Where are we now? John Berger – Excerpt from ‘Hold Everything Dear’

-The search for a location is not geographical but historical. –

Excerpt page 36 Hold Everything Dear John Berger, series of essays on the joy and tragedy of life in post 911 society.

“By Shame I do not mean individual guilt. Shame, as I’m coming to understand it, is a species feeling which, in the long run, corrodes the capacity for hope and prevents us looking far ahead. We look down at our feet, thinking only of the next small step.

People everywhere  – under very different conditions – are asking themselves – where are we? The question is historical not geographical. What are we living through? Where are we being taken? What have we lost? How to continue without a plausible vision of the future? Why have we lost any view of what is beyond a lifetime?

The well-heeled experts answer: Globalisation. Post-Modernism. Communications revolution. Economic Liberalism. The terms are tautological and evasive. To the anguished question of Where are we? the experts murmer: Nowhere!

Might it not be better to see and declare that we are living through the most tyrannical – because the most pervasive – chaos that has ever existed? It’s not easy to grasp the nature of the tyranny, for it’s power structure (ranging from the 200 largest multinational corporations to the Pentagon) is interlocking yet diffuse, dictatorial yet anonymous, ubiquitous yet placeless. It tyrannizes from off-shore – not only in terms of fiscal law, but in terms of any political control beyond it’s own. It aims to delocalize the entire world. It’s ideological strategy – besides which Bin Laden’s is a fairy tale – is to undermine the existent, so that everything collapses into it’s special version of the virtual, from the realm of which – and this is the tyranny’s credo – there will be a never ending source of profit. It sounds stupid. Tyrannies are stupid. This one is destroying at every level the life of the planet on which it operates.

 

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