SOCIETY

The sad hue of the crisis

Spain, once buoyant, is sinking without even understanding what could have gone so wrong

Society is beginning to wilt in despair, but the fear is that this is only the beginning

An out-of-work waiter begging on the streets of Valencia. / PEPE OLIVARES (EL PAÍS)

Crisis is not the same as desolation. Crisis is not the same as demolition. Crisis is not the same as poverty, disease, humiliation and death. But this Great Crisis is bringing down a horrendous punishment that may have gripped southern Europe in its jaws first, but which is not done yet devouring everything in its path. Even worse: things are only getting started, at least as far as Spain is concerned, according to Goldman Sachs staffer Huw Pill (a bitter pill to swallow?) If the face of cruelty has only just begun salivating, what will its vomit be like when it begins to choke?

Nobody knows. And this lack of enlightenment is the key to the gloominess of the situation over the last few years. Not to mention the nightmare. Because as long as there was something or someone to blame for these crimes against humanity - human greed, bankers without souls, those dirty rats at the ratings agencies or just our very own incompetent politicians - we were able to maintain a vengeful attitude that was so intoxicating that it spurred us to acts of pillaging and subversiveness.

But not even the street revolts have been all that energetic; they have been neither incendiary nor out of control. Nor have they actually managed to sabotage anything. The protests against the cuts in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Great Britain have flared up fleetingly, like sparks of unease, a will-o'-the-wisp of our wounds, but nothing like a bonfire to burn the condemned on and their institutions as well.

We have eventually reached a point where politicians keep celebrating their votes, dining on their lobsters and enjoying their feasts, and nothing more can be expected of a group of people who remain practically unchanged, notwithstanding the fact that some have obtained a majority at the polls and others have already lost it.

Not even the street revolts have been all that energetic; nor have they worked

So who can we trust? What can we expect?

In a variety of ways, this Great Crisis has all the traits of a historical disaster. Or worse yet, of a supernatural disaster sent down for no reason, completely disproportionate in intensity and scope, lacking an expiry date and offering no hope for relief. In this manner, the victims have been over-exploited citizens subjected to an incompressible law of the System, which like a brainless, sexless God first sent down a wave of speculative fire, then a tide of ardent bankruptcy, and later a tidal wave of shattering sovereign debt.

Finally, as a counterpoint, there is an absolute congealment of hope and a human surrender to thermal perdition. Might Angela Merkel be the flaming Antichrist? Might Germany be the snake that recovers its historical dragon aura and leads a new inter-racial Holocaust? It would not be entirely odd, since the prophecy of the Apocalypse leads to accursed cities like Babylon and to Antichrists who become incarnate in the popes themselves, like perverse figures of the utmost sanctity.

But not even this tale, which sounds like the plot of a humongous video game, seems very likely. It is too simple to fire people up with enthusiasm; it lacks the necessary intrigue; there is no encrypted message in it and certainly no wise warriors in search of the Holy Grail.

The horizon will be flat and deserted, like the story in the movie 'I Am Legend'

In that case, what exactly is going on here? Are we witnessing the world's demise and if so, why are we still gullibly keeping score of summit dates, bailout days or economic indicators offered by measurement institutions? The Crédit Suisse investment bank, allegedly an uncontaminated angel, figures that Spanish families have lost nearly 20 percent of their effective wealth in the last six years. In that devilish number (six years or 666), prosperous 1980s Spain is sinking and it is not yet aware of how this came to pass.

Not even Nobel winners like Stiglitz or Krugman are able to assertively diagnose the causes and the cures of the crisis. And if the components of the disease are not known, how do we come up with a remedy to neutralize its toxicity? In this way, day after day, while politicians delay action and summits melt away without facing up to Evil, the population slips into a state of despondency which, on the one hand, is illustrated by a few individuals who set themselves on fire in front of official buildings, but on the other represents those millions of families (around 13 million people in Spain right now) who used to be middle class or nearly so, and who are now considered the dregs of society.

Eighty years ago, Keynes figured that by now the economy would have resolved the cyclical conundrum and be focusing on providing the type of wellbeing in which it would suffice to work three hours. In a way, he was not entirely off course. There might be no wellbeing, but we are well on our way to working zero hours - a desideratum of this coordinate that these days goes hand in hand with the asymptote of inanity.

We don't work more, we work less. We don't work less to live better, it's just that there is no work to ensure that we live happily shorter lives. Is it a triumph of rampant, rapacious capitalism? It is a funeral triumph of capitalism that extracts the bone marrow of the blue-collar workers and turns them, one by one, into dessications of its own figuration. It is a taxidermist capitalism which, in its feeding frenzy, ironically ends up feeding on itself and is condemned to a complete exfoliation.

Could it be true that man has sinned unforgivably against the Divine Lamb?

China is waiting for its real estate bubble to burst, and with it all the other emerging countries from India to Brazil. It is a matter of time, biological and vegetable time, barely one Chinese new year and half a dozen years for everyone else.

At that point, the horizon will be flat and deserted, like the story in the movie I Am Legend. In the case of writer Richard Matheson's legend, it is an intuited legend of the world which begat us. And which killed us. It is the second pillar of the Book of Revelation, which foresees the advent of our Great Pain. "And from the smoke of the pit there came out locusts upon the earth. And power was given to them, as the scorpions of the earth have power: And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree: but only the men who have not the sign of God on their foreheads." This is what the Apocalypse of Saint John exclaims.

The heart of God seems weary of the disturbing lives of men and He does not wish to save them from the rigors of Judgment Day. Only the trees and the grass seem to capture his interest, much like those blessed, kind-hearted environmentalists.

Could it be true that man has sinned unforgivably against the Divine Lamb? Of course not. For years, the consumer-citizens did nothing else but observe the common commandment of consumerism. Thanks to their consumption and their spending, companies and jobs were created not just in the West, but also in the East as well. Countries and smoky islands emerged from the depths of misery and the world believed itself to be on the path of a planetary prowess that would transport immigrants from South to North and from Thai prostitution rings to patterned silk factories in the outskirts of Milan. And vice versa.

Survivalists are getting ready for civilization's collapse in their millions

It was a great international kermesse plagued with theft, drugs, multiple assassinations, trafficking in women and children and palpitating organs that brought the world to a state of agitation whose string of sins left almost nobody indifferent. This was Progress. It was unbalanced, delirious, speculative and demented, this Progress of Postmodernity. Was this the neurotic cause of the crisis? For this to really be true it would be necessary to display madness against a God. Would the world be ready for a blasphemy with medieval overtones? Hardly.

The bursting of the financial bubble or of any other lascivious bubble was born out of extreme fermentation, and Humanity was nothing but the necessary yeast for a new world that many were starting to anticipate and predict. Wealth would extend throughout the planet; Indians would have their Bollywood, the Chinese their Shanghai Café, and the Brazilians their universal Maracaná.

The end of an old era, the obsolete days of the 20th century, were being replaced with the blinding sheen of the 21st century, an era without gulags, without cold wars, without atomic threats, without oil and without C02.

But might there be a war in the making already? In Iran, in Syria, in both Koreas, in China and in Japan. The Great Depression of 1929 found its miraculous cure in World War II. Sixty million people died there who might have been unemployed populations, plus ageing companies and their worn-out jobs got a chance to restructure thanks to the latest generation of marketing techniques and new machinery. Will a new Great War be necessary for the capitalist hormone to get a shot in the arm?

Everything has become impregnated with a pervasive greenish hue which, like mold, infests the happiness of humans

Or else, is it conceivable to envision an absolute salvation from the current havoc that has already sunk hundreds of thousands of businesses and even the entrepreneurial soul of our current economy? The state? Who can still expect something from this gaunt Leviathan? If there is one creature that has been poisoned by the disaster, that is state policy and its decayed behavior. And without healthy, rosy policies, who can expect a cure?

Of all the evil that lies behind this Great Crisis, we may safely exclude the blue collar workers, the priests, the schoolmasters and the nursing assistants. At the heart of darkness of this formidable crisis, political corruption nests like the worst of worms, and its foul secretions have sullied an entire society of partisan leaders who are worse than the robber barons, worse than the Four Beasts that the Angel of Apocalypse describes as "Political Powers."

The Lion with eagle claws that evokes Paganism. The flesh-devouring Bear that has three bones in his mouth. The Leopard with four heads and four wings. The Beast with iron paws from which the Antichrist emerges.

It could be conjectured that all these things that are bringing ruin to human beings come from Beyond. It is an esoteric explanation that keeps nagging at us as it might nag the inhabitants of other planets whose existence or GDP figures we have never even heard of. It could be that this period is part of the (not always sweet) process of Humanity and that its most hostile portion is being played out presently. It might be so. But who can forget that some people are getting rich while others sink into destitution? Who could forget that differences in income have grown from 16 times the lowest income for the highest earners to 300 times that, and sometimes 3,000 times?

It is not just an insufferable injustice of gigantic proportions. It is a monstrosity, plain and simple. It is so significant that it rules the destinies of the humble people, humiliates their personalities, breaks up their relationships and their families, condemns them to eat out of trash bins like dogs and to live in shacks on the outskirts of the accursed city - that Babylon of the Apocalypse built by the wage-earning city planners of Tongzhou, Dublin, Seseña or Guardamar.

Survivalists (or preppers) make up a movement that is getting ready for the collapse of civilization, and it encompasses at least three million people already. They are all learning how to grow beans and turnips, bake their own bread, raise chickens, make fruit preserves, knit a sweater and make an engine work with cooking oil.

In fact, as the Apocalypse teaches, they are not really expecting a catastrophe at a fixed date. They have simply observed that things are going inexorably from bad to worse. Their lives hinge on a catastrophe that, far from being viewed as an extraordinary event, is considered quite normal. They flee the cities that are populated by unemployed zombies and run away from governments colonized by the moneyed elites. It is the fantasy of communal isolation described by M. Night Shyamalan in his 2004 film The Village, and expanded in 2012 by Roland Emmerich or by The Road, both of which have the added advantage of seeming perfectly plausible.

Survivalists expect nothing from civilization once it has gone down these denigrating roads. In short, they expect nothing from capitalism nor from postcapitalism, not even from pink capitalism. Everything has become impregnated with a pervasive greenish hue which, like mold, infests the happiness of humans affected by precarious employment, underestimated jobless rates and the ferocity of growing inequality, burning like a thicket of cruel, unfair and fatal self-denial.

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