The Corona Virus Pandemic has created an abundance of time to catch up on your favourite shows etc and as a Zimbabwean Covid has provided an unlimited supply of electricity meaning that I’ve managed to exhaust watching everything I wanted to watch.
I need to be constantly stimulated by a storyline to stay sain as the lonely and challenging life of an enterpreneur requires some decent destractsions to keep from losing your balance.
The 1st season was a slug and it took me over a year to wade through it and the only reason why I persisted was because it was a damn good story-line.
I have nerdish tendencies and have a fetish for well thought out series, books and everything else in-between. The underlying concept behind Altered Carbon was too good to pass up and boy was I rewarded in the second season of the show with a much needed change or should I say upgrade of the main character.
The story is set in a futuristic World where human beings have found a way to download consciousness into what they call a sleeve which is basically a flash drive that contains your whole being. That combined with the fact that people have also figured out a way to clone their bodies means that human life has become infinite. The age old obsession of finding the fountain of youth has been solved so that means those with the means to re-sleeve themselves are capable of living forever which is fucking dope.
Now you see why I had to persist with the show even though the first season was trash. Anyway human nature being human nature, you can trust us to fuck up a good thing such as living forever and did I mention that the human race has also colonised other planets therefore overpopulation isn’t an issue.
It may help in understanding human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.
And so in the story when presented with infinite life, people eventually get to ‘PEOPLE’ and start to oppress one another based on wealth and influence as we currently do without the ability to live forever.
Naturally the rich and connected get access to the best of the best. They eventually turn into demigods with lifetimes spanning hundreds of years. They can sleeve themselves into the most desirable bodies and genetically tweak those bodies to experience extreme pleasure. It basically reads like a fairy-tale for the deranged mind.
As a natural consequence the rich become richer and more powerful and create and control multiple backups of themselves that ensure they’ll live forever while the poor get to scramble for the scraps at the bottom of the food chain with little leg room to flourish in such a seemingly limitless world.
For the bottom feeders the law of the jungle reigns supreme and they have to fight for the scraps to survive, there is no justice and worse still, the authors of your misery live forever. Imagine the worst that human nature doles from time to time, The Hitlers, The Stalins and the Idi Amins all living on forever and ever. It’s an absolute cluster fuck.
Also something happens when you have lived for a couple of 100 years, you become desensitised to the plight of ordinary people. Killing becomes a sport, sexual satisfaction now requires some extreme sadistic sessions to register any pleasure. It’s hell on Earth to be honest.
Anyway , what caught my eye was a monologue in the book by the main character which I feel is a really important creed to live by in our Corona ravaged world. It reads:
The personal, as every one’s so fucking fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Get angry.
The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here. ” It is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and software.”
Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide out from under -with a -wink and a grin.
If you want justice, you will have to claw it from them. Make it PERSONAL. Do as much damage as you can. GET YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS.
That way you stand a far better chance of being taken seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous marks the difference, the ONLY difference in their eyes, between players and little people.
With players they will make deals, but with the little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it’s just business, it’s politics, it’s the way of the world, it’s a tough life and that IT’S NOTHING PERSONAL, mil, fuck them. Make it personal.’
This whole monologue is titled : “Things I Should Have Learnt by Now.”
After reading this I couldn’t help but draw parallels with the current situation in Zimbabwe and the world as a whole.
The internets and news outlets have been rife with news about abuse of power and resources meant for the sustenance of the “little people” so to speak.
In Zimbabwe the president and his cronies are using the Covid Crises as a means of enrichment. They are profiting off donations, stealing funds meant for the poor and are basically abusing the very people they should be caring for.
Greed for lack of a better word for sure.
State looting has reached unimaginable levels. Zanu Pf have given a new meaning to rock bottom and they aren’t going to stop because they can and they enjoy it.
But as a student of history, one thing I’ve learnt about the effects of pandemics on humanity is that they always reshape human history. It’s weird that viruses which are scientifically classified as non living have shaped the history of the world and humanity more than any other single entity. Empires have risen and fallen due to viruses. Great civilisations and species have been wiped out clean and given way to new orders.
It has happened before, it is happening now and it will happen again.
The world as we like to think we know it is getting a much needed Reboot thanks to a puney virus from Wuhan that we all chose to ignore without nipping it in the bud.
Unlike the Altered Carbon World where the powerful get to live forever , the new order of things has made the seemingly powerful extremely vulnerable and the natural order of things at least for them is being held together by a string.
Case in point is the United States. In Donald Trump they have a weak war time leader who’s all bark and no bite. When the dust eventually settles America will not be the dominant force we thought they were. They’ve lost control of their own population and the lack of economic productivity has depleted their economic might. This is not isolated and every nation is facing similar problems and like the foolish man who built his house on sand, it’s not a question of if but when the current crisis will sweep away your house.
As a Zimbabwean I’m naturally focused on the events in my own country and from the beginning of this crisis it has been my conviction that this is the one crisis that will bring Zanu Pf to its knees. They are at their most vulnerable right now and looting is at an all time high quite possibly because of general greed or the realisation that this may be their last chance to build a reserve.
The looting of funds meant for Covid relief are amateurish to be honest. There is a lack of tact and nuance and The Finance minister’s fruitless cry for help from the IMF which fell on deaf ears is a sign that things are really bad. Thanks to the Internets all of this isn’t happening in isolation and the powers that be in the world are running out of patience and will stop offering any aid to the regime.
I think there are still a few level headed people in the Government that have prioritised the destruction of the opposition party to buy Zanu Pf time until a vaccine , cure or bailout arrives as an opposition focused on survival won’t have the nuance to mobilise the masses to action.
