Now that the world has remained in crisis for more than two years, there are several divisions that are abundantly apparent. The most prominent division that everyone is grappling with involves how the world was before the global pandemic, and how the world is “functioning” at present. Multiple violent episodes are erupting all over the world due to changing perceptions, including how most of the world sees its leadership and the societies built around it. However complex the issues surrounding the conflict may be, many can simply be boiled down to this perspective: “I understand the world in this way, and I am upset with how reality is interfering with my comprehension.”
Nostalgia is a very powerful tool, which is one of the reasons that so many of the leaders have been dependent on it for centuries. In the United States, the imperialism that gave us the reputation of “the world’s police” sparked immense economic growth for sixty years–so much so that there are people alive who never understood the United States without economic growth. This mythology has instigated some of the most destructive patterns around because so many people believe that not just this country, but the entire world can continue developing massive, infinite economic growth. While exploitation is nothing new, the expectation that one should be exploited for the good of the country has been propagandized for over half a century, and instead of seeing the evil for what it is, politicians and business “leaders” can evoke a strong, heavily documented propaganda archive pointing out how if the population only works a little bit longer, it will be able to rest.
Unfortunately for those who need the mythology, the global pandemic has laid bare the farce of infinite economic growth, and the nostalgia that accompanies it. No longer do people think that college is a “wonderful experience that can give someone a better life” because we know that when we are required to pay back the loans due to skyrocketing tuitions, elites will ridicule the same people they brainwashed for demanding more than starvation wages. Some tradespeople are still trying to push the belief that there would be no suffering if everyone had gone in to trades, we understand that such people are conveniently forgetting 1) everyone stopped going into trades because “entrepreneurs” were exploiting workers and crushing any organizing attempts; and 2) conditions have changed, and even if trades provide higher salaries, the social support systems from the 1910s-1940s are no longer in place. None of the situations in historic photographs can truly happen again, largely because the people in them destroyed the social fabric of the world, and there is too much information negating nostalgia for the majority to be fooled again.
The most egregious element of nostalgia that people are now fighting is that of 2019. So many people just want to return to a world where we were too busy to notice inequality and abuse, and we consumed to forget the system that kept us in horrid circumstances and dangerous relationships. COVID-19 waves keep surging not only because several members of the masses refuse to, as we say in the Black community, “sit down somewhere”; but because elites need us to keep fulfilling the visions in their head of relentless productivity and endless economic growth, and not everyone can do that by taking care of ourselves. Yes, we are in a global pandemic that is challenging everything we know, but we need to understand that we are not simply being traumatized by a virus, but by the emotional terrorism of a nostalgia based on a reality that never really existed if we look at history. As long as people keep demanding that nothing change, we will be forced to endure “leadership” from people coercing us to remain in the past.