I never subscribed to the nostrums of Marxism, but old Karl sure had a point when he said,
“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”
Is that exactly where we’re at, or what?
The hologram of capital that was not really there dissolves before our eyes. That capital, you understand, was our notion of how wealthy we used to be, like, five minutes ago. And now the capital, the money, the mojo of modern life is going-going-gone. The hologram was projected by a fantastically hypercomplex hologram machine jerry-rigged with frauds, swindles, and false promises to pay tomorrow for that proverbial hamburger today. The people running it left the robots in charge and went off to frolic with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein, speaking of the profane. Then, the hologram machine broke and the iridescent image just plumb flickered out.
Now, under the shadow of COVID-19, everybody has been sent home to wait and see what happens next, hostages to the flat-screen, where the cable networks show little besides a non-stop real-time horror movie called The End of Your Future. It’s hard to keep morale up when you realize that all the usual conveyer belts of stuff you need to keep going are breaking down. It’s not hard to imagine fights, sure to come, over that dwindling stuff, which we will struggle heroically to allocate because we are really not all bad. Goodness abides, even in that America we managed to so deeply profane. Let’s hope there’s enough of it.
When these convulsions are over, we’ll have to reorganize those real conditions of life very differently in North America. There will still be considerable capital, but not the hocus-pocus Wall Street kind. There will be a lot of places with good-enough soil left – or at least soil that can be nursed back to health – to grow food. There are plenty of well-watered places. We have a marvelous system of navigable rivers, all outfitted with canals connecting them. (The Erie and Champlain Canals that connect the Hudson River estuary to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence have been kept in immaculate condition, by some miracle of forethought.) Our ancestors moved most of their stuff that way, and so can we.
We have plenty of human capital: strong backs and agile minds. They just have to be reconditioned off their addictions to canned entertainments, drugs, and the Faustian raptures of techno-narcissism – in other words, we need to get real. Real means recognizing that we’ve crossed over into a new chapter of the human project and that it requires different behavior (the relations with our kind old Karl Marx spoke of.) Mostly that means readjusting our attention back to the people and the place around us, while expecting a whole lot less from distant institutions far away. Gawd knows there is enough to do, if we can get our minds right.
I doubt that the federal government as we know it can survive its own desperate measures to re-ignite the hologram of rehypothecated promises to pay back all the debt gone bad. Its adjunct, the Federal Reserve, is desperately trying to do just that this morning by promising to buy everything and anything that the markets are puking up before the open. If that seems to do the trick, the ecstatic rush may not last very long.
I can say no more about that for the moment because I discovered about five minutes ago that the Internet is down here and I’m going to have to go looking for it now somewhere else nearby to put this blog up.
When I realized the web was down, and the phone wasn’t working, I turned on the TV to see if that was out too. It was. The real-time horror movie I mentioned above (the cable news) wasn’t even available, which rather darkened my outlook instantly. Did something blow up out there? I confess, I’ve had intimations lately that I am suddenly living in the prequel to my own World Made by Hand novels, which, for those unacquainted with them, are about the collapse of our economy and modern life with it. Believe me, it’s not especially comforting or satisfying, even to me, who anticipated the now-unfolding situation in great detail. As it happened, the cell phone was working, at least. I made some calls and learned that the world was still up-and-running. In the immortal words of Leon Spinks, the morning has been a bit “freaky-deaky.”