The Inertia that prevents us from reacting to the collapse

Earth Burning

By: Raúl Zibechi

That humanity is beginning to suffer the confluence of crises and pandemics that configure a situation of chaos or collapse of life on the planet, seems out of the question. That the ruling classes play their own game to remain in their place of privilege and that the politicians have little intention of moving, also seems evident to a large part of the population.

What’s disconcerting and causes anguish, is the scant reaction of the sectors most affected by the collapse underway. We attend demonstrations, strikes, even some uprisings of an insurrectional nature like the one that is shaking Ecuador these days, but the main trend is toward inertia, toward a return to normality that, deep down, we all want.

The reasons for the lack of answers to the level of challenges, are very diverse. One of them is that the old forms of collective action, coined especially by the labor movement, are now insufficient given the challenges we face. A new political culture cannot be born overnight, although there are territorial experiences that are extremely auspicious.

The National strike by the CONAIE paralyzed cities in Ecuador.

A few days ago, the European Laboratory of Political Anticipation, a French think tank dedicated to analyzing and anticipating global economic developments from an independent European perspective, warned of some central issues in its June newsletter’s editorial.

The first is that we are faced with “a total crisis of a 500-year-old civilization,” which will lead us headlong into “a new global Middle Ages.” Beyond the more than debatable reference to this supposedly “dark” period of history, the big problem is that “the transition to a new systemic organization has not been prepared and, therefore, it will not occur in a controlled way. “

In sum, the coming years can be dramatic. The Laboratory estimates that a “rupture” may occur even this year, given the paralysis of governments, scarcity, widespread impoverishment, “unprecedented” famines and natural catastrophes, which configure a collapse fueled by the unsustainable growth of inequality.

In 2022, South Sudan and 3 UN agencies have officially declared famine in 2 South Sudanese counties due to prolonged war and economic crisis.

The second, points to the central theme: “Potentially terrifying crises without historical precedent follow each other, without having an irreversible impact on our daily life, which reduces our fear of them and people just return to the normal course of their lives.”

This issue fully challenges us as anti-capitalist movements and people. The debacle we are witnessing finds us ill-prepared to face it; a disadvantage that can be overcome with territorial collective organizations, capable of ensuring survival and life in times of death and destruction. The crisis in Ukraine teaches us that betting on the States, as the European lefts do, is a bad path. If we have not prepared for this situation, the damages can be enormous.

As the cited editorial points out, not even the large States in the North are capable of stopping the collapse. That’s why the system gambles on repression and militarization. “The irresistible temptation to tighten its control over the masses is now the only way to maintain what remains of their system,” estimates the Laboratory. Control facilitated through new technologies that offer “those in command an unprecedented breadth of power.”

Those above have a strategy long-tested in other transitions: militarism and war to redesign the world that is collapsing. It’s the option of the United States and the European Union, but also of Russia and China, and of any other great power, regardless of their discourse.

Some say that China doesn’t act that way, but they don’t want to remember how Beijing crushed popular protest in Hong Kong, resorting to police violence and armed brutality, like any other country that fights for hegemony.

Decades of “democracy” and “progress” have anesthetized a good part of the population that continues to believe that the State or the political leaders are going to save us, or that money will be of some use in the extreme moments of the collapse. Individualism condemns us.

Sup Galeano (formerly Marcos) with children.

Seven years ago, the Zapatistas warned about the imminence of a systemic storm, but few understood the urgency of the call to organize. The powers of above launch armed packs against the best organized communities, which the media baptize as narcos so as to disguise that they are the spearhead of capitalism.

The world we knew has disappeared; capitalism will collapse in the same way it was born: “dripping blood and mud through all its pores” (Marx). It only remains for us to create collective forms of power, powers from below, in order to survive the collapse and the chaos as peoples.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, July 1, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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