2019 will for many be remembered as the year that a sixteen year old grabbed the global mainstream media by the shoulders and screamed ‘climate emergency’ in to its face. Unfortunately, I feel it is important to highlight one of the key obstacles potentially standing in the way of Greta and the millions of other activists fighting the architects of this existential catastrophe that we are all facing. That obstacle is the illusion of democratic process, and the inevitable corruption of civil society that comes about when we accept that illusion as reality.
Two months ago I wrote an article on the climate emergency, based in large part on the research cited by Extinction Rebellion UK and undertaken by the National Centre for Climate Restoration in Australia. The article was called ‘If not now, then when should we start panicking?’ The article implied that the failure of the ‘democratic’ processes to address the climate emergency facing life on earth was one of the main driving forces for the seemingly sudden and global mass awakening of climate activism. In short, the reason people took to the streets is because they instinctively knew that the electoral process would not represent their demands.
For me one of the major, if not the biggest, obstacles facing us is that many long standing ‘leftists’ would rather that everyone new to the movement for equality and sustainability get in line behind them in the processes that they have chosen to pursue their goals. The problem is, that those processes have simply not worked, and I would argue can not work because sustainability can only be built on the recognition of the equality that is intrinsic to the interdependence of both the people and the planet. Which I would argue is the cornerstone of all realisable socialist theory, from both the hierarchical and the non-hierarchical positions.
And I know what the implication of that statement is. But in my defence, it is not the first time that I have tried to highlight this fundamental flaw that I believe exists. Simply hoping that the 1% will help the 99% to achieve equality due to some kind of moral or intellectual awakening when the very privilege that makes them the 1% is produced by that same inequality, ignores the lessons of our shared history.
It is very dangerous to assume that the object thrown to us by the person who used us like a rope ladder to climb into the boat is in fact a life jacket. The reality is that the boat, in its current guise doesn’t even have room for the 1%, and it is only barely staying afloat on the backs of the 99% and the planet. What we understand as ‘democracy’ is not a flotation aid, or a rope ladder, or a bigger boat, but rather little more than the illusion of political equality. Not only won’t it save us, but it has been designed with the single objective of perpetuating the system that is drowning us. In short, it is the foot on our head pushing us below the water so that their boat can stay afloat.
The more I study political processes and movements, the more I believe that ‘free-market democracy’ as we understand it today is a series of systems that effectively oppresses and subdues the 99% in order for the capitalist class, or the 1%, to exploit the people and the planet with the objective of accumulating and concentrating wealth, which takes the form of power, leisure, freedom and luxury in the hands of an ever narrowing section of society. It is more like a snake eating its own tail.
My post-election article came in for a lot of criticism, but not apparently from anyone that had actually read it. For anyone that has read my work, they will know that ever since the first article I had published I have found more and more evidence for the argument that our collective belief in modern free-market democracy is more like a mass Stockholm-Syndrome. And I am by no means alone in this realisation. The fact is, that there are a great many people who have been saying exactly the same thing for a very long time now. The problem now is that there are voices are on the left that are insistent that we should embrace the illusion created by the 1%.
For me GE 2019 is yet another perfect example of a failure to perform. In the UK, we on the left seem to be suffering from electoral dysfunction. Not only didn’t this recent climate emergency awakening not manifest itself in the general election, but in some sort of dystopian parallel universe, the reverse actually happened. The flotation device that we all reached for dragged us down even further. The one party almost entirely on the payroll of the fossil fuel industry took power with the unquestioning support of the entire British establishment, including the mainstream media and the crypto-carbon-capitalists.
When faced with the possibility of a viable political party offering a manifesto that would effectively start addressing the climate emergency, the entire UK establishment mobilised to continue with the same corporate schills beholden to the carbon capitalists that have been lying to us for decades about how they have been poisoning the planet. And every day leading up the election, millions of people purchased newspapers, turned on the radios and televisions, and checked their favourite websites all in order to be bamboozled by the billionaire class and their flunkies.
But this is nothing new. Few decision makers in the mainstream media felt that it was news worthy to point out the fact that as far back as 2008, the UK parliament has not only voted against taking the steps required to address the climate emergency, but have actively supported dirty energy and carbon capitalism at every opportunity. And is it any wonder? After all, a great many of the political class are individually on the payroll of those same climate exploiters. In fact de Pfeffel Johnson’s recent election campaign and his new government are wallowing in climate denial donations. And what of the UK media? The fourth estate that stands as the bastion speaking truth to power where the peoples voices are silenced? It was exactly where it has always been, firmly in the pocket of that same 1%.
Anyway, before the election I wrote a piece outlining the work of the research team being cited by groups like Extinction Rebellion. It got picked up by both the Morning Star in the UK and Counterpunch in the US under their title of ‘Voting on the future of life on earth’. Because of its length it was edited down quite significantly, so I am posting the original pre-edited 2,200 word version with all the references here. To read the Morning Star version click here, and to read the Counterpunch version click here.
“¡Hasta la victoria siempre!”