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

 

More articles by:

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

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 29, 2017
Dave Lindorff
Sy Hersh, Exposer of My Lai and Abu Ghraib, Strikes Again, Exposing US Lies About Alleged Assad Sarin ‘Attack’
Chuck Collins
What Happened to America’s Wealth? The Rich Hid It
Rev. William Alberts
When the Bible is the Root of Evil
Jeff Mackler
Trumps ‘No Fly Zone’ Escalates U.S. War Against Syria
Bill Willers
The Next World War Won’t Just Be “Over There” 
Ellen Brown
Sovereign Debt Jubilee, Japanese-Style
Jack Laun
Will There Finally be Peace With Justice in Colombia?
Binoy Kampmark
Holding the Police to Account in the UK
David Swanson
Against Ignoring the KKK
Rima Najjar
Israel’s Illegitimate Tactics Against Palestinian Armed Resistance vs. Legitimate Global Security Concerns
Mel Gurtov
Advise, Assist, Arm: The United States at War
David Welsh
Berkeley Capitulates to Police Militarization and Spying
Marion Andrew
Not Being Considerate of One’s Audience: US Television’s Coverage of Olympic and International Sports
June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail