Message of the Day: Human Rights, Economic Opportunity, Hunger, War, Environment, Disease, Population, Personal Growth
St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, (c) 2016-2019 Lisa Blume & Keith Blume
The End Of Civilization As We Knew It, Part Fourteen.
One year ago today, we began the series, The End Of Civilization As We Knew It.
Our first words:
“Today is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern. The great movement and balance of nature goes on.
But will it go on?”
One year later, and the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern is here again.
And the question remains the same.
Last week, we recognized the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion to liberate Europe, and preserve the possibility of civilization in any positive sense, against Nazi barbarism.
It was launched from the shores of the UK.
As we noted last week, it was the Battle of Britain that first began to stem what appeared an unstoppable Nazi tide. The UK was on its own after the Nazis stormed through France and left the British army stranded on the shores of Dunkirk. Rescued by a miracle and grit, the battle continued in the skies over Britain, with Nazi invasion appearing imminent.
As we’ve noted before, Winston Churchill was an imperialist racist who would have had nothing to recommend him–except he was possibly the one and only human between Nazi global domination or not (at that point it was possible the Nazis would have obtained a nuclear weapon before the US, or at roughly the same time, and after running over the Soviet Union, perhaps before June 1941, without threat of any other front in the war, there would have been either an accommodation with the US–leading itself to only more incomprehensible horror–or a far, far worse war to come.)
For that, Churchill deserves humanity’s eternal gratitude.
At the same time, the fascist militarists in Japan were themselves a menace, moving quickly to try to dominate China (its own critical story), much of Asia and the pacific. What would have happened if their German allies, at least of convenience, hadn’t been stemmed from finishing off the British at the moment they were, is not a pretty picture of a global future, to say the least. With or without Pearl Harbor, a Japanese-Amercian conflict may have been inevitable in some form, but the shape of it would have been much different–including the option of another accommodation. The US public was isolationist until December 7, 1941. A Nazi dominated Europe and Britain (no longer able to defend its Asian colonial presence) from the Atlantic, Mediteranean, North Africa (and then more) all the way through Russia, would have more than offset American capacity to concentrate on the Japanese in terms of global geopolitics–it would have titled the universe. (More to come on all the above in the war with Japan and the allies, and the post-war aspects to this day.)
In the summer and fall of 1940, history converged with unimaginable pressure on one last stand against complete Nazi victory, and what remained possible, in the Battle of Britain.
For anyone alive at the time and anyone paying attention since (increasingly less as history is a mystery even as a concept to more and more for all the reasons we’ve covered at length and in depth), the images of London ablaze from the bombings by the German Luftwaffe are searing.
A positive aspect of the constant movie (some great, some gratuitous) and video game focus on war, especially World War Two as the largest conflagration in human history, is an extension of memory as a result, all other negative influences aside.
For the older and the more conscientious, the memory of London on fire night after night, is connected to the radio broadcasts of American journalist Edward R. Murrow, who became the towering figure in TV journalism at CBS and warned of an age of television and technology that if controlled by entertainment instead of independent informative news, would wreck untold havoc.
Welcome to the world he warned against. Which we’ve also covered at length and in depth in this series and for decades in our work.
But during those days and nights in 1940, Murrow gave voice to the hope for the survival of a better future. His reporting on the brave spirit of the British helped immeasurably in bringing the American people on board with President Roosevelt’s unspoken commitment to fight the Nazis directly, and increasingly spoken commitment to become the arsenal for democracy in aiding the British and others in the meantime. All this, we have also covered at length and in depth over the past year and before.
On September 8, 1940, Murrow delivered his first broadcast from London:
“There are no words to describe the thing that is happening,” Murrow began. “A row of automobiles, with stretchers racked on the roofs like skis, standing outside of bombed buildings. A man pinned under wreckage where a broken gas main sears his arms and face. The courage of the people, the flash and roar of the guns rolling down streets, the stench of air-raid shelters in the poor districts.”
Murrow walked the streets during the bombings, risking his life to record them for broadcast into American living rooms.
He began each broadcast with the words: “This … is London.”
“One becomes accustomed to rattling windows and the distant sound of bombs, and then there comes a silence that can be felt,” Murrow said in one of his broadcasts. “You know the sound will return—you wait, and then it starts again. The waiting is bad. It gives you a chance to imagine things.”
