Whose fault is the mess we are in? Good question, and it’s more of a Murder on the Orient Express type thing that some would have you believe. It’s also – and this is ironic given how much certain people bang on about systems, and system collapse – about synergies and mutually-reinforcing loops.
Very quickly. George Monbiot has another useful piece in the Grauniad about how the media is ignoring the grotesque and terrifying shitstorm (sorry for the academic technical terms) that “we” (1) are entering.
To be clear – the world is a better place for the existence of George Monbiot – he writes clearly, does his research, thinks well.
And but (there’s always a big but with me, I know).
This pisses me off.
“Most of the media, most of the time, either ignore our environmental crisis, downplay it or deny it. The reason is not difficult to discern. Most of the media are owned by corporations or billionaires, who have a financial interest in sustaining business as usual.”
Yes, but no. As an explanation of the media’s silence it kinda sorta might explain some of what’s going on (and I know Monbiot knows that). Blah blah Herman Chomsky propaganda model for starters.
But what of social media, that largely doesn’t have those filters? If it is JUST the billionaires, how come most people’s timelines – unless they actively seek out the facts – is full of the usual stuff.
People. Do. Not. Want. To. Know.
And can you actually blame them? What is going on is terrifying. It’s straight-up, wake up screaming at three am drenched in sweat, the abyss staring back into you, shit the bed terrifying. And so people look away. And George knows this – he wrote a column ages back on “Terror-Management Theory”, which draws on Ernst Becker’s pivotal book “The Denial of Death.”
I KNOW that Monbiot’s article that I am citing was written with the express purpose of getting people to reach into their pockets and support the Guardian. And the Guardian is definitely the least terrible of the mainstream media.
If we are going to paint it as a picture of an Heroic Band of Brave Souls (journos, scientists, activists) Bringing the Truth to a Populace Starved of The Facts – even if it is to raise dosh – then, how to put this…
WE WILL KEEP LOSING.
If (because, actually) we are not willing to talk about
a) the co-optation (silent, usually) of academia, of civil society organisations with HQs and budgets
b) the mayfly existence, the butterfly broken on and then having to reinvent (2) the wheel nature of “non-hierarchical social movement organisations” that are endlessly celebrated by Monbiot (selectively and intermittently) and Naomi Klein (“This Changes Nothing – sorry, “‘Everything'”) then, well,
WE WILL KEEP LOSING.
I get that this is really hard to do. I get that talking about failure – like talking about death – is emotionally tricky. I get that naming patterns that you and your mates have engaged in, are engaging in, hope to continue to engage in, derive benefits (social, financial, career) from is tricky af.
But if our “leaders” – intellectual, cultural etc – do not talk about these things, then how are we going to change? As James Baldwin said, not everything that can be faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
And right now, we are not facing the failure of civil society. We are fixating on the loose (and intermittently tight) affiliation of millionaires and billionaires. And baby, these are days of (needing) miracles and of sheer terror.
(1) Many non-“we” people have been in for a while, but they aren’t white and middle-class, so are barely acknowledged, except for us to perform pity or worry about canaries in the coalmine
(2) Quite proud of this mashed up metaphor. Will re-use