What can we do with an Apocalypse

It is 2012 and the Apocalypse is here. The question is what can we do with it, what can we do with this concept, what is its potential? Apocalypse in the common sense means the end of the world, it etymologically means a lifting of the veil or a revelation about what is already here, hidden in plain sight.

Nowadays we have too many signs of the end and not so many about the revelation. We cross or we are about to cross some major important boundaries like climate change, species extinction, the disruption of the nitrogen-phosphorus cycles, ocean acidification, ozone depletion, freshwater usage, land cover change... Each of these rifts in planetary boundaries constitutes an actual or potential global ecological catastrophe.(1) The panic of the end is everywhere: it is in the current desperate phase of capitalism with its aggressive and destructive scratching for the last resources, using techniques like tar sands, fracking and deep sea exploitation... And, similarly, it is in the aggressive exploitation of the sensitive zones of human subjectivity - our emotions, empathy, sociability, intuition, imagination are now extracted and put to work at the center of the economy. The consequences on ecosystems, socio-systems, psycho-systems are the same – they are all collapsing.

All this should be presented daily in the news, everybody should think, debate, try to find solutions... But it isn't. To deal with some peripheral symptoms then facing the monster seems to be preferable - what to do with the fact that acidification of oceans dangerously increased by 30% lately, climate change is now largely irreversible (2) or what about the fact that we are in the middle of the fastest mass extinction in the known history, including the 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs extinction? (3)
The spectacle goes on at any price, and the price is continuously growing, while more and more policing at all levels is needed. A militarization of police takes place everywhere. Even drones with no human attached, the perfect partner of capital, are in the air now searching for enemies. And there are drones that are set to operate on the domestic fronts too, the war is with the 99%, the enemy moves closer and closer, the terrorist is your neighbor, the enemy is you. With all the private contractors that are replacing the police and the state army, the administration of death can become more profitable than the exploitation of the living. So, the morbid component of capitalism (until now only externalized and contained at the periphery, in the 3rd and 2nd World) is spreading everywhere.

All these conditions provide a continuous state of emergency, a lot of important distractions and non-events. There is a great time acceleration, always something urgent to figure out, to fix, there is no time to reflect, to evaluate the whole - all the solutions are technical and punctual. The veil is lifted but there is no time to see.
Even the supposed resistance looks to be trapped in this small range of perception – in the end, for protests we have to be realistic and to have reasonable demands - like, everything will be OK, we just have to change this bad and corrupt politicians, we just need to have more people on the streets... There is a very conservative impulse beyond all this. Everything is based on the image of what already is, there is a strange lack of imagination, it seems that the only solution that we can imagine is to amplify the problem.

Two million people in New York against the War in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Athens, sometimes even winning in confrontation with Police, but what for, to be ruled by a technocrat from Goldman Sachs? The same thing happens now in Romania: the government was changed at "the pressure of the streets" into something much more toxic. Just to have an idea, the prime minister is a former head of a secret service agency, the Ministry of Agriculture is the CEO of Monsanto Romania... We are not ready to face the hopeless situation of the protests, maybe because it is too late, and somehow we can feel it... Ignorance and collective denial seem to be the main strategies in use, in order to cope with the depression related to our present and (no) future.
Our needs are linked in a complicated way with the present capitalist reality and this makes it practically impossible for us to can really move away. Without necessary wanting it, we continue to protect the status quo and to operate according to an economic logic that pushes us to the wall. In a perverse way, we are all depend on our collapse and that's why we can't even imagine an alternative.

Talk with the elephant in the room, in its own language

It is a hopeless situation and we still have too much hope. In the “2012” movie, between the hundreds of the 1% elite that saved themselves on that ark, miraculously there was also one family from the 99% to show that even in the midst of the catastrophic end of the world there is still some hope. We have to kill that stupid hope or to leave it to the 1%.

There are some small signs that we are more ready than before to give up hope and to go a bit beyond the reformist impulses. For instance, as a reaction to the softening of the discourse around the Occupy movement, a FULL COMMUNISM meme appeared on Twitter. Here is a very good description of this meme: Like #occupy, it’s a shared shout of “I’m fucking sick of this shit”. Unlike #occupy, however, it also holds an added threat: “I’m so fucking sick of this shit I have no desire to reform it. I want to go beyond. I want to fuck shit up”.(4) Similarly in Romania people preferred to #occupyRomania, #Universitate (the name of the square where the protests happened in Bucharest), the #revolutie (revolution) hashtag to communicate on Twitter.
And there are also small signs that are visible everywhere in the daily life. For instance in all statistics Romania is one of the most depressed nations. Some friends from abroad are amazed that the waitresses, saleswomen and salesmen are not even trying to smile to their clients anymore. But this is an important sign of sanity, of connection with one's own feelings, of acceptance of depression and the misery of (self)exploitation. It is much more problematic to try to keep it up or to be adjusted. The world as it is now doesn't seem to be the best moment and place to be happy.

Maybe we should occupy our depression and hopelessness and let it work. A lucid desperation can be a good idea. Even fear can be a good idea. Probably the best way to go through this panic and anxiety era is to stay afraid, to stay in contact with the collapse - panic and anxiety to get their object of fear. Maybe it is time to see what is happening when the collective energy of hopelessness, depression, mixed with a lucid fear and an apocalyptic awareness, accumulates. If we don't block them anymore and we let them work.

In one of Castaneda's books(5) Don Juan speaks about a kind of death awareness as the base of some very powerful transformative processes. He speaks about Death as our eternal companion that is always to our left, at an arm's length and it's always watching us, until the day it taps us. Death awareness is essential for a different perception about what is important and to give the necessary impulse to start the radical change of subjectivity needed to become a man of knowledge or sorcerer. It works as an advisor and puts the things that we deal with in a configuration with much more potential.
What if we do the same with apocalypse at a social scale? Being aware that Apocalypse is at the length of an arm away can be the social equivalent of Castaneda's individual approach to death. Having all the time in our peripheral view the current collapse - the thousands of starving children that are dying every day, the 200 species of animals and plants that are disappearing every day - can give us the real dimension of what is happening, the needed urgency and the impulse for radical change. Apocalyptic awareness can be the constant transformative presence that we need - a weapon-concept that reopens the field of the possible in a dead world. So, let’s talk with the 'elephant in the room', in its own language.

1. John Bellamy Foster, Capitalism and Environmental Catastrophe, http://t.co/0AsQYGAw
2. Gilbert Mercier, Overpopulation, Climate Change, Food Crisis, War: The Horsemen Of Apocalyptic Capitalism, http://t.co/LPxz9SE2
3. Here is an archive of articles about the current mass extinction http://www.well.com/~davidu/extinction.html
4. @Spitzenprodukte, On FULL COMMUNISM: cursory notes on the evolution of mimetic non-demands http://t.co/QtW2tWoM
5. Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan