Auguries of Late Capitalism

A picture containing textDescription automatically generated

William Blake, Newton, The Tate Museum, 1795.

I

To see evolution in a bee’s flight
And biodiversity in a leaf of grass.
To know Gaia from the passing of day to night
And complexity from the biomass.

II

Wildfires rage from May to December,
Hurricanes from June to November.
Few believed the river would rise higher,
Then every yard became a quagmire.
Leaking rigs cover beaches with oil,
Red tides complete the despoil.
When a country defaults on its debt,
The threat of chaos raises a sweat.
“Save my 401ks!” seniors cry.
“Sell short,” the stockbroker’s sigh.
Treasury will stabilize the markets
So billionaires can still line their pockets.
Manchin and Sinema, Sinema and Manchin
Are the senators with power, to Bernie’s chagrin.
Jayapal, AOC, and the Squad
Stand up for the legions unshod.
“Who’ll stop the socialists?” a Republican whines.
“Why Donald on horseback!” Tuck Carlson opines.
To win elections, the GOP must cheat,
But “stop the steal” is what they endlessly bleat.
Conspiracy theorists rise up, armed to the teeth,
While their congressional allies lurk beneath.
When the reins of power pass to fascists
Will progressives all land on blacklists?
COVID began in a bat cave in China,
And jetted the globe from Spain to Car’lina.
The next plague may start with pigs in Iowa,
Then pass to humans as it gains in power.
But the real virus is Capital,
Its quest for profit implacable
The vaccine will come in many forms:
Protest and violence and terrible storms,
Teaching and voting and persistent droughts
Fires and gunshots and frequent blackouts
Striking and singing and sea-level rising,
Leading at last to de-carbonizing

III

Thus, the era of the bourgeoisie
Will end as socialism supersedes:
“From each according to their ability,
To each according to their needs.”

Stephen F. Eisenman is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Northwestern University and the author of Gauguin’s Skirt (Thames and Hudson, 1997), The Abu Ghraib Effect (Reaktion, 2007), The Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal Rights (Reaktion, 2015) and many other books. He is also co-founder of the environmental justice non-profit,  Anthropocene Alliance. He and the artist Sue Coe and now preparing for publication part two of their series for Rotland Press, American Fascism Now.