In another broadcast, he described Londoners walking, not running, to underground shelters:
“There was no bravado, no loud voices, only a quiet acceptance of the situation. To me those people were incredibly brave and calm.”
If not for the British at first holding the line on their own, against all odds, the global future was an unimaginable hell. For which that generation in the UK is also owed eternal gratitude from all of us.
We used the word “iconic” for the first time in a while recently, after noting some time ago that it had become a pop word used to the point of meaninglessness.
We use it again, now.
What more iconic picture is there than St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, despite being seriously hit at least once, miraculously surviving Nazi bombs as all else burned around it?
The writers here began this series a year ago by telling the story of sitting in Hyde Park in London in early 2016, what our expectations were, and what followed.
We visited St. Paul’s, of course, then and since.
On New Year’s Day night 2016, we walked around the streets of central London and ended up at the Cathedral. Its located at Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the city. Once in sight, the first thing experienced and shared was–this is the symbol of defiance against and ultimate victory over the Nazis.
The first service we went to there reminded us of the progress of equality made in many ways since. The altar had at least as many women priests as men on it. This kind of progress has been achieved in many ways, in many places–and not, in many ways and many places.
But it was heartening, to put it mildly, to see this, in this place. Over a third of the people of the UK still identify as Anglican, even if attendance has dropped as with most religions.
But Christmas Eve attendance has gone up recently, and social media connection increased dramatically.
Yes, there is still a potential plus side to social media. It’s not an endorsement of any religion or church, but of community dedicated to a common good.
In the wake of the ongoing Brexit crisis, we would add.
The current Bishop of London, of which St. Paul’s is the mother cathedral, is a woman, Sarah Mullally (all the more appropriately, we might add, as the Roman temple to the goddess Diana was reportedly originally located there). She has pointed out all the above and the myriad ways other than attending regular services that people maintain connection with the church and its promotion of values and actions for the common good.
As we pointed out in our first segment a year ago, we had no idea what was coming when we were at St. Paul’s that night.
But as we also pointed out, we should have.
All of human history has proven that we will come together as one species providing basic needs and rights for all in a sustainable manner or we will destroy life on earth. It’s a race between the two, now a sprint.
Everything that takes focus from this is at best an anachronistic distraction.
The details matter a lot, but only if seen as part of the bigger picture, so as to inform as to useful action.
The movement, notably since 2016, Brexit, Trump, et al, toward nationalism and away from the internationalism constructed at the end of World War Two, seemed sudden and wrenching, but in fact was part of an ongoing process as we’ve noted. It was like ripping the scab off wounds that were already festering.
And with exponential impact, as we enter the final chapters of facing the realities of being one species on one globe.
Absent fairness and equality of basic needs and rights, rage and fear of the other is a certainty.
The cultural civilized boundaries that have been breached beyond imagination–the new lows of narcissism and nihilism and barbaric behavior–have and will cause untold damage, especially to our children. But this disintegration has been a process involving virtually everyone for some time, as we’ve covered and will continue to.
And speaking of our children, everything starts with basic security. Saying anything else other than that basic needs and rights will be guaranteed for all is saying that innocent children must suffer and die because of adults. That’s a form of Nazism gone universal that we’re still in denial about as a species.
Understanding that the fear of not surviving and not being provided the basics, for everyone, is at the root of all conflict, is not difficult math.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (with all his faults which we’ve never shied from), the only president of the most prosperous and powerful nation in history who was elected overwhelmingly four times (the only to serve more than two terms), who led through the Great Depression and through the war with global fascism–made the above the guiding principles of the nation and the world.
Memorialized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted unanimously in 1948 by the nations of the world, achieved in the main by the efforts of Eleanor Roosevelt, which we covered in our last isntallment at the end of the year.
FDR’s being referred to a lot these days, as another endless presidential election season in the US has started. He was the first socialist president say some–an old refrain meant as praise or condemnation. He was the savior of capitalism say others–also an old refrain meant as praise or condemnation.
Actually, he was a bit of both, to the extent anyone has studied and understands the words.
Pure forms of anything never exist and the attachment of the word democratic and the extent to which it is real in equality of power makes all the difference.
