Originally published in Arthur No. 5 (June 2003)
Why I am glad George Bush is President
by Daniel Pinchbeck
It is painful to admit it—I flinch away from saying it—but I am glad George Bush is President.
Don’t get me wrong: I consider him the worst and most dangerous leader this country has ever had. He is a smirking abomination, a fascistic fratboy, an avatar of the deepest, darkest murk burbling at the bottom of the American soul. In the 19th Century, Emerson wrote, “The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself.” The current administration is the culmination of generations of American minds aiming lower and lower, gnawing upon their own emptiness and projecting it into the void. Attention spans and memories have contracted to the length of one news cycle. ADD and Alzhemier’s are the perfect metaphors for this amnesiac age.
I am glad that George Bush is President because humanity has to make a choice, and our time for making that choice is quickly running out.
In the greater scheme of things, Enron doesn’t matter. Halliburton doesn’t matter. “War on Iraq” doesn’t matter. Israel doesn’t matter. Al Quaeda doesn’t matter. Art doesn’t matter. Film doesn’t matter. TV doesn’t matter. Celebrity doesn’t matter. Ego doesn’t matter. America doesn’t matter.
Only the biosphere matters. Without a radical change in direction, the imminent collapse of the planet’s life support systems is what counts.
The coral reefs are disappearing, the polar ice caps are melting, fresh water is becoming a scarce resource, every ounce of our blood contains a catalogue of industrial chemicals. The fancy gadgets we bought yesterday are leeching toxins into Third World soil today. Around the globe, desperate peasants are fleeing their parched and ruined lands to congregate in the slums of vast “mega-cities.” Within several decades, at the current rate of resource-depletion, there will be no tropical forests left on the Earth. Before that can happen, however, the structures holding together contemporary civilization will have disintegrated along with the environment.
Modern consumer culture is a vast machine of entropy, breaking down the planet’s life support systems and destroying indigenous cultures to continue its unsustainable addictions. The United States-the worst offender-consists of less than five percent of the world’s population guzzling 25% of the global production of energy and, by some accounts, more than 40% of the world’s resources. Bush and Cheney are old-fashioned gangsters, but Bill Clinton and Al Gore were smiley faced snake-oil salesmen for the corporate globalization that has unleashed its scorched-earth effects across the planet. Good riddance to them, their lies and their arrogance and their compromises. The changes that need to be made go far beyond what our current political system can enact–even if the system hadn’t been juked by crooked “ATM-style” voting machines and hanging chads.
It is time for the great dehypnotizing of the citizens of Planet Earth.
I agree with Bush’s spiritual advisers: We have entered the Apocalypse in the “Book of Revelation.” But who do they think was being referred to when the prophet wrote: “Destroyed will be the destroyers of the Earth?” And who are the meek who will inherit the planet when the destroyers are done with it? Could it be the indigenous people, who never lost contact with the heartbeat of the planet, who have endured the arrogance of forgotten empires in the past and will continue to endure?
Do you know where “Wall Street” got its name? Is it any surprise that Wall Street refers to the original barrier erected by the Dutch to keep out the Indians? Our economic system was founded on that dialectical divide. From the Indian perspective, the history of America is repression, treaty violation, and genocide. Despite our rhetoric, America has never been shy about using brutal force to loot the resources we desire and murder those who get in our way, whether in the “Wild West” or the Middle East today. Perhaps, when imminent environmental collapse brings the current form of civilization to an end, we will finally lose our contempt for indigenous wisdom. Was it the Indians who polluted their waters, destroyed their forests, irradiated their children, stockpiled nuclear and biological weapons, or added every living and nonliving thing into their maniacal calculus of human greed? But of course, when the Hopis marched to the UN to warn of the imminent fulfilment of their ancient prophecies, nobody took them seriously.
The Lakota shaman Black Elk said, “Without a vision, the people perish.” Ask yourself: What vision is our society following? Is our goal simply to continue maximizing profits and the level of comfort for the privileged few as the global environment melts down and brings a quick end to the human experiment on this planet? And for those privileged few, is the sci-fi fantasy of bio-engineered life-extension in gated communities looking out on a degraded world overwhelmed by desperate refugees an inspiring one? The government’s pursuit of “homeland security” through surveillance and force is an obsolete fantasy that will lead to disaster. Real security can only emerge from authenticity, generosity, transparency, and inner calm. In his Empire of Disorder, Alain Joxe writes, “The only benefit for the globalization of finance and military force for humanity is that it obliges us to think of a global means of equitable distribution, which is the only way to avoid the worldwide civil war that threatens to take the form of cold barbaric violence.”
Ultimately, modern society is an artifice held together by the mesh of people’s faith and belief in the system. When that faith collapses, the system will fall. We saw this, most recently, in East Europe in 1989. An alternative vision to the present consumer society is beginning to emerge and clarify itself. To paraphrase cyber-theorist Pierre Levy, the Internet provides a potential model for a global, horizontal democracy, one that would be “immanent and molecular” rather than the “transcendent and molar” structure of the current system. For Levy, the new system would be based on individual responsibility and on humanity’s “collective intelligence” working together in real-time. There are extraordinary scientists and visionaries who have developed models of alternative economies and currencies, methods to bioremediate toxified land and water, ways of producing clean energy, and industries that make almost no waste (for more info on some of these projects, check out http://www.bioneers.org). The development of modern information technology, the “global brain” of humanity, will facilitate the instant transmission of transformative ideas across the Earth, when it becomes necessary.
What is required is nothing less than the psychic and spiritual regeneration of humanity. To paraphrase the visionary Jose Arguelles, we need a “mass moral revulsion” away from the techno-dystopic direction of our current civilization. Despite current appearances, I suspect this will happen, soon, on a global scale and in a more conscientious and deeply transformative way than it did in “the Sixties.” It can be sensed, now, as an undercurrent, a distant rumbling in the mass subconscious. Humanity’s yearning for liberation and truth is due for an imminent volcanic eruption. And when it happens, I will be glad that George Bush was President, so that I got to watch him fall.