Monday, April 15, 2019

If You Want a Future, You'll Have to Fight Power to Get It - Monbiot

The political class, as anyone who has followed its progress over the past three years can surely now see, is chaotic, unwilling and, in isolation, strategically incapable of addressing even short-term crises, let alone a vast existential predicament. Yet a widespread and wilful naivety prevails: the belief that voting is the only political action required to change a system. 

Guardian enviro-scribe, George Monbiot, warns that the window for playing nice with hapless governments, is fast closing. There is no power at the ballot box that will make them change, not enough - not in time. As young Greta Thunberg reminds all who will listen, the house is on fire. And so Monbiot says we must take the fight to those who stand in the way of the future - including our political caste.
Those who govern the nation and shape public discourse cannot be trusted with the preservation of life on Earth. There is no benign authority preserving us from harm. No one is coming to save us. None of us can justifiably avoid the call to come together to save ourselves.
I see despair as another variety of disavowal. By throwing up our hands about the calamities that could one day afflict us, we disguise and distance them, converting concrete choices into indecipherable dread. We might relieve ourselves of moral agency by claiming that it’s already too late to act, but in doing so we condemn others to destitution or death. Catastrophe afflicts people now and, unlike those in the rich world who can still afford to wallow in despair, they are forced to respond in practical ways. In Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, devastated by Cyclone Idai, in Syria, Libya and Yemen, where climate chaos has contributed to civil war, in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where crop failure, drought and the collapse of fisheries have driven people from their homes, despair is not an option. Our inaction has forced them into action, as they respond to terrifying circumstances caused primarily by the rich world’s consumption. The Christians are right: despair is a sin.
At this point the fight is to stop making an already bad situation fiendishly worse for our young people in the decades ahead. The political caste, some of them at least, toss us crumbs, meaningless gestures, sops for our conscience but nothing more. That includes the government of this country, petro-state Canada. Yes, the government of Justin Trudeau.
Every nonlinear transformation in history has taken people by surprise. As Alexei Yurchak explains in his book about the collapse of the Soviet Union – Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More – systems look immutable until they suddenly disintegrate. As soon as they do, the disintegration retrospectively looks inevitable. Our system – characterised by perpetual economic growth on a planet that is not growing – will inevitably implode. The only question is whether the transformation is planned or unplanned. Our task is to ensure it is planned, and fast. We need to conceive and build a new system based on the principle that every generation, everywhere has an equal right to enjoy natural wealth.
...Humans are ultra-social mammals, constantly if subliminally aware of shifting social currents. Once we perceive that the status quo has changed, we flip suddenly from support for one state of being to support for another. When a committed and vocal 3.5% unites behind the demand for a new system, the social avalanche that follows becomes irresistible. Giving up before we have reached this threshold is worse than despair: it is defeatism.
Monbiot puts it bluntly.
Today, Extinction Rebellion takes to streets around the world in defence of our life-support systems. Through daring, disruptive, nonviolent action, it forces our environmental predicament on to the political agenda. Who are these people? Another “they”, who might rescue us from our follies? The success of this mobilisation depends on us. It will reach the critical threshold only if enough of us cast aside denial and despair, and join this exuberant, proliferating movement. The time for excuses is over. The struggle to overthrow our life-denying system has begun.


Owen Gray said...

It's crunch time, Mound. The woods are on fire.

The Mound of Sound said...

Haven't we been saying that for a very long time, Owen? Where has that gotten anyone?

the salamander said...

.. this is going to take smart, super smart guerilla strategies, goals, enactments.. aimed at 'forcing' political parties and governments to divorce themselves, wean themselves from suckling on lax taxpayer monies and favor.. and see themselves instead as an out of control or invasive species at risk.. in short order. Damn, but have they reduced it down to 'them now - or us and future generations' ? That's the perception they have? Them or us.. as we pay rhem? They sure won't admit it.. but I think in their blindness they are actually way too extended.. that's what the salient is. The parties reallly are vulnerable.. as they run on money and delusions of grandeur or wealth or power or payback .. not useful at all to us who employ or allow them to flourish. We need to identify the first stages at the grass roots, the pots and pans folk.. who will gather, chat briefly and circle a pot once. Get the dogs barking, the cats hissing.. do it again 2 evening later. Focus on one riding.. use it to prompt the lazy local media.. notify them in advance, stir their curiosilty. See it as flashmobs with a few musical instruments and 15 to 30 people with kids.. easy.. pass on the signs.. all all neighbors right ? Short n sweet, boom shakalacka.. Fold gets invited via door to door .. its what ? about 60 to 70 homes to a block eh.. bring in a few ringers as required.. all's fair right ? In love n war ?

Never think big .. think no money.. organic.. and above all guerilla .. Art of War level of good old common sense..

Governments - public servants work for us.. we pay them to
Political Parties do not work for us.. we do not pay them.. but we do, actually, each electiom

The Mound of Sound said...

Sal, I very reluctantly have come to believe we're at the point where only deeds matter after words have lost their currency.

Words, whether from Greta Thunberg and her youth movement or the words that fill the pages of endless scientific studies, analyses and reports, have not made an appreciable dent in our political apparatus.

We need a crash course in mass civil disobedience if we're to "overthrow our life-denying system."

Anonymous said...

I was there in the 60's ... I do not see that wave of change on any horizon soon.

More's the pity. Squandered that wave we did .. and I am not seeing anything like it on the horizon.

Last time the bastions were stormed, successfully, the wave came off University Campuses. I do not see a critical mass of effective opposition to the political foot-dragging on this.

I like to think I am still a hippy but the cynicism is difficult to keep at bay. laugh

j a m e s