2012: Maybe the Mayans Were Right
Lots of ”end of the world” hype preceded December 21st, 2012, the end of the Mayan “Long Count” calendar. In China, the impending date even occasioned mass arrests of supposed “doomsday cult” members — probably run-of-the-mill religious or political dissidents, of course, but that the regime would pick such a tie-in as the latest justification for its usual activities indicates that the Mayan legend gained considerable depth of social and media penetration.
Some of the less bombastic analyses of the “Long Count” phenomenon noted that it didn’t necessarily mean the end of the world, but merely the end of a long historical cycle, to be followed by a new paradigm. Now, I don’t buy into the Mayan mythology for any purposes, but it occurs to me that 2012 may indeed have been a turning point of sorts.
This year, for the first time in my own life and in a nearly century or so so far as I know, the term “anarchist” started popping up as more than an aside in conventional media narratives. It’s been gaining ground for the last decade or so with e.g. references to Black Bloc activists at WTO demonstrations and such, but this year it began to move toward center stage.
As the Greek state found itself besieged and nearing complete disintegration under the burden of its politicians’ debts, the media used anarchists as their first bete noire, highlighting their involvement in that country’s counter-”austerity” protests.
In April, one of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s security operations (you know, the ones where they incessantly hector a few unstable people to commit violent acts, then swoop in to save the day when they finally get a bite) netted four “anarchists” for agreeing to blow up a bridge in Ohio. Nothing unusual about the operation per se — the FBI is by far the most prolific group of terrorist plotters in the world — but we must keep in mind that the “perpetrators” aren’t randomly picked. The FBI chose “anarchists” because they wanted to highlight (read: manufacture) a particular threat.