Talkin’ bout a revolution revisited

Greedy

A guest post by mikestasse. “The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know . . .
I would have more confidence in optimism if the optimists lived wisely!
A pessimist is a well informed optimist!
All you need is less . . . “

To say Russell Brand has had an impact on the blogosphere would be the understatement of the year.  His notion that we should all stop voting has brought out all the people who don’t, those who are thinking about it, and those who think the whole idea is the abandonment of hard won liberty and democracy . . .

The crux of Brand’s position on our systems of government really resonated with me when he told Paxman in that now infamous BBC interview “Well I don’t think it’s working very well, Jeremy. Given that the planet is being destroyed. Given that there is economic disparity of a huge degree. What are you saying? There’s no alternative? There’s no alternative? Just this system?”

The system (I call it the Matrix…) is indeed broken.  I was prompted to write this article by OzFenric‘s assertion that Democracy had been poisoned by Capitalism.  As it happens, I totally agree.  But how did this come about?  I’m old enough to remember when this wasn’t so…..  I’m starting to think that Capitalism really went berserk once Communism was defeated with the fall of the USSR and the demolition of the Berlin Wall.  Unconstrained by the cold war, Capitalism decided to take us lefties on, and not just take us on, but convert us.  And it largely worked.  At the last election, the Socialist Party garnered 0.07% of the vote . . . yet right wing micro parties did far far better than that.  Was winning the socialist ‘struggle’ meant to be us becoming Capitalists?

With roughly twice as many years under my belt as Brand, I can remember all sorts of things he doesn’t even know occurred.  Trivial things.  Like the fact that in my twenties, one never heard about the stock market as part of ‘the news’.  Nor the price of gold or oil, unless of course we were having a less trivial oil shock because the US hit Peak Oil and the Arabs wouldn’t sell them their oil at the ridiculously low price of the time, causing gold to reach $800 an ounce . . . I remember those things, but I also remember not understanding them.  I was too busy having fun, and no I wasn’t doing drugs like Brand.  Once that crisis passed, nobody mentioned the price of gold or oil again; well not for another 10 or 15 years.  Now it’s a substantial section of ‘the news’.

A lot of things have changed in my sixty odd years.  I clearly remember us only having one car, a Renault that was so small the whole family couldn’t fit in it.  And the only reason we even had this car was that it was supplied to my father by his employer to do his work for them.  I remember having no phone (of any kind), no TV, no fridge, no lounge, no house of our own, in fact we had almost nothing.  I remember an absolutely epic trip when I was eight years old, moving from the south of France to Belgium in my father’s Citroen (you know, the type they use in Maigret and WWII films…)  In this car we shoe horned my parents (someone had to drive!), my grandmother, five kids and all our belongings…  Everything.  One thousand kilometres with the boot roped up to stay shut and the roof rack having to be adjusted forward again every few hundred k’s because it was sliding backwards in the wind drag.

With two more siblings born in Belgium, by 1963 my Communist parents decided they’d had enough, and sought asylum in Australia looking for a better future.  The rest as they say . . .

Looking back fifty years, it would be easy to say Capitalism was good to us.

There’s an old saying:  “If you’re not a socialist at 20, you haven’t got a heart.  If you’re still a socialist at 50, you haven’t got any money”.  That must explain why the Socialist Party only received 0.07% of the vote at the last election.  I don’t know why they bother.  I mean, you have to get at least 0.5% of the vote like the Motoring Enthusiast Party to have any chance of getting into the Senate…!  But I digress.

Raised in a Communist household, you’d think my future was sealed, but after ten years working as a public servant after leaving school, I decided to have a crack at Capitalism and started my own business.  During the eighties, which even though that decade started under the conditions of the aforementioned oil shock and the Howard induced recession, was one of the fastest growing periods known to Homo Capitalus.  I single handedly managed to grow my photographic studio from nothing to $150,000 a year turnover in just eight years.  I really thought I was made.  For a brief period, I even abandoned Socialism!  I was rich . . . well I felt rich.  In reality, I was seriously indebted….  This could never end, now could it….?  My naivety knew no bounds, but was soon enough shaken by the ‘recession we had to have’.  Much of my work came from advertising agencies which fostered insatiable growth and consumerism, and once people started losing their jobs, people stopped consuming, and advertising budgets collapsed.  As did my business.  Was this all that the much heralded Capitalism I had embraced meant to achieve?  Failure . . . ?

What followed, for me at least, was a mid-life crisis (you know, the one I was never going to have) entwined with the discovery of environmentalism.  Two books changed my life.  Ted Trainer’s ‘Abandon Affluence’, and the Club of Rome’s ‘Limits to Growth Report’.  I was blown away by the fact that the utter unsustainability of Capitalism had completely escaped my attention.  What was wrong with me?  How could I even have worked for the evil advertising industry?  Yet every man and his dog was hard at denigrating those anti growth books; we can’t have reality getting in the way of unfettered profits, now can we…..

At this stage, still full of optimism and wanting to change the world, I retrained in Renewable Energy technology, and joined the Greens.  I abandoned affluence and Capitalism, sold all my crap, rid myself of all debts, and downsized like you wouldn’t believe.

Whilst I at first believed our looming predicaments could in fact be fixed, what I really learned was that it was all too late.  Why I believe this would take far far more space than an article like this can allow, but it’s all in my blog.  The numbers simply do not stack up . . .

Since Capitalism converted all of us lefties to embrace affluence, the growth of the economy and population means we are fast approaching uncontrollable climate change.  In cyberspace, there are two kinds of blogs I now realise.  Those like this one that debate politics and environmental issues – without really knowing the enormity of the predicaments looming on the horizon – and the doomerblogs, like mine, run by people who ‘get it’.  There’s even a whole bunch discussing ‘Near Term Human Extinction’, now known by its own acronym, NTHE.  Never heard of it?  Look it up . . . fascinating stuff, might even make you think voting is a waste of time!

“Getting it” is quite a process.  I’ve been at it now for close on twenty years.  I don’t expect anyone reading this to suddenly ‘get it’.  It’s all about the numbers; they simply do not add up . . . I just can’t say this enough.  Once you truly realise what ‘they’ have done to us, and the environment, once you truly understand the mathematics of exponential growth, once you understand what a scam the whole debt economy is, and once you realise that ‘they’ will do nothing about it (even though they know . . . ) because there are no solutions apart from ‘them’ losing their wealth and power . . . you too may well start thinking voting is a complete waste of time.

I don’t know what Brand knows.  I reckon if he came here for dinner, we could have a doozy of a conversation.  But Brand’s gut feeling is right.  We need a revolution.  It could so easily be a bloodless one too . . . What the next system needs to be like will be worked out after a serious shake up of the establishment.  Capitalism is doomed to fail, just like every other ponzi scheme ever dreamed up before it has failed.  There will be a lot of people walking around like zombies in the streets wondering WTF happened . . . and we the zombies outnumber ‘them’ a million to one (they are not really the 1% at all..), ‘they’