collapse of America is pretty clearly in full swing, most recently evidenced by the every-state-for-itself chaos resulting from a terminally weakened federal government.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:05 AM on April 21 [30 favorites]


Where are we going and why are we in this hand basket??
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 10:17 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Adjacent (?) information: Why Oil Prices Fell Below Zero (Slate, April 20, 2020)
In the latest sign that the world economy is collapsing into a black hole, the price of oil dropped below zero for the first time ever Monday, with futures for U.S. crude delivered in May wrapping up at negative $37.63 per barrel. In practical terms, this means that anybody who is supposed to receive a shipment of American crude but doesn’t want it will have to pay somebody else to take it.

How come? Because we are literally running out of places to put all of the extra oil we’re not using, because people have stopped driving, flying, or living any semblance of normal life while the country world at large descends into a state of coronavirus-induced catatonia.
(Edits mine)

And this is impacting oil-dependent economies heavily. Startlingly clear skies (Washington Post, April 10, 2020) are a positive sign of this impact, but it's likely that impacted governments and companies will be making some significant cut-backs, if they haven't already.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:29 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


More and more it seems like a key difference between Left and Right is simply this: during setbacks and disasters the Right sees an opportunity to be seized and leveraged to achieve their goals, while the Left throws up its hands and weeps about what’s been lost (c.f. “failed state”).
posted by aramaic at 10:47 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


key difference between Left and Right is simply this: during setbacks and disasters the Right sees an opportunity to be seized and leveraged to achieve their goals, while the Left throws up its hands


Ahhh, so we all just need to see the 'opportunity' in our corporate oligarchs setting our polity on fire, got it.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 11:09 AM on April 21 [12 favorites]


More and more it seems like a key difference between Left and Right is simply this: during setbacks and disasters the Right sees an opportunity to be seized and leveraged to achieve their goals, while the Left throws up its hands and weeps about what’s been lost (c.f. “failed state”).

It might help if the Center stopped insisting that the Left's goals can and will never happen (and if they stopped spending every dime of political capital they have to prove themselves right) whilst "regretfully" capitulating to every whim of the Right.
posted by Reyturner at 11:09 AM on April 21 [50 favorites]


The thing people are missing about the jackpot is that’s it’s easily 300 years long, started at least 100 years ago, and we’re just reaching the point where we notice that.

Gibson's Twitter feed is a tragic case of somebody who sees what's coming but refuses to try to take a detour to go around the problem. He's deeply, deeply committed to the political systems and actors that got us into this mess in a way that is nonsensical to me.
posted by turntraitor at 11:31 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


May be, but thanks for the links, twisty-turny man.
posted by Rash at 11:37 AM on April 21


Ahhh, so we all just need to see the 'opportunity' in our corporate oligarchs setting our polity on fire, got it.

Yes! One of the problems with a segment of the left is it's refusal to play the game as it is, because it's unseemly, it involves money, capital(ism), etc. Instead, it's too willing to take a "high road" and be be unsullied with such practicalities, and impotently complain about how the system is being stacked against us all. There have been recent threads where people declare how this is an opportunity to recreate things, rebuild, but in terms as if it's all going to magically fall into place when the people realize how much better it will be. That doesn't happen. You have to have, at the very least, a concerted effort of people with power to make it happen.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:37 AM on April 21 [13 favorites]


Sometimes I wonder if the real thing that dooms us won't be either one approach or the other, but by the rapidity with which humankind tends to fall into "your way out isn't viable and therefore is poopy" squabbling.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:41 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Yes! One of the problems with a segment of the left is it's refusal to play the game as it is, because it's unseemly, it involves money, capital(ism), etc. Instead, it's too willing to take a "high road" and be be unsullied with such practicalities, and impotently complain about how the system is being stacked against us all. There have been recent threads where people declare how this is an opportunity to recreate things, rebuild, but in terms as if it's all going to magically fall into place when the people realize how much better it will be. That doesn't happen. You have to have, at the very least, a concerted effort of people with power to make it happen.

Which segment of the left is this specifically?

I believe the left should ruthlessly build power at all levels in order to wrest control from both liberal incrementalists and centrists collaborating with fascists. Solidarity is the only hope we have to avoid the jackpot.
posted by Ouverture at 11:51 AM on April 21 [13 favorites]


One of the problems with a segment of the left is it's refusal to play the game as it is, because it's unseemly
Not unseemly, pointless.
We've been trying third ways since the 90s. Where's that parade of fucking sensible got us exactly?

The problem with centrists is fundamentally they're selfish motherfuckers.
It just so happens that the way in which power and wealth is adjusted just enough so they still have it is the one sensible option. quelle surprise
posted by fullerine at 11:54 AM on April 21 [19 favorites]


...while the Left throws up its hands and weeps about what’s been lost (c.f. “failed state”).

Um, I think this is a failure of imagination as well as a false bias. I know of no one on the "left" who is weeping about anything. Most of them are working to build things (institutions, social structures, actual physical things) in a way that does not depend on the old methods of Capital accumulation and destruction by externalities.

The only people I see weeping are either centrist or deluded followers of right-wing propaganda (see the "re-open protests").

I guess we just aren't tooting our own horns while we build things. You know, because we're kinda busy at the moment.
posted by daq at 11:54 AM on April 21 [14 favorites]


One of the problems with a segment of the left is it's refusal to play the game as it is, because it's unseemly, it involves money, capital(ism), etc.
2N2222

This brings to mind the famous "wave speech" from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.…

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.…
posted by star gentle uterus at 11:58 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]


God, this myopic insistence on analyzing everything in terms of "the left," "the right," and "the center" is tedious. This is a bad way of looking at cultural and political differences and I wish we could stop.
posted by biogeo at 12:11 PM on April 21 [29 favorites]


From Packer: "Whatever their differences on issues like trade and immigration, they shared a basic goal: to strip-mine public assets for the benefit of private interests."

@JWMason1: "It seems like one of the deepest lessons of the crisis is that a system organized around the threat of withholding people's subsistence will deeply resist measures to guarantee it, even when particular circumstances make that necessary for the survival of the system itself."

Andrew Yang:[1,2,3] "Our biggest problems generally don't have market-based solutions and the true solutions often aren't aligned with profit maximizing activities the way they are currently defined." (Stacey Abrams and Andrew Yang announce push to provide direct cash payments to families on food stamps)

Arundhati Roy: "I think what has happened is COVID-19 has exposed things about India that all of us knew. We are suffering, not just from COVID, but from a crisis of hatred, from a crisis of hunger. This crisis of hatred against Muslims comes on the back of a massacre in Delhi, which was the result of people protesting against the anti-Muslim citizenship law. Under the cover of COVID-19 the government is moving to arrest young students, to fight cases against lawyers, against senior editors, against activists and intellectuals. Some of them have recently been put in jail. The whole of the organization, the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist group] to which Modi belongs, which is the mother ship of the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party], has long said that India should be a Hindu nation. Its ideologues have likened the Muslims of India to the Jews of Germany. And if you look at the way in which they are using COVID, it was very much like typhus was used against the Jews to ghettoize them, to stigmatize them. So there's nothing I can say to the government. The only people I can speak to are people in India and the world outside not to take this lightly because honestly the situation is approaching genocidal." (DW, FT)
posted by kliuless at 12:12 PM on April 21 [17 favorites]


It is striking to see all this prose describing imperialist states as failed or failing states.

After all, the devastation America faces as a result of COVID-19 is just a basis point of what it militarily wrought in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. It is also a blip compared to what America economically wrought across the world with the 2007 commodity futures crisis and the 2008 financial crisis. And these disasters are from just the past two decades; if I didn't limit the timeframe, this post would be much, much longer.

It is all the more striking, given the underlying conditions that weakened America existed long before Trump. These conditions are not bugs, but instead intended features of a crumbling and hollowed out imperialist and kleptocratic hegemony. They represent the most significant legacies of bipartisan collaboration in American politics.

America has been on the precipice for a long time; Trump just happened to be the incompetent, cruel fascist to dropkick the whole thing off the precipice.

