by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ February 10, 2020
Nothing is what it appears, and the sheer complexity of our expanding virtual reality means it is damn hard to know even what we think we may know. Because of the enormous disruption of human society and our planet’s massive climate, we are continuously overwhelmed by conflicting claims of control.
If you are struggling to make sense of things, and everyone is whether they admit it or not, none of us are in control. The real danger is that opportunists and gibbering assholes will always jump up and claim authority while everyone else is trying to figure out where to start. This old-style power grab is the essential cause of the authoritarian, gangster takeover of the bankrupt ‘conservative’ political groups who cause horror and outrage wherever they appear.
We are in a big enough disruption that only conspiracy theories make sense. That’s what conspiracy theories are for as they give confused people the illusion of some understanding and, thus, control. Recognizable conspiracy theories go back several hundred years in the west to the Protestant Reformation that was, in fact, a vast conspiracy theory.
The problem for those of us with enough information to avoid the stupidest conspiracy theories is when we realize that mainstream knowledge is, in fact, a conspiracy theory as a result of media corruption. The center will not hold.
That leads to the situation we have in the US, Great Britain, and other countries in slightly different versions, with the least bright and most challenged people shouting lies at each other in a grand war of conspiracy theories. Sadly the overall situation with the climate crisis is bad enough that we do not have the luxury of time for the years of low-grade, incompetent dictatorships this will produce. We need to ignore these people and, if necessary, go around them. In the worst case, they must be shoved out of the way.
With luck, they will wear themselves out before too much more damage happens, but they are already becoming just background noise. As with Trump, an extreme case, there is a grave danger, but Trump is already spinning into a self-destructive frenzy attempting to declare endless, petty victories while replacing managers with incompetent stooges. Meanwhile, change continues, and we need to figure this shit out and can’t afford to be distracted by old fashioned, fascist wannabes.
That includes, of course, the remnants of the old national liberal order holding power through predatory capitalism. The pretense of representative government justifying massive financial exploitation is in its final stage. A significant faction of billionaires controlling everything has opted for open lies and spectacle with clowns such as Trump playing for as much hate as they can get.
The long history of lies has produced a percentage of the population that is permanently befuddled and satisfied with rumors of prosperity. Even the manipulated and distorted GDP as proof of economic success can’t make it to 3%. The lowest unemployment in twenty years is the result of people holding as many low paid jobs as they can manage, and the market highs mean something for only 10% of the population who work for the oligarchs.
But that is not a problem for 90% of the population. With luck, those people have one job with a regular paycheck to go with their gigs so they can qualify for more credit to pay the medical, childcare, education, and other bills that are not covered. Living on debt is the awful reality that is making their life great. But someone is making a lot of money. We can all enjoy that vicariously in the age of rumored prosperity.
But the good part is that we are figuring it out. Our self-destructive capitalist success has enabled us with the resources to salvage the planet and, probably, human civilization. The power of market liberalism for four hundred years was able to plunder our planet’s resources to build a critical mass of wealth and then the technology to raise the majority living standard to achieve education and the beginnings of universal wellbeing. But that was all it could do, and it turned into late-stage capitalism producing planetary and climate disaster.
The lack of historical knowledge leads people to think they can keep doing what once worked. But that is not how this universe functions. We have an opportunity to overcome the greatest disaster in human history with the resources and knowledge that we have gained in creating that disaster. The previous means is not the route to salvation but gave us what we have and must be used to correct our errors. As much as we may like to, we do not have the option of throwing away our past and just starting over.
Economist Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University in Canada has a new book, The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success: Overcoming Myths that Hinder Progress, that makes this clear.
Referring back to my point above on ignoring the background noise of the frenzied ones who think they are in charge, they need to be distracted and bypassed while practical people take control of climate policy. As Jaccard emphasizes, you don’t need to convince everyone, even if that were possible. You need to get the right (sane and knowledgeable) people in positions of policy authority at the practical level of regions and local government.
The opportunists and conspiracists are too busy with enemies, paybacks, and grand extortion schemes to worry about mundane policies, but that is what we need. Much of this is now happening without traditional leadership. Enough people understand what we need now to get things moving without arm-waving and shouting. The frenzied fascists are taking over nations, but that is not where the future is being built.
In post-industrial countries, fossil fuels are being replaced where possible, and coal mines and power plants are being quickly phased out. To replace fossil fuels for transportation will require regulations until the replacement technology comes down in price. It is more likely now that management will be by metro areas and states while the neofascists gut the nation-states.
The reality is that not everywhere can do this at the same time. Political conspiracy frenzy, in the US at least, is centered in exurban and rural areas. So pass on these for a while. The real issue is still the developing world that will need fossil fuels to continue powering their economic growth for some years, while post-industrial states who can afford it make the immediate changes. That must be acknowledged and factored into the planetary process of change.
We can do these things. We did it with acid rain and CFCs, destroying the ozone layer. The full climate crisis is far more significant and will be decades-long, but it is happening already. We must speed it up but it is happening despite the frenzied and confused. That is a very positive message, but the gibbering assholes will destroy everything to please their owners.
We need to work to push them out of the way and then restore full democratic control by metropolitan or local governments and lay the old nations and their borders to rest. But most of what we need can be done while the shouting opportunists wear themselves out.