Friday, February 28, 2020

The Final Solution: Mad Max

Movies like the Mad Max series exist in a dystopian future where the scourge of technology has reduced the earth to an almost primitive state. Warring factions scramble for scarce resources and power is wielded by directionless machines and conscienceless robots. It’s a value free universe hauntingly similar to the one that is beginning to assert itself across giant swathes of the planet which are quickly dissolving into an unwieldy mixture authoritarianism and lawlessness. Mad Max or Mad Men (the series about the world of 60s advertising)? Will a Bolsonaro burn down the Amazon? Kim Jong-un, a character out of a sci fi jeremiad, plays with missiles like a child, while states like the Syria become the proxies for value free diplomacy carried on by warlords like Putin and Erdogan and tyrants like Duterte perpetrate atrocity in the name of deterrence. Civil order and due process are the first thing to go, but what's particularly disconcerting is that a certain degree of gratuitous destruction seems to be a prerequisite for the total return to tribalism which these cyber epics depict. All the ingredients exist for a multivalent Armageddon to wit religious states with millenarian ideas, charismatic leaders with unquestioning followers in and out of government (like our current president) and apocalyptic conditions like the melting of Antarctica which run the risk of creating cataclysmic climactic conditions which bring down the battlements and structures in which democratic institutions have been housed. The fact is that a certain level of affluence or the prospect of it seems to be a sine qua non for the thriving of advanced societies. America survived the Depression, but it’s unsettling to realize that one of the spurs to the resurgence of the economy was war.

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