This week put the icing on the cake we’ve been forced to eat the whole last year. However the coronavirus that causes covid19 got from wherever it originated out into the human population, the transmission that resulted in the pandemic likely started with one person and then spread from there. While we’re now shoulders-deep in variants, they’re all variants of a variant of a variant going back to that first viral load as it immigrated into its human host and began reproducing — using human beings like cheap, edge-of-town, sex motels. We don’t have to know the person who infects us with virus. But the virus bonds us nonetheless. Small world, right? When the container ship Ever Given got wedged across the Suez Canal, that world got even smaller. It isn’t just disease that connects us (good thing!), it’s the very fact of a human being on one part of the planet wanting something that another human on the far side of the planet can procure — and ship (via ship) directly TO that first human. Interrupt that link and we feel it like a punch to the gut.
Computers did not “change” a thing when they were invented — not in a “revolutionary” way. They made various disconnected tasks easier. You could do more work faster. But the work product from a word processing program still had to be printed out and physically handed to someone in order for them to read it. If they didn’t live nearby, you had to pay postage to get it to them. It was no more than a glorified typewriter. The same went for proprietary design software used to create anything visual — the physical product had to be physically produced in order to be shared. But, when you connect computers via an internet, THAT changes things. The internet made the personal computer (and then the smart phone) true instruments of change. The capacity to communicate instantaneously with people anywhere in the world — that’s revolutionary. The capacity to share fully realized ideas be they in the form of words, visuals, sound or video — to move information that rapidly — that was the change agent.
For all its disruption, the worldwide pandemic has already begun to change the world economically just as the Black Death changed the economic structure of Medieval Europe parts of which suffered staggering mortality rates. The remaining people still had to eat. Someone had to grow those crops and farm them and then get them to market. Whereas before the plague, the peasants worked the fields their masters owned, essentially slaves, after the plague, those fields went unplowed unless the masters ponied up cash money to get them plowed. Labor — now in short supply — suddenly had value it had never had before. The master was no longer master in the same way because now the master had to negotiate with the worker in order to get the necessary work done. The worker could always refuse to work — and take their labor elsewhere. That’s what killed feudalism. It also resulted in the rise of the gilds in Europe and, eventually, unionized labor.
What the Republican Party in Georgia did this week also fits into the “small world” mold. Except the GOP is making their world smaller in exactly the opposite way. Whereas the coronavirus and the Suez Canal demonstrate how connected we all are, the Georgia Republican Party wants to believe they are an island. That is, they want to live on an island — a very white island where everyone looks and acts just like them. In the pantheon of “small worlds”, THAT small world might just be the smallest ever.
Let’s be real: we are watching the Republican Party’s death rattle. Just as Virginia went from being the reddest of red states (it’s now solidly blue and Democratic), so, too, will Georgia. Georgia’s Republican Party is about to experience outrage like they never imagined as the citizens of Georgia begin to reel from the boycotts coming their way because NO ONE outside of Georgia now wants to patronize businesses that give money to authoritarian insurrectionists. It’s just how we are. The world for Georgia’s Republicans is about to get shockingly small as they begin to actually feel the white hot rage that other Americans feel — in real time no less!
We’re about to see what happens when the smallest of people experience the smallest of worlds.