Anonymizing the System

sweet_talk Americans are well and truly conditioned not just to hate and avoid politics, but also to fuck it up when they wander into it.

Take the rapidly growing “Growth Must End” trope among the technocrats and vaguely frustrated liberals who now serve as leaders of what passes for an environmental movement. It’s a case-in-point.

True enough: Growth must end. And the green activist world is certainly chock-a-block now with such calls. But have you noticed? The “no more growth” harangues almost never mention the c-word: capitalism. Instead, they muse about “our culture” and the supposedly all-powerful pre-suppositions of academic economists. As if we can avoid conflict with the powers that be, and sweet-talk our way to a decent future.

In my opinion, we do not have time for the purely tune-in, turn-on, drop-out strategy implied by the existing “let’s stop growth” crowd, even granting that one is even conceivably possible in this TV-mediated capitalist dictatorship.

If we don’t acknowledge that capitalists are far and away the main force behind growth, we will lose this race, or never even start it, IMHO. Stopping economic growth is a matter of high politics, not personal attitudes. It is not going to happen without the creation of a sharp and radical and honest social movement pushing for profound, collectively-managed social reforms.

lscap BTW, yesterday, I saw a very hip looking chap leaving a Starbucks for his car holding two beverages in paper cups with plastic lids. On his head? A cap with a cute whale logo saying “Live Simply.”

To my eye, the state of that common persona speaks volumes about the limits of waiting for the great drop-out.

6 Replies to “Anonymizing the System”

  1. I am a refugee from a collegiate redoubt where the bumpersticker-folkish mentality was the surround sound – and it was fundamentally dishonest and evasive, “Free Tibet” while the corporate supersystem takes over in the US backyard?
    The whales are dying in their acidifying oceans, and all we got was this lousy hat?
    There is no chance within our social reality for any of the anti-capitalist “profound” movements you logically deduce are necessary, which is why I belong to the nihilist branch, not the revolutionary branch. What are we going to do with all the skyscrapers, the supertankers, the parents paying $40,000 a year for beer BAs – the wings beneath the Starbucks customer’s feet?
    The hat that would suit my outlook? “Another Mugger for Peace.”

  2. I am a refugee from a collegiate redoubt where the bumpersticker-folkish mentality was the surround sound – and it was fundamentally dishonest and evasive, “Free Tibet” while the corporate supersystem takes over in the US backyard?
    The whales are dying in their acidifying oceans, and all we got was this lousy hat?
    There is no chance within our social reality for any of the anti-capitalist “profound” movements you logically deduce are necessary, which is why I belong to the nihilist branch, not the revolutionary branch. What are we going to do with all the skyscrapers, the supertankers, the parents paying $40,000 a year for beer BAs – the wings beneath the Starbucks customer’s feet?
    The hat that would suit my outlook? “Another Mugger for Peace.”

  3. That’s one of the things about what’s passing for a green movement: They love to talk about “culture,” but, like most who bandy that much-abused concept, they seem to have close to no working knowledge of people’s actual habits and worldviews.

    If technocratic special pleading and endless “calls” for little people to overthrow the system by “living simply” are all we’ll ever get from supposed radicals, then nihilism is indeed the right answer.

    Personally, I retain hope that a match can be struck when imperial decline and/or peak oil really grow some fangs. But that would take smarts and skill and luck, and some way to overcome the reign of television.

  4. Hi, Keith. Do you have specific posts you’d like me to comment on? Being a lifelong motor-mouth, I’m happy to do so.

    I’m generally extremely underwhelmed by libertarianism, which I consider to be a tradition that rests on willful ignorance of the collective, socio-cultural conditioning/context of all human behavior.

    I also think the concept and standard claims of “property” are over-rated, as well as commonly both dishonest and destructive to human welfare.

    That’s not to say that individual rights aren’t paramount and that maximizing liberty for all isn’t a core principle and aim.

Comments are closed.