W.P. Norton

Archive for June, 2016|Monthly archive page

The coming world war

In W.P. Norton on June 24, 2016 at 10:32 pm
Fortune-telling is a mostly pointless exercise, but I think the epidemic of gun violence that is unfolding in our cities, as well as on film, television, Netflix and other video platforms is predictive of a global paroxysm of violence in the very near future.
A Third World War, if you like. Almost no show or film worth watching lacks gun violence, mass casualties, or both. And I think I know why. Something in the Zeitgeist is preparing us, desensitizing us, for mass violence on a scale never suffered since the dawn of man.
More than a century ago, Tolstoy wrote an essay on the tobacco epidemic in Europe. Why, he asked, were millions of people embracing the addiction to this substance whose chief effect is to numb the emotions? His conclusion: to become ready, or to be made ready, for the mechanized slaughter of war that he was certain would come.
Tolstoy died in 1910. Seventeen million died and 11 million were wounded in the global war of 1914-1918. I am watching the film “Mad Max: Fury Road” right now, and the horror it depicts is beyond my ability to describe. I fear we are careening toward another world war. Belgium, Paris, Berlin, Orlando, San Bernardino, and the other explosions of violence that have erupted in the last string of months may be the first flashpoints of this war.
I give it five to ten years.
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