Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Race riots, Prop 8 and economic gloom: civilization on the skids

Keegan is not in an effervescent, cheerful mood today, so gird your loins and fasten your seatbelt for a ride down Damnation Alley on the skateboard from hell ...

Eschatology. It's a cool word, isn't it? And we're hearing it a lot these days. It's also one of those words where the exact meaning dances around on the periphery of your brain, defying you to actually nail it down ... until you hit something like http://www.dictionary.com/ or maybe Wiki, and something along these lines pops up:

Es`cha*tol"o*gy\, n. [Gr. ? the furthest, last + -logy.] The doctrine of the last or final things, as death, judgment, and the events therewith connected.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

Even if you completely strip away the Biblical connotations, peel off ten onion-skin layers of theology, you're still going to wind up with the inescapable definition of "The study of The End of Something or Everything.

And that old R.E.M. song inescapably leaps to mind...
    Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign tower. Slash and burn,return, listen to yourself churn. Lock him in uniform and book burning,blood letting. Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate. Light a candle,light a motive. Step down, step down. Watch a heel crush, crush. Uh oh,this means no fear - cavalier. Renegade and steer clear! A tournament,a tournament, a tournament of lies. Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.

    It's the end of the world as we know it.
    It's the end of the world as we know it.
    It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Hollywood has been making megabucks out of this theme for -- how many years? Movies galore are predicated on the basic idea that civilization ... the world as we know it ... slides on into the sweet bye and bye, leaving heroes in small numbers to somehow survive and start again with the potential for a "new and better world," to quote Jules Verne, who wrote that line so bloody long ago, it's not funny. (It's from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Or, in fact, was the line written for the movie? If so, it still goes back 55 years ... to the Atomic Bomb era, and in gains a whole new resonance. Ouch).

I Am Legend, Reign of Fire, Planet of the Apes (whole movie series, TV series, new movies), Final Fantasy II, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Mad Max/The Road Warrior, Soylent Green, The Omega Man, On The Beach, Escape From New York (and LA), The Terminator (and offspring), Survival Run, Fire in the Sky, Waterworld ... and Doctor Who has flattened the planet Earth so many times lately, you've just lost track (mind you, Captain Jack was great in the Dalek ones...)

Captain Nemo had the right idea ... which would have been echoed by Ted Bullpit, no doubt: "Somebody should blow governments up." But --

Hey guys, it's SCIENCE FICTION!! We don't really want to go ahead and do it ... or see the whole place slide feet-first into any reality we actually have to live in.

And yet right now we're watching weird, weird thing happening, and we're going about our business as if it's just same old, same old.

Climate change. Pollution. Economic collapse. Maniacs in charge of the most powerful government, with their finger on the big red button labelled 'Nuke Launcher.' Christian Fundamentalism gone bonkers. Right wing racists wanting to kill the only guy with any different answers to an impossible problem. Did I mention economic collapse?

It won't be the end of the world. (Unless the aforementioned Fundamentalists decide to usher in Judgment Day; and according to their own icons and spokespersons, they're longing for Armageddon, so they can be raptured ... while the rest of us get snuffed.) But it could easily be the end of things as we've known them since the end of World War Two.

Huge changes are coming in ... old markets vanish, new markets flourish; countries that were once rich are now broke; the climate goes boom!! and some of us are living in the desert while others are skating to work...

Did you ever notice what's painted down the side of the truck in the above pic from Mad Max 2? (You knew it in the US as The Road Warrior, but to us, it was always Mad Max 2.) It says, "The vermin have inherited the earth."

Now, way back when it was on the big screens ... is it really 27 years ago when this movie came out?! Good gods, where does time go? ... everyone believed that the cockroaches which would inherit the planet after the Big Crunch would be the rough, tough, nasty, horrible, cruel, mean, rotten bast-fellows at the bottom of the social ladder, who were "mobile enough to scavenge, ruthless enough to pillage."

Uh-uh. Wrong. The fact is, the cockroaches inherited the Earth while we weren't looking; and they're so powerful, they're untouchable; and they live in the stratosphere of human society. Druglords. Warlords. Senators. Congressmen. State Gubnors. Churchmen of every religion, Christian, Muslim and whatever else you care to mention. And of course, the captains of industry.

The eschatologists are, right now, studying at firsthand the breakdown of the societal model we've known since 1945 ... but apparently it's happening faster than we'd imagined. So much is happening, so fast: Prop 8 will show where the hearts and minds of the people really lie in regard to civil liberties. I've blogged about this before: http://mel-keegan.blogspot.com/2008/10/gay-marriage-rights-prop-8-opens-door.html ... there's a dim future lying behind the door marked "Prop 8," but this is still only one small facet of the big picture...

The loss of marriage rights for the GLBT community might easily open the gate on the loss of civil liberties for Americans of color, women, impoverished minority groups and Americans of other religions, but even so, these social tragedies will only affect some of the population of one country -- the US.

Meanwhile, economic collapse, spearheaded by the US, will affect billions of people, with at least some political pundits speculating on another war as a way to break out of the rut. Remember, it took World War Two to kickstart industry in the west, get the gears turning, after the Great Depression.

These are not happy thoughts, but with this morning's news featuring another market downslide, plus the ATF department revealing yobs and slobs planning to go on a killing spree with the death of Obama as its bottom line ...

...prompting this, from Black Star News:

    "McCain and Palin again proved that they were reckless and willing to appeal to, and even hope for, the basest and most hateful instincts. They were both quick to call and offer sympathy to the family of Ashley Todd, the crazed white woman who claimed that she had been attacked by a Black man who carved out the word “B” for Obama on her face, in Pittsburgh. Turns out that she had concocted the whole incident. McCain and Palin had been hoping that the incident would appeal to race sentiments that they would be able to convert into votes. What a sorry pair of losers.
    This nation would never fully recover from the mayhem and destruction that would erupt if Senator Obama were to be harmed. Even skinheads and others who wish the senator ill must have more sense.

And try this one for size: "A woman in Somalia has been stoned to death after an Islamic Sharia law court found her guilty of adultery. The woman was buried up to her neck and then pelted to death with stones in front of a large crowd in Kismayo." That story broke about the time I was starting to type this.

And how about this one: "Syria yesterday condemned the US for launching "criminal and terrorist aggression" on its soil while the Iraqi government defended action against foreign jihadis amid warnings it might complicate plans for a controversial security agreement..."

Want more? How about this, from the San Francisco Chronicle (the last place the country you'd except to read this): "Go ahead: It's a little crazy, but vote "yes" on Proposition 8. We are all feeling just a bit helpless in scary economic times. So, get a little thrill when you vote to deny some folks in our state their civil rights. It might even make you feel as though you've regained some control in your life."

And what's Australia doing? Our government is trying to censor / block / filter the Internet with more fervor than is invested in a smiliar project in Iran! Porn and terrorist subjects are a fine place to start (to protect our children...) but how easy would it be to extend the block list to include political subjects, and topics the government just doesn't want you to know about. What better way for the aforementioned cockroaches to keep the rest of us muzzled as the whole place melts down into chaos:

What burns your noodle is, these are all the stories of ONE MORNING. You'd be forgiven for being convinced the world as gone utterly, completely bonkers.

Of course, the solution to the whole situation is ... don't read the news.

Oh, boy,

I'll find something cheerful, righteous and uplifting tomorrow, I promise.

Ciao for now,

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