Thursday, July 13, 2017
Reminder To Establishment Liberals: You're Destroying The World
We are all guilty of denying the realities that imperil our species’ future. We all resist considering that things are headed for what it reasonably looks like they are, that a free society and industrial civilization and even human existence have a real possibility of soon coming to an end. The ruling class feeds on this attitude. As the direct creators of the dynamics that are pulling us to collapse, the corporate and political elite have had to develop an extreme version of it-and naturally try to instill the same worldview on ordinary people. Through everything from climate change denial propaganda to the false unemployment numbers the government gives us, an American culture of false security and permanence is maintained.
The facet that voted in our current, ultra-reactionary government has in a lot of ways fallen the most victim to this cognitive dissonance. Yet its extreme embrace of the things that are driving us to collapse-its enthusiasm for rampant business deregulation, its eagerness to see the fossil fuel industry thrive, its yearning for a fractious racial and religious conflict-reflects a twisted kind of awareness to the crisis we’re facing. Trump won by taking advantage of the mood so many have that our society is in decay, making his supporters’ decisions a dark and self-destructive way of confronting their anxiety that things can’t last. No, those who want to see the world burn aren’t the most oblivious to what we’re facing. That would be the establishment liberals.
It’s an impressive thing to see. At a point where scientists have just said we have three years to prevent the kinds of climate changes that will raise sea levels ten feet by the end of the century, where the majority of the country is now living in third world conditions as the world economy edges on a crash bigger than 2008, where Russia and the U.S. are one falsely blamed attack away from war, there remains a facet that desperately wants to keep the institutions and practices behind these crises.
The dangerous thing about this worldview is that while it doesn’t necessarily reject belief in our problems, it rationalizes not addressing them. To the establishment liberal, climate change and poverty matter only when they don’t get in the way of this ideology’s top priority, which is helping the political brands, institutions and leaders that one has latched onto. When appearing “progressive,” serving the Democratic Party, and doing what Rachel Maddow says are the main things one has decided to aspire to politically, the political world becomes two dimensional, divided between righteous Democrats and everyone else.
This was an easy thing to subscribe to when America was dominated by two monolithic political parties. Then came the destabilization of the Middle East, the financial crisis, and the more day-to-day consequences of basing a society on these kinds of unquestioning allegiances to authority, and things got more complicated. Suddenly the old guard liberals had to explain why those who’d been battered for decades by their neoliberal policies should side with them over a new movement that actually offered solutions. And the fact that they’ve in most cases had to rely on their ability to rig the electoral process to keep the insurgents from now holding the presidency shows how successful they’ve been at this.
But make no mistake, we have entered volatile times in more ways than that. The old political paradigm may be quickly dying on the vine, but so is the past scenario where we could rely on governments, economic systems, and the biosphere itself to remain in place. With this in mind, the continued attempts from many to return politics to its sterile, pre-2016 state, to silence those who like to focus on the world’s problems instead of Russia and the evils of the Bernie Bros, make sense. Focusing on the inane is a good way to make the coming catastrophic changes feel like they aren’t a threat.
To which I’d say: wishing there isn’t a crisis is no reason to ignore the crisis. To remain tied in with the old institutions and cliques because it feels comfortable is at this point a willing destruction of our world. Thankfully when the inevitable happens and this situation can no longer be seen as stable in any light, society will have to focus on confronting its behavior rather than trying to save the systems that have nowhere to go but down.