I’ve only got five minutes to write today but last night my kid was harassing me about climate change, and some of the pretty scary science that describes it. And it is scary, to be sure, but there’s also the issue of doomerism, uncertainty and the very real fact that we’re aware of the impact of burning fossil fuels and gradually, in a half-arsed, we’re cocking it up, shambling, bitching pissing and moaning kind of way, doing something about it.
It will always be too little, and will it always be too late to return us to what went before, but that’s extremism talking. And extremism, where we must have the absolute answer, the absolute solution, the absolute position to the exclusion of all others, is very much the vibe of the moment. And it’s a product of manipulation. It is how we are being taught to think about problems.
I’m increasingly seeing the media’s portrayal of all issues as either reality-driven or anti reality. We’ve been coddled into this. Ten years of inspirational Instagram tiles telling us to, ‘make our own truth’ and ‘be who we want to be’, to ‘manifest our destiny’. People who think this New Age fuckspeak is without consequences are foolish in the extreme. And it’s not a modern phenomenon either. In the 80s I remember all those books and movies about how the winsome protagonist made his dreams happen because he believed in himself. It’s the lynchpin of shifting the focus from the macro (large organisations, corporates, governments) to the micro (individuals). And now we’ve cultivated the individual so much so that we think we can bend reality. I distinctly remember going to a friend’s place to watch Live Aid, on the tele, interspersed with footage all those poor wee kids with their swollen tummies who had failed to believe in themselves.
A friend’s social media post yesterday alerted me to the newest Covid fad – the Event 401. ‘Look it up! It’s all right there, people just can’t be bothered to even look, they’re such sheep!’
Event 401 was a tabletop exercise run by Johns Hopkins in 2019, aimed at hypothetically testing global preparedness for a SARS-like pandemic.
If you recall, SARS (and MERS) were a bit of a bugger. The global response was broadly effective, albeit in the usual shambling kind of way. And then, when it all died down, everyone got together and went,
‘Phew, that was ugly, thank goodness it will never, ever happen again!’
Oh, hang on. No, that’s not quite right.
In actual fact, they got together and said, ‘Given what we know about the conditions under which SARS and MERS emerged, we should expect another zoonotic to human pandemic within the next 20 years. Let’s prepare for it (including the development of potential vaccines)’.
If Event 401 is supposed to prove that Covid19 is a hoax then I can’t wait to see these idiots discover earthquakes.
But this is where we’re at. We are at the point where completely predictable, observable reality is positioned as proof of a hoax.
“See that? It’s rain! it’s raining!”
“Yes, it is”
I’m now watching my friends argue on instagram about the participation of permaculture activists in the Melbourne protests.
‘You’re protesting with Nazis! And you’re being manipulated by Clive Palmer!’
It perfectly encapsulates the two characteristics of modern thinking about these problems; You have a tribe, and the price of allegiance is to forsake all others. If you’re anti vaccine mandate, therefore you march with Nazis. Therefore, you are a Nazi. Or, if you believe in permaculture, you don’t believe in science. All these positions, from Nazism to permaculture to anti vax assume one thing – a puritanistic supremacy of the individual to force their truth on to reality.
It’s much more nuanced than that. I can understand the position of the permaculture people on vaccines – to see humans as sitting within a web of life, rather than outside of it, and to focus on the web rather than the individual. We are ‘cheating’ nature with vaccines. Nature would have us die. Indeed, nature would have killed somewhere between 15 to 40% of the people at the protests, before they had reached 60. That’s reality.
I’ve personally been saved by modern medicine no less than 8 times in my life, maybe more. And that’s just the direct impact of medicine. And that’s before plumbing.
It’s no good being a puritan about this shit unless you’re willing to accept the endpoint – natural death. But puritan individuality is what we are constantly trained to think about. Because projecting our sense of individual power over our circumstances plays into the biggest fleecing of all – that climate change requires individual rather than systemic change. This cult of the individual is nothing more than fashionable politics. It is adorning oneself with something that makes you feel good, endlessly reinventing yourself in an empowering but ultimately innocuous and futile way. The irony is that it’s often the permaculture/wholeness/wellness people who’re most involved in their own personal identity brands.
We are personalising the political. And it will be the buggering of us.