T.S Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” famously contains the line “this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” This was quickly (and not so famously) refuted by the great Hubert J Watergipridget who stated, “the world will go on for billions of years. The human race, however, will likely die out due to a variety of factors, such as viral outbreaks from bats, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, unchecked climate change and (it goes without saying), all-out war. This is the way the world ends, not with a whimper, but with much grumbling and probably a few bangs.”
When asked to expand on the ‘viral outbreaks from bats’ element of his prediction, he replied, ‘get your mum to expand on the viral outbreaks from bats element of my prediction,’ which, if anything, showed he was well ahead of his time.
Anyway, I think we’re coming close to our end. Not because the world’s gone mad. I’m currently sat in my Deadpool pyjamas drinking a coffee from my posh Nespresso machine, so suffice to say, it’s relatively stable.
Back in 1922, Europe was in a bit of bother, economically speaking. Thanks in no small part to the treaty of Versailles, Germany was in a particularly bad way. So, the Reichsbank decided to put into practise the controversial theory of ‘printing unlimited amounts of money’. Thanks to this maverick attitude, we now know this was a spectacularly bad idea. By 1923, one US Dollar would get you 4.2 x 1012 German marks, which you know is bad because it involves a tiny floating number. At this point, it would cost the average German one wheelbarrow full of money for a loaf of bread. Whilst this was good for the wheelbarrow industry, it was disastrous for everyone else. Now that’s instability.
However, just because the world hasn’t yet gone mad, it doesn’t mean it isn’t showing early symptoms. We have been seeing (quite frequently) what will later be described as ‘warning signs.’ Once upon a time the idea of the Prime Minister of the UK shutting himself in a fridge to avoid the press would have been a hilarious blend of surrealism and scathing satire, not the only thing of note an absent PM actually does. The idea of an unelected man whose main credentials seem to be ‘he had a blog’ becoming one of the most powerful people in British politics was, at one point, laughable. The idea of the ruling party hiring – regardless of how short a stint – a man who seemed to suggest we should be bred like dogs to have more desirable offspring, would be something out of a dystopian novel.
Yet, all those blue lines indicate the fact that they are all very much part of reality.
On a side note, notice how it’s always the rich and well-educated that push the eugenics agenda. Almost as if it’s a way to justify their wealth and privilege as something they deserve rather than having to accept that it’s probably not right. Underachieving schools? It’s because their students are genetically predisposed to underachieving, nothing to do with funding or social inequality. I’m so glad I’m not a Delta.
Alt-right terrorism is seemingly on the rise, bringing anti-immigration sentiment to the fore, which is funny when you think much of British history involves our ancestors sailing around the globe just nicking everyone’s country. ‘Hello India, this is our country now. Welcome to the British Empire, but don’t you dare come to Britain.’ Fortunately, it’s not isolated to Britain. Which is the worst possible usage of the word, fortunately. I mean to say, at least we’re not alone in our xenophobia. France has its National Front, Germany the AfD, Spain has Vox etc. They’re not the only far-right group in either country, of course, just the most well-known.
And it’s immigration that seems to irk them the most. Of course, it would be naive to suggest there are no downsides to immigration. It can put strain on already beleaguered services, such as healthcare. It may create more demand on housing, which can only be supplied by building onto floodplains and the rapidly diminishing greenbelt (although that’s largely the fault of a naturally growing population anyway). I don’t know, I’m no expert, but even the best things have their negative sides – I once ate a massive raspberry pavlova all to myself and felt very sick that evening. For the most part – anti-immigration is scapegoating at it’s finest. Again, weird use of words.
Automation and cheaper foreign goods helped accelerate the decline of industry across America, putting people out of work. Instead of investing in retraining a lot of these people or trying to provide alternative areas of work or curb the influx of cheap outsider goods, America chose to do none of these things, choosing instead to count large stacks of foreign ‘hot money’. These out of work people were largely forgotten about as politics focussed mainly on the large metropolitan areas. Rather than admit fault and suggest reinvestment into former industrialised communities, it was considered much easier to blame Mexicans.
Similarly, why focus on working hard to better a nation and look into what is dividing us all, or accepting we’re no longer as powerful as we once were, or even considering a dramatic overhaul of the political system, the UK found it easier to blame Europe for all our woes, further stoking the embers of division.
Why blame a war that stemmed from a history based on empire building and exploitation led by inbred cousins and the poor, reactionary handling of the aftermath of said war (and the aforementioned unlimited money printing), and work to change the social system of the day, when you can blame Europe and the Jews. Yes, it’s got there. We’re back at Hitler. It was inevitable. Because, lets face it. It didn’t go mad right away. The symptoms were missed, and the underlying cause went untreated, and like syphilis, the end result was insanity… and the atom bomb – wait, I’ve messed up my allegory.
If we’re not careful, especially in this age of misinformation, we could be wandering down a path of destruction. What should we do instead? I don’t know. I can’t even keep on top of my washing and often run out of pants. I would say, there’s far too many of us, all with a differing opinion on how the world should work, all shouting to be heard. Ultimately, we need the Infinity Gauntlet. A minor tweak to Thanos’ plans and we could have all the space and resources we need. The xenophobes could have their own utopia on White Island. Whereas, us liberals who are just trying to get along could have a continent sized café serving dishes from all over the world at a sensible price.
However, the government has yet to respond to my request for a grant to chase down the Infinity Stones.
Yes, that was a weak ending. I was originally planning to write a blog about automation and how I hope it eventually gets so good that none of us have to work, and we can all float around in those chairs in WALL-E and get fat and have constant entertainment fired into our eyes. But I didn’t know how to get there. And I’m a gardener when it comes to writing. I plant the seed and see what happens, and if the result is a twisted mess of nettles, then who am I to burn it down?