Lunch with a smart friend with whom I often disagree (politiely).
This time it is different, maybe, he says (in response to my point that we’ve known about the essential unsustainability of techno-accelerationist consumerism since the late 1960s – Earth Day, The Limits to Growth, Blueprint for Survival in 1970, 1972 and 1972: I can find you other doom-laden prognostications too – and yet the moment of awareness/panic passes (is repressed, in psychoanalytic terms?).
This time it is different, perhaps, because it will no longer be possible to ignore the agonised screams of “Mother Nature” (i..e. it is middle-class white people getting affected, not just other, lesser beings and species).
So, how might the issue attention cycle NOT follow the path it has in 1969-1972, 1988-1992, 2006-2009? (that’s a very crude global approximation – always check your mileage).
I think you would need to see TWO things BOTH need to happen
a) The natural disasters/extreme weather events keep on piling up and – this is crucial – start affecting the daily lives of rich people in the West.
b) the social movement organisations keep learning, growing, organising, and are able to understand that media attention is an extremely dodgy success metric, and that coalitions must be built, maintained, defended, and that the wretched emotacycle is fool’s gold. (btw, subverting, channelling, smearing, cracking and splitting social movements is the actual job description of some among us).
We will probably get a), but in the absence of b), the usual amnesias and social (de)constructivism will assert itself.
Finally, this IS NOT like the Soviet Union, which collapses “overnight” between 1985 and 1990. They at least had an alternative “viable” system – of liberal democracy, with political parties, elections etc – to point at and say ‘hmm, we will have some of that thank you.’. We have no roadmap, (though endless ‘roadmaps’ provided by ever-so-kind academics wanting to feel important), and (you can tell I’ve been listening to too much Dylan) no direction home.