Barely three years into the 2020s, and we seem to be living out the prophesies of the Book of Revelation with its dire warnings about plague, poverty, hatred and war.
Just as the government hysteria over the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be dying down, new threats have arisen to occupy our attention and fuel our fears: food shortages, spiking inflation, rocketing gas prices, and a Ukraine-Russia conflict that threatens to bring about a world war.
Is this the end of the world as we know it? Or is this the beginning of the end of the world?
Will the world end with a bang or will it end, as T.S. Eliot concludes, with a whimper?
Robert Frost, torn between a vision of the world ending in fire (the hot flame of violence, anger and greed) or ice (the cold burn of hatred), suggests that either would suffice to do the job.
And then there’s the Polish-American poet Czeslaw Milosz, who envisioned the day the world ends as a day like any other:
“Those who expected lightning and thunder are disappointed. And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps do not believe it is happening now. As long as the sun and the moon are above, as long as the bumblebee visits a rose, as long as rosy infants are born, no one believes it is happening now… There will be no other end of the world.”
In Milosz’ words can be found a distant echo of a warning issued by Bertram Gross in his book Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America:
“Anyone looking for black shirts, mass parties, or men on horseback will miss the telltale clues of creeping fascism. In any First World country of advanced capitalism, the new fascism will be colored by national and cultural heritage, ethnic and religious composition, formal political structure, and geopolitical environment… In America, it would be supermodern and multi-ethnic-as American as Madison Avenue, executive luncheons, credit cards, and apple pie. It would be fascism with a smile. As a warning against its cosmetic facade, subtle manipulation, and velvet gloves, I call it friendly fascism. What scares me most is its subtle appeal. I am worried by those who fail to remember-or have never learned -that Big Business-Big Government partnerships, backed up by other elements, were the central facts behind the power structures of old fascism in the days of Mussolini, Hitler, and the Japanese empire builders.”
Look beyond the drum-pounding distractions of war and the fear-inducing tactics of the Deep State, and consider the long-term ramifications of the so-called sanctions being levied against Russia right now: not just the governmental sanctions, but the corporate lockdowns.
As CBS News reports,
“Car shipments were paused. Beer stopped flowing. McDonald’s shut down sales of Big Macs. Cargo ships dropped port calls and oil companies cut their pipelines. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is leading some of the world’s best known brands—from Apple to Disney and Ikea—to abruptly exit a country that’s become a global outcast.”
This is shunning on a global scale.
Some companies, as Fortune reports, have gone above and beyond what was required by government sanctions. For instance,
“major oil companies, including Exxon, BP, and Shell, ended joint investment projects with Russian oil companies. Major retailers, including H&M, Nike, Ikea, and TJX, have shut down Russian sales and closed stores. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express shut down global services in Russia… Boeing cut off support for Russian airlines and closed its offices in Moscow, while Delta ended its Russian code-sharing arrangement… FedEx and UPS shut services to Russia. Apple, Alphabet, Meta, and Microsoft all have taken significant action to combat Russian aggression and disinformation.”
“You basically have Russia becoming a commercial pariah,” confirmed economist Mary Lovely. “Pretty much no company, no multinational, wants to be caught on the wrong side of U.S. and Western sanctions.”