Permacrisis management

A comment I noticed on a blog today, after someone suggested that there would be huge political ramifications once the truth of one of the COVID lies emerges: “Most Americans don’t trust the government already – but they still obey it.”

That put me in mind (slightly obliquely) of something our visiting preacher said last Sunday. Rightly speaking of the power of the gospel to meet the deepest human need, and our responsibility as Christians to share it, he mentioned how chronically stressed most people have become in recent years. He said how there was even now a word for the phenomenon: “Permacrisis.”

A little searching shows “permacrisis” to have been chosen as “word of the year for 2022” by Collins Dictionary, but the easiest way to understand it is not a dictionary, but to look at your own emotions at the beginning of 2023. The word seems to cover much of the same semantic range as my “Great Gloom.”

There is an academic style analysis of the phenomenon here, but I think it is too academic in that it places the blame on the complexity of the modern world. But in my view it has a simpler explanation: the deliberate inculcation of a sense of crisis amongst the people as a means of control, and even as a means of distraction from the underlying intentions of those instigating it.

A superficial explanation of the artificial origin of the lurch from crisis to crisis might blame the press, who proverbially sell more copies from bad news than good. But that overlooks the fact that the press is now fully subordinated to special interests, and especially to governments and the powers behind them. The Twitter files show how this control extends to social media as well. How this came about is described in Nick Davies’s Flat Earth News, though it is a little dated now, having been written before the phenomenon of a state-controlled media came to full fruition.

The important point is that the serial crises that fill us with fear are all manufactured, and in most cases exaggerated or completely false. Choosing a historical starting point is difficult, and perhaps somewhat arbitrary. Was the Cold War part of it? Certainly Operation Mockingbird was a CIA-led project from the start of the arms race to control the attitudes of the American people towards the Soviet Union.

But the events of 9/11 seem to mark a turning point, as thereafter existential crisis after existential crisis has held the headlines without remission. Whether the “conspiracy theories” about the Twin Tower attacks have any foundation or not, the subsequent War on Terror was a clear effort to create a substitute for the “Red Threat,” with the advantage that terrorists might be suspected everywhere and nowhere: Ahmed under the bed has a suicide belt, unlike Ivan.

There was never any serious reason to suppose that Islamist terrorism would ever be more than an evil nuisance to the vast majority of people in the West, just as Provisional IRA terrorism was, even for those of us living in London, little real threat. Although of course some real atrocities occurred during the “troubles,” for me it meant, in total, hearing two letter-box bombs go off from my London flat, being caught up in traffic on the night of the Guildford pub bombings as I drove home to Guildford, and missing a bomb at Westminster hospital when I was away from medical school there. My fellow students had even found it rather exciting to be able to help out in a real incident.

9/11 felt more personal, as it happened on my daughter’s last day in New York, and she’d mentioned a possible visit to the WTC. But afterwards, most of the terrorists who weren’t banged up for torture in Guantanamo Bay were suspected to be in countries with useful oil supplies or strategic value, which were therefore invaded and bombed to oblivion. The millions of civilians who have died in these invasions are several orders of magnitude higher than all those who have ever been murdered in terrorist attacks throughout history.

Islamic terrorists seem, mysteriously, to have lost interest in their trade as completely unrelated crises have become the focus of permacrisis, to the extent that the U.S. War on Terror has been replaced with a War on Trumpists, who have killed even less people but may, like Islamists and whistleblowers, spend years in solitary confinement anyway.

To move on, though, the financial crash of 2008, whilst real, was also manufactured for profit, and was used to fleece taxpayers on the spurious grounds that life could not continue if the banks went under. That’s possibly true in a system designed over a century or more to suck all individual wealth into the banking system. But the fear of personal insolvency obscured the criminality of our financial system itself.

The various incarnations of intersectionality occupied the next decade or so, ordinary people being challenged first on accepting homosexuality as normal and heterosexuality as aberrant (how distant that debate seems now: who else remembers when sex before marriage was the “new morality”?). Then came redefining marriage, shortly before biology itself was turned on its head by transgender activism, and a new definition of racism as a genetic characteristic of the white-skinned. It is naive to see any of these as spontaneous minority protests, for they constitute a smoothly escalating programme now culminating in paedophilia. Whilst serving an agenda of destroying the Judaeo-Christian (no, actually the world-normative) concepts of family and personal identity, the programme was also intended to produce a sense of crisis, and hence fear, and hence lack of resistance to deconstruction on all fronts.

Then we get to COVID, leading in turn to the excess-death crisis and the economic and social fallout from lockdowns. Black Lives Matter protests and iconoclasm filled in one hiatus in the pandemic waves, and the perennial “global warming,” by now ramped up to a “climate emergency,” could be relied on for anxiety-provoking headlines at any other time, whatever the weather.

After that, as COVID faded – never as great a danger as was hyped to instill fear – it was time to foment an escalation of the ongoing civil war in Ukraine, to describe it as a threat to civilisation – and subsequently to ramp it up it so that it now is such a threat, if Western involvement tips us into nuclear war (observe – even the Cold War can now be successfully recycled without the Warsaw Pact).

Net Zero began not long ago as a mad left-wing idea from radical Democrats, and just three years later has become fixed policy throughout the un-developing world. Predictably, especially once equally insane energy sanctions, inflation from both COVID waste and failure to reform the banks after 2008 were added, we also have a cost-of-living crisis, which in the once-developing world is just a living crisis.

I’ve missed out some of the issues, I’m sure, but maybe I’ve laid out the main ones, enough to show that they are man-made and fully intentional, rather than being a failure of God to stop the world falling apart all at once. His indirect providential role, and his governance of eschatological history, is another matter I’ve often covered, but that is above the pay-grade of the average worried unconverted neighbour.

