Come along with me while I play a game of what if.
As a nation, a hemisphere, a political hegemony, we are being told to be terrified of Ebola.
It is indeed a nasty disease and results in more fatalities than cures. While Ebola is nasty it does not have a high infection rate.
What should I fear? On a medical level, of course. There is plenty else to be afraid of. So, what should I fear?
I should fear flu-mutations. Airborne infection. It only needs a nasty mutation to make the flu the worst killer in history. Many other mutations, in the past, were self-limiting because there was limited contact between groups and areas. With modern transport the infection could be world-wide in a week and need a six month research effort to develop an antidote! Ebola isn’t the biggest worry. That is reserved for the joke diseases – “Man”flu, “Bird”flu, “Swine”flu or perhaps, worst of all, “Mouse”flu!
Rodent Flu could be as bad as the Black Death which killed between 30% and 60% of the human species in the middle of the 1300’s. That was spread by the fleas on infected rats which were immune to the disease. Influenza is carried in many different forms by many different animals, including most mammals. Should mice or rats, with their close association with humans, develop a virulent, air-spread form of Flu then we could have severe problems.
While we do have expert and dedicated science institutions capable of developing a vaccine withing the apparently short period of six months we may not have that time. We are so used to “Flu seasons” which limit the spread through populations that we are totally unprepared for the alternative. A virus which is spread through the air, without reference to our accepted seasons.
Such a virus would be spread throughout the world within days rather than weeks because of our mass transit systems. Airlines would carry it across borders in hours. The research bodies my not have the required six months before their structures collapse.
Let us assume for the sake of this flight of fancy that this new mutated virus is as effective in transmitting itself as the Black Death. That is causes an around 50% – 70% reduction in the human population of the earth. What would be the results?
While I agree a 90% virus (or microbe) is a possibility it is worth remembering that the worst we have faced in known history have been around 50% – 70% death rates. That 70% was the Black Death in parts of Europe in the mid-1300’s. An interseting and probably related fact is that the Renaissance began where the disease had entered Europe, in Italy, just one ot two generations later. The Dark Ages were ended, not by knowledge but by a disease. Not by gradual change but by a social upheaval.
A virus/microbe thing was what HG Wells saw as the Earth’s salvation in his novel, “War of the Worlds”. In his case the invaders were fatally infected by the common cold.
After the plague.
We, as a society have grown to expect a Governmental and a Military response. The problem will be that they will also suffer the same death rate as the rest of the population. With that sort of attrition rate we can expect several panicking Government or Military people to send off some nuclear weapons.
Much of our infrastucture depends on the current over-population. As the infrastructure collapses (trains, Plains, roads, communications} the intial survivors will be the billionaires who are probably the least suited to survival in a depopulated world. While they may have stockpiled enough for a lifetime’s survival, it will leave their spoiled children in some disarray. There is satisfaction in thinking about that!
Groups of survivors of the New Plague will probably lose touch with distant groups as the Internet, television and radio will die fairly quickly as satellites and fibre optic cables break down. Food will become a local thing again as long distance transport dies over the generation after the disaster.Within those groups and areas, land will become more plentiful, the average worker will become more valuable and the plutocrats will lose most of their assets. The 1% will probably survive for one generation!
Those best suited to survive will be the substinance groups; the indigenous communities in Australia, the untamed Amazonian tribes, the Arctic groups, the San of Southern Africa. That sort of thing. All isolated from each other with new stories to tell and new religions to develop. Sadly the redneck “survivalists of the USA will also have a high survival rate. Dedicated and selfish survivors with stockpiled weapons! Luckily they will only be able to move around on horseback! And there are limits on how much ammunition any one person can stockpile.
For those small groups based on the old cities and agricultural areas there is a further limit to their recovery and survival which was not present at the end of the Dark Ages. This was a thought I had last night while peeling my home-grown broad beans for dinner. Monsanto are busy making sure as many cropping species as possible become infertile in the second generation so everyone has to but seedstock from them! They are also killing the bees so that only their own self-pollinating crops are left viable. In the new world, post virus, many of the survivors will starve because of this!
Just bye the bye, unusually for an American Corporation (irony alert) the entire board of Monsanto are practising Christians. Surely they have our well being foremost in their minds.
The possible political outcomes of a disaster of this size are also fascinating. The loss of entrenched power within large groupings and the growth of power in the hands of artisans and labourers would make for booksful of discussion. New religions and rituals will be created in response to anger at the Gods which allowed such a cataclysm.
That is where I shall leave this post. It is an interesting mind game and puts this current Ebola scare, along with the HIV, Bird and Swine Flus, and even the Spanish Flu of 1918, into perspective. Bad as they were or could have been, none of them dislocated society. Even the Spanish Flu with 85 million victims did nor “Decimate” the population as that implies the loss of one in ten. The virus I postulate will halve the population. At least the tigers will be happy.
That plague is yet to come.
Unless the asteroid hits us first!
Whoever fights monsters
The USA has fought many monsters in its short history as a Nation.
Religious persecution, a battle which continues to this day. The British Monarchy which was a successful battle. Slavery where they had to fight themselves with mixed results. Spain and Mexico in successful American Imperialism. German Imperialism which was not quite so successful so they had to do it twice. Russian Communism which eventually worked after unleashing many potential horrors upon an undeserving world.
should see to it that in the process
The Founding Fathers of the USA set up an apparently fool-proof process so that the citizenry could see what was happening within a tripartite form of Government.
An elected President limited to two terms. An elected Congress subject to the will of an informed electorate. An appointed Supreme Court where the best minds in the country could rule, in Law, on the decisions of the first two branches.
All open and visible to the public.
Successfully fighting against the casual cruelties of Nazism and the secret arms of Eastern Europe’s tyrannical Governments.
he does not become a monster.
Yet somewhere along the way the USA lost its integrity.
The cruelty of mid-Century Germany was mirrored in the drug experiments by the CIA in the 50’s and 60’s.
The secrecy of the KGB became the norm in the CIA and the Gulags of Russia have found an echo in the creation of the Guantanamo Bay prison.
The stop and search and constant inspection of its and other Nation’s citizens, the intrusion of the NSA into every corner of the cyber-world and the use of drones to remotely kill people are all symptoms of the USA having tipped over the edge into becoming one the monsters it was trying to eradicate.
And if you gaze long enough into an abyss,
After looking into the Abyss created by megalomaniac rulers throughout the world; After counteracting the terror unleashed upon the world by those with extreme religious and secular ambitions; After close association with the worst the world can produce, the USA has become infected with the evil virus it has spent so long trying to eradicate.
Consider this new step in the sickness and hubris of the secret American State.
“In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data . . . . . the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny, according to current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions.“
So now there are secret laws, secret courts and secret committees and people making the rules Americans have to live by.
the abyss will gaze back into you. Friedrich Nietzsche
The one lesson we, as a species, have learned is that bureaucracies outlive people.
They outlive nations.
The new American intelligence bureaucracy has an un-elected leader.
One whose name we will never learn.
In the coming struggle between America and China and between America and its people, there will be many casualties.
Not the least of which will be truth and freedom.
As well as those brave people who try to lift the lid on this new terror organisation.
Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Thomas Drake and Edward Snowdon are just the tip of the iceberg. There will be many more who who will try to save the ideals of honesty, openness and accountability and who will pay the price.
Yet the Abyss will almost certainly win. And the contagion which now infects America will spread, in epidemic form, to all of America’s allies.
St Jude, Pray for us indeed!
Filed under: Australia, Introspective | Tagged: bradley Manning, Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowdon, Freedom, Gitmo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo Bay, Gulag, julian assange, NSA, Secret agencies, Thomas Drake, USA | 2 Comments »