Friday, July 26, 2019

The Final Solution: The Phoenix

A Phoenix by FJ Bertuch (1747-1822)
Rising from the ashes like the phoenix is a notion that can be consoling. One or two things being awry is a far cry from the kind of perfect storm that requires disaster relief. But is it better to crash and burn then plod along in a mediocre way in which you're continually trying to plug up the leaks in a faltering system? When catastrophe strikes a collective charisma ensues that carries with it the hope for a bright new shining world. Everything will be destroyed and in its place something will be built anew. Such was the case with both the New Deal and the Marshall Plan that followed the Second World War. On the other hand, the human cost can be daunting. Viewing human existence as a learning curve is a way of palliating suffering, but sometimes both people and things (ie institutions) are destroyed that can never be rebuilt. Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed traces the swath of disasters that have caused the downfall of civilizations. There were the thousand years of Rome. However, what about Imperial America with its dreams of globalism? What about exporting democracy? What about the millenarian technology which would extinguish tribalism and xenophobia? It started with Kennedy and ran right through the Obama years, but now with the United States’ exit from initiatives like the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Accord and with the relationship with NATO imperiled, one wonders if the price to be paid exceeds the promise of some new found land.

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