Amid a global zeitgeist of impending catastrophe, this book explores the culture of fear so prevalent in today's politics, economic climate, and religious extremism. The authors of this collection argue that the lens of catastrophe through which so many of today's issues are examined distorts understanding of the dynamics at the heart of numerous problems, such as global warming, ultimately halting progress and transformation. Arguing that catastrophic thinking results in paralysis or reactionary politics, the authors posit that the myths of 2012 have negative affects across the political spectrum and urge activists not to give up their beliefs and instead focus on working on issues now instead of waiting until society has ended and needs to be rebuilt.
Each of the four essays in this evenhanded volume examines a facet of the tendency in the "Global North" (i.e., North America and Europe) to view current events in apocalyptic terms. Yuen (Confronting Capitalism, co-editor) believes that "the ubiquity of apocalypse in recent decades has led to a banalization of the concept"; awareness of climate change, for example, has begotten apathy rather than action, and Yuen proposes a return to grassroots activism to solve this. Lilley (Capital and Its Discontents) traces the leftist history of catastrophism, as manifested in hopes of the demise of capitalism, while documentary filmmaker Davis comes at the concept from the right, exploring Judeo-Christian beliefs about disaster and how end-time ideologies tend "to shift the focus from essential questions of public policy... and onto abstractions." In the final essay, McNally (Global Slump) pegs the recent popularity of zombies as arising from "catastrophic imaginings of everyday corporeal vulnerability." The thread connecting these articles is a desire to strip the rhetoric of catastrophism from all sides so that society can confront and solve real threats, and while the prose veers from jargon to straight talk and back again, each author offers valuable contributions to the discourse.