Language is constantly subverted. From the slang of the inner city where bad is good and a dirty tune is sick (that’s a good thing, apparently), to the manipulative propaganda rhetoric of “humanitarian bombings” and “just wars” of the rich and powerful, words are constantly subjected to Orwellian distortions – as George Orwell wrote in his essay Politics and the English Language, “political language has to consist largely of euphemism … Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification… People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber-camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements.”
While the manipulation of words in political discourse is par for the course, few words have had their true meaning so effectively subverted than the word “Apocalypse”.
When most people hear the word “Apocalypse” they think of carnage and destruction ravaging the planet – Hell, unleashed on earth. But the Greeks – who created the word – had something different to say. To them, the apocalypse was understood to be a moment of “uncovering”; a revelation of knowledge previously hidden.
It’s somewhat ironic that today most people use the word in the religious context of End Times, drawn from eschatology and the final events of history leading to the ultimate destiny of humanity. In its contemporary guise, this apocalypticism has become fused with the political process and goes some way to illuminating the reasons behind the escalating tensions in the Middle East.
But perhaps the original Greek meaning still holds some relevance today – as much as the political world appears to be moving inexorably towards a third global war, so too a discernible shift in the public consciousness seems to be suggesting that the veil is indeed being lifted and something of a “global awakening” is unfolding.
Mass protests are sweeping the planet, largely unreported by the corporate media but nevertheless on the increase, ranks swelling daily as more and more people begin to shatter the illusion of fake democracies and rampant consumerism and see the world as it really is. As the old capitalist model becomes increasingly untenable and those who feed off that system become increasingly authoritarian as their grasp on power begins to slip, the people stare through the lie and the word “revolution” begins to pass their lips.
The recent Jimmy Savile revelations and the horrific implications pointing towards a large scale network of paedophile rings involved in the murder of children leading to the highest echelons of power is yet another example of this true apocalyptic unveiling – previously confined to the David Icke “conspiracy” archives, now it is a matter for public concern and discussion – the citizens of the Western “democracies” might be able to stomach silent complicity with the invasions of numerous nations in the Middle East (decades of imperialism does wonders for normalizing the practice of military intervention in faraway lands) but the systematic abuse of our children is a crime too horrendous for any society to turn a blind eye to.
Apocalypse as the end of the world is often merged with the Mayan predictions for December 21st 2012, presented today as a cultural meme in the form of a cataclysmic event signalling the destruction of the planet. But again, as with the Greeks, the Mayan predictions appear to have been largely misunderstood or deliberately misinterpreted. While movies like 2012 deploy Hollywood wizardry to depict the earth undergoing devastating changes, the Mayans believed the event would be a rebirth of this world and the beginning of an age of enlightenment.
Whether you believe the End Time or Christ’s second coming is upon us, or mankind is about to be transformed by a consciousness shift brought about by planetary changes triggered by a galactic alignment, or that all of the above is sheer nonsense borne of superstitious minds, it’s difficult to escape the feeling that world events are building to a head. A wider conflagration in the Middle East would certainly lead the religious extremists who take the fire and brimstone interpretation of the word apocalypse to feel vindicated.
On the other hand, should a mass movement built upon the foundation of revelations of previously hidden truths successfully overcome the depredations of the ruling elite, perhaps then the true meaning of the word “apocalypse” intended by the Greeks will be restored to the current lexicon.
To the philosopher Hegel, “world history is thus the unfolding of Spirit in time, as nature is the unfolding of the Idea in space.” As we watch history unfold before our eyes, by our actions we help to define it – the choice between destruction or illumination ultimately lies with us.