A dozen years ago I acquired a fascinating book titled The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine by James Lovelock, one of the earliest scientists to warn against global warming. Lovelock likened the globe to a living body, and his graphics made real the theories I had learned by studying the limits to growth and systems analysis. Two films have dramatized the finite capabilities of the planet to sustain human life: In 1973’s Soylent Green, dictatorial regimes keep their workers alive by feeding them protein made from the bodies of the forcibly euthanized; in 2013’s Elysium, the 1% have evolved to build space colonies from scratch, a possibility that, it turned out, is actually being studied by the American government.
Today, individuals across the globe trained to believe that competition is the supreme value engage in nit-picking fights instead of cooperating to kill the bison, as the most powerful nation the world has ever seen continues to fly by the seat of its pants from conquest to tragedy. As the world is hit by a deadly virus, ‘the indispensable nation’ fails rejects Russia and China’s invitation to a multi-polar world that could support research into eliminating the virus. While outbidding other governments for life-saving equipment, Washington leaves care givers more endangered than World War I medics.
“Bildeburg” and “Davos”, where the economic leaders of the world meet on a yearly basis, cannot eliminate the Corona virus, however their participants did hear a historian declare the necessity of a new economic model. Canadian born Ali Velshi, MSNBC’s humanist economic anchor, revealed that Davos 2019 was told to “stop talking about philanthropy and start talking about taxes”, by Holland’s Rutger Berman who wrote Utopia for Realists. And it is not certain that as Americans barricade themselves against the grim reaper, Bernie Sanders’ pleas for free health care for all will finally bring the US up to the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, NIMBY, ’Not in my Back Yard’, the epitome of social distancing, rules, after centuries of fairy tales. For most of human existence, Gods played a major role, but during the last century, a quarter of us abandoned Him in favor of representative government backed by Money. Neither, it turns out, is able to over-ride nature, and we are learning the hard way that the ground-based solidarity that enabled cavemen to survive is still indispensable in the age of IT. As humanity reaches a social nadir under unbridled capitalism, the globe is pock-marked with wars, and individuals increasingly reject each ‘Other’.
Both Russia and China gradually adopted a form of capitalism that does not throw the socialist baby out with the bath water, and now they are showing just what that means. But when China turns on a dime to export personal protective gowns and masks instead of cheap fashions, the US questions its relative success in combatting the virus, and fails to acknowledge its rescue of Italy, the hardest hit European nation. (In an ultimate irony, Italy’s neighbors, instead of practicing the most elementary solidarity, obey the US by chiding it for signing on to the New Silk Road — which facilitates Chinese help.)
As for Russia, after sensibly closing its Eastern borders with its ally China, it airlifted medical supplies to its Western neighbor, the European Union. In a demonstration of Europe’s real subjugation, when its old political class saw trucks loaded with medical equipment driving out of airplane bellies, they cried “Invasion!”. Meanwhile, younger leaders like Macron and Renzi, who grew up in the Europe created by GI’s who came to liberate them and never left, openly condemn the relentless march to Russia’s borders, carried out by NATO since the demise of the Soviet Union, in blatant contravention of promises to the West’s darling, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.