The Christian apocalypse saw itself as a hopeful revelation of the coming of God’s kingdom. Today’s has nothing to offer. There is no promise of redemption; the only hope is that those human beings who repent of their errors may escape the chaos. . . .A warming earth might be very bad for us, and it might lead to the extinction of many species of plants and animals, but it is no kind of threat either to the planet or our civilization. Apocalyptic thinking is a bad habit we should all guard against.
Around the turn of the twenty-first century, a paradigm shift in our thinking took place: we decided that the era of revolutions was over and that the era of catastrophes had begun. The former had involved expectation, the hope that the human race would proceed toward some goal. But once the end of history was announced, the Communist enemy vanquished, and, more recently, the War on Terror all but won, the idea of progress lay moribund. What replaced the world’s human future was the future of the world as a material entity. The long list of emblematic victims—Jews, blacks, slaves, proletarians, colonized peoples—was likewise replaced, little by little, with the Planet, the new paragon of all misery. No longer were we summoned to participate in a particular community; rather, we were invited to identify ourselves with the spatial vessel that carried us, groaning.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The New Apocalypse