The “ism” words really don’t matter, except to those to whom they do, for a little longer.
Whatever the descriptors, what matters is a system that guarantees basic needs and rights to all, a comfortable floor and a rational ceiling for those who want to be entrepreneurs, innovators and get richer within reason. As we’ve pointed out, the richest nation in history was increasingly doing just that for many years, under both Democrats and Republicans in the White House and Congress. As were many others, including the UK, which elected a democratic socialist labour government immediately after the war.
They moved much faster than the US on health care (still). Many of us heard the refrain growing up, “You don’t want socialized medicine like the British have, do you?”
As the rest of the developed world in some manner has done.
We personally in recent times saw the British system in action more than once (it’s the one remaining part of a system that was in many ways dismantled since, in the age of growing inequality.) It was marvelous.
We don’t recall, by the way–after the opponents of proposed Medicare in the US in the sixties said that this “socialized medicine” would ruin America–anybody turning it down since its enactment. It’s one of the most popular programs in the country–and generally supported by both Democrats and Republicans when running for office as a political necessity.
But this is a global proposition. And that’s old news. The war aims of defeating fascism over seven decades ago were the above. That all propositions were and are increasingly global was understood then, before then, and since has become so much so that words to describe it increasingly become unbearably redundant–though not as unbearable as being physically, psychologically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually brutalized by the avoidance and denial of this most basic of realities.
Inequality, mass murder, the karma of refugees on the beaches and more led up to where we are. Isolationism has always been self-destructive, but now more than ever it’s like sticking your head in the sand as a scythe scrapes across the surface of the sand towards you. And if you knew you and your children could be guaranteed a good life, but instead still wanted a world where a few could have everything, a small percentage a lot, the rest just barely making it or starving, sick and dying–you’ve just defined at best the most virulent form of untreated psychosis ever known.
Our proposition has always been that when people are both threatened enough by being fully conscious of reality and are reminded of what the positive alternatives are, both survival instincts and the better angels of our nature emerge.
That’s up to all of us.
The millions of children suffering and dying as we write tell us time was up long ago.
As we take up this series of reflections again after a pause, and continue them in future, we first suggest reading or re-reading all the previous installments, and other related posts.
We start here with reposting the first installment from a year ago today.
And we leave you with a thought to ponder.
Our series has focused on Western civilization in some ways as it has had by far the greatest impact globally for a very long time. At the same time, we have reminded that even this framing has its roots in, for instance, ancient Egyptian civilization and others in Africa and the Middle East. And was influenced by contact with civilizations that arose simultaneously in India. Just as they arose at approximately the same time in China and elsewhere, such as the Americas, the latter which we have commented on extensively.
The culture now is global.
On the bright shiny object in your hand, as we wrote.
We started this human endeavor together in Africa millennia ago. One race. We all share aspects of that same blood, DNA, genes. We are one human race. We all need the same things. Food, shelter, clean air, clean water, a habitable planet.
And love. For each other. And for all life.
. . .
June 21, 2018:
Today is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern. The great movement and balance of nature goes on.
But will it go on?
Before we go on, a note.
Over the years, in the previous system of the site (still in transition) for the Issue of the Week and Message of the Day, links in the text were not an option. One or two key links were provided at the end of the posts. This became purposeful, as troglodyte as it may have appeared. Activism on the internet, which we were part of pioneering, evolved, or devolved, with the internet itself. That is going to be a subject focused on more itself in the future. But for now, keep in mind that it was purposeful for us to require the reader to read, not jump around with links. It’s understandable that in view of getting an audience, most have used every new gimmick the internet has to offer. But studies have proven the downside of this, and many internet pioneers now decry their own creation.
Twitter, for instance, has now been made infamous. We understand why many use it and see it as needed. Just as we see it as the fact of what it is—the shrinking capacity, reinforced by the very use of it, to focus on more than a few characters—making, as we’ve previously noted, the 30 second TV spot seem like reading volumes. The 30 second TV ad that was the metaphor yesterday for the shrinking capacity and willingness of the species to think longer than that.
