Sunday, October 4, 2009
A Different Drummer
Seems to me we’ve been offered 2 solutions to our political and environmental crisis. We can participate in various forms of lobbying and we can exercise consumer choice. These options suck. I offer that no meaningful change is possible within the existing paradigm because the systems within that paradigm are broken: our government is corrupt, bloated, and imperially over reaching. Our consumptive habits require not a change in fashion, but a change in ruling principle.
Our national government does not serve us well for several major reasons. First, our system of private campaign finance has produced representatives that cannot vote for anything that doesn’t serve their masters. How else do you explain the 40 million customer gift we are about to hand private insurance? Yes, they’ll have to insure sick people now and they won’t be able to give you the boot when you get sick but they’ll just raise rates on everyone to compensate for that. Second, the national political climate is so polarized and partisan that rational debate is impossible and a national government cannot run on a platform of my way or the highway. How long do you think we can function when EVERYTHING gets boiled down to pro-choice or pro-life and saying something is anti-American passes for half a debate? Third, the main stream media and journalism is failing to fetter out truth from fiction when it isn’t actively fanning the flames of fanaticism. Not great for a culture that is already kind of allergic to information. Fourth, our ruling elite’s vested interest in the perpetual persecution of wars that direct our national accounts into private hands makes us the object of international hatred and threats. A nation that is always at war must necessarily sacrifice everything else. Finally, and most importantly, as a whole Americans are a passive and apathetic uninformed mob of dopes. Half of us don’t vote and the half that does is probably too jammed in the dem or repig slot to sit down and figure out what the fuck they really think.
Western Capitalism only has a few simple plays in its book. The market solution to our environmental crisis is to demand “greener” products. This is an oxymoron. There is no environmentally responsible way to manufacture a fundamentally unnecessary product. The only truly green purchase is the one you don’t make. The anti-glamour solution to our problem is to consume less. A lot less. Like half as much. Like we did in 1967. Until we take that truth to heart and own the fundamentally unsustainable nature of our current lifestyle, we’re marching to the same drummer just wearing a different hat. We cannot utilize a paradigm that has brought us to the brink to retrieve us from it. In order to do what will effectively curtail our drag race off the lip of the cliff, we have to reject our More/Newer/Easier mentality; in short, we have to affect the death of demand. The repercussions of stultifying consumer demand are scary to people who have never contemplated an economy based on quality and improvement rather than cheapness and growth. Steady-State systems can provide for our needs and sustain our humanity in ways that our current system can’t fathom. It doesn’t have the math to calculate the value of functional (screw fair) income distribution, health security, full employment and justice.
We can’t “demand” our way of this! We can’t wait for a solution to be delivered in a pretty box by our oligarchic national government or the monopolistic multinational conglomerates that rule our markets. They will never deliver their own extinction and their extinction is what is necessary. Rather than wait for the federal government to get the credit card companies in line, we need to cancel our credit cards. Rather than wait for the federal government to get Wall Street in line, we need to take our money out of the stock market. Rather than ask the federal government to make sure our breakfast cereal is nutritious, we need to buy rolled oats and embrace the C word. Cooking. We have to say “I don’t need that” and “I can walk there” and “no more fresh tomatoes till June” and “Fuck Whole Foods with their 7 hours by truck is local bullshit!”
Revolution never comes from the orderly communication of our desires to the establishment. It comes from an internal shift that effectively dissolves the current paradigm. The solution to our political and environmental problems lies in immediate conscientious individual action. Vote for a 3rd party; progressive, green, whatever; not because you think they can win but because they speak to your values. How is that compromise candidate scheme working out for you? Reject any candidate who rejects public campaign finance and limits on campaigning. A candidate that wants to win with money and marketing schemes rather than ideas is telling you all you need to know. Resign yourself to always being involved in and responsible for government. Democracy requires activism, information and engagement. Fascism, not so much. Seriously consider the option of regional autonomy. It might be better than the perpetual civil war reenactment we are enjoying today. Embrace a sustainable alternative to the Darwinist consumerist paradigm knowing all the time that it will be less convenient and more difficult but more of our kids and grandkids might get to live.
Change is coming. We stand at the confluence of too many depletion curves for the status quo to be a viable option. We can define our response and weather a storm of own making with conscious dignity or we can abdicate our responsibility and suffer what is handed down to us by The Great White Waddle Society. If we chose to check our moral compass at the door to the multiplex, a solution will be found, but it won’t be found democratically, mercifully or in time.
"Our only hope, really, is a conscious campaign to manage our own process of de-complexifying, before the universe manages it for us, whether we like it or not. One tragic part of this -- among many and for many parties -- is that we did not use the last decade of relative world stability to get that process underway here." Kunstler
"One tried and true solution, of course, is self realization and inner liberation. Seeing the world with the cold eyes of the simplest and purest sort of awareness, and a fiery compassionate heart. Seeing the world without illusion, which is very hard and constant work. Then keeping it personally unto ourselves. Keeping our traps shut about it but acting individually upon what we see before our eyes each day, and not according to the consensus of those around us." Bagent