Coming out the other side of this we will be a different world. Globalism as we have known it will have turned out to be a “temporary set of circumstances” just as JHK said it would and the relocalization of supply chains and of production will begin. I’ve watched a generation of wonderful, curious, intelligent children bent on consumption show no interest whatsoever in the process of making what is consumed. We would read “El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha” and the episode of the “Escudero” in “Lazarillo de Tormes” and the revulsion for productive work of Spain’s “decadencia” was always mirrored in the faces of my students in contemporary America.
John Michael Greer counters the “materialistic American” convention with his hypothesis that we are least materialistic of any people who have ever lived in that the inauthentic and the virtual are sufficient for us, from our food to our houses, and from our sexual encounters to our communities. I think JMG would have preferred that we had collectively rejected the virtual for the authentic voluntarily, but the insufficiency of the inauthentic will only become obvious when the toil and trouble necessary to create real tangible goods becomes a part of our daily existence again.
Money will be the other concept that we will be forced to reassess. The lack of value in markers and chits for goods and services when the former are widely distributed but the latter are in extremely short supply will alter our attitude toward the currencies most of us have never questioned. We have never questioned them for good reason of course; most of us have never experienced a circumstance where a handful of paper bills, or a validated check, or a credit card wasn’t sufficient to receive in return a commensurate distribution of whatever product or service we desired.
The time frame on this transition of course will be decades long. Most of us (surviving) older people, including myself, will seek out pockets in space and interaction where the old paradigms will still seem to apply, but the initially shell shocked younger generation will adapt much more quickly and become the novel makers in a world perhaps not totally made by hand, but yes made closer to home. The abilities to do, make, shape, and repair will rise up from the slag heap to take their rightful place at the forefront of civilization.
As Johnny Sanphillippo has often reminded us, we will use the world we’ve made in the state that we now find it to carry forward the project of civilization. Cul de sacs (Culs de sac probably!)and big box power centers might not be the ideal launch pad for what comes next but they will have to do for most of us in North America.
“Ayuh, if I was a goin’ the’a, I wouldn’t sta’t from he’a.”
Those of us with an inheritance of more in the way of pockets of traditional urbanism might find the transitional period less awkward, but that will in no way guarantee whatever it is that might be defined as success will be achieved; the skill sets of people in a particular region, their values, their ethics, their unity or lack thereof, the distribution of age cohorts, water, weather, topography, and that capricious bastard “chance” will have a lot to say in what places wither and which survive.
I’m home now for at least the next few weeks. I’ll be experiencing this apocalypse from the urban hell scape I long ago selected as my watchtower for the end of all things. I must credit Chris Martenson for alerting me and my family members, on two continents no less, to the dislocations that this novel coronavirus has brought forth. He actually lives in greater Springfield now, but on a few hundred acres of woodland and farmland tucked way up in what we call “The Hilltowns”.
Only once in his dozens of videos addressing Covid-19 did he single out cities as particularly bad places to be in the wake of this pandemic. In the past I’ve been quick to point out that my lived experience has shown the city to be by far the best place to be in the aftermath of disaster. The various stages of this crisis will put that to the test. Density plays a role in contagion, but Asian cities with huge concentrations of people have successfully minimized the impacts of this pandemic. My daughters in Bucheon, South Korea, however, are living in a much more orderly and regimented place than Springfield could ever hope to be. From Westchester County to Kirkland, Washington, relatively suburban places have been at the forefront of the North American experience, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that were to change given that it would make sense that wealthier “jet setters” would be the first to bring the illness, but how it progresses through the population is yet to be seen.
Will potential shortages, or fears of such, regarding food and other necessities create disorder disproportionately in North American cities, or will police and National Guard presence be more effective among denser populations? How will public transit and the car function in moving people when contact with the other is to be avoided? This may be a new talking point for Randal O’Toole in the “city versus suburb” debate.
There’s a lot to be learned that’s for sure, and I will keep you up to date with my experiences here as we hunker down and try to “flatten the curve” of Covid-19 in Springfield, Massachusetts.