Nearly thirty years ago, in a thrilling act of indefensible hubris, a political philosopher wrote a book in which he argued that we’d reached humanity’s endpoint in terms of government. History was over; Western Civilization and liberal democracy had won, and that pretty much wrapped things up.
This was A Serious Book, by the way. It was not published by The Onion or Harvard Lampoon.
That endpoint is at last in sight, of course – the culmination of human history. Unfortunately, it’s not in the form of unsurpassable government structure and philosophy but plague and the destruction of the environment. Those who survive Covid-19, and whatever plagues follow, will either succumb to ethnic-religious-economic warfare or the inability of the planet to sustain large mammals like ourself.
We are in deep doo-doo, kids.
Therefore, the most absurd, arrogant, and asinine thing to hope for is a return to normalcy. Normal is dead and gone, bereft of life, joined the Choir Immortal – you know the sketch. It’s as dead as that parrot, and no way we can nail it to any perch and hope to fool ourselves.
For starters, women and people of color are not going to return to what was. Misogyny and racism (I wish there was a better word for “hatred and fear of other people based on their skin color and national origin” but we’re stuck with a word that has no meaning in science) have been the normal for far too long in the United States, and the time has come to actually take on the challenge of ending their institutionalized forms, if nothing else. Jail the rapists, dethrone the elite white males, and let every human have a real chance to flourish.
If we could learn empathy and compassion along the way, that would be good, too.
The pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, of course, not with this many stupid and selfish people, led by the President, refusing to do the simple things necessary to stop it. We are all complicit in the Politicization of Everything, so it’s no surprise that a death plague isn’t treated like a simple disease and instead becomes a way to own the libs.
130,000 deaths and counting, in just a few short months, is treated like fake news and a hoax because that fits their worldview – their self-identity – more conveniently than does reality.
Again: empathy and compassion. Our hearts should break that people are dying for a lie of this kind.
Meanwhile, the climate continues to be fucked because we are not doing anything serious to address that threat. Even if we elect Joe Biden, re-enter Paris, and begin serious work on the issue next year, it may be far too late to save many coastal areas or stop the catastrophic (in human terms) change in the weather that will beat the shit out of us for the next century or more.
Time to move on. The old normal was really shitty anyway: it got us to where we are today. It can go to hell.