Two Truths from the Pandemic No One Wants to Mention

by Kirkpatrick Sale edited by O Society May 7, 2020

At least two truths are certain at this point in pandemic world:

1) Humans have so dominated the world, destroying much of non-human life and systems in the process, the world struck back in recoil and seeks to readjust the balance.

2) Human sustenance systems are far too large and unwieldly to be effective and the smaller the system or operation the more efficient, useful, friendly, or supportive.

The first truth is of course the one the current organizers of the world, the ones who brought this crisis upon us, do not want us to believe.

To believe it, they would have to acknowledge the global-liberal-capitalist-guided environment they worked centuries—or, to be more precise, 75 years—to create so damaged the environment, we can no longer function.  Not only have they engineered a world warming so fast, with ancillary die-outs of so many other species and ecosystems, it finally caught up to us, the bipedal species whowho thou it was in charge.  It is more. We have almost eliminated all species other than those that serve us (only less than 5 per cent of the species on earth can be called “wild” any more)  to the point the earth needs to seek a way to reestablish a balance. A global pandemic is a simple way to begin.

It is saying here we have one chance to reorder our values, restructure our relationship with nature, create an economic arrangement that does
not depend upon using the treasures we call “resources” as rapidly and recklessly as we can.  One chance to reposition our species as one among many, and a humble one at that, instead of thinking ourselves superior and dominant.

The second truth follows neatly from the first.  Clearly all the large systems we evolved to solve our problems and govern our lives have failed, some most dramatically so.  When a crisis hit, no one depended on international institutions to do anything useful—no one even thought the United Nations should meet!—and all the globalists at once fell upon national governments to save them, ignoring the whole edifice of internationalism cobbled up in the 75 years since World War II.

As it turned out, most of these national systems sputtered and backstepped and went around in circles too, the only partial exceptions being oriental-rooted autocracies in the East.  The United States, by far the most powerful and richest, dithered for days without any leadership and no one knew whether the medical side or the political side would step up; in the end it was a little bit of both and a lots of neither.  The European Union was completely silent, and the feeble states of Italy, Iran, UK, and the rest could only cry “Panic!” and shut as much down as they could, regardless of consequences.

As it turned out, the U.S. national instruments were inadequate, ill-managed, and inefficient.  States tried to move up, as in New York, yet they little knew what strategies to pursue for the long term, much less what machines to get for the short.

Where actual achievements were made, and lives saved, was at a much more local level, where doctors and nurses could touch and see and know the needed steps to success.

The lesson is if anything really useful—and ecologically sound—is to be done in the future, it should best be done at a local level.  It is here, and here only, we can all heed the call sent out by Pope Francis in the wake of the pandemic:

“We have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world.”

This is the way to survive the pandemic and to get about the business of a non-capitalist non-suicidal ecological salvation.

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