In the first weeks of this year of 2014 I became aware of a feeling that this was to be no ordinary time for the world we inhabit, the nations we live in, and the global civilisation of which we are all part. I blogged about that thought at the time here: 2014, The Year Everything Changes.
Nothing that has occurred, between the time of writing that blog post and now, has given me any cause to doubt or change my mind at all about what I said there. On the contrary, while at the time I had no explicit thoughts as to what way or in what shape the unfolding months would progress, many events this year, changing conditions, and rising influences, have tended to only strengthen the feelings I had. Not least the recent shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, which has the potential to critically alter the way of life for all of us. I may elucidate on this towards the end of the year. To do so now would detract from what I want to say in this post.
The title of this post, ‘A New Age of Global Paranoia’, I can not claim as my own work. It is a thought borrowed from a fine article addressing this issue at the AlterNet website here: The New Age of Global Paranoia: Russia, Ukraine and Plane Crash. I will remark on this article in due course but first I want to make a few general comments of my own about the current situation.
It is wrong, very wrong, for the leaders (the PM, Foreign Minister) of my nation, Australia, and others (US President especially) to pronounce blame and culpability for the tragic downing of flight MH17 on Russia and President Putin. It is both blinkered and shortsighted thinking on the part of these leaders, or perhaps premeditated obfuscation of true intent, to do so.
It is even unjustifiable to blame the Ukrainian separatist rebels who may, and it is only may at this stage, have fired the weapon that brought the aircraft down. Leave aside the premise that whoever did it, it may have been an unfortunate but unintentional mistake made in the confusion of a conflict zone. The chances of the event occurring as a deliberate criminal act are so minute as to be discarded as trivial, not fan-fared as an accusatory external response to the event.
The Americans always have a very short memory when it comes to their own shortcomings but are quick to jump on those of other nations. How many Americans I wonder remember that they deliberately shot down a commercial passenger jet, Iran Air Flight 655, back in July of 1988 after supposedly mistaking it for an Iranian fighter aircraft. Of course, Russia (at the time USSR), Ukraine, Israel, and an unknown perpetrator, have all previously caused similar tragedies. The recent event is therefore not unprecedented. This does not include destruction of passenger aircraft from on-board bomb packages. Of which there have been several, perhaps most notably Lockerbie.
If blame for this tragedy is to be judiciously and fairly apportioned, it must possess a reach much wider than the local theatre of conflict. After all, Russia is only looking after its own interests and protecting its own back yard by assisting, if they are actually assisting with the supply of sophisticated armaments to the Russian speaking Ukrainian rebels, just as every other nation, including and perhaps especially as the US does, when it suits them.
The separatists themselves are only seeking to exercise their right to self-determination in a country they see as sidelining their personal interests. These are not bad people and they are certainly not criminals. At least they are no worse than those they are in conflict with and those who are really responsible for bringing about this whole situation in Ukraine. By that I mean NATO and the European Union, which inevitably means the US also, all of whom have broken an agreement with Russia (though some dispute this ever existed, it certainly does in Russian eyes) to steer clear of involvement in Russia’s sphere of influence (ie. to not move further East), which includes Ukraine, in return for agreeing to the re-unification of Germany late last century.
NATO, the EU and the US have for a while been pushing for just this sort of conflagration both overtly and covertly by seeking to annexe Ukraine to the West. It is little wonder that Russia and the many Russian speaking Ukrainians are objecting to this sort of action.
The blame net, if it is to be cast at all, needs to be cast even wider than this. It is not only politicians, world leaders and governments of all persuasions that are trawled into this net. They are only (supposedly) largely reflecting the thoughts and wishes of society in general. Society itself therefore must take its share.
You and I, and even (dare I say) the victims of MH17 (the adults at least) must take a share of responsibility as complicit members of the current crumbling, sick, global civilisation that has turned this world into the paranoid state it has become today. A world of greed, conflict, and global paranoia as described in the excellent article from AlterNet that I cited earlier. We are all jointly responsible, to a greater or lesser degree, for everything that happens both now, locally and globally, and into the future.
So I say to world leaders, back off from blaming Russia for this, or you could plunge us into something that will not be easily remedied.
Please read the AlterNet article. It carries some useful insights.
Perhaps the most prominent idea that arises from this article is the actual and growing feeling of paranoia prevalent in the world today. It is something that can be felt. Maybe not explained but certainly felt. Except of course by those who are so wrapped up in their own little sphere of existence that they hardly recognise or acknowledge anything outside of it.
People do not feel safe today. For any number of reasons or for perhaps no reason at all that they are able to verbalise and formulate a clear image of. I see this as a visceral recognition that something is wrong. Something is going on that they cannot as yet get a handle on. Something that breeds fear for the future such that it can only be dealt with by immersing the self in the trivialities of the present but knowing that it cannot be, will not be, ignored for ever. A fear that can be dulled by an infusion of media distractions, consumerism, or worse still – drugs, or can be avoided altogether by suicide. That is why these things are so prevalent these days. That is why it has been so easy for controlling powers to surreptitiously install curbs on freedoms long held in less stressful times. That is why immune systems have been able to be de-sensitised by the introduction of food substitutes and additives. That is why pharmaceutical companies have been able to enslave folk to dependence on their sensibility numbing and behaviour controlling/inducing wares.
I know exactly what is going on. We are living through the decline and collapse of everything we have come to know and enjoy as part of the modern global civilisation, and just like all previous such declines, and yes there have been many, and no this time is no different, it is a time of confusion, despair, posturing, over-reaction, violence and conflict on many levels. What is needed to stem the fear and harness the efforts of all, is acceptance of the situation, a willingness to let go of the past and all of its binding principles, and the courage to prepare for changed times.
The conditions, actions, incidents, controversy and confusion that we see now, reflect the current state of the melting pot of civilisational decay.
Here’s how Andrew Leonard, the author, explains the phenomena:
“An already anxious world is sure to get more jittery. We’ve seen what happens after previous shocks to the global nervous system. 9/11 changed the psychology of a nation — changed our laws, the way we travel, the way our government spies on its citizens. We didn’t feel safe, so we became paranoid, with lasting effect.”
The destruction (of MH17) …will further stoke close-to-the-breaking-point paranoia. Adding a fully invigorated neo-Cold-War showdown to American anxieties about terrorism could further inflame nationalist fevers on both sides of the Atlantic. We gasp, because our world just lurched again, and the only thing we can be sure of is that there are more lurches to come.
Remember the end of history (referring to a 1992 book by Francis Fukuyama)? The triumph of capitalist liberal democracies over the failed socialist experiment? The deeper we get into the 21st century the more insecure that supposed victory feels. A more terrified world is a world that justifies more surveillance, more hatred towards the alien other, more controls on movement and association.
History doesn’t end. It staggers forward, fitfully, like a drunk bully. And maybe that explains the sick feeling that accompanied the news from Ukraine. Three hundred innocent people dying is horror enough. The certainty that the consequences of this event will lead us places we don’t want to go is even worse.
Whether we like it or not, we are headed to places and events that we can exert little control over. What we can do is to make that process as peaceful and ultimately fruitful as possible by our reactions to events as they unfold. The present day reactions of current world leaders do not lend much hope to this possibility. It is up to you and I.