In the January issue of e-flux journal, Franco “Bifo” Berardi surveys the global landscape of sluggish economies, growing fanaticism, and widespread desperation to suggest that we may be entering a new epoch of planetary war. However, this war will not take place between two clearly defined antagonists. It will be dispersed, informal, and potentially endless. An excerpt:
Are we heading toward a global war? Not exactly: no declarations of war are being issued, but innumerable combat zones are proliferating. No unified fronts are in sight, but fragmented micro-conflicts and uncanny alliances with no general strategic vision abound. “World war” is not the term for this. I would call it fragmentary global civil war.
And the fragments are not converging, because war is everywhere.
Now, as US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter claims, “destructive power of greater and greater magnitude falls into the hands of smaller and smaller groups of human beings.”
When war is privatized, no geopolitical order in the world can be imagined, no arrangement among the conflicting religious tribes can be pursued. No beginning and no end—an endless war, as Bin Laden promised. From the Paradise in which he certainly dwells, Mr. bin Laden must be looking upon the rise of the Caliphate of Death with a smile: so far, he can easily claim that the Army of Allah is winning the war.
Some American Republicans claim that the killings are related to mental illness. In a way, they are right. But they misunderstand the causes and the extent of what they label mental illness. Mental illness is not the rare malady of an isolated dropout, but the widespread consequence of panic, depression, precariousness, and humiliation: these are the sources of the contemporary global fragmentary war, and they are spreading everywhere, rooted in the legacy of colonialism and in the frenzy of daily competition.
Image: Michele Fiore, a Republican assemblywoman from Nevada, poses with her family for her Christmas card, 2015.