Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Seven Year Spiral

The older I get, the faster time seems to pass. When I worked for two years in Michigan after getting my PhD those years seemed to last forever. I cane remember them today incredibly distinctively. Since I've aged and especially since I have had kids, the years just seem to rush by in an indistinct mass. Say "2007" or "2003" to me and I will have immediate associations. Say "2013" or "2018" and well, I got nothin'. 

It suddenly hit me today that I've been living through a constant spiral of negative change for seven years now. World War II only lasted six! I have become used to a constant crisis. I am sure you have, too.

I date it to Trump's announcement that he was running for president. He immediately sucked up all of the politics media coverage, and became the central problem of American politics and public life from the day he came down the escalator in June of 2015 to January 6, 2021, and beyond. His election in 2016 with a minority of the vote was an indictment of a failed political system and an American society dominated by fear and hate. 

If his misrule and undermining of democracy were not enough, we then experienced the worst pandemic in a century, a fascist backlash against movements for racial equality, and finally a war unleashed by Vladimir Putin. This war has generated so much uncertainty about the future of the world order on top of America's dire domestic situation. Sometimes it feels like I have experienced thirty years of history in just these seven years. 

The spiral ought to be forcing us to realize that there is no going back to "normal." That ship sailed long ago. The past is a dead weight on us right now, pushing us lower into the quicksand of crisis. It turns out that history did not end in 1991, and instead of seeing the status quo as an inevitability that cannot be changed we desperately need to imagine a different future. If we are not capable of imagining a new future I can guarantee you the facsists will. 

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