One of the things we did in our national and international public service campaigns was to reintroduce what even the corporate advertising world had ditched—the 60 second spot. They are like mini-movies compared to the 30s. And we received the top awards in the world for it. But more importantly, people watched. Feed crap and crap becomes demanded. Feed something better and the heart, mind and soul embrace it, if not immediately, then in time.
We do now provide some links in our commentary. But sometimes we will not, by choice. This is one of those times.
Now to the commentary.
We suppose that as good a moment as any, perhaps most appropriate among many, to locate in time the seemingly impossible to imagine change that has occurred in the recent history of civilization, would be the start of 2016.
And the place might be argued to be the UK, soon to explode further in the US and beyond. Hence our harking back to one of our travels to London, at the very start of that year.
Six months later, two days from now, two years ago, the stunning Brexit vote in the UK was a civilization-crushing milestone and a precursor for what at that point was concerning, but still a seeming impossibility in the US.
Of course, when referring to civilization in this sense, it’s Western civilization we refer to as a focal point. The rest of the world would understandably say—that’s when you were about to get it.
Nonetheless, it’s also true that Western civilization has had and does have a weighted influence on everything. Economic and military power, mobile phones and media and on and on and on. The struggle for power among the powerful is global and changing, and not.
Keep your eye on the ball.
Everything hinges on the gluttony of power versus economic equality and universal human rights. The locations matter only in their impact in determining the outcome of this struggle—and in that sense the locations can matter a lot. Although that proposition, in terms of the best Western civilization has had to offer, is precisely what has come into question more than ever as a result of events in 2016 and since.
As we keep saying, which is simply observing the most rudimentary facts of nature, the outcome of the historic struggle between justice, equality and sustainability or the gluttony of greed will be global and only global. It’s different than ever before because national boundaries are an illusion that are obliterated by dollars, and digital technology, and starving and desperate billions of people, and increasing billions of people period, and wars, and disease, and environmental crises, and the capacity to blow everything up on earth in a second for the first time in history–co-mingled realities only decades old after millions of years on planet earth, with growing interdependent force.
Who knew, on January 1, 2016, what was coming?
We all should have.
The co-founders of World Campaign were in London, perched on the Thames watching the fireworks as the clock struck midnight, January 1, 2016. Across the river, was a sight to inspire then, and to be branded on our souls in ways unimagined since. Here’s an excerpt from our first post of 2016, about photos of the year from CNN:
“The first picture is worth noting. It is the well-known image of Big Ben with incomparable fireworks exploding around it–and Westminster Abbey, Parliament, the Eye and all the famous sites around the Thames in central London. Countless thousands celebrated in what was the best place on the globe to be as New Years’s Eve turned to 2016–as it was completely dedicated to one theme, projected in blue on surrounding buildings–a benefit for UNICEF and the children of Syria in particular. But more broadly, the theme was a reminder of the top priority on earth:
HELP KEEP CHILDREN SAFE.”
All children. Everything rests on that.
But the particular focus on the children of Syria, should, in hindsight, be for all of us a moment like the scene from the 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments” when, as the commandments are being delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai, “Thou Shat Not Kill” comes crashing into his face exploding with soul-shattering personal guilt.
And, like all those in the camp below worshipping the false god of a golden calf, the powers that be and all of us had been and were willing to sacrifice the Syrian children to our own many false gods of greed, narcissism, denial, delusion, addiction to everything, fear, one-dimensional ideological reactions of all shades, unwillingness to act—not even recognizing our true self-interest in the midst of avoidance by even those who were partially awake, in response to nothing but horrible choices facing us, morality aside.
In the Book of Exodus (second book of the Torah and the bible) “The Ten Commandments” was based on, the consequence was 40 years in the desert.
We might wish for such an outcome compared to what has happened and what is-at risk of happening.
You can draw a direct line from Syria to Brexit to European disorder to Trump to the breakdown of the international order since World War Two, and the further initial promise in 1989, at the end of the Cold War, of that order becoming universal in democratic and human rights and so on.
But in that January of 2016 in London, all seemed well, all things considered.
Parliament actually debated the issue while we were there, on Janaury 18th, of whether to allow Trump, considered at best a cartoon candidate from another galaxy, to come to the UK. He had announced his campaign for president six months before, and from his first words, he appeared universally detested and sure to be politically destroyed by anyone in his own adopted party, much less by the first woman president in-waiting.
