14 March 2011


 I see a Security First scenario as the overriding response (with weak attempts at the others). Let me add one important twist: With the continuing, severe amassing of wealth at the very tip of the income profile in the U.S. (and worldwide; Forbes last week listed a near doubling of new billionaires in the world, in just the last year alone!), and continuing erosion of the middle class, and continuing additions to lower income groups--I can envision the Security First scenario applied internally in the U.S. 

This line of thinking is certainly not original to me. There has been much literature in the science fiction genre that explores themes of societal breakdown, often with a police state (or perhaps private security agencies) enforcing protection of a tiny, enclaved, upper-stratum of society--a gated-community elite--with hoi-polloi left to fend for themselves in overcrowded, spatially segregated, anarchic conditions. The best fictional, visual treatment of this scenario (that I know of) is the film "Blade Runner."

Already, there are major moves everywhere toward an "immobility regime" applied to borders, exercising control and surveillance over migrants, refugees, and other aliens (Bryan Turner, "The Enclave Society: Towards a Sociology of Immobility," in "European Journal of Social Theory" [2007:10(2)]). A re-territorialization of the state apparatus and geographical imagination toward "state thought"--in order to defend the state (the "homeland') against the "barbarians at the gate"--is the order of the day. I am just extending the new spatial, sociological, legal imaginary inward, back onto American society itself--an implosion of spatio-cognitive and political re-territorialization that will change individuals and society from the inside out. Already "the barbarian" is searched for within society, not just at the gates.

The Security First scenario becomes more likely when severely degraded environmental conditions and rapid population growth are added to the rapidly growing wealth divisions. Unless major investments are made in environmental remediation, and in human capital, and in solving real-life human problems. we will be left facing environmental, societal, spiritual, mental breakdowns.

In human history the Chinese Curse is always true, but never more true than will be the coming decades (unless comparisons are made to the 14th and 20th centuries!): We WILL be living in interesting (and trying!) times. 

No comments: