Welcoming Societal Collapse

Chris Hedges, a columnist for the Truthdig web site, recently wrote the following regarding the dismissal of a lawsuit (Hedges v. Obama) that he had brought:

The U.S. Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear our case concerning Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which permits the military to seize U.S. citizens and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers without due process, means that this provision will continue to be law. It means the nation has entered a post-constitutional era. It means that extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil by our government is legal. It means that the courts, like the legislative and executive branches of government, exclusively serve corporate power—one of the core definitions of fascism. It means that the internal mechanisms of state are so corrupted and subservient to corporate power that there is no hope of reform or protection for citizens under our most basic constitutional rights. It means that the consent of the governed—a poll by OpenCongress.com showed that this provision had a 98 percent disapproval rating—is a cruel joke. And it means that if we do not rapidly build militant mass movements to overthrow corporate tyranny, including breaking the back of the two-party duopoly that is the mask of corporate power, we will lose our liberty.

Hedges is right to declare that the United States is becoming (what John Stanton has recently called) a “sinkhole”—although “cesspool” might be a more appropriate term! But is building “militant mass movements to overthrow corporate tyranny” the answer to this problem? Hedges’s suggestion raises at least three questions:

1. Will such “movements” come into existence?

2. If they do, will they be successful in “turning things around”?

3. Even if they are successful, will this occur before our society collapses—either for purely economic reasons, or because global warming is the direct culprit, with our burning of fossil fuels and deforestation activities being the ultimate reason?

I have no doubt that the answer to the first question is that some mass movements will emerge. But if, in coming into existence, their focus is solely on “regaining our liberty,” they are doomed to fail—because global warming will “catch up” to them. That is, the societal changes that global warming will be precipitating will, at some point, extinguish such movements—by culling the members of those movements along with many others.

One of the few scientists to recognize the severity of the threat posed by global warming is Guy McPherson, who concluded (see, e.g., his Going Dark, 2013), as the new millennium was dawning, that our species is destined for extinction. This was not a “wild guess” on his part, but a prediction based on evidence difficult to refute.

Given my motto, “As long as I breathe, I have hope,” I refuse to believe that our species is doomed—even though I’m convinced that British scientist Kevin Anderson is right in declaring that global warming is likely to wipe out 90% of the human population if the global mean temperature reaches 4° C (which is likely).

Based on that belief, rather than try to “fix” the Existing Order, what one should do is (a) recognize the insanity of such efforts (given their likely utter futility), (b) recognize the inevitability of societal system collapse here and elsewhere (with a consequent horrendous loss of life), and (c) embrace that very real possibility.

Such a suggestion might very well strike one as extraordinarily evil, but given the virtual inevitability of societal system collapse, on a worldwide scale, and one’s recognition of this possibility, one is faced with but two choices:

1. Resign oneself to it, and either try to enjoy oneself while one is still alive, or decide to simply “end it all” by suiciding.

2. Embrace the high probability of societal collapse (with consequent severe culling) occurring, and begin focusing on what one should be doing to enhance the chances that one will not be among those culled.

Making the second choice makes much more sense to me than making the first one; in fact, how can one claim to be a human being and opt for the first choice?!

As to what one should do, that is something that each one making the second choice will need to decide for himself or herself, and some form of “environmental adoption” (a term introduced by Armen A. Alchian) will ensure (one hopes!) that at least some of those decisions turn out to have “survival value.”

Al Thompson retired over seven years ago from an engineering (avionics) firm in Milwaukee. His e-mail address is: sven3475@gmail.com. Read other articles by Alton.