End Times Can No Longer Be Postponed

I’d like to make a political—rather turbulent—weather forecast. It’s not exactly a prediction because predictions tend to imply the foreordained. What I propose is much more fluid and supple. In other words, I’m wrapping myself in a rather threadbare plausible deniability in case things don’t turn out as imagined.

The forecast is for an accelerating whirlpool of international violence that could possibly be remembered, historically, as the Third World War. The current situation involving Russia and Ukraine is what congeals the storm clouds of this forecast.

In terms of geopolitical history, Russia has a longstanding worry—three major invasions (one by France, two by Germany) since the early nineteenth century—and therefore wanting Ukraine as a Slavic buffer against those encroaching, marauding Europeans. Perfectly rational in the world of geopolitics.

But at age 75, I find that I’m looking at international conflicts differently, and with a greater degree of complexity than I did, say, in 1965 when Lyndon Baines Johnson went with the flow of swooping hawks and disastrously ratcheted up the American war on Vietnam. It then felt like personal morality. (“LBJ, LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?”) Well, attributions of immorality was more like it.

That’s not to say questions of personal morality were wrong then or have disappeared now. Not at all. But I’ve come to recognize that big political entities—gladiator sports terms, let’s say, strutting on the fully armed world stage—might be compared to geologic tectonic plates that, for whatever mess of reasons, bump and grind into unanticipated catastrophic earthquakes.

Boundaries bristling with the finest of lethal weaponry indicate a certain anxiety and fear internal to the tectonic plates. Well, throw in a few other unsettled and unsettling ingredients like pride, greed, collective convictions of superiority, cultural supremacy and racial contempt, and we have a fine cauldron of tectonic agitation. Why have all that pricy lethal hardware, after all, if it’s not to be used? Stand your molten ground.

Fear, greed, pride, notions of superiority—these are some of the ingredients of the itching-for-an-earthquake, bumping and grinding tectonic plates that seem determined to periodically erupt in a deadly orgasm of death, destruction and devastation, an immense volcanic release of anxiety and other emotions poorly recognized, understood, or acknowledged. So it’s not just Lyndon Johnson anymore (or Bob McNamara or Dean Rusk or Walt Rostow) but the underlying tectonic plates of nation-state “patriotism” they and we surf on, plates whose imprint is conditioned into each successive generation. We inherit the tectonic plates and the earthquakes those grinding plates produce.

Well, the lethality of the bristling tectonic plates has arrived at a place of obvious and impending global disaster. What Sigmund Freud called the “death instinct” has achieved extinctionary capacity, which is quite an achievement for all peace-loving nations. We really are teetering on the brink of destroying, of genetically corrupting, a huge swath of evolutionary ecology on this our one and only Planet Earth. We humans with the big brains have come to the threshold of this accomplishment. Or, in more specific gender terms, we males with the big swinging dicks. Big swinging culturally castrated dicks. (And that, too, is an agitating ingredient in the molten lava, the relentlessly restless tectonic plates.)

Anyway, here’s the forecast, with or without all the protective bubble wrap. First—hope springs eternal—we’ll somehow make it through the impending whirlpool of international violence. Maybe not by much, but we’ll make it. As improbable as this may now seem, Joe Biden will go down in history as a war president with the stature of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. Red Trumpsterism will wilt and rot on the propaganda vine. The overwhelming Democratic congress, once the exhaustive war has shrunk into a post-war depression that provokes and enables an immense reconfiguration of ethical responsibilities and spiritual identity, will use its accrued public power to firmly and resolutely address the growing ravages of climate change: a major phase-down (there’ll never be a total phase-out) of fossil fuels, a serious build-up of mass transit, solar and wind technologies on all levels, programs for the restoration of small-scale food production and resurrection of rural culture, universal voter protection and single-payer health care, and an ethical political embrace of no-nonsense gender reconciliation and racial equality. Real world peace. Democratic socialism.

To get to the Green Rainbow the existing system has to break down and contract sufficiently to allow for Green Rainbow growth. It is of course true that the Red Republican white nationalist propaganda machine is, at present, an immense obstruction in the path of Rainbow Green. But there is also a lot of Blue surfers on the fear-and-rage tectonic plates. (Reds tend to bully enemies within—Black Lives Matter, you know, critical race theorists, feminazis, tree huggers, queers of all possible gender stripes, brown people at the southern border, Muslims—while Blues, with high-tech macho intercepts, scour the political horizon for enemy ships beyond. Red prefers its enemies within; Blue needs enemies without.)

If it takes another world war to hammer these pathological political tectonic plates into cultural and spiritual suppleness—well, we might as well get it over with. Things are altogether too extinctionary serious to put End Times off any longer. End Times can no longer be postponed.



Paul Gilk lives in the woods of northern Wisconsin. His home is a reconstructed nineteenth-century log cabin, without electricity or running water. He is the author of several books including Green Politics is Eutopian, Nature’s Unruly Mob: Farming and the Crisis in Rural Culture, and Picking Fights with the Gods: A Spiritual Psychoanalysis of Civilization’s Superego.