Ever since the United States unilaterally pulled out of the Gold Standard, thereby “delinking” the creation of money underpinned by a physical asset, the ensuing neoliberal economic model of ordering societies has held sway over not only the West but also in large swathes of the developing world. While the merits and demerits of whether neoliberalism wrought “havoc” on the environment, life in general, and, more importantly, the poor are debatable, it is clear that the current moment in our collective evolution is a “tipping point”, where the Five Decades since 1971 (when Nixon abolished the Gold Standard) have now created a Perfect Storm of converging crises, catalyzed by the Pandemic and Putin, to a situation where the world risks “slow motion” collapse.
Sample this! Neoliberalism “failed” to keep people safe during the pandemic. The decades of “easy money” have worsened inequality, exacerbated the grotesque “rich-poor divide”, and ominously have endangered the Earth’s ecosystem, our natural habitat, and the climate, exemplified by the “apocalyptic” flooding that has become routine worldwide, whenever there are storms, as well as induced “extreme” weather events such as droughts and melting glaciers. As if this was not enough, we have high inflation, low growth, and a looming “bottomless” downturn due to the convergence of income loss depressing demand, clogged supply chains stoking inflation, and the law of diminishing returns on capital, fueling speculation rather than job-creating productive investments.
Of course, the other problematic aspect of the present moment is that our elites are still in “denial” over the root causes of the present crisis, and the mindboggling complexity of the modern world is beyond anyone to comprehend, let alone fix. The outcome is a succession of crises, each “unexpected” than the last, and where lesser mortals are in awe of what comes next, even as our elites flail about to plan for the “unknown”. While the annual talkfest of the who’s who of the world, Davos, does offer some clues into whether our rulers know what to do, the very real question as to “will they do what needs to be done” is usually what transpires. Indeed, it is high time someone got together an “alternative agenda” for Davos and other such jamborees to ensure that there is someone to “save the world”.
Not that it matters, as we are all too absorbed in the miasma of our Smartphone addictions to notice, or for that matter, care. While Bill Gates crowed about “business@speed of thought” back in the 1990s, it now seems that technology has been good for business but not for thought. In this “junkie” world, zaniness is the norm. The Great Derangement, where nothing is real, is now being followed by The Great Unravelling, with the “unloading” of decades of excesses that now threaten the very survival of our and other species. The pandemic is undoubtedly to blame, though the seeds were sown long ago. Putin is the current bugbear, though the West has its share of the blame for pushing Russia “into a corner” from which it had no choice but to fight back.
So, where do we go from here? I guess the status quo would persist, despite clear evidence that it is not working. It might even worsen, so a complete collapse cannot be ruled out. Though those in charge might “manage” each crisis, promising Utopia now and then, the most likely scenario is more disorder and anarchy, till the time, there is a realization that it is too late, and so we need something to replace the failed model. Everyone keeps talking about this so-called Great Reset, though no one knows whether it will happen. While I do hope for the sake of our children that this happens, I have been around for too long to be sanguine. Until then, I will go back to watching Cat Videos, and you can resume whatever you were doing before reading this.
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