And it is all the more tragic because once again, the people who face the worst impacts of these decisions made by the extremely powerful will be those already marginalized by age, race, immigration status, nationality, and class.
posted by Ouverture at 12:21 PM on April 21 [19 favorites]


I confess I skimmed. But I definitely believe the evidence that we are already mid-collapse: we being the project of the United States, we being certain ideas about large scale capitalism and US style democracy. We being all of us willing and unwilling participants in expansion-based, oil-dependent, consumption-dependent, extraction-based social/political/economic systems. Parts of this already-happening death are necessary: an economy based on oil extraction is literally killing us and must end. Parts of this decline are frightening: with all it's flaws, US democracy has some real strengths and I fear the many worse systems that could replace it/are replacing it.

But existence is not a binary. All complex systems, from each of us as beings to whole social structures, are in a constant state of growth and decay, and we are still actors with agency even as we are part of a massive shift toward extinction and decline. We can build new systems, new methods, new rules. We can, we must, we will.
posted by latkes at 12:36 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]




It might help if the Center stopped insisting that the Left's goals can and will never happen (and if they stopped spending every dime of political capital they have to prove themselves right) whilst "regretfully" capitulating to every whim of the Right.

yes, exactly this. this so much.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:49 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


One of the problems with a segment of the left is it's refusal to play the game as it is,

REPEAT AFTER ME: IT'S NOT A GAME, IT'S PEOPLE'S LIVES.

my kingdom for the blink tag
posted by entropicamericana at 12:51 PM on April 21 [13 favorites]


I am not going to agree with the current "collapse of civilization" message nor with "America was already this bad", because with both messages it's too easy to sink into thinking that the US deserved this or that this was inevitable.

There are a handful of countries that are handling this crisis better too (like Germany, Korea, or Taiwan) and all those are democratic countries that started with the same set of information as everyone else that was not China.
posted by FJT at 12:55 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Yes Mrs Potatoe we're hearing about them, have been hearing rumours for years, there have been some very odd planning applications in recent years - like a drone company Skybase who wanted to establish a no-fly zone about 200km north of where I live.

These groups need outing and ousting as they will become a burden; the only reason they seek refuge far from home is due to their avoiding tax at home - and supporting far right pollies - we've got some of those already thanks and we'd like to send them far away (I don't even want to name them as it fuels their fire - but the whole of the ACT party would fit in well with Trumpdom).

No, any change we make has to wrested from them, the problem (as I see it) is the rightists see things only in terms of money (and a corrupted monotheism), while everyone else is more nuanced - we enjoy art, culture, nature, civilisation, an atmosphere, many beliefs; the fact we cannot package up a nice simple narrative is a difficult bridge to cross.
posted by unearthed at 1:36 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


There are a handful of countries that are handling this crisis better too (like Germany, Korea, or Taiwan) and all those are democratic countries that started with the same set of information as everyone else that was not China.

These countries also have, among other things, far more robust healthcare systems and institutions compared to America.

And yet, there is no amount of democracy sufficient to save an individual country from climate change.
posted by Ouverture at 1:46 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


my kingdom for the blink tag

Speaking of the end of civilization...
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:17 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


The leftist government in my country is taking the opportunity to suggest that all of EU rebuild after the corona virus as a carbon neutral region. I can't find an English language link yet, but will put it up when it arrives. A majority of EU countries are behind it.
Change is possible.
posted by mumimor at 3:53 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


"REPEAT AFTER ME: IT'S NOT A GAME, IT'S PEOPLE'S LIVES."

All kinds of people, from academics to corner drug dealers, use the "game" metaphor for societal systems. A set of collated rules that determine how your actions are rewarded or punished is often called a game (or, sometimes, literally "the game").

If you are hearing this as "it's just a spectacle, like sports or awards shows, it's not really important" you are interpreting the intent incorrectly, basically backwards.

