FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Fantasies of World Destruction

by BINOY KAMPMARK

“What’s to be scared of, if it’s unavoidable?”

Vladimir Putin, Dec 20, 2012

It did not end, and while there is much evidence to suggest our days are numbered (aren’t they always?), the earth is continuing its not so smooth existence. There might be a few out there who felt that the four horsemen should have come with their assortment of nasties, wreaking vengeance on human kind.  But facts and wishes do not necessarily converge.

In the case of the Mayan calendar, it was a happy excuse to sell matches and goods in anticipation of the end.  The tourist industry was boosted – at various chance locations.  The ancient Mayans might well have been amused as people flocked to sites in the world that would be able to resist the promised apocalypse on December 21.  One such place was the village of Bugarach at the foot of the French Pyrenees, a site which would, it was thought, be the site for a grand escape, courtesy of a UFO.  Even the veteran thespian Gérard Depardieu, always a man to avoid temporal tax regimes, is rumoured have made his way there in the hope of capitalising on the chartered escape.

The Serbs have offered their own place of salvation – a “magic mountain” by the name of Mount Rtanj on the Bulgarian border.  Electromagnetic waves are said to emanate from the pyramid-shaped structure.  Those clever enough to advertise on “paranormal tourism” are reaping the rewards.

However advanced (and we can debate what indicators constitute an advanced society), fantasies of apocalypse will always have currency.  How valuable that currency can be is quite something else.  If one is reading The Telegraph, its value must be that of monopoly money, a caricature of finality.  That is our great statement of doom – the apocalypse shall be blogged.  “Mayan Apocalypse: the end of the world – live!”  “We’ve had a pretty good innings ladies and gentlemen – cured all sorts of disease, created great art, invented the printing press, jazz and the X Factor, and generally had a good laugh. But time is up. The Mayans predicted it and most modern scientists agree” (Dec 21).

Individuals such as Russian strong man and professional bully Vladimir Putin decided to weigh into the discussion, coming up with his own prediction – the world will end, but in 4.5 billon years.  His math proved to be bit shoddy – calculating the sun’s life cycle at 7 billion years, he proceeded to claim that, having already lived through 4.5 billion years, it had another 4.5 billion to continue.  What’s two billion years in the scheme of things?

The Chinese authorities had far more earthly concerns, irritated by a cult group that was spreading “rumours” of the world’s instant demise.  Between four to five hundred members of the Church of the Almighty God, founded by Zhao Weishan in central Henan province, were detained.  According to the Xinhua news service, “The Qinghai police bureau stated that the police had stormed numerous centres belonging to the Almighty God cult, arresting more than 400 members and confiscating over 5,000 items including banners, DVDs, slogans, books, computers, speakers and cell phones.”

Stomp out rumours of fantastic annihilation seems to be the directive, and the communist authorities are not particularly thrilled about the prospects of a female Jesus Christ who just might save the world, however convincing Zhao might have been.  Where corruption doth prosper, faith finds a way of wriggling through.

Others felt this was hardly an excuse not to have a party.  Survival tips have been distributed.  The Guardian was good enough to look at examples from literature in the hope that we might dip into a book or two before perishing, presumably on Kindle.  As for The Day of the Triffids, “don’t look at the sky.”  For The Road, antibiotics would have to be carried in abundance.

It is fitting then, to finish off on a note from the medical establishment, if psychoanalytical techniques fall into that particular ring of practice.  A humourless William J. Spring, writing on the verge of World War II in the Psychoanalytic Quarterly, “The idea that the world is coming to an end, or has already done so, is one which is frequently met in schizophrenics, particular in the early stages of the illness.  This idea may take the form of fixed delusion or of an anxious obsession.”  Six years after that date, those who had lived through the conflict could count their blessings.  Now, wishing for the end of the world has becoming a padded luxury and middle class amusement.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail