Monday, March 08, 2010

A Grey Day...

I am listening to Diane Krall on the Bose CD player.

The Mammoths of the Great Plains chapbook contains an updated version of my 2004 guest of honor speech at Wiscon, "Writing Science Fiction During the Third World War."

The world keeps changing so fast that I feel the need to update the essay almost weekly. But the book is pretty close to going to press. So I stopped making changes.

Maybe I need to update the essay here.

I'm coming to the conclusion that the American government has decided on the following plan for dealing with worldwide environmental and economic collapse:

1) Stall on making serious environmental and economic changes.

2) Prop up the financial sector, while not investing in the rest of the economy.

3) Continue the process of redistributing American wealth up from the working and middle classes to the rich.

4) Fight wars to control limited resources such as Middle Eastern and Central Asian oil and natural gas.

5) Attempt to control the rest of the world via military threat.

6) Control Americans via police, prisons, Homeland Security and fear of The Other -- brown people, foreigners, modern women, kids, gay people, you name it.

Will this work? I'm not sure. The program may appeal to a third of the country, mostly white people, many of them aging, who are afraid of change.

They are already a minority and likely to become more of minority, as the country becomes less white.

But we are facing some truly disturbing problems. Who knows what will happen if (or when) the economy sinks deeper, the state and local governments go completely broke, the infrastructure starts breaking on a regular basis, the west dries up and blows away? Crisis can push people either left or right.

If the government can maintain control, we might end with armed and armored enclaves for the rich and their servants. Outside would be a country -- and world -- destroyed by poverty, violence and environmental collapse. I think this is Octavia Butler's vision in her Parable books. The trouble with this vision, the fly in the ointment for the rich, would be -- where does their wealth come from, if the world is ruined? How long would the enclaves be prosperous and safe?


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