Why do you use game metaphors when things are important? Because you are trying to stress these aspects of the situation:
- there is a way to win and a way to lose, there are people opposed to us
- our opponents are trying to win and nothing else, if they see a "move" that helps them more than hurts them they will take it, they have a plan
- you need to think about this fight in a clear eyed way, it is a fight, there is no "fair" in this context, you cannot expect that ever
- if you play by any rules that your opponent is not following ... then those aren't actually rules, and you are going to lose

For most people their lives are not like this most of the time, the only experience they have with unrestrained, unsportsmanlike competition is the bit of fun of doing it in a controlled safe way with friends in the kind of game you are thinking of. It's often the only time they start thinking about how maybe the person competing with them is lying to them in a complicated way to fool them, and probably the only time they make these kinds of plans themselves.

So yes, it's about people's lives. So throw away all the bullshit, decide what winning is, then get that done. Period. Treat this like unrestrained competition within the known bounds of what is possible. When you decide to do this, and you are a fictional character, now is the moment you say out loud: "this is war". If you aren't used to acting like that: good for you, sounds like you are not a psychopath, but you are certainly used to getting in that mindset when you play a game.

Also, I have to be honest. I have serious doubts that anyone doesn't know what this language means, but whatever, I'll keep to a good faith reading.
posted by Infracanophile at 4:20 PM on April 21 [27 favorites]


And yet, there is no amount of democracy sufficient to save an individual country from climate change.

the future isn't written. This is positioning something as an inevitable fact that is, more accurately, an informed projection.
posted by philip-random at 4:39 PM on April 21


(or, sometimes, literally "the game")
Dammit I just lost.
posted by Daily Alice at 6:04 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]




There are a handful of countries that are handling this crisis better too (like Germany, Korea, or Taiwan) and all those are democratic countries that started with the same set of information as everyone else that was not China.

There's just as strong a strain of exceptionalism in apocalyptic hysteria and paranoia as there is in manifest destiny and the city on the hill. It takes the course of history out of human hands and makes us spectators. The fault lines being revealed here and around the world are an opportunity to reorder things and build a world based on solidarity, but only if people pay attention to what works and stop thinking we're each individually or collectively so damn special.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:23 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


It's clear that the US is in a massive free fall right now, but the cult of the collapse is selfish, self-indulgent, self-destructive, classist horseshit.

The author of the piece in the original link, like myself, is Bangladeshi and I guarantee you the collapse is real and happening right now (Metafilter even discussed it! 4 years ago!). Bangladesh is an incredibly poor country that has contributed literally nothing to climate change, but our people have already suffered greatly as a result of it and will only suffer so much worse in the coming decades.

Sure, the collapse has not yet come for wealthy Brooklynites who, like Westerners in general (and Americans in particular), only accelerate the timeline and savagery of climate change's impacts every day. But if we're talking about New York and American lives, storms with the intensity of Hurricane Sandy will occur seventeen times more often by the end of the century. Katrina? Twice as often.

I strongly believe in deep adaptation combined with a global green new deal that rapidly decarbonizes the global economy and shifts to the mass research and production of negative emissions technology. These things require mass action and solidarity and I absolutely loathe the idea of people, especially Westerners, doing nothing in the face of this cataclysm while their entire lives have fueled the worst of it.

I apologize if I'm misreading your comment, but this isn't some sort of cult. The collapse is real and killing lots of people right now and displacing countless more. They just happen to be poor, brown, and not "blue check, arts and media left twitter" users.
posted by Ouverture at 9:58 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


The collapse is real and killing lots of people right now and displacing countless more. They just happen to be poor, brown, and not "blue check, arts and media left twitter" users.

Nah, let's make this clear. The people who are doing the most whining about the inevitability of collapse are by and large white middle and upper class men. And it's been a tradition that's been going on since the Victorian age. Hell, it's one of the roots of the genre Gibson wrote in.

As was asked before: where are the women in these cited articles? How many women are in THIS debate? Why is it always the same people here moaning and tearing their hair?
posted by happyroach at 11:51 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


[One comment deleted by poster's request (3rd party privacy concerns)]
posted by taz (staff) at 12:19 AM on April 22


Just a Data point: Bangladesh, while very poor and having a carbon footprint not even 1/16 that of the US, is still a nation of a 160 million people and 97% of its energy is derived by fossil fuels (over 56% of its electricity is generated by natural gas) and like almost every quickly developing nation is following the identical carbon emission curve as developed nations did 100 years before it. So that’s not “nothing.”

We only know one way to market based prosperity: growth and pumping cheap polluting energy out of the ground.

As suicidally flawed as that may be that’s the model almost every nation on earth is following. Asking poor countries to bank on slower growth, like a massive new and expensive drive to green technologies that will take decades, is also asking them to stay poorer longer. So the policy makers in those nations don’t really want to that very much, either.

And asking rich countries to finance that change for everyone is... well... as you can see it’s not going to happen any time soon. Not without force. Force poor nations do not have.

Nothing about these problems is as simple as “if only the west would just change everything it’s ever done right now.”
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 12:27 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


Ouverture, I asked for my comment to be deleted because of privacy concerns, but I do want to address what you're bringing up. I know the wide-ranging catastrophes brought about by climate change are very real. I am deeply frustrated with a phenomenon I've seen in self-described, largely white leftist media spaces, where the people who are talking the most about climate change in the apocalyptic, passive terms of "The Collapse" are UMC white men who seem to be obsessed with climate chaos as an aesthetic experience, not something to take concrete action against, not something real that affects real people, who are using the current global south casualties as a way to entertain eco-fascist, genocidal "we have to accept that a lot of people will die" discussions under the guise of ecological concerns, and/or engage in fear-mongering about the "poor, brown" people you're talking about becoming violent. The VICE roundup is an exception to this; I was mostly reacting to the Gibson article.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 12:31 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


I highly commend this as a companion piece:
How Do You Know If You’re Living Through the Death of an Empire?
Let’s say you were a woman born in a thriving market town in Roman Britain in the year 360. If you survived to age 60, that market town would no longer exist, along with every other urban settlement of any significant size. You lived in a small village instead of a genuine town. You had grown up using money, but now you bartered—grain for metalwork, beer for pottery, hides for fodder. You no longer saw the once-ubiquitous Roman army or the battalions of officials who administered the Roman state. Increasing numbers of migrants from the North Sea coast of continental Europe—pagans who didn’t speak a word of Latin or the local British language, certainly not wage-earning servants of the Roman state—were already in the process of transforming lowland Britain into England. That 60-year-old woman had been born into a place as fundamentally Roman as anywhere in the Empire. She died in a place that was barely recognizable.
Just brilliant.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:13 AM on April 22 [14 favorites]


The Next Plague is Hunger.
The COVID-19 pandemic will see more than a quarter of a billion people suffering acute hunger by the end of the year, according to new figures from the World Food Programme (WFP).
posted by adamvasco at 6:23 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Where are the women?

who believe that the current model of civilization -- uber-capitalist rule by the rich while destroying the poor and the environment -- is going to lead down a slow path to misery and collapse?

I (we) are here! We (and other oppressed classes) just don't necessarily have the time and spoons to write a treatise on the matter.
posted by mkuhnell at 8:29 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


And thanks for the Mother Jones article. That expresses my thoughts so well. A slow decline of life as we know it, hitting the marginalized first.
posted by mkuhnell at 8:40 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Also, I have to be honest. I have serious doubts that anyone doesn't know what this language means, but whatever, I'll keep to a good faith reading.

My point is, of course, that too many people (especially Extremely Online lanyard types) are too wrapped up the game of politics for politics' sake and ultimately lose sight of the fact that they are supposed to be making people's lives better, not owning those silly idealistic leftists who like to point out that most people's lives have been generally getting worse since 1980 or so.

When you lose sight of such things, you think nothing of showing off your two $30,000 freezers (one dedicated to ice cream) on late night tv while dressed like a villain from a 1980s college movie and think tearing up a transcript is an act of meaningful resistance.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:01 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


And when you lose sight of the fact that coalition-building is only optional if your people-powered revolution can topple the existing power structure without help from the inside, you end up with a bunch of lofty ideals and no vehicle through which to implement them, further entrenching the establishment and its values.

Bonus points for the unintentional irony of citing Nancy Pelosi's ice cream fridge while decrying the influence of the Extremely Online, though. I didn't even know this was a thing until I googled it.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:10 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


most people's lives have been generally getting worse since 1980 or so

That's just not true. America is not the only place on earth.

