Bruce Sterling returns again to the WELL's public "Inkwell" conference for his annual state-of-the-year public interview, in which anyone can join in. It's off to a rollicking start, with plenty of chewy, sometimes gnomic Sterlingian pronouncements:
Some people still think that there's an "Islamo-fascist tyranny"
somewhere that hates our freedoms and can organize Islam-dom into a
coherent fascist state... There's just no way. Al Qaeda and the
Taliban aren't true "fascists." Fascists can at least make trains run
on time. Even Communists were better-organized. The mujihadeen have
no organized army and no industrial policy and they don't know where to
find any. Because God was supposed to handle all that for them.
You're supposed to die nobly in a crowd of unwitting strangers, and
then God's supposed to make that all better. That's the big plan.
But when you blow up the china shop, God doesn't reassemble the plates
for you. Being faith-based doesn't trump reality.
It's pretty good news that Al Qaeda is getting tired and losing its
charisma. They've held center stage more than long enough.
I think "we" in the largest sense, planetary civilization, world
culture or whatever, we're closer to a consensus idea of futurity than
it's been since, say, 1997. It's a green futurity. People don't like
it much, but they know it's coming anyway.
Ten years ago, there was a little Belle Epoque era of good feeling
there when the "Washington Consensus" held its sway... and the thought
among opinion-makers of the time was, you know, let the dot-com Long
Boomers run that show. Everybody knew that what they were saying and
doing didn't make much sense -- but at least there was plenty of pie
there for the Formerly Free World.
Now the Americans have clearly lost the thread... the Americans are
really just horribly out of it, they're like some giant fundie Brazil,
nobody takes their pronunciamentos seriously or believes a word they
say... Whereas the world is much more seriously global now. China and
India are real players, they're part of the show and they matter.
Serious-minded people everywhere do know they have to deal with the
resource crisis and the climate crisis. Because the world-machine's
backfiring and puffing smoke. Joe and Jane Sixpack are looking at
four-dollar milk and five-dollar gas. It's hurting and it's scary and
there's no way out of it but through it.