Sit back and relax – greedy technokiddies will save us all

Getting quite sick of going to events about The Future where three unexamined myths get tossed around. In no particular order these absurd myths are

a) “There’s a new generation of eco-aware kids rising up who will fix things.” This one gets reheated periodically. Um, all those kids who grew up worried about the ozone and the “greenhouse effect”? They are out there making the investment and consumption decisions that are destroying us all.

b) “Innovation can save the day.” Yeah, well, machine guns were an innovation. Treatment for malaria was an innovation. You didn’t see too many people in Africa celebrating those “innovations” in the second half of the nineteenth century. “Innovation” takes a very long time to replace the “old” systems we know are dirty/bad. And it can sharpen rather than reduce ‘bad’ things. Innovation is basically the magic pixie dust people sprinkle on the bowl of crap we’re being served, to make it edible.

c) “Get the market signals right and capitalism will provide” (and indeed ONLY capitalism can.) Because increasing all forms of throughput and competition is definitely the way to go. Because there are no significant externalities there at all. Because green capitalism has done so much so far. Or perhaps it just hasn’t been tried enough yet? Oh yes.

Look, I get it. I get that you might be a brittle fuckwit with status obsession whose only ‘debating’ method is to set up strawmen and knock them down. I get that you might be terrified of your complicity in a system that is destroying the basis for continued human civilisation on this planet and so you cloak yourself in fantasies about “sustainable” biochip burning and the rest of it. And I get that I should have compassion, or detachment or whatever. But I don’t, so I am gonna just have to stay away from events where the dominant (only?) narrative is “Greedy technokiddies will save the planet.”

When I am chief fascist dictator the following rules will be applied, without exception or mercy

a) anyone who invokes “the children are the future” arguments will be forced to read some of the toe-curling late 1980s rubbish that got written (I have a Blue Peter annual), and to reflect on what has happened to the various “youth climate strike” groups over the last couple of years. Repeat offenders will be forced to parade around with a sandwich board that says “I refuse to take responsibility for my own actions. I tried to shunt it onto the kids.”

b) anyone who invokes “innovation” will be forced to read – in full – impenetrable and turgid academic articles about “technological affordances” OUT LOUD at all family gatherings (weddings, funerals, birthdays, christenings, bar mitzvahs, whatever). Repeat offenders will do so naked, with “I smoke hopium” smeared into their bare chest in chocolate body paint.

c) see b) above, only for articles about Jevons Paradox and “ecological modernisation”. And Mazzucato’s book on who actually “innovates” under what conditions.

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