We are witnessing the last attempt to change the system. It will either win or lose – there is no other outcome. If it wins, then we can look forward to change in the status quo. However, we are daily increasing the stakes in the eventuality that it loses, and those currently in power are going to become stronger for it.
The last global reshuffle came with the 2008 economic crisis. Before that it was the 2001 attacks. And even further we can look to the dissolution of the USSR at the beginning of the 1990s. Each turn of the geopolitical wheel is then followed by the scrambling of many cogs, pulleys and levers (in the form of, on the one hand, bankruptcies, mass layoffs, terrorist attacks, protests, demonstrations and on the other technological breakthroughs, scientific miracles and cultural endeavours).
Many have said that coronavirus will be the new resetting of the clock, the moment when a new way of living and functioning is brought about. The lockdown over the world has made us think of some uncomfortable truths and the main one being that our lives before this are unsustainable. Not only from an environmental point of view, but also the divide between the socially better off and those who are just going to be superglued to the bottom rung of the ladder.
Personally, I would welcome a change in both these areas: less frenzied consumption and fewer social injustices. This is a world I would fight for. However, I would like to withhold the right to fight for this world in a way that is more how I want to fight.
Trump has been desperately looking for an enemy to fight. He needs to because this is how he will win a second election – Russia and China are too big and costly to fight, North Korea would be international bullying, the Middle East is out because no American president ever wants to get involved with the region (for better or for worse). And so he is focusing his ire on his own people.
He’s like that guy who wants to make himself look macho by trying to fight everyone, but never gets into a conflict because everyone else manages to avoid him. So, he goes back home and beats up his wife and kids.
This is the thing though: there wasn’t even an enemy at home. These protests and the social media buzz around them (at a time when I would wager people are glued to their infinite scroll more than ever) is forming the enemy for him. Trump’s walk to the church was done so that he could include the footage in an election video, where he portrays the cities as war zones and the protests as uncontrollable, fanatic insurgents against whom he can therefore ‘legitimately’ have recourse to a violent crackdown.
His actions are once more creating a divided society, but this time it’s no longer on the intellectual front – he’s taken it to the streets. And those on the streets are responding with violence too, because, as so many people are saying, it’s the only recourse they have in a system which will not listen to their voices. But in doing so, not only through violent images, be they of police violence or damage to property, or tactically and strategically fighting in the streets for real, it’s going to be like the O.K. Corral; the iron fist of an authoritarian régime will come crashing down in the face of those who built the country in the first place.