And the Brexit vote which all knew was coming, the June date announced during our next trip to London in February, seemed a clear political ploy by Prime Minister David Cameron, who hardly seemed to need it after the recent surprise election victory of his conservatives, which took him from a coalition leader to a formidable new force. The Brexit vote appeared a classic easy play to further his political power. Fine, welcome to all politicians. (Yes, he had said he would negotiate to reform the EU relationship and then have a vote to approve it well before his 2015 election victory—but he had the options of revising positions in a number of ways at various points as all polticians do, esepcially after the strength of his election win.) He was exceedingly popular at the moment, and it seemed unthinkable that his position would not be overwhelmingly supported regardless. The idea of Brexit would have seemed a rejection of the post-World War Two order that the UK helped form. To prevent such war again. To move forward in mutual self-interest of the UK and all the nations of Europe. To move forward in creating the global community as envisioned by the allies in the fight against fascism outlined in The Atlantic Charter. The UK and all of Europe were so interlocked at this point that the alternative seemed fantastical, and suicidal.
So not to worry, we thought, as we took a break from work at the Princess Diana memorial in Hyde Park (a simple, elegant, natural, beautiful work of art and flowing water.) The extreme lunacies in the UK and US would be trounced, and serve all the better to underline the need for global unity and to focus on the fights needed to make that a project of full equality at last. It was wonderful to walk and sit and talk of what could be accomplished on that cold clear winter day.
But on reflection.
2015, in fact, had been a year of catastrophic warning. Here’s an excerpt from our second post in 2016, about photos of the year in The New York Times:
“One more look at pictures from 2015, from The New York Times. The introduction follows:
THIS was the year of the great unraveling, with international orders and borders challenged or broken, with thousands of deaths, vast flows of migrants and terrorist attacks on some of the most cherished symbols of civilization, both Western and Muslim.
Palmyra and Paris (twice). Aleppo, Homs, Kobani and even San Bernardino, Calif. The Syrian war grinds on, half the prewar population displaced or gone, and the Islamic State fills a vacuum created by sectarian struggle and Western fatigue.
The conflict spurred the migrants lapping against the shores of bourgeois Europe, a million or more, huddled in small boats or crammed into airless trucks, abused by human traffickers, thousands dead on the journey, prompting both empathy and backlash.
Just look. The year is here.
The outrages of Boko Haram and the Shabab in Africa. The abuse of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar. The war in Ukraine and the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. New tensions in the skies over the Baltics and a Russian plane shot down by a NATO country for the first time in decades.
The ruins still in Gaza, a year after a brutal and inconclusive war, and Israel hunkering down in a region losing its compass. Even the energetic secretary of state, John Kerry, has given up on serious negotiations for Mideast peace.
So much uncertainty, anxiety, anomie, so many civilian victims: A crazed German pilot flew his plane into the French Alps; a Russian plane was destroyed over Sinai by what seemed to have been a bomb; attackers with automatic weapons killed 130 people in Paris in restaurants, a stadium and a concert hall.
Even the Earth seemed slightly unhinged ‘ the ice caps melting, sheep stuck in the smog of Beijing, huge snowstorms and floods, a major earthquake in Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries.
And in the United States, it was a year of anger and protest against police brutality, with racial unrest ripping apart Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo. A massacre of black worshipers in a church in Charleston, S.C. Drought and terror in California, blows to the myth of paradise.
Presidential politics took on a carnival atmosphere during the pre-primary season, with an amazing cast of would-be successors to a grayer, grumpier Barack Obama. Bernie Sanders, the sort-of socialist from Vermont by way of Brooklyn, was giving Hillary Clinton a run, at least, for her mounds of campaign money. Donald J. Trump thrilled, amused and horrified, depending on your point of view, with his populist fulminations, his hairdo and his narcissism.
But not all of the memorable events of the year were about loss, violence and terrorism.
The changing climate brought a historic if relatively toothless deal to cut carbon emissions and help the poorest countries cope.
The massacre in Charleston helped lower the Confederate flag over the South Carolina State House. The Supreme Court made same-sex marriages legal throughout the land.
The United States and the United Nations Security Council finally reached a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions, promising some sanctions relief and opening a still-uncertain path toward a Syrian settlement.
In another resolution of a longstanding diplomatic sore, the United States recognized Cuba. And Myanmar’s military government seemed at last to recognize the political victory of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who stuck to her principles through decades of house arrest.”
Even many of the good parts noted at the end turned bad as we look back.
And the unmentioned speaks louder than anything. The virtually never headlined. How were the Syrian children and children everywhere and people everywhere doing in general before or without the above disasters?
After decades of progress, billions hungry, sick, homeless, stateless. Terror and war rising. In the US and UK, economic inequality rising, and rising and rising. Important human rights gains overshadowed by a dying middle class and increasing underclass. And where poverty was reduced, it also remained and grew, and the price of more prosperity for more people in some places was and is an increasingly unsustainable wasteland in more ways than one.
No one thinks population can continue its extraordinary sudden exponential growth over the past century after all of human history. No one thinks that the planet and its resources can magically expand beyond finite. The predicted population bomb was defused in part due to expanded prosperity for many. The arrogance of thinking it will level off because of a trend, with inequality on the rise again and with unsustainable economic models that are suffocating the planet, will lead to the only other way it will more than level off—global catastrophes threatening us all—making the thus far false prophecy of Malthus come true, and more, by our own doing.
For the first time in history, an architecture of technology has been created in which a Brave New World soma of control turns the most far-fetched science fiction into reality with the controllers themselves increasingly out of control or not capable of knowing what the architecture is becoming.
HIV-AIDS and other pandemics taking millions of lives and then seemingly, hopefully, maybe, coming under control (for those who can afford it or who are recipients of an always-at-resource-deprivation-risk system of assistance) that are precursors of global pandemics to come unprepared for.
Space to the rescue as the late Stephen Hawking mused? And a growing list of tech moguls. And to some extent, NASA. Exploration? Good. But full-scale space, Mars and other such migrations would at best look something like The Expanse—a corny and brilliant by turn SYFY television series, with the UN (the hub of government), Earth, Mars, and the underclass of workers strung out between. All engaged in competition and class and identity and power struggle with the good, the bad and the ugly. A real possibility. Which demonstrates why it needs to get worked-out here on earth first.
A billion children abused.
A handful of people and corporations with more money than half the planet.
The progress of globalism commandeered by the greedy and powerful, not just individually, but more importantly systemically and politically. And a culture of meaninglessness on a good day, leaving more and more disenfranchised in every sense.
What the hell did we think was going to happen?
We remind again, momentarily, of an excerpt from our post on the 100thanniversary of the Russian Revolution in October last year—quotes from Ian Frazier in his Smithsonian semi-book length masterwork, “Whatever happened to the Russian Revolution?”. His mesmerizing tale from the hope, to the horror, to the hope at the end of the Cold War, back to the past in a Soviet-Czarist hybrid with Putin, is worth reading until memorized.
But first a reminder on a related issue. The February Revolution, the real revolution hijacked in October by the Bolsheviks (who came to be known as the communists, who called themselves socialists, but who committed sacrilege against both terms in their anti-democratic dictatorship of lies and slaughter), started with the women of Russia. In the streets. Demanding bread. Not backing down. This was the day that became International Women’s Day, which most women in the West who celebrate the day have no idea about. As Gloria Jean Watkins, better known as bell hooks, has said, in so many words, about the white women in the comfortable developed world (and even those of color to some extent in the same comfortable condition)—their feminism often misses the point of the global need for a feminism to end the hunger and poverty and powerlessness of the majority of the victims of sexism and racism and homophobia and classism, all inequalities, in the world. The Russian women in the streets a hundred years ago were women who got it, and who demonstrated the lie of sexism, of the weaker sex, by fearlessly leading the revolution themselves.
As we’ve noted before, had the democratic socialist revolution that occurred almost instantly taken root and been adhered to, it would be a very different world since.
Now to the quote from Frazier:
“Problems left unsolved take their own course. The river in flood cuts an oxbow, the overfull dam gives way. The Russian Revolution started as a network of cracks that suddenly broke open in a massive rush. Drastic Russian failures had been mounting—the question of how to divide the land among the people who worked it, the inadequacy of a clumsy autocracy to deal with a fast-growing industrial society, the wretched conditions of hundreds of thousands of rural-born workers who had packed into bad housing in Petrograd and other industrial cities, to name a few. But nobody predicted the shape that the cataclysm would take.