Extreme poverty across the world has been steadily decreasing since about 1980 or so. In 1981, 1.9 billion people existed on less than $1.90 per day; in 2018, the number was around 660 million. MOST peoples lives have been inching towards getting better. This is simply an objective fact.

One of the prices Americans pays or wanting a better more equal world (under the capitalism that the developing world has embraced at least) is their own standard of living is going to fall and adjust to a new normal.

That's going to happen to one degree or another any way you slice it. With or with out corporatist oligarchs parasitically siphoning off the wealth of average Americans.

Which is WHY having socialized healthcare to ease the blow would be nice.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 1:34 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


Bangladesh['s carbon footprint is] not “nothing.”

This comment is basically the nation-level version of a rich person leaning out of his private jet to tell a poor person not to drive a shitty gas-powered car to work because it's bad for the planet.
posted by splitpeasoup at 1:46 PM on April 22 [9 favorites]


Just a Data point: Bangladesh, while very poor and having a carbon footprint not even 1/16 that of the US, is still a nation of a 160 million people and 97% of its energy is derived by fossil fuels (over 56% of its electricity is generated by natural gas) and like almost every quickly developing nation is following the identical carbon emission curve as developed nations did 100 years before it. So that’s not “nothing.”

The subsistence fishermen and farmers who live by the Bay of Bengal will face the worst impacts of climate change soonest and they literally contribute nothing in terms of carbon emissions.

As for the rest of your comment about Bangladesh, splitpeasoup's comment covers my most immediate reaction.

Still, I think it is important to quantify what we are talking about here. The relatively tiny amount of emissions that do come from Bangladesh (0.08 Gt in 2017) occurs because it is an extremely poor country with no other choices.

What about America, with 63 times the emissions?

Additionally, where the West, namely America, goes has a huge impact on where China, India, and everyone else goes and can even go.

Ouverture, I asked for my comment to be deleted because of privacy concerns, but I do want to address what you're bringing up. I know the wide-ranging catastrophes brought about by climate change are very real. I am deeply frustrated with a phenomenon I've seen in self-described, largely white leftist media spaces, where the people who are talking the most about climate change in the apocalyptic, passive terms of "The Collapse" are UMC white men who seem to be obsessed with climate chaos as an aesthetic experience, not something to take concrete action against, not something real that affects real people, who are using the current global south casualties as a way to entertain eco-fascist, genocidal "we have to accept that a lot of people will die" discussions under the guise of ecological concerns, and/or engage in fear-mongering about the "poor, brown" people you're talking about becoming violent. The VICE roundup is an exception to this; I was mostly reacting to the Gibson article.

Thanks, I appreciate the explanation. I apologize for the misreading.
posted by Ouverture at 1:55 PM on April 22 [5 favorites]




The leftist government in my country is taking the opportunity to suggest that all of EU rebuild after the corona virus as a carbon neutral region. I can't find an English language link yet, but will put it up when it arrives. A majority of EU countries are behind it.
Change is possible.


Hawaii says it has a ‘feminist economic recovery plan.’ Here’s what that looks like. -- The state wants ‘to build a system that is capable of delivering gender equality’ (The Lily, April 22, 2020)
A universal basic income. Special emergency funds for marginalized groups, including undocumented immigrant women, domestic workers, women with disabilities and sex-trafficking survivors. Waived co-payments for covid-19 tests and treatment, including for incarcerated women. A 20 percent pro rata share of the covid-19 response funds the express recovery needs of the indigenous population. A $24.80/hour minimum wage for single mothers. Free, publicly-funded child care for all essential workers.

None of these proposals have come from the federal government. These proposals instead come out of Hawaii, the first state to propose a what it’s calling a “feminist economic recovery plan.” (PDF) Rather than restoring the economy to the old normal, the state is looking to seize the opportunity “to build a system that is capable of delivering gender equality.”

