Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism.
- Rosa Luxemburg, "Junius Pamphlet" 1916

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Things to come, in voices of the ghosts

Click the above to hear a 15 minute audio recording of various radio broadcasts from the Second World War. They cover roughly the second half of 1941. During this period, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union and Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. And the American arsenal of democracy began gearing up -- not only to annihilate the Axis governments but to achieve military dominance over the entire planet. That dominance continues to this day.

Radio broadcasts from 1941 chronicle the passage that resulted, of a whole civilization into a history-wrenching storm. There have been many such storms in the time of the human species on Earth. Few affected every human being in existence immediately, all at the same time. The fall of the Romans, for example, did not immediately unleash its consequences upon the cultures across the Atlantic. It took a thousand years for those consequences to unfold, in the genocidal gunfire and plagues brought by the ships of the Roman successor states, which one historian called "the Mongols of the sea."

The Second World War was different than the earlier storms, because it unfolded in the period when human civilization had become a single, world-spanning entity. Still divided culturally, but increasingly integrated by technology and economics, to a degree never before imagined. The war brought a global maelstorm that immediately affected the lives of almost every society on Earth.

The radio archives of that period give an unmatched sense of the drama and reality of world-shaking events now regarded as dull facts to be memorized by school children preparing for Leave Our Child Behind. Or: to be used as mythology, justifying choices made today, by people with the power over war and peace.

The broadcasts are useful not only as a reminder of things past. They can give us a harbinger of what it will be like when the current crisis of planetary ecology finally breaks in its full fury upon the global culture that required 200,000 years to make. There will be anxious voices in the air, with tidings of the unimaginable made real and loss too great to bear and readiness for a stand.

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