The speed and strength of the revolution that began in February of 1917 surprised even the Bolsheviks, and they hurried to batten onto its power before it ran away from them. An early sense of unexpectedness and improvisation gave the February Revolution its joyful spirit. Russians had always acted communally, perhaps because everybody had to work together to make the most of the short Russian growing season. This cultural tendency produced little soviets in the factories and barracks, which came together in a big Soviet in Petrograd; and suddenly The People, stomped-down for centuries, emerged as a living entity.
One simple lesson of the revolution might be that if a situation looks as if it can’t go on, it won’t. Imbalance seeks balance. By this logic, climate change will likely continue along the path it seems headed for. And a world in which the richest eight people control as much wealth as 3.6 billion of their global co- inhabitants (half the human race) will probably see a readjustment. The populist movements now gaining momentum around the world, however localized or distinct, may signal a beginning of a bigger process.”
Many people, especially in the West, remain asleep as to the extent of the change underway. The more comfortable, the more so, while the majority struggling have no time to pay attention, except to the extent they lash out, fight back, with varying degrees of consciousness.
The river in flood cuts an oxbow, the overfull dam gives way.
When the dam breaks, it knows no left or right or middle or rich or poor or race or gender and so on. It just drowns us all.
So, let’s go back for a moment to another point in time when the current great unravelling could be traced to.
On January 30th this year we reminded:
“Today is the 136th anniversary of the birthday of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
We have examined his unique positive role in the history of the US and the world often. And we have pulled no punches on his grievous failures.
But he is without question one of the three great US Presidents with Washington and Lincoln. And in the world we know today, with all its risks and opportunities, his role was and is unique.
He forged The Atlantic Charter and the United Nations post-war world in the summer of 1941 before the US was in the war and before most Americans wanted to be. He defined the anti-facsist struggle as one that must end in a world of “equality of peoples.”
Five months before the D-Day landings at Normandy, he outlined to the American people what this new world would mean for them–and for the world–a second bill of rights. Basic needs for all must be a basic right, and are the basic requirement for a stable world of peace.”
Last week we revisited the post last year of the 40th anniversary of the White House document from June 11, 1977, that may have been the last meaningful policy statement of this grand vision that could have happened before the great unravelling began. The unraveling was a process, unreocginized for some time in many ways because of the enormous progress being made simultaneously and because of the weapons of mass distraction working with increasing effectiveness. History doesn’t stop or start at any given moment. Focal points, such as 2016, are milestones, from which we look both backwards and forwards. We will visit further why, as history since has shown, this document and moment had the historical meaning they did.
Here’s an excerpt from the White House document in last week’s post:
“We can establish broad but practical and measurable human needs goals, e.g., programs of food production and basic nutrition, development of low-cost health delivery systems, adequate maternal and child health programs, rural sanitary water supply development, humanitarian food trade policies, etc. Importantly, this must be done on a government-wide basis to ensure consistency and comprehensiveness. Implementation would then follow through the development of a comprehensive global plan, including goals for the basic human needs of life: adequate and quality food for everyone, basic health care, education, jobs.”
A comprehensive global plan, including goals for the basic human needs of life: adequate and quality food for everyone, basic health care, education, jobs.
Imagine that world.
There’s nothing idealistic about it. It’s the reality that will happen sooner than you think, if we are to survive. The proof on why it has to happen, how it has been modelled large scale in various ways, incomplete because in the end it always would be until applied globally, should be self-evident by now. But this reflection will continue with more specifics on that.
The biggest question, if we survive to get there, is the cost of our denial.
The river in flood cuts an oxbow, the overfull dam gives way.
To be continued.
- Issue of the Week: Human Rights, Economic Opportunity
- Message of the Day: Human Rights, Economic Opportunity
- “Is It a Pandemic Yet?”, The New York Times
- “South Africa, Apartheid, Crimes against humanity and the Rule of Law: Quo Vadis?”, Daily Maverick
- “The world’s most unlikely solar farms”, BBC Future
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