The plan, produced by the state’s Commission on the Status of Women, is designed for “deep cultural change” by explicitly incorporating the unique needs of indigenous and immigrant women, caregivers, elderly women, femme-identifying and non-binary people, incarcerated women, unsheltered women, domestic abuse and sex trafficking survivors, and women with disabilities.
Change IS possible, and the US isn't a monolith.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:26 PM on April 23 [12 favorites]


Some pandemic de profundis in this Macron interview.
posted by progosk at 5:33 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


I guess you missed it. Bangladesh currently exports hundreds of millions of dollars of natural gas to South Asia. It is 32nd in the world in consumption and production. Though it will like run out in a couple decades at this rate, it demonstrates that Bangladeshi policy makers are not all that much more interested in a Green New Deal policy as the US policy makers are.

So why do you think the US is just going to change everything it does? Our economic motives are no different than anywhere else that is a capitalist nation.

The irony is, though I can’t prove it, fewer people in developing nations like Bangladesh are as enthusiastic about a GND as there are in the US.

Last I read 63% of US adults polled feel that rolling out something approximating the GND is a pretty good idea. And yet clearly that’s not enough to change policy drastically enough.

It doesn’t erase 100 years of carbon spewed into the atmosphere. We already did that. So moving forward what do we do? A GND is great idea. But don’t see the US adopting a multi trillion dollar proposal like it within a decade. I hope I’m wrong. But past history, etc.

So. Again. Yes. The US is the second largest contributor to carbon emissions. Everyone else is catching up fast and will soon surpass us.

You can be angry at Americans all you want about that. But it won’t change a thing. It’s going to take a great deal more than scorn to get policy makers all over the world to change.

Particularly NOW when the world economy is teetering on the brink of total collapse. We’re going to double down on those cheap polluting energy options for some time. That much I guarantee. I hate to say it. But that’s what is going to happen. Nobody is going have trillions to spend on an entirely new energy template for a few years at least.

So if developing nations really want a GND - and you have To demonstrate they do because MOST of the momentum is in Western Europe - they are just going to have to start with out the US.

That’s just the reality of it. I understand being mad about it. But there it is. Grey Poupon analogies or not. It’s where we are.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 1:06 AM on April 26


While recent human history certainly favours your pessimism, to keep balking at the supposed greater costs of a transition is choosing to continue to ignore the exponentially greater cost (in trillions, in lives) of inaction, which is no longer an unknown, and is staring us all down, brought into unprecedented focus by the systemic fragility we’ve witnessed in this pandemic. To rise to the challenge now isn’t just idle hope and fervour. It is telling it like it is. This is the reality of it.
If, on the other hand, your us vs. them was just meant as a reminder that climate justice and the aspect of equity are key in any GND worth its name, then I’m all with you.
posted by progosk at 2:44 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


A fully functioning and revitalised Single Market

It is vital to restore and to further deepen the Single Market as a key component of our prosperity and resilience. Value and supply chains that have been disrupted must be re-established.The Green transition and the Digital transformation will play a central and priority role in relaunching and modernising our economy.

Investing in clean and digital technologies and capacities, together with a circular economy, will help create jobs and growth and allow Europe to make the most of the first-mover advantage in the global race to recovery. It will also help make us more resilient and less dependent by diversifying our key supply chains.

We must ensure the strategic autonomy of the EU through a dynamic industrial policy, support for SMEs and start-ups, and an effective screening of foreign direct investment. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the pressing need to produce critical goods in Europe, to invest in strategic value chains and to reduce over-dependency on third countries in these areas.

There is a need to build more resilient infrastructure to deal with unforeseen events, in particular in the health sector. Particular attention will have to be paid to the socio-economic sectors and ecosystems that have suffered most from the crisis and to strengthening future crisis management.

To this end a thorough analysis of the needs of the different ecosystems and most affected sectors would allow for a targeted response. The financial sector will play an important role in ensuring access to finance.

Completing the Banking Union and the Capital Markets Union becomes all the more important. Innovative partnerships and ways of unlocking finance, including through digital platforms, should be encouraged. Europe can also support efforts to prevent insolvency of viable businesses across our Union.

posted by Mrs Potato at 11:21 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]




This Re-imagining the Future After the Corona Crisis open letter (with 5 tenets for a plan, going forward) is collecting signatures amongst academics and activists, including George Monbiot, Jason Hickel, Carola Rackete and many more.
posted by progosk at 3:00 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


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