On The Money;
Financial Advice for the Working-Class
The Zombie Apocalypse
Lots of people throughout history have speculated about the coming apocalypse. John (not me, the biblical author of Revelations), envisioned four guys on horseback, a prostitute and a seven horned animal. That doesn’t sound like the apocalypse to me, that sounds like a republican hunting trip. Some people think climate change will do us in. Some people think the Earth will get struck by a giant asteroid, and others think we’ll all die in concentration camps set up by the New World Order.
All of those seem more plausible to me, than the apostle John’s psychotic acid trip story. However, as the end of the world gathers steam around us, we no longer have to make predictions about the end of the world. We can simply make observations. To me, the end of the world looks like a zombie apocalypse.
I imagine that the “Start Date” for the end of the world will remain a subject of academic debate, but as far as I’m concerned, we’re there. I know it just seems like normal life, especially if you are young, but we passed the tipping point a while ago and have moved into a state of free-fall. Nothing can stop it from crashing now.
Why do I say zombie apocalypse? Where are the zombies? When I talk about a zombie apocalypse, I don’t mean the walking undead, as in corpses that come to life. No, I’m talking about the walking unliving, as in live humans caught in a dead culture.
Most of us learned to become the walking unliving when we went to school. The more time you spend in school, the more of a zombie you become. Having learned to behave like a zombie in school, you join the zombie workforce, where the apocalypse becomes just a job. We didn’t have to die to become zombies, we became zombies when our culture died.
When was that? You ask. Like I say, the specific date remains a matter for academic debate, but some scholars put the time of death at 1962, fifty years ago, the year Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. For many, Silent Spring represents the first incontrovertible case against our culture; our particular way of doing things. Silent Spring proved to everyone that our industrial high-tech civilization was killing the planet.
One could argue that the entire 20th Century, with two devastating world wars, a global economic collapse, and the ungodly spectacle of an atmospheric thermonuclear explosion, was the century that our culture died. That is, the century where everyone had to face the fact that the way we live, destroys the planet, and the quality of our own lives. Whether our culture died in 1917, 1929, 1945 or 1962, or even 1967, when Tim Leary told us to “turn on, tune in and drop out”, our culture arrived in this new century DOA.
In the 21st Century, we all know we’re killing the planet. We know we live an unsustainable lifestyle, but we just keep on doing things the same way, and we want more of the same. We want more jobs. We want more economic growth. We want to drill for more oil, and we want to build new nuclear power plants, but Thorium reactors, this time. The walking unliving crave these things like the walking undead crave brains. That’s why I call them zombies.
Why did everyone become zombies, rather than face the death of our culture? Having your culture die really fucks up your day. Its worse than having a parent, or both parents, die. Its even worse than God dying. Its like both parents, God, and everyone you’ve ever known dying, at the same time you realize that everything you’ve ever been taught is wrong. People can’t handle that kind of shit. They can’t even imagine what comes next. They crack. They dissociate. They go into denial. They become zombies.
People made investments in this culture. They don’t want to walk away from the life they’ve planned for themselves, whether its the degree they earned, the property they’ve acquired or the position they’ve achieved, they don’t want to face the fact that everything they’ve ever known is meaningless, and falling apart. They can’t face it. It’s really more than most people can take.
That’s how we got so many zombies in our zombie apocalypse. The death of our culture sent people spinning out of control. Old habits die hard, especially when you have no idea what to replace it with, so they keep doing things the same way they always have. They act like nothing is wrong and everything will be fine, but things have changed. It’s over.
We thought we were so on the right track with this secular, technological, democratic, oligarchy thing, but we were wrong. In fact, we were so wrong, we can’t even remember what it means to be right. Our culture didn’t go wrong, 100 years ago, or 500 years ago, or even 1000 years ago. Our culture made a wrong turn away from a traditional, stable, tribal culture, to a centralized, totalitarian system roughly 10,000 years ago.
That centralized totalitarian system meant that the people of this culture work harder than anyone else in the world, and that our population grew faster than any other on earth. That culture threw sustainability, leisure time, human dignity and cultural identity out the window, for power, hierarchy, and unbridled expansion. What we call “World History” amounts to the story of just this one culture, ours, as it expanded out of the Middle East, and spread all over the globe, annihilating the sustainable cultures of tribal peoples all along the way.
Except for the few remaining tribal peoples clinging to their ancestral homelands and cultures, in the ever shrinking margins of our expanding global economy, we’ve never seen a sustainable culture, or one that meets the need of its members effectively. 150 years ago we called those people “savages”, and it was legal to kill them here in California. We were that convinced of our cultural superiority… until WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, The Bomb, Silent Spring, Vietnam, LSD, the collapse of the Middle-Class, and the Global Climate Crisis. Today some people still think of our culture as “advanced”, “evolved” or “superior”, rather than “flawed”, “dysfuctional” or “dead”, despite the evidence to the contrary. I call these people “zombies”.
Zombies want to “restore America”, “take back our democracy”, and “reclaim the flag”. Zombies pray to Jesus, worship Allah, or meditate on nothingness. Zombies stay in school, keep their nose clean, and work hard every day. Zombies just keep going through the motions, even though they know its doing no good, and a whole lot of harm.
It’s easy to join them. You can go through the motions too, …but you’ll know. Deep down in the pit of your stomach, you’ll feel a dark empty hole where a vibrant, sustainable culture should live. You’ll consume stuff to fill that hole. You’ll make stuff for other people to consume to fill that hole. That hole has become the primary force that drives our economy.
As long as we keep going through the motions of an undead culture, we’ll never create, rediscover, or intuit the seeds of a new living culture, and unless we stop going through the motions of an undead culture, we won’t have a habitable planet to build a living culture on. So, welcome to the zombie apocalypse, you’ll have to face it, if you want to survive.