The age of panic

The downfall of civilization is a theme that requires a certain pace and discretion. How easily cannot an attempt to address the issue fall into a banalization, to superficial cynicism, a stated shrug? Or the opposite: to panic, black paint, collective conscience shock, prophetic social rage and misanthropy? Two books from Polity try with different strategies to get a grip on the situation.

Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens

The one release, How Everything Can Collapse by Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens, as the title suggests, chooses a soberly affirming form – although the subtitle "A Handbook of Our Time" is in itself dramatic and disturbing. What is referred to in English as a "crash course" could in this context be translated with the term "collision course", if the pun could be allowed. The basic course Servigne and Stevens offer is precisely a series of lessons to prepare us for the worst possible accident – a global collapse of civilization. It is thus not just about climate or environmental threats, but about the foundation of our whole techno industrial and economic machinery, the modern world as we know it. The first five chapters describe civilization as an accelerating car that also has engine problems and also drives off the road with a locked steering wheel, while the vehicle itself begins to. . .

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