Editorial: Too many ends
I have always been ambivalent about the end of the world. I grew up around Christians who were really into it and there was even a local publishing house that pushed a book called The Late Great Planet Earth that cited an “increase in the frequency of famines, wars and earthquakes, as major events just prior to the end of the world. He also foretold a Soviet invasion of Israel (War of Gog and Magog). Lindsey also predicted that the European Economic Community, which preceded the European Union, was destined (according to Biblical prophecy) to become a “United States of Europe”, which in turn he says is destined to become a “Revived Roman Empire” ruled by the Antichrist.” Mostly it just seemed to want to scare people and create a genre. I was too young.
I was old enough for the HBO movie Nostradamus, The Man Who Saw Tomorrow – ‘Narrated By Orson Welles’ which puncuated end of the world thinking for me but I still imagine the man in the blue turban planning for the big day. Perhaps Will Smith in the live action version of Aladdin?
Of course the left has it’s own version of this eschatology, several really. We focus on the collapse-ists, or perhaps a great revolution, but many political ideologies focus a great deal of their energy on a kind of end of the world but secular and positive. Ultra left communists, most revolutionaries, and even most radical pre-democrats see a great change ahead. They see history as a story so epic, yet so simple, that it has a beginning, middle and end. Perhaps that could even be the difference between the left and post-left, instead of studying for the end of the world, the post left lives in the world that exists. Perhaps I’m being too generous.
This week we will try to have an conversation about the end of the world. Which end of the world? You decide. It could be that the end of the world will be due to climate change or a third world war. It could the end of insects (and therefore agriculture as we know it) or the end of arable land due to it having blown away. The world, or the human centric world, or the world meaning the petro-economy, or civilization as we know it may end. Will it be in our life time? Will it be with a whimper or a bang? What assumptions do we make, every day, that the world will be here tomorrow? Will it?