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20 May 2012

"It's a Juggernaut"


That line, "It's a juggernaut," has been running through my head this week, I think perhaps in response to my own sense of futility and to assuage my activist friends who feel their efforts are amounting to sweet tweet (ie, nothing). The word just sounded right. Something about overwhelmingly big, right? So I looked it up. Little did I know how right it is!
juggernaut |ˈjəgərˌnôt|noun: a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institutiona juggernaut of secular and commercial culture; a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path: an advertising juggernaut, a political juggernaut.ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: extension of Juggernaut.Juggernaut |ˈjəgərˌnôt| Hinduismthe form of Krishna worshiped in Puri, Orissa, where in the annual festival his image is dragged through the streets on a heavy chariot; devotees are said formerly to have thrown themselves under its wheels. Also called Jagannatha.ORIGIN via Hindi from Sanskrit Jagannātha "Lord of the world."
I had to laugh. First, because Puri, in the eastern state of Orissa, is one of the few places I've visited in India. So how's that for synchronicity? But also, how apt that the original term refers to Lord Krishna, an avatar of one of the main gods in the Hindu pantheon, Vishnu. Vishnu is considered the "preserver god," at least recently. When the balance of power is upset in favour of evil, Vishnu ascends to Earth in mortal form (his avatar) to save humankind.Now, I might be messing up a metaphor here, but isn't The Economy gone awry just like a juggernaut that runs over innocent people in the streets? I mean, the economy isn't a bad thing; indeed, as a tool, it's quite neutral. But once Big Money (aka a handful of mainly white, mainly male rich people) turns it into The Economy and greed takes over as the main guiding principle ("upsetting the balance of power in favour of evil"), then it becomes a juggernaut.Isn't it incredible to think that it's our (globalized EuroAmerican) economy that is destroying the life-giving and life-preserving abilities of Earth's biosphere? Professor Brendan Gleeson, speaking at National University of Ireland, said in April 2012 that through neoliberal market economics, the western world ... had been "handcuffed to a madman" and it was now time to abandon the "ship of fools" in favour of a "lifeboat mentality." Prof. Gleeson outlined what he calls "The Climate Emergency" this way:
"Of all the threats that have faced capitalist modernity in the past 400 years, none has possessed the lethal potency of climate change. In this most uncertain of worlds, a western civilisation deprived of the certainties of ideology, faith and human identity, there is one thing we can be sure of: our species is already in transit to what the scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock calls 'the next world.' It will be a world dominated by a global climate shift that we cannot yet describe fully, but which is inevitable and approaching fast. And it is not as unknowable as all that. The next world will be very much hotter and drier.... It will be much less conducive to human existence."
Our economic system is an unstoppable juggernaut. Or is it? We can still hope (or pray, as hoping is not an action verb) that the people will one day soon simply stop the unstoppable chariot, to prevent it from running over the children and their future.*******Read on, for more information (from Wikipedia) on the word "juggernaut":A juggernaut in colloquial English usage is a literal or metaphorical force regarded as mercilessly destructive and unstoppable. Originating ca. 1850, the term is a metaphorical reference to the Hindu Ratha Yatra temple car, which apocryphally was reputed to crush devotees under its wheels. The word is derived from the Sanskrit Jagannātha or "world-lord", one of the names of Krishna found in the Sanskrit epics.

The English loanword juggernaut in the sense of "a huge wagon bearing an image of a Hindu god" is from the 17th century, inspired by the Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa, which has the Ratha Yatra ("chariot procession"), an annual procession of chariots carrying the murtis (statues) of Jagannâth (Krishna), Subhadra and Balabhadra (Krishna's elder brother).

The first European description of this festival is found in the 14th-century The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, which apocryphally describes Hindus, as a religious sacrifice, casting themselves under the wheels of these huge chariots and being crushed to death. Others have suggested more prosaically that the deaths, if any, were accidental and caused by the press of the crowd and the general commotion.
The figurative sense of the English word, with the sense of "something that demands blind devotion or merciless sacrifice" was coined in the mid-19th century. For example, it was used to describe the out-of-control character Hyde in Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The term is often applied to a large machine, or collectively to a team or group of people working together (such as a highly successful sports team or corporation), or even a growing political movement led by a charismatic leader—and it often bears an association with being crushingly destructive.

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