Welcome to Issue 2.5 of Digestable, your daily mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
Today’s news, fermented:
It’s Friday! End of the week, end of the world, any way you slice it — these last few days have taught us a couple (apparently only that many) lessons. One that rises to the top for me is: globalism is absurd.
Yesterday morning news broke that the US has indicted former Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro on drug trafficking charges. There is a lot of history (that I don’t know) required to understand this situation fully (which I don’t). But it seems like these charges are largely (entirely?) made up, like those charges against Lula, the homie who was going to save Brazil from the psychopath now running the country.
Why does this happen? It’s at once very complicated and very simple; it seems that the US has a lot of trouble allowing countries to pursue democracy, have internal conflict, possess resources, or prefer another religion to Christianity without feeling the need to step in. Curious about all the governments the US overthrew in the 20th century?Check out Overthrow, which sums up the 14 regime change operations the US attempted, failed, and succeeded in a way that is also definitely failing.
Back to the present.
This pandemic has revealed both the weaknesses of globalization (easy to allow teeny not-alive viruses to travel very far for something with no legs or a brain) and its strengths, namely that global cooperation is nice. Moving forward, the question is: can we make a globalized world safe and just for everyone, or are we just gonna keep making it incredibly profitable for a few people, and incredibly dangerous, unfair, and difficult for most everyone else?
Donald Trump does a great job of practicing the tenet of white supremacy culture that is either/or thinking. He’s a nationalist, and takes the stance that you cannot stand for your nation while also being a fair and helpful player in global politics. (Arguably, this has long been how the US works; it’s just painfully obvious now.)
There are many other nuanced approaches to global governance that reach in kind of opposite directions. One came up yesterday, when the former British PM called for temporary global government to coordinate strategy about the virus. If you want a fun mental exercise, read the article below and just substitute in ‘climate change’ any time there’s a mention of the virus.
Or, if the track record of global governance isn’t awe-inspiring, we can go in the other direction, which this era of social distancing kind of leans toward. Last year, I had the privilege of spending time with The Zapatistas in Chiapas, México. The Zapatistas have a bad reputation because they are anti-globalization, which is a cue for the mainstream media to call them all sorts of terrible things. Really, they are way ahead of the rest of us.
Zapatismo, their theory of change, is based on autonomy: the right to self-govern and self-sustain. Their autonomy is deeply rooted in indigenous practice as their movement is a nearly all-indigenous one. But I wonder what this could look like for other communities that lack shared identity or culture but share geography. Imagine if the watershed around New York City was an autonomous zone that fed and housed and employed and cared for everyone within that area, using only the resources that they were able to produce?
This is a super nice and complicated idea, in part because it is so different from the world now. But so is the world today compared to just a few weeks ago. In following with Zapatismo, I won’t venture to make recommendations; change has to come from the people who will see the effects of that change.
But my thoughts on the US as an irresponsible global player stand, as perfectly summed up in a tweet someone sent to me yesterday. When she first saw the image in the tweet, she thought “oh god, this is awful.” Her second thought was “oh god, I have to send this to Lena.” Just gonna let you all come to your own conclusions about what I like.
Pictured below is a Jacana, a funky tropical bird. Just imagine that the US is the big one, and every nation to be told it needed the US to invade in order to ‘protect democracy’ is all those little ones whose feet are sticking out.
I’m coming in hot with the ~*Hot Goss*~ this Friday to make up for my absence yesterday with news on some Tik Tok influencers (please bear with me).
A few weeks ago, a Tik Tok influencer named Ava Louise decided to create a new viral challenge on the social media platform called the “Coronavirus Challenge,” where she, um, licked a toilet seat in an airplane lavatory to… to prove a point? Her stunt was mostly ignored at the time, but apparently some equally idiotic attention seeking fame ho who knows his angles very well also decided to participate in this challenge and now claims to have tested positive for the coronavirus. The social media star, known as Larz, announced the diagnosis on his Twitter, which has now been suspended. I’m so sorry that this was the first story you had to read but times are really hard out here and unless the British Royal Family starts acting up again, I’m pretty much resigned to scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to goss.
We’ve also got new music just in time for Weekend #2 of Social Distancing – and from two artists whom we haven’t bopped to in some years! First up, we have Bob Dylan, who is releasing his first song in eight years. Clocking in at a whopping 17-minutes long, the legendary musician dropped a song called “Murder Most Foul,” where he sings in full detail about the much needed cheery topic of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Quarantine-friendly stuff, no doubt!
More importantly, we have a new track from PARTNEXTDOOR featuring the one and only Rihanna, who has not released new music in three years. The song, “Believe It,” features an extremely short vocal feature from Rih, but it’s enough to whet our appetite while we wait out the pandemic and her long-awaited follow up album to 2016’s Anti with much anticipation.
Have a safe and healthy weekend friends, and I’ll see you on Monday!
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
Today’s news, raw:
US indicts Nicolás Maduro and other top Venezuelan leaders for drug trafficking, 3/26/20, The Guardian
The Coronavirus Is Demonstrating the Value of Globalization, 3/27/20, The Atlantic
Gordon Brown calls for global government to tackle coronavirus, 3/26/20, The Guardian
What is Zapatista Autonomy?, 4/3/13, Schools for Chiapas