Here are some of my current thoughts on our evolving situation with the pandemic.
I understand why conspiracy theories are gaining popularity, but I don’t agree with them. My view is that the pandemic is actually a disaster that has unfolded outside of any nefarious intention or agenda. I see no convincing evidence or argument that 5-G is connected to the virus, or that the virus was a manufactured bio-weapon. I could change my mind, of course, but would need believable evidence.
I tend to agree with Naomi Klein’s perspective: Catastrophes happen, but then, inevitably, the current Capitalist system makes use of them, pushing us further toward monopoly control by a few corporations and unfettered surveillance. The masses willingly accept further erosion of their civil rights as well as huge corporate bailouts when they are in panic mode.
The Right Wing will, of course, use the pandemic to increase corporate control and impose even more brutal wealth inequality, as our society becomes more overtly an oligarchy. I wish the tech billionaire class were fighting against this. Sadly they are still lost in Libertarian / Neoliberal delusions, plus Singularity fantasies.
This pandemic is a direct, perhaps inevitable result of the crude form of globalization we have embraced. It may bring an end to this current form of globalization. It may result in a large-scale shift in our societies. For instance, we may permanently see far less travel, less movement across borders, less tourism. However this would not necessarily be a bad thing. It could be very good for humanity. It depends on where society is heading as a whole.
The evolving situation may force people — including many among the financial and cultural elite — to commit to particular localities and communities. This could be very positive. I see the best outcome as a universal embrace of a humanitarian, ethical “de-growth” model as a future orientation. We reduce consumerism but increase opportunities for inner exploration via meditation, yoga, entheogens, ongoing education, etc. I still find Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man Under Socialism to be a wonderful blueprint (as I explored in my book How Soon Is Now).
Much of what is happening now was coming eventually, within 2 - 5 years, because of the ecological crisis. It is best that it is happening now. But we must open up the space for a collective discussion that humanity needs right now. A huge question mark hangs over our immediate future as we eliminate species and destroy the integrity of global ecosystems. I love Extinction Rebellion’s idea of a Global Citizen’s Assembly and would love to see a tech consortium provide the back end for this.
The pandemic has accomplished what climate activists could not: It has temporarily stopped the global economic and industrial system. This is a great thing. It is actually necessary for humanity’s survival because we are in a global ecological emergency that is far more dangerous than the pandemic but happening on a slower time-scale.
Big companies like Amazon will be even more successful as small businesses / retail stores go bankrupt in massive quantities.
I appreciate that this pandemic is uprooting Left/Right distinctions. Right Wing governments are being forced to employ socialist measures. Liberals are happy to see the military and national guard used domestically.
It is possible that governments will be forced to bring about a debt jubilee or interrupt rents for a long period. It may not be possible for the system to return to any semblance of normal. This is great - deeply needed.
In a few years, when our ecosystem starts to fail us and resources become scarce, I think companies like Amazon and Facebook could be nationalized. They could provide basic services: A communication infrastructure and delivery system for necessary goods. Otherwise, preferably, an alternative social network and distribution system must emerge.
This is a great opportunity for systemic change. Will we take it? I wrote a book outlining the system change that we need to prevent civilization from collapsing and humanity from going extinct over the next 20 years. Please read How Soon Is Now. Sting and Russell Brand wrote introductions. It is available as Kindle, hard copy, or audio book. The model I propose combines Buckminster Fuller’s Spaceship Earth with Rifkin’s Fourth Industrial Revolution, Eastern mysticism with indigenous design principles.
I am concerned that the result of this crisis will be far more monopoly control and uncoordinated / unproductive civil unrest - Right Wing vigilante groups in the US, etc. I could see the US breaking apart in the next decade or less. With the current ruling elite mindset, I could see the US losing its status in the world, collapsing, perhaps even invading Canada for natural resources as conditions get worse.
I suspect that food sovereignty and self-sufficiency will become a very big deal, very soon. People who don’t know what to do now might re-train themselves to do gardening, agriculture, move out into the country and start or join intentional communities. Climate change is going to massively impact agriculture tables. Also with the virus, there is a big threat right now to farming in the US and Europe as we are missing thousands of migrant workers. Citizens of the US and Western Europe do not want to do those jobs, which are outsourced to Mexicans, etc, here and Romanians, etc, in Europe.
I really wish people would use this incredible pause or time-out we have right now for building a new movement that is founded on ecological and humanitarian principles, based on the best ideas floating around now, including UBI, regenerative economy, renewable energy, and universal medical care. I think moving to a regenerative system would be the core proposition and rallying cry of this new movement. This will require a massive change in our financial paradigm - it will need a new way of measuring value and new mediums of value exchange .
Right now, something crucial is missing as an organizing principle. We need something, a movement, to bridge the progressive elite with the middle / working classes. This has been a problem for a long time now. The utter abdication of the Democratic Party in the US opens a space for this but something has to fill it. Biden is a sad joke of a candidate, both for his past record and his obvious extreme cognitive decline. The mainstream Democratic Party is destroying itself, basically, because it refuses to move Left due to its abject fealty to Wall Street and the military industrial complex.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) as a movement / hypersigil, is too negative to build this bridge. I like the idea of a movement focused on the meme of Regeneration. (I co-started The Evolver Network a decade ago with the idea of focusing on the positive vision of a transformed society rather than hammering the negative). The Regenerative movement needs definition, a program: A goal and intention that inspires and rallies people to a great idea and vision for the future.