Apocalypse March 2022
Extinct / Extant
Sunrise is here. Ukraine stands. Pope Francis pleads with the international community to truly commit to ending this abhorrent war: Rivers of blood and tears are flowing. This is not just a military operation but a war which sows death, destruction and misery. Continuous Russian shelling of Ukrainian cities, deliberately shelling assembly points for civilians trying to exit. Rape and brutality used en masse as tools to manufacture terror, sow fear on such a scale it fractures even this united, defiant opposition, changing the minds of those who decided to stay and fight no matter what. That is the strategy; the war is against Ukrainian (self-)determination. The way Putin sees Ukraine is very different from the Ukraine that actually exists in real life. Russia aims to erase Ukraine, but there is still an attitude of Bring it on.
Kremlin anger after Biden calls Putin a war criminal. Zelenskyy awaits meaningful steps from NATO, EU, and G7, says summits will reveal who is a friend, who is a partner, and who betrayed us for money. Our partners are using Ukraine now as a shield. Just as we wouldn’t be having a full-blown diplomatic negotiation for anything but a ceasefire and withdrawal while Ukraine is still being actively invaded, so it’s the same thing with business. Right now you’re fuelling the invasion of Ukraine (1). As Garry Kasparov put it, if Putin is given free rein to obliterate Ukraine, what world are we fighting for? The sacred privilege of peacetime, taken increasingly for granted, as we forget that the sacred can, by definition, be desecrated.
At different points in time, and at different geographical points in this time, different views and systems. It was only after World War II that the total land area of the earth was finally completely divided into nations. Putin is setting a precedent for countries to return to the type of behaviour that sparked the two great wars, which were a free-for-all over territory. Arendt showed how a disregard for truth is the start of totalitarianism, for then differences can only be settled by force; it tries to show that only crude and cruel force matters. There is no universal absolute; our zeitgeistism, the sense that it was ever thus, feels absolute, but is unrepresentative, untrue. But a nation also is a community, and fascist pageantry and dogma cannot square with the ambiguity of being human, with the agency of people, not necessarily happy but averagely free, with the understanding that love is the supreme value.
Chances, but you’ve got to take them for them to count. Coronavirus restrictions ease across Europe despite surge in cases, not resembling rational decision making, not grounded in the scientific data. We need to work out how to demand more than what is politically possible right now, because no one ever changed the world by being normal. I listened to a thing about Stonehenge, about people, our ancestors, four millennia ago, many who didn’t even know why it was being built, but were being made to take part in this performative exercise, through generations, over centuries, passing through different territories, moving large stones. Engaging with the world. Not just the monument but the actual activity. There’s an analogy there about thinking up and building something not even imaginable before, until manifested, collectively, in the need to say, We are the guardians of ancestry. We are looking after the future.
Imagine, if it gets to this apocalypse point, that there are scores of scientists toiling till the bitter end to find, failing to find solutions. All their efforts. I guess we deserve this. We’re effectively on the line of as if we hadn’t done anything at all, in the grand scheme. If we don’t reduce energy consumption humanely, it will happen involuntarily. If we don’t create sustainable bio-cultural systems, they will evolve here sooner or later, with or without us, possibly with far fewer of us. The biosphere demands our love and reverence; all differences and nuances sit below this. If we can’t learn our planetary manners, we might not be here. Maybe that’s a form of justice (2).
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(1) Fiona Hill
(2) Bron R. Taylor