The normal we had was precisely the problem

In these turbulent days I think about the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the great misfortunes of history is that all too many individuals and institutions find themselves in a great period of change and yet fail to achieve the new attitudes and outlooks that the new situation demands. There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution. And there can be no gainsaying of the fact that a social revolution is taking place in our world today. We see it in other nations in the demise of colonialism. We see it in our own nation, in the struggle against racial segregation and discrimination, and as we notice this struggle we are aware of the fact that a social revolution is taking place in our midst. Victor Hugo once said that there is nothing more powerful in all the world than an idea whose time has come. The idea whose time has come today is the idea of freedom and human dignity, and so allover the world we see something of freedom explosion, and this reveals to us that we are in the midst of revolutionary times. An older order is passing away and a new order is coming into being.

1966 WARE LECTURE: DON’T SLEEP THROUGH THE REVOLUTION, BY DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., May 18, 1966

We are in the midst of revolutionary times. An older order is passing away and a new order is coming into being. Martin Luther King, Jr.


We’re held in limbo. Our existence floats nonchalantly in a bizarre stasis like the banana slices inside a Jell-O mold. Or the fish on the top of a child’s fish tank, long dead. The things we thought mattered, now don’t. The things we thought didn’t matter, now really don’t.

Remember what used to matter before this pandemic? Remember what you used to focus on? How many “likes” a picture of your dinner got on Instagram. What happened in the new episode of “The Voice,” or “The Real Housewives” or “The Walking Dead” or “The Farting Diseased.” Which superhero movie to go see then complain that it sucked afterwards. Whether that guy at work doesn’t like you even though he smiles his stupid face at you all the time.

None of it really mattered.

LEE CAMP: Pandemic is Not Just a Crisis, It’s Also a Gift
Like cancer, capitalism grows until it murders the host body. During this pandemic shutdown, it’s not getting the growth it needs and is becoming benign. By Lee Camp, Special to Consortium News, April 23, 2020

Many people are beginning to understand the situation we are in now. Beginning to realize the need to give up the idea that in a few weeks or even months, if and when the virus is under control, life will return to normal. Not only will we never return to normal, it would be disastrous to do so.

Many people are writing a lot about our situation and where we need to go now. I’ve recently written about the importance of critical thinking. Because what used to be normal no longer is. We are forced into the unknown, and that really frightens many people. We have a choice. We can shrink from the task and look for someone else to tell us what to do. Or we can focus on figuring out what is going on now, the future we’d like see, and how to get there. We don’t have much time to do so. If we don’t, I fear dark forces might.

But let’s cut to the chase — and I’m sorry if the next statement upsets you — but in order to stop climate change and create a sustainable world, it requires the end of capitalism. I know I’m not “allowed” to say that.

But let’s take our intellectual honesty out for a spin, shall we?

As Guardian columnist George Monbiot said, “Capitalism has three innate characteristics that drive us towards destruction… firstly, that it generates and relies upon perpetual growth.” Endless growth on a planet with finite resources. Such a thing is physically impossible.

The second problem is “…the idea that our right to own natural wealth equates to the amount of money that we’ve got in the bank or we can borrow. So, you can take as much natural wealth away from other people as you like.”

The third characteristic is the one that really ensures that people go along with capitalism, the idea that everyone can pursue — and can expect to find — private luxury.”

LEE CAMP: Pandemic is Not Just a Crisis, It’s Also a Gift
Like cancer, capitalism grows until it murders the host body. During this pandemic shutdown, it’s not getting the growth it needs and is becoming benign. By Lee Camp, Special to Consortium News, April 23, 2020

The diagram below indicates capitalism requires a monetary system for selling and buying products and services. People receive income for that purpose from jobs or social safety nets. We belong to communities we rely on for necessities such as food, housing, education and healthcare.

Both manufacturing and communities depend on infrastructure for energy, water and transportation. One point I am trying to make is the impact of environmental chaos, which is damaging infrastructure and community structures like homes, schools, hospitals. Food production is damaged from violent storms, drought, fires and floods.

The pandemic has impacted millions of jobs, many permanently. We are seeing the strain on social safety nets.

I don’t know all of the ramifications of the collapse of capitalism, with the loss of manufacturing and service industry jobs and of social safety nets. I think that means we are going to need to build communities like the ones our parents grew up in. Basically subsistence communities that raise their own food. Where there is little need for money/debt.

There is much to be done, many problems to figure out to transition to such communities. How this will scale with the numbers of people involved. Does the concept of land ownership change? How to deal with housing for those coming to these communities. Because I think migration to small towns will be a large part of this.

One advantage we have over the communities of the past are renewable energy sources. That should be one of the things being addressed now while solar panels and wind turbines can still be obtained.


I’ll conclude with quotes from two of my friends. The main point of the diagram below for this discussion relates to the bottom, about using Native ways for regenerative agricultural methods. This also shows the positive effects of the collapse of capitalism.

Let’s look at the Indigenous Peoples that have survived genocide and continue to carry on their ways—ways which can save the world. Let’s look to our tribal nations for an Indigenous-led regenerative economy created through traditional ecological knowledge. An effective way we can protect, preserve and restore the climate is by seeing and taking the word of people who fight colonial oppression by tenaciously holding onto traditions that tell a different story about this planet.

Christine Nobiss

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James

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