Happy New Year, 1922

A New Year’s cartoon from 100 years ago. Might as well be today

This century is echoing last century, which sucks. A pandemic in the teens, a roaringly unequal 20s, followed by a big financial crash, and fascism waiting in the wings. As Marx said, history repeats, first as tragedy, then as farce. As the Rocky Horror sang, let’s do the time warp again.

I’ve been reading a lot about last century because, as they say, those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. They should just say that we’re doomed.

Most of what I learned as history was propaganda, and the corporate media are largely bugs in a rug. They can’t see the tapestry, most notably the fact that the whole house is on fire. Quite literally.

The Shit

We are reaching numerous climate tipping points, like whole Antarctic sheets shearing off, and what people underestimate is that these are political tipping points as well. COVID-19 is just one.

What I’ve read most about is Weimar Germany because I think that most mirrors America today, and in that history it wasn’t a single thing that led to Nazis, nor were they so singularly evil.

It was a series of violent shocks that led to German elites inviting the Nazis in. Losing a war, getting wracked in a pandemic, and then elites partying it up so much that the whole economy fell down.

Looking at America and reading Weimar history is the same shit, except the Americans aren’t even trying. Germany’s Social Democracts at least improved life for its people with better working hours and unemployment insurance. America’s Democrats are just shoveling them back to work during a plague.

And of course America is just one place and one set of violent shocks. We could still have potential Franz Ferdinand tooling around, about to set the whole thing off. Also unlike last century, the gods themselves are angry, and climate disasters, famines, and incipient unrest can set even more triggers off.

The Hope

The hope, which is a strange way of putting it, is that early last century was also a period of great philosophy, great political economy, and completely new ways of thought. I read Tolstoy from 1900 and it feels vividly new and challenging today. Most ideas that feels radical to me now has already been thought.

We have a chance to pick up the gauntlet of socialism/communism (ie, being a society or a community) that got dropped and drenched in so much blood. We have a chance to keep pushing out of feudalism and through the wage slavery in which we’ve been caught.

The hope is that out of great need is borne the great changes we need, but the tragic cost is that there will be blood. There is always blood, starting with the people that deserve it the least, but eventually coming for almost everyone. So I guess we’re back to the shit again.


2022 (alternately, 2020 too) is bound to be shit, but it contains within it glimmers of hope. But I would caution you to temper that hope to a historical scale. What we are looking at is generational change, ie change on the scale of entirely new humans being born, into entirely new ways of thinking. So 30 year cycles.

Right now we are ruled by gerontocracy in the United States, idiocy in the UK, and fawning wickedness across the White Empire. “The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters. We live in the time of a crumbling unipolar empire, but the multipolar world has yet to take form. Given history, it will likely be a bit of slash-and-burn.

So happy New Year, I guess, though years is not the scale we’re operating on. Happy New Life I should say. We’re not going to get anything new until the old ways (and old people) die, and new ways (and people) are born.