It’s official: I am in I-don’t-give-a-fuck-anymore mode. Between quarantine, social distancing, and Covid-induced madness, I’ve managed to stay above water but barely. Like most of us, I miss going to shows, hanging out with fellow metalheads, having a beer or two, and getting my ears blasted with hellish riffs in some smoke-filled, damp shithole in the sketchy part of town. As Islander points out in this piece, it has become abundantly clear by now that we will be dealing with this mess for the foreseeable future and any talk of a vaccine sorting things out, at least immediately, is pure fantasy.
Adding to the misery is the current political situation in the US and elsewhere. Recently, we were made to choose between two sets of incompetent and corrupt candidates whose political grand accomplishments include gems such as drafting the 1994 Crime Bill, imprisoning thousands of black men on minor (and often bogus) drug charges, building a ridiculous border wall, giving the rich more tax cuts, and tweeting nonsense at the world all day, everyday, for the last four years. Those who have done the most damage to American society by harassing, abusing, and dividing its people with their actions and rhetoric are now masquerading as leaders committed to social justice and unity.
More importantly, blind partisanship is destroying our society and directing attention away from serious issues like lack of educational opportunities for the young and affordable health care and housing for the disadvantaged, crumbling infrastructure, and the role that dark money plays in campaign financing and elections, to name just a few. We are tired of watching the news and hearing all the “experts” shilling for their corporate masters. Social media has become a propaganda tool that actively censors content and takes sides in a sick bipartisan game of blame and hypocrisy. Our universities indoctrinate rather than teach tolerance and the power of diverse ideas. Our institutions are overrun by corporate identity politics, whatever flavor is more profitable on the day.
This is where we are as a nation in 2020 and it’s fucking embarrassing. I have zero confidence in the next administration’s ability to unite America or get anything other than partisan pandering accomplished, and I expect the next four years to be the most tumultuous period in modern American history.
The rest of the world is no different. The welfare state of the post-war era is dying a slow and painful death in Europe. France, a beacon of Western democracy, has been in a state of upheaval—most of the post-yellow-vest unrest has been well-censored by French and international media—and is falling apart. The UK, Italy, Spain, and Germany are all struggling with Covid as well as a changing demographic and partisan cultural wars. Africa is in more trouble than it’s ever been in with Covid changing the balance of power and access to resources. China and Russia are working behind the scenes to simultaneously suppress a dissatisfied population at home and impose their geopolitical influence on resource-rich developing nations. We are all heading toward a reckoning far greater than any of us could have imagined until recently.
In the first instalment of this series, I had expressed hope that Covid might force us (both people and governments) to take a deeper look at ourselves and fix our flaws. Unfortunately, it looks like the current situation has created a free-for-all instead, with governments and those in powerful positions exploiting the situation for their own benefit.
I have no solutions or words of wisdom to end this piece on, only a book and song recommendation. For those interested in understanding the fragile nature of America’s democracy, America, Empire of Liberty by David Reynolds provides a fantastic one-volume account of how we got to this point. For others, “Ego Sum Omega” by Schammasch should do a damn good job of capturing the essence of that narrative.