But with the deepening socioeconomic crisis in the country brought about by years of neglect to the health, food security and infrastructure sectors, they can only keep up the ruse for a minute and the chickens are coming home to roost.
Just as the brutal killing of George Floyd by the police in the US has brought the nation to it’s knees due to neglect of human rights and the blatant racism and abuse of minorities by the police, Zimbabwe is also a ticking time bomb of sorts. People are pissed off and struggling immensely right now and awaiting the right trigger to go stack raving mad.
Which brings me back to the Altered Carbon quote regarding the abuse of the little people.
“If some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Get angry. The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here. ” It is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and software.”
Our idiot politicians have gone too far and one of these fine days shit is gonna get real. The people are slowly realising they are being played for fools and that the opposition is just a toothless bull dog against career anarchists.
The corona virus has created the perfect storm and one of these fine days, the bomb will ignite and hopefully Zimbabwe emerges from this nonsense better. Sadly there will be collateral damage to us the little people.
In your personal life as well it is important to prioritise Self respect as if you don’t respect yourself, people will belittle you and take you for granted.
Once in a while the Lion has to show the hyenas who he really is or they will end up perceiving weakness to manipulate.
You don’t have to apologise for respecting yourself. An aggressive outburst is necessary once in a while to remind people you’re not to be fucked with.
Self Preservation is key.
Pandemics and the Shape of Human History
Outbreaks have sparked riots and propelled public-health innovations, prefigured revolutions and redrawn maps.
In early 542, a plague struck Constantinople. At that time, the city was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, which was led by the Emperor Justinian. A recent assessment calls Justinian “one of the greatest statesmen who ever lived.” Another historian describes the first part of his reign—he ruled for almost forty years—as “a flurry of action virtually unparalleled in Roman history.” In the fifteen years before the pestilence reached the capital, Justinian codified Roman law, made peace with the Persians, overhauled the Eastern Empire’s fiscal administration, and built the Hagia Sophia.
The plague hit the powerless and the powerful alike. Justinian himself contracted it. Among the lucky, he survived. His rule, however, never really recovered. In the years leading up to 542, Justinian’s generals had reconquered much of the western part of the Roman Empire from the Goths, the Vandals, and other assorted barbarians. After 542, the Emperor struggled to recruit soldiers and to pay them. The territories that his generals had subdued began to revolt. The plague reached the city of Rome in 543, and seems to have made it all the way to Britain by 544. It broke out again in Constantinople in 558, a third time in 573, and yet again in 586.
The Justinianic plague, as it became known, didn’t burn itself out until 750. By that point, there was a new world order. A powerful new religion, Islam, had arisen, and its followers ruled territory that included a great deal of what had been Justinian’s empire, along with the Arabian Peninsula. Much of Western Europe, meanwhile, had come under the control of the Franks. Rome had been reduced to about thirty thousand people, roughly the population of present-day Mamaroneck. Was the pestilence partly responsible? If so, history is written not only by men but also by microbes.
Just as there are many ways for microbes to infect a body, there are many ways for epidemics to play out in the body politic. Epidemics can be short-lived or protracted, or, like the Justinianic plague, recurrent. Often, they partner with war; sometimes the pairing favors the aggressor, sometimes the aggressed. Epidemic diseases can become endemic, which is to say constantly present, only to become epidemic again when they’re carried to a new region or when conditions change.
Smallpox, dubbed the speckled monster, which may have killed more than a billion people before it was eradicated, in the mid-twentieth century. Marcus Aurelius, the last of the so-called Five Good Emperors, who died in 180, may also have been a smallpox victim.
Alfred W. Crosby, the historian who coined the phrase “the Columbian Exchange,” also coined the term “virgin soil epidemic,” defined as one in which “the populations at risk have had no previous contact with the diseases that strike them and are therefore immunologically almost defenseless.” The first “virgin soil epidemic” in the Americas—or,“the first New World pandemic”—began toward the end of 1518. That year, someone, presumably from Spain, carried smallpox to Hispaniola.
It’s impossible to say how many people died in the first New World pandemic, both because the records are sketchy and because Europeans also brought with them so many other “virgin soil” diseases, including measles, typhoid, and diphtheria.
In all, the imported microbes probably killed tens of millions of people. “The discovery of America was followed by possibly the greatest demographic disaster in the history of the world,” William M. Denevan, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has written. This disaster changed the course of history not just in Europe and the Americas but also in Africa: faced with a labor shortage, the Spanish increasingly turned to the slave trade.
The crackdown due to the Cholera Pandemic in Russia prompted civil unrest, which in turn prompted more repression, and, thus, in a roundabout sort of way, cholera helped “set the stage” for the Russian Revolution.
Epidemics are, by their very nature, divisive. The neighbor you might, in better times, turn to for help becomes a possible source of infection. The rituals of daily life become opportunities for transmission; the authorities enforcing quarantine become agents of oppression. Time and time again throughout history, people have blamed outsiders for outbreaks.
Whenever disaster strikes, like right about now, it’s tempting to look to the past for guidance on what to do or, alternatively, what not to do.
The trouble is that, for all the common patterns that emerge, there are at least as many confounding variations. During the cholera riots, people blamed not outsiders but insiders; it was doctors and government officials who were targeted. Smallpox helped the Spanish conquer the Aztec and Incan Empires.
The mathematics of outbreaks varies dramatically from case to case. The differences depend on such factors as the mode of transmission, the length of time an individual is contagious, and the social networks that each disease exploits. “If you’ve seen one pandemic, you’ve seen . . . one pandemic.”
Covid-19 will become the subject of many histories of its own and before it’s done with the World it will definitely change the natural order of things.