Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Denial? It's universal!

Just watching Kevin Anderson: Climate Change Communications Workshop DCU (With Slides) and in the first few words he coupled with the meme obsessing me these days: Denial! It's universal, it's everywhere. There are climate change deniers. On the other side there are people — some very sweet people — who think that by slathering their roof with solar panels and getting the government to legislate that solar panels be engineered under roads, the problem of climate change will be solved! Hooray! People who believe things like that of course depend on what they think are reliable experts, but these days, reliable experts are very rare indeed. 

What we have instead is all-pervasive PR driven by management imperatives, because almost everything has been corporatised and corporations are run by managers, right? Any smart manager knows the first thing you need to manage are perceptions. And that just comes down to PR, the wholesome face which now covers what has become almost universal racketeering. 

Notice all the insurance ads on TV? Notice all the calls you get trying to sell you insurance? In the words of the late Julius Sumner Miller, a former chocolate salesman who traded on his cred as a science educator, "Why is this so?". Well if you read the financial news and you pick up the soiled edges of some cover sheets over things-people-at-the-top-would-rather-you-didn't-know, you might find underneath that the insurance industry world-wide is suffering from a major cash flow crisis brought on by zero interest rates and a stock market which has become a casino, so that the money which formerly was invested and then drawn on to pay out claims is no longer there. How do you fix the problem if you run an insurance company? Well once you realise you're in charge of a giant Ponzi scheme, you grasp the nettle and try to reel in more marks to pay up-front fees to keep the ship afloat while praying you can cash in your chips and bail out before the whole sucker goes down.
Jim Kuntsler's latest picks up the same theme:
The mystery is at last revealed: why does the field of candidates for president score so uniformly low in trust, credibility, likability? Why are there no candidates of real substance, principle, and especially of real charm in this scrim of political basilisks? (Surely there are many people of substance and principle elsewhere in America — they just don’t dare seek the job at the symbolic tippy-top of this clusterfuck of faltering rackets.) The reason is that the problems are unfixable, at least not within the acceptable terms of the zeitgeist, namely: the secret wish to keep all the rackets going at all costs.

This is true, by the way, of all parties concerned from the 0.001 percent billionaire grifter class to the deluded sophomores crying for “safe spaces” in their womb-like “student life centers” to the sports-and-porn addled suburban multitudes stuck with impossible mortgage, car, and college loan debts (and, suddenly, no paying job) to the deluded Black Lives Matter mobs who have failed to notice that black lives matter least to the black people slaughtering each other over sneakers and personal slights. None of these groups really want to change anything. They actually wish to preserve their prerogatives.
Jim is turning into a grumpy old fart these days and his posts are getting shorter and shorter as he riffs on fewer and fewer old themes. But that doesn't mean he's wrong.

The other day I was talking to a very nice woman whose son I had the privilege of meeting via a film course I was involved in a couple of years ago. He is an intelligent — maybe even brilliant — young guy from an ordinary background. Like nearly every nerdy kid I've spoken to in the past few years he wanted to be a game designer and sure enough he has cracked a uni course leading (supposedly) that way. But like everyone creamed off as the best by the education system, he has been led astray by the denialists running the show. "Work hard, jump through our hoops and the future will be yours!" But there will be no future in the Greenhouse World for over-educated and specialised keyboard thumpers, except exploitation and slavery in one way or another followed by the scrapheap. And of course at some level my friends son realises this and is wobbling on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Because no other path has been shown to him! For Industrial Civilisation, it's double down or death. Of course those at the top are still doing well out of this meat grinder and can rustle up any number of justifications for such criminal exploitation of the vulnerable young. 

So where does this place us individuals? Ok, so you've taken on board that the system is screwed. Then the question becomes, what do you do? Of course the so called 'selfish' types will look after number one. Some will want to commit suicide. I'm going to assume that you've chosen to live. It soon becomes obvious that No Man (or Woman) is an Island. Our survival depends on having a functioning society to live in. At this point many of us get stuck. It seems so much less stressful to go with the flow and bury the evidence piling up. Maybe the SWHTF after we're dead. Whew, dodged that one! But do you have any children? Do you have no younger person you care about who will have to live on, into the alien future bearing down on us? A detached attitude is all very well, but as even the arch-murderer Stalin is supposed to have said, "One death is a tragedy but a million is a statistic." What about that one, or half-a-dozen who you really care about?

I tried, when I first realised what was going on, to help my local community figure it out. I have little faith in committees but I was persuaded to form a Transition Group. It didn't work, as far as I was concerned. The concerned citizens who joined didn't think the way I thought. It ended up folding, much to my relief, as I felt my main job had become keeping the group going instead of doing something useful. Additionally I held three public meetings, one of which Nicole Foss of the Automatic Earth addressed. Maybe those meetings had some effect but it's difficult to know. No-one talked to me about it afterwards. I had one friend who said I was being way too negative on this blog. Fair enough. Anyway that last public meeting was just over four years ago and I felt I'd done all I could usefully do, without becoming regarded is yet another cranky weirdo, which is no way to be regarded if you want people to listen to you.

All that has remained for me has been to go on living and acting, as far as I am able, in the knowledge of what is coming towards us. There are heaps of analogous situations, some of which can be a bit disheartening. How would it have been to be a Jew and have the Nazi Blitzkrieg rumbling towards you in the Ukraine in 1942? One the other hand there is the example of Saint Augustine, bishop of Hippo in North Africa, former Roman good time boy, who when he saw the way things were with the Empire, sat down and wrote The City of God in the early 5th century AD. From each according to their ability you may say. There are lots of contemporaries doing the best they can in their own ways.

I've been preoccupied for the past three years with building a house and working, so my community involvement has decreased to almost nothing. I've resigned as secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, the committee on public transport in the Shire which I was on wound up, I spent nine years on the Secondary College School Council until my last kid had left. I had some involvement with a local alternative energy group but realised when I went to their last get-together that I was in grave danger of saying something which would threaten the Consensus among the Alternatives (see this & this). I'm not powerful enough to make unnecessary enemies and I hate to hurt my friends. Hell, I've even become nervous about what I post here. Maybe I should post anonymously?

My problem personally is that I am a classic nerd whose people skills are not terribly well developed, so I must be very careful not to offend people through some stupid oversight which any ten year old could avoid. And when you are dealing with a whole society of other people in various stages of denial, that's not easy to avoid! But we will soldier on and see what the future allows.

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