To return to my visiting speaker’s sermon, he said nothing actually to explain the permacrisis. I couldn’t help but think that, whilst in a real way the knowledge that “God is in control” comforts us in all our troubles, and whilst the power of the gospel to bring us safe to God’s presence is good news to all, yet there is a problem. For if Christians do not themselves understand the true nature of the permacrisis, they are themselves going to be victims of it, and in little condition to provide hope to outsiders. In effect they are likely to resemble Lance Corporal Jones, well-versed in infantry doctrine, but lacking practical insight:

Ask a church full of people if they trust the government, and they will say no. Ask if they trust God and (more hesitantly, knowing their own weakness) they will reply yes. But what is the value of that in reaching out to give hope to others if, when government screams at you to take mRNA shots you shovel in every available booster, get COVID a fortnight later, and frown on those who won’t inject their children too? How will you radiate hope when you’re parroting Tear Fund parroting Michael Mann on imminent climate Armageddon? How will you bring peace when you’re advocating war at the behest of NATO warmongers in order to “stick it to Putin”?

In short, how will you do successful permacrisis management until you recognise that the entire crisis is the deception of Satan, the father of lies?

Avatar photo

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
This entry was posted in History, Politics and sociology, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Permacrisis management

  1. Peter Hickman says:

    It interests me that you put “God is in control” in quotes, no doubt for good reason.

    I belong to a small Christian home group that meets on alternate Mondays. Over the years one godly man in particular has responded to difficult issues with the phrase, “God is in control”, attempting both to provide comfort in times of trouble and to explain why God allows such troubles to occur. Here are three examples of this:

    i. A young woman, a past member of our group, having not long previously married and given birth, developed an aggressive form of Motor Neurone Disease. Notwithstanding our earnest prayers she died. “God is in control”, it was said. Not everyone was content to accept that God wanted and planned her death.
    ii. We have a habit of discussing and praying about contemporary political issues. This has included the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, now enacted. Somehow, it is thought, our dismay at the success of our godless Government in pushing this through should be tempered by the knowledge that “God is in control”. After all, our leaders are given to us by Him, are they not?
    iii. Just before Christmas one of our members, a builder by trade, drove to Ukraine, planning to stay there for three months and provide practical help in building temporary accommodation for folk bombed out of their homes. Of course, we prayed for his safety and continue to do so. But, we are reminded, whatever happens, “God is in control”. His wife would struggle with that if he were injured or killed.

    I have challenged the group to consider what is meant, and what they mean, by this phrase. It has proved difficult. The fact is that we, like most folk, have not given enough attention to the implications of believing that God is in control of, in the sense of being responsible for, everything that happens. I don’t believe that He is. At the very least, within his overarching providential care, He has given mankind some agency in achieving his purposes. For believers this includes prayer, including that His will should be done on earth as it is in heaven; and if that were already the case there would be no need to pray it.
    So, rather that thinking that everything, including presumably the permacrisis phenomenon, is under God’s control, believers need to (re)discover their God-given responsibility to be salt and light in this world.

    My home group has given me the task of presenting a talk on ‘The Sovereignty of God’ in two weeks’ time. I will need grace to negotiate through what is likely to be a melee of contrasting views.

    • Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:


      The quote marks were essentially to cover the very unreflective attitudes you mention. Your sovereignty talk needs to cover the mystery of providence, even in the provision of evil men in Acts 4 to murder the Son of God for our sakes. Providence did not replace their agency – nor, in more normal events, would it preclude evasive action, human rights courts, just rebellion and the like. But it does mean that nothing that happens second guesses God, nor his ultimate will for his people.

      “If anyone is to go into captivity,
      into captivity he will go.
      If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
      with the sword he will be killed.

      “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” (Rev 13:10)

      And in the fullness of eternity, they will see God’s wisdom in thus permitting it.

      “Farther along we’ll know all about it,
      farther along we’ll understand why.
      Cheer up my brothers, sing in the sunshine,
      We’ll understand it all by and by.”

      But we’ll seek whatever remedies we can in the here and now!

  2. Robert Byers says:

    Amen. yes the press is run by special interests. It really is that forceful peoples run the governing peoples and the press is just another thing. Since its forceful its a option for any paper etc to not be run by any interest and defend themselves from the charge.
    People in britain have never been so rich or healthy today as opposed to before. our standards do rise. i see no permacrisis for the common man relative to the past. the past was woprse. i suspect the womenm are more weak and feminism putting them in ens jobs has made it worse for them. They are stressed more then men I think.
    God has some control but remember the bible says Satan approached christ and said HE, satan, ran the historic nations of the world. its complicated.

  3. Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

    “God has some control but remember the bible says Satan approached christ and said HE, satan, ran the historic nations of the world. its complicated.”

    He did say that, but he was lying! Deception was, and is, his trump card. Jesus well knew that Nebuchadnezzar had been driven mad because he refused to acknowledge that “God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men, and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Dan 4:25). And Satan could not tempt Jesus about his Sonship without reminding him that the key text for that is Psalm 2, where Yahweh offers the Son all the nations simply for the asking. Any role that Satan has below that may still be perverted, but subserves God’s good purposes.

    • Robert Byers says:

      H,,,. Well you maje right points based on scripture. I think, by our standards, its complicated. When Satan offered the kingdoms to jesus they both must of known he had the ability. i don’y see Jesus not knowing whether he could do it. i don’t think the verses mean satan was lying. it means je has a evil influence but yes god has a finale say. yet god is not ruling the motives and actions of nations as history shows. Satan was. Hmmm. its complicated.

Leave a Reply