FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

At the Edge of the Apocalypse

by ELLIOT SPERBER

Though severely limited by the vast carnage Typhoon Haiyan spread throughout the region – destroying roads and reducing entire villages to fields of rubble – relief efforts are underway across the devastated islands of the Philippines. And as the Climate Change Conference (the COP 19) proceeds in Warsaw, Poland – and as the representative from the Philippines, Naderev Saño, continues the hunger strike he vowed to maintain “until a meaningful outcome [to the ongoing crisis] is in sight”, more and more people across the planet are beginning to recognize that, in order to prevent further ecological catastrophe and misery, radical, structural, political-economic changes need to occur.As virtually all climate scientists agree, and as report after report confirm, it is a practical certainty that Typhoon Haiyan and other extreme weather events (like last year’s Superstorm Sandy, and Typhoon Bopha) not only result from climate change, climate change is anthropogenic. That is, not only are extreme weather catastrophes caused by climate change, climate change is caused by human activity. What should be added, as well, is that the activity that contributes to climate change is not just any activity. It is human activity of a particular type.

Much of the human activity of indigenous cultures, for instance (which in many respects recognize the degree to which our lives are intertwined in the larger enigmatic world, and consequently exhibit a degree of respect and care for the natural world – one at odds with the efforts of our present economic Order to turn every natural resource into a commodity) do not, in any significant manner, contribute to climate change. To be sure, many of these groups are at the forefront of battling it. Nor do these cataclysmic, extreme weather events result from various forms of sexual activity – as numerous superstitious preachers contend. Rather, these catastrophes are largely the result of activity that is inextricable from an industrial, profit-based, commodity economy. And as economies continue to grow, deforming the forests and mountains and other natural resources of the world into so many plastic cups, and hamburgers, among other things, these extreme weather catastrophes – as a necessary counteraction, or byproduct – are only increasing.

Indeed, even as relief efforts are proceeding in the Philippines, the traffic of the cities of the world, and the CO2 spewed by the meat industry, among other forms of diffused violence, are presently concentrating into entirely new superstorms. As the status quo continues, storms certain to be more massive, and more deadly, than such record-breaking storms as Haiyan and Sandy are being produced. And unlike, for example, the potential destructiveness of nuclear weapons – which only ever manifest by way of some sort of accident, or deviation from a norm – the catastrophes attending climate change will continue, and will continue to grow, unless a genuine change or deviation from the norm transpires.
Alongside the metaphorically and literally toxic commodities this economy produces, and the occupational and stress-related diseases, such as cancer and heart disease – not to mention poverty, malnutrition, sleep-deprivation, police violence, and the other injustices it produces – it systematically produces still more. For these alone this political-economic order should be discarded. When coupled with the recognition that the political-economy responsible for the proliferation of these harms is also causing the deadly weather events witnessed the world over, the existing system should be stripped of whatever vestige of legitimacy it has managed until now to retain. In many respects, this loss of credibility is just what’s unfolding. And it is in this context – the context of the existing Order’s legitimacy, or lack thereof – that we should briefly examine the concept of Apocalypse.Derived from the Greek term Apo, which means ‘away from’, and Kalyptein, which means ‘hidden’, apocalypse literally means ‘away from the hidden’ – or, in other words, Revelation. But just what is being revealed? And how does this primary meaning of the term apocalypse fit with its secondary meaning – with its identification with the end of the world?

When our very way of life (organized by a coercive, plutocratic political-economic system) is revealed to be the utterly destructive, unsustainable, system that it is – that is, when what is still, to some degree, a secret becomes a broadly accepted fact, the first type of revelation will lead to the second. The revelation of this Order’s fundamental injustice will lead to the dissolution of popular support; and, as history repeatedly demonstrates, when popular support for, and faith in, a given order evaporates, that concrete order quickly collapses. In other words, apocalypse should not be construed to simply mean the end of the world. Rather than the end of the world in general, apocalypse refers to the end of a particular type of world: the unjust world. And as we breathe, this unjust, reckless, exploitative world is peeling away; and the real possibility of a new, just world is being born.

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and contributor to hygiecracy.blogspot.com. He lives in New York City, and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com, and on twitter @elliot_sperber

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com and on twitter @elliot_sperber

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
stclair
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andrew Tillett-Saks
Labor’s Political Stockholm Syndrome: Why Unions Must Stop Supporting Democrats Like Clinton
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail