Anybody who knows me, knows that I have been having a recurring nightmare – now more than ever – that we are entering A New Dark Age.
And Jacques Attali, who 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, shares my nightmare.
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.’And, when I wake up every morning, I see every reason to believe that the nightmare is becoming a terrible reality
As I look around, I can see signs the New Dark Age has begun. Some of the features of emerging neo-feudalism that I observe include:
- The emergence of powerful, unelected and/or unaccountable leaders.
- These ‘lords’ offer protection in return for subservience and services.
- People are given a choice – they are either ‘for’ or ‘against’ these ‘lords’.
- Those people who are ‘for’ these ‘lords’ live their lives as their ‘vassals’.
- ‘Vassals’ wait on the ‘lords’, live off the crumbs that fall from their lords’ tables’, and find refuge – in times of danger – inside their lords’ ‘castles’.
- Those people who are ‘against’ these ‘lords’ are branded as ‘infidels’.
- The ‘lords’ wipe out ‘infidels’ either by leaving them to starve ‘outside their gates’- in times of hunger – or by slaughtering them in ‘crusades’.
- There are no universal basic human rights. The only ‘right’ is ‘might.
- ‘Civilisation’ is the private preserve of these ‘lords’ and their ‘vassals’.
- And they justify this iniquitous ‘civilisation’ in the name of religion!
Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as the National Security Advisor in the Carter administration, supervised the beginning of the Afghan war and credits himself for having bought down the Soviet system, in the true spirit of the son of a Polish aristocrat that he is, says: ‘The three imperatives of geopolitical strategy are to maintain security dependence among the vassals, keep tributaries pliant, and keep the barbarians from coming together.” [ The Grand Chessboard, New York, Basic Books, 1997]
Australian sociologist Ghassan Hage says ‘Not so long ago the state was committed to the welfare of everyone within its borders. (We even called it ‘the welfare state’.) That is no longer so.’
‘We seem to be reverting to neo-feudal times, when the boundaries of civilisation no longer coincide with the boundaries of the nation, but the boundaries of upper class society… There are no universal rights – only the privilege of the elite.’
‘We are increasingly witnessing the rise of a culture that combines a siege (castle) and warring (crusade) mentality; by necessity it emphasizes the exclusion (and/or) eradication of the potentially threatening other.’
‘In each country now – there are first world elites and third-world threats to the elites. In this neo-feudal age the challenge is not how to integrate the marginalised, but how to rid ourselves of these third-world (threats – the refugees and refugee claimants – that we have on our doorstep.)’ (Against Paranoid Nationalism Pluto Press Annandale 2003)
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!’
The Australian government under John Howard planned to turn the whole continent into a ‘gated community’ like Sanctuary Cove. Millions of dollars – dedicated to foreign aid – were spent on 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 meant ‘to keep the queue-jumping cockroaches out!’
The Australian government under Kevin Rudd took the ‘Pacific Solution’ further with its ‘PNG Solution’, according to which, ‘any asylum seeker who comes to Australia by boat without a visa will be refused settlement in Australia, instead being settled in Papua New Guinea if they are found to be legitimate refugees’. The policy includes ‘a significant expansion of the Australian detention facility on Manus Island where refugees will be sent to be processed prior to resettlement in Papua New Guinea, and if their refugee status is found to be non-genuine, they will be either repatriated, sent to a third country other than Australia or remain in detention indefinitely’.
The Australian government under Tony Abbot government funded ‘a nasty little comic book intended to deter those seeking asylum from making the journey to Australia; the narrative culminates with images of asylum seekers languishing miserably in mosquito-plagued camps’. After the latest tragic incidents that have occurred in the Manus Island detention facility, Jeff Sparrow says: ‘Perhaps an updated version can now depict them being shot or hacked at with machetes. Why not? That’s the logic of deterrence, isn’t it? Continue to make refugees miserable until the oppression they face from Australians becomes worse than that which they’re fleeing’. (The Guardian 18/02/14)
Walid Aly writes ‘It is the very logic of our asylum seeker policy – which is built on the sole rationality of deterrence – to create horror. So now, let us make this calculus finally explicit: whatever these people are fleeing, whatever circumstance makes them think they’d be better off chancing death on boats hardly worthy of that description, we must offer them something worse. That something is Papua New Guinea. The worse it is, the more effective it is destined to be. It is the very best form of deterrence.’(21/02/14)
For me these are signs we are entering a New Dark Age.
<Ed> This is a preview of the forthcoming March 2014 print edition of Westender.
For similar articles that we have published in the past search Westender for feudalism