13 January 2020

be scientifically realistic, demand the politically impossible

In reply to a friend:

Another one of these discussions where I listened sympathetically to your tearful lines of "I feel soo helpless, can't handle it" and then basically, pretending that you don't get it, trotting out the old argument of too late anyway, and that we are lost at the hands of merciless big industry, self-serving politicians, powerful oligarchs, and anyway what about China and India and the world population and blahblahblah.

To which I reply, why so defensive, what do you fear more, having to become active, informed, rebellious, demanding, supportive, loud - or are you afraid of just having to do something that's possibly hard work and most likely will upset your established routines?

What is it you love more, your comfortable life style, your entrenched patterns of food, travel, entertainment plus assorted stupefications - or this planet, this wonder, this home?

Do you seriously want this all go to hell or is it that you could not care less because you'll be dead anyway? You have neither children nor grandchildren, so devil may care?

Do you want to be that helpless? Who told us that we are helpless? Who wants us to feel helpless?

You don't know what you can do apart from refusing plastic packaging (another red herring if there ever was one)? Seriously, for someone who knows how to book cheap travel online, buy whatever you fancy on amazon, watch hours of silly series - you are suddenly acting overly foolish.

You tell me there is nobody 'doing anything' in your neighbourhood? Oh yeah?

There’s a thing I call na├»ve cynicism, when people strike a pose of sophistication without actually knowing what they’re talking about. I see it a lot with the ill-informed about climate, when they say it’s all over and we lost.
That’s not what the scientists say, and it’s an excuse to give up instead of trying.
Rebecca Solnit

I am constantly reminded that the demands of groups like Extinction Rebellion, who are calling for zero emissions by 2025, are politically unrealistic. And my response to that is, yes, but anything else is scientifically unrealistic.
And political realism is actually a highly flexible thing. Something which seems completely impossible today, suddenly seems possible tomorrow. If you look at the extraordinary ructions taking place in UK politics over the past few months, every single one of them was impossible until it happened.
But you can't bargain with scientific realism. You can't say, let's just suspend the first law of thermodynamics for a few months because it's highly inconvenient. You can't do that.
And I think what's happening with collective action, is that people are shifting the dial of political realism towards the point of scientific realism. And in doing so becoming empowered and leaving despair behind. That's certainly being the case for me.
George Monbiot


Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness - and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe.
The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling - their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.
Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
 Arundhati Roy 

8 comments:

  1. I live somewhere between "It's all over, nothing can be done" and "Time for a revolution, take to the streets, and win this battle for our planet." I keep waiting for the call, the one that says the time has come... I am waiting.

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  2. Education, education, education!

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  3. We do what we can do where we are and stay alert for opportunities to do more, which means we must educate ourselves. It's harder to do nothing.

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  4. I think, I hope, more and more people are coming around to accepting that the climate is changing, that we humans are responsible for a great deal of it (and even if we weren't we still reap the effects) because the effects are now undeniable...drought, floods, record breaking heat, all in the extreme... and every person who changes their routines or way of living as a result adds to the sum total. do we need government and industry to make drastic changes? yes but that does not discount the changes every individual needs to make. will we do it in time? don't know but as long as we can we need to try.

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  5. Arundhati Roy's use of the key words "our" and "we" and "possible" and her statement that "they" are few and need "us" more than we need them is realistic on all fronts. Both her voice of willingness to actively do what she can and her vision of the possible are convincing.

    As beth coyote posted:

    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

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  6. tonight I listened to a monk, Analayo, talk about the climate activists all over the globe, everywhere there are people rising up, more than have ever before for any reason. He said, 'we are all here together, with our hearts and voices'. Pulling back from the brink.

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  7. Oh, I love you for this. These are just what I needed to read today. I'll be god-damned before I feel helpless. "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."

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  8. It's incredible to know that scientists, and others, have been sounding the alarm regarding climate change for over forty years. It's taken us this long to heed the warnings. I am encouraged at what I see and yet I know that we are running out of time.

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