This morning I got in the bus and had to drive in the dark to my favourite beach at New Brighton - the next beach north from Byron Bay.In the pitch dark just before dawn I made my way to the beach and sat beside the Pacific Ocean and thought about a million things, not least the span of my own life across the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. I was born (1943) in the midst of the titanic struggle between competing totalitarian systems (Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan) and the ‘liberal democracies’ - a war which engulfed the world and was a battle for supremacy ultimately based upon the productive power of the economies of the combatants - World War Two, which has been called the ‘war of the factories’. In the end the productive might of the United States and the allies overpowered that of Germany and Japan and a ‘new world’ was born from the ashes. The liberal democracies saw Communism as the new threat to their economic hegemony and the cold war began. Slowly after several decades both the capitalist democracies AND the communist totalitarian models began to adapt to changing circumstances, and sitting beside the Pacific I began to think of how they had evolved. The two major powers strike me as having many characteristics of the Fascist state model, where the political elites serve the same interests as the major players in their economies - there is a ‘convergence of perspective’ where those who are elected have prioritised the interests of their economies OVER those of their populations. Banks and major corporations and the excessively wealthy have gained disproportionate power in the ‘Pacific economies’ to such an extent that the ‘voice’
of the popular elected ‘will’ has been reduced to irrelevance. The military industrial complex (which Eisenhower warned about) is now in the ascendency in both the United States and China. The political elites of both countries now exercise a control over their populations which is unprecedented in its scope and reach and power. The nuclear-industrial complex in Japan not only controls the levers of political power in that country, but is busy polluting the very ocean beside which I am sitting as I write this post. I have the sense that the next few years are going to be critical politically and economically AND socially and that a massive ‘drama’ is beginning over the Pacific region. Slowly but surely the interests of the ‘common people’ (of the masses) of the world are being suborned and diluted in the face of a new ‘state struggle’ which is emerging. An evolving form of neo-Fascism is in place with draconian laws in support that will be used to quell dissent and to protect the interests of capital, be it in China, America or Japan. The sun rises in front of me and once again the choices for the human race become crystal clear. Either we find a way to live with one another or we shall perish together under the burden of our competitive and ultimately destructive economic choices. The control which the contemporary state possesses is analogous to that exercised by the Fascists states of WW2, and in some respects it exceeds those powers. What is the artist to do ? In China they are being arrested and imprisoned for speaking out ? In Japan they are leading the way against the nuclear-industrial elites. And in America, Britain, France, Germany where are the warnings from artists about the emergence of the ‘new world order’ which is slowly but surely reducing the human race to little but ‘units of consumption’ whose views are irrelevant to those in power ? Where are the artists who can SEE the re-emergence of the fascist model ? The battle under way between Romney and Obama neatly encapsulates this struggle for the future. Will the interests of the ‘common people’ prevail or will the interests of the military industrial complex, the banks and capital ? Sitting on a beach listening to the diurnal roar of the ocean I cannot divorce myself from the way the world is heading any more than I can hope to exist without food or shelter. From whence will come the equivalent of Orwell’s prescient ‘1984’? The work of the imagination which will show people what is happening to their world ? Each and every artist has a simple choice. To address these issues or to ignore them. One things remains abundantly clear to me - we cannot simply ‘wish them away’.