I Foreshadowed A New Dark Age
In 2001 I foreshadowed the coming of A New Dark Age. At the time I wrote:
• Lately I have been having a recurring nightmare – that the world is moving slowly but surely into A New Dark Age.
• In my dreams I see a landscape shrouded in darkness. As I peer through the darkness I can distinguish massive shapes looming in the swirling mist. And as I look more closely I can make out the silhouettes of a vast host of castles.
• These high-tech castles, that dominate the countryside, are guarded by towering walls, with infra-red cameras on the top, and heat-sensitive alarms at the bottom- and protected by heavily-armed patrols, on hire from private security companies, contracted to safeguard the interests of the castle inhabitants.
• Inside the walls of these well-protected pleasure domes the upper-class elite will be able to enjoy a life of unparalleled luxury. Using the power of their multi-national corporations – and the international network of satellites and computers, mercenaries and wage-slaves at their command – to order the finest wine, dine on the choicest cuisine, and delight in the most delectable deserts in the world.
• Outside the ramparts of these fortresses of affluence, the under-class will be condemned en masse to a half-life, half-death existence characterised by relentless cycles of grinding poverty from which – it seems – there is no escape. In desperation, many will sell their labour for a pittance. As a last resort, many will sell their bodies to survive. Millions of women and children will be forced into prostitution every year. And millions will develop HIV and full blown AIDS.
• Some of the masses will ask for charity from in the elite. While some will seek entry to the castles of prosperity themselves. However, only those of the masses whom the elite believe will serve their vested interests well, will be given any aid, or access to the resources in their high-tech castles.
• Eventually, some of the masses – who are locked out – will try to break in. Some will even storm the bulwarks in an all-out assault on the bastions of affluence. But, in the defense of their privilege, the elite will employ their own private armies to slaughter the masses on an unprecedented scale.
• And, in the tradition of the crusades, priests will urge on the troops crying – ‘Cursed be the man who holds back his hand from the shedding of blood!
• You may well be sitting there thinking that this superannuated hippie must have taken too many psychedelic drugs when he was young and developed a paranoid psychosis from which he has never recovered – even in his old age.
• But let make three points in my defense…
1. During my youth I was involved doing drug rehab – not drugs!
2. I’m not psychotic. I’m neurotic. And just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t necessarily make me – automatically – always wrong.
3. There are some sensible people who actually agree with me!
• Jacques Attali was a professor of economics at the Polytechnique in Paris, and was appointed as the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development based in London. He is, as you might imagine, a very sane and sensible man. The Economist says he is ‘brilliant’. Time magazine calls him a ‘one-man think tank.’ And Alvin Toffler says – ‘He has things to teach us all.’
• And Attali says: ‘By 2050, 8 billion people will populate the earth. More than two-thirds will live in the poorest countries. Seeking to escape their desperate fate, millions will attempt to leave behind their misery to seek a decent life elsewhere. But neither the Pacific nor the European spheres will accept the majority of poor nomads. They will close their borders to immigrants. Quotas will be erected and restrictions imposed. (Renewed) social norms will ostracize foreigners. Like the fortified cities of the Middle Ages, the centres of privelege will construct barriers of all kinds, trying to protect their wealth.’ Millenium Random House New York 1991 pp 74-78
• And, when I wake up every morning, I see every reason to believe that the nightmare that Jaques Attali and I both share is becoming a terrible reality.
• As I look around, I can see signs the New Dark Age has begun.
• We are beginning to build more and more of what we euphemistically call ‘gated communities’. Citadels guarded by walls, infra-red cameras, heat-sensitive alarms and private security companies. Purpose-built – as the developer of Sanctuary Cove – put it: ‘to keep the cockroaches out!’
• There is some evidence to indicate that the present government is trying to turn the whole of the continent in Australia into a ‘gated community’ like Sanctuary Cove. Millions of dollars of government funds – dedicated to foreign aid – is being spent on what the government calls the ‘Pacific Solution’ – a flotilla of heavily-armed patrols dedicated to preventing asylum seekers from ever setting foot upon our shore. It is a policy that is neither ‘pacific’, nor a ‘solution’. It’s simply meant ‘to keep the cockroaches out!’
• Inside the walls of our well-protected pleasure dome we enjoy a life of un-paralleled luxury. (#)As part of the top 20% of the world’s population, we have more than 80% of the world’s total income. (#) In the last decade of the last century more of us became millionaires than during any decade in history. (#) And when it comes to our comparative level of income, we are so well off by world standards – even those on the bottom of our society, living on social security – are in the top 50% of the global population – with incomparable access to world-class social, educational, and medical services.
• Outside the ramparts of these fortresses of safety and security, others are condemned en masse to an existence characterised by cycles of increasing degrees of deprivation and violence. (#)The bottom 20% of the world’s population try to survive on less than 1.5% of the world’s income. (#) So more than 25,000 people die every day of every week of every year – simply because they cannot access their fair share of the world’s income! (#)In desperation, many sell their labour for a pittance. (#) More than 250 million children work for as little as 25 cents a day. (#) As a last resort, many even have to sell their bodies. (#) More than a million children are forced into prostitution every year. (#) Millions of kids, under the age of 15, are developing HIV and dying of AIDS.
• (#)More than 120 million people were killed in wars during the 20th century. (#)Currently more than 20 million people are fleeing from carnage and ruin. (#)By far the largest group seeking asylum is from Afghanistan. (#) Until recently two and a half million Afghans languished in refugee camps in Pakistan. (#) But since the Australian-assisted, alliance-sanctioned, ‘war-against-terror’ in Afghanistan, almost a million more have had to flee for their lives. (#)Some beg for entry to our country – but we take less than 5,000 a year! (#)Some beg for charity – but we give on average less than $5 a year!
• Meanwhile – in Sanctuary Cove Australia – Philip Adams says, ‘we are waltzing together in a brilliant ballroom, beneath dazzling chandeliers.’ We know ‘outside, in the darkness, multitudes of ragged poor press their noses to the glass. They seem to be muttering in rising anger.’ So, ‘if we don’t want the noise to ruin our fun, there’s only one thing to do. Have the orchestra play louder!’ And that is exactly what we do – we play it louder! Whether its music, or sports – we just switch on the TV and play it louder!