An Apocalypse For Every Persuasion


Personally, I like science. It would seem silly to have to say this if it weren't for the fact that there are people who are so suspicious of it as to think that, even if it were possible to infinitely improve it, it should not be worth it. On the other hand, I believe that science remains, for the most part today, unaware of itself. Or rather, it is used by people who might as well be blind rather than it being something which causes anyone to see.

People who are critical of science mistake the scientific method for the motives of the people performing particular scientific experiments. Also, there is a large degree to which the tendency in our culture to valorize 'experts' and to enshrine their moral conclusions, which paradoxically have no place in science, cause sceptics to reject the analysis based on those very moral conclusions. In other words, their scepticism causes them to 'throw the baby out with the bathwater,' to use a creepy victorianesque cliché. Scientists who try to brand themselves as moral priests are great hoodwinkers, both to themselves and others, as they take for granted that science, even where its method is rigorously applied, usually starts from the outset with a moral precept - a certain effect or result is desired which is often moral in nature, in other words. The very claim that many pop-scientists make today that science can teach us how to be moral completely sweeps up and glosses over the fact that science, as a series of institutions constantly in need of subsidy, constantly monitored, limited, castrated and depontentized by establishment forces which are in turn governed by the anarchic-democratic flux of the rule of law, is not a neutral force which we can simply apply to something and perform final conclusions with global implications, but complex sets of contingent variables which are each themselves effects which always bury certain causes even where some are indicated in varied forms depending on the ends sought.

I'm not trying to deconstruct science. I'm not a scientist and don't claim to know how to do science better than the scientists. What is hardly settled, however, are the ethical implications lying behind certain claims in their very motion. For instance, climate change, regardless of its cause, because of the ethical undertones attached to the discourse surrounding it, quickly becomes irrelevant as an issue where it doesn't immediately lend itself to the highly mobilizing narratives which play on the emotions and entertain the moral prejudices of pre-established constituent political blocs. An issue of cosmic proportions then becomes a simple binary in which a party-based government - which is always by design constituted by the politics of crisis as it has internalized violence - can enunciate sets of values. War does something quite similar, in that a fundamental disagreement concerning the sovereignty of sovereignty gets to hash itself out by using force. But in a society governed by a representative republic, in which force is never quite exercised but suspended in the realm of assumption, masked by the pretense of contract, the sets of values in question then require strong symbols which can aggregate various narratives as signifiers of a particular tribal sentiment, regardless of whether these narratives actually have anything to do with one another.

In America in particular, for instance, certain positions are likely to help one identify someone as a liberal or a conservative as certain views are statistically believed to be contemporaneous with one or the other. The subsequent politicization of climate change then acts, not as a unifying danger, but as a container for a bipolarity of human desire, manufactured in part consciously and in part unconsciously; its politicization largely conscious and its ethicization largely instinctual and unconscious, which is to say, concerned only with survival. This war for survival, however, is not that immediately recognizable concern to which climate change as an issue would from the outset fancy itself to maintain, but rather, it is the survival of a particular group and its particular set of values. Such an exclusivity would favor such a large eschatological background and its accompanied tendency to scapegoat a dangerous Other, an outside threatening force, which in this case finds itself in the type 'climate change denier,' certainly meant to denote an approximation to holocaust denial, though rather than dealing with a historical event, it deals with a prophetic erasure of mankind which is, incidentally, coterminous with the self-evident human project of cosmic anthropomorphization. Perhaps it is believed that if mankind is not strong enough to save itself from certain doom, then it must follow as an absolute law that mankind has also authored its own immanent disaster. But, as in all things, there is always someone to blame. Such is politics.

Democracy is, among other things, a plan to give money to whoever is popular. Science is, sadly, subordinate to this process. In a perfect world - I suppose I should say, a more efficient world - science could operate unfettered as an act of service; a labor of love in a gift economy where charity is the extra reward for doing what one loves most anyway. However, such is not the world we live in. We live in a world in which science is the accursed share of a one world market which directs values and desires toward global projects which never achieve the causes they aim to at the outset but which, funny enough, always seem to contribute to mass human enslavement through absorbing more regions into the western economic bloc, tightening restrictions on absolutely everything and taking more and more recources from the base population for the sake of reallocating endless material power to the top.

There are many world-destroying meteorites in space which often miss us by a cosmic sliver of a cosmic hair. One day, we might meet one. Who knows what will happen? Probably something similar to what happened last time. But does anyone else see the irony in depending on more and more government centralization to fix global problems? These are the same people who found it necessary to hold onto weapons which could destroy the planet five times over. Even if we were to fix it now, they could certainly find a way and a war in which to unfix it later. Sadly, I can't propose any solutions because a), I'm not a scientist and b), I don't own weapons of mass destruction. But I don't suppose I could do anything even if I was a scientist as, categorically, my hands would be tied. If I had some nukes, however, I could steal resources for scientists, or just tax whole blocs of territory dry, or just trade some of the nuke technology to countries undergoing socialist and nationalist revolutions for oil, coal and offshore influence. There's nothing in the rulebook saying the free market can't reach its hand out to the commies if they're deluded enough to extend their international vision to some date far enough in the future that would allow them to forget to put their proverbial money where their proverbial mouths are.

One shouldn't worry too much about missing out on the chance to see the world end in the way that would most suit one's prejudices. There's an apocalypse for every persuasion. I'm not surprised I've not heard talk of forming a mass underground dissident force for the sake of collecting every last nuclear warhead and firing them all into distant space. There remains the fact that someone will still know how to make them, which would lead to much more complicated forms of scapegoatism: global suspicion of intelligent people, perhaps. For as much effort as it would take and given the risks involved, it would probably be just as fruitful to try and deport climate change.

I believe that all apocalypses are equal. Let no one erasure of mankind be considered superior to another. I'm against apocalyptic chauvinism no matter who it's coming from. Everyone is allowed to be as afraid and as unafraid as they like of any of the countless threats which could destroy all life on this planet. Let the sexiest apocalypse have its moment in the spotlight.