It's easier to imagine the end of the world --
-- than it is to imagine the end of the Two-Party System.
Fredric Jameson says in a 2003 text that:
Someone once said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.
Since this idea also appears in one of Slavoj Zizek's writings, it's hard to figure out where it came from. So don't worry about who said it first. The point of saying it, as the late Mark Fisher pointed out, is that:
That slogan captures precisely what I mean by 'capitalist realism': the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it.
But I could say the same thing about the "two-party system" here in the United States. We are afflicted by "two-party realism." We can imagine:
- Climate change leading to catastrophic hurricanes and dramatic sea-level increases sinking Florida and NYC, with resultant plagues and famines leading to mass death -- see Mark Lynas' Six Degrees for more, though also Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway's The Collapse of Western Civilization
- The death of the oceans (climate change caused) leading to amplified climate catastrophe (Margaret Atwood mentions this idea briefly in an interview)
- Economic collapse leading to the splintering of world power into tiny, nationalistic state entities (this is the premise of John Feffer's Splinterlands)
- War beginning in the Middle East and spreading throughout the world
- Another COVID-19 except worse
- The United States re-fracturing into North and South in a climate-change world (this is the specialty of Omar el-Akkad's American War)
- The drying-up of global oil supplies leading to economic collapse (this is the specialty of Richard Heinberg and of James Howard Kunstler)
Any of these phenomena are actually quite possible, and we can imagine them pretty distinctly, as numerous authors have done. And there are plenty of warning signs, of which COVID-19, forest fires in Brazil and Australia, the death of the coral reefs, and the drastic rise in school shootings are a few. But, yeah, nobody can imagine the death of the two-party system. Never mind that the two-party system is itself one of the accumulating disasters.
When 90% of the human race has died off and the remaining 10% is engaged in cutthroat warfare for what little is left of planet Earth that has not descended into barren desert, we'll STILL be ruled by Democrats centered in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and the Hamptons, Republicans ruling from the South, the Great Plains, and half the Midwest, and both parties believing in the same failed neoliberal economics, same pointless giveaways to banks, corporations, and the defense establishment, two parties pushing privatized everything as the population sinks into sub-Depression economic desperation. Yep, American politics will never change. The world might turn into a replica of A Canticle for Leibowitz or Hiero's Journey, but even under those conditions we're still going to have Democrats and Republicans, no "third party" imaginable under such circumstances.
Maybe the monks who live in isolated monasteries comprising what's left of civilization in the year 2100 can split up into Democratic and Republican teams and hold rigged elections between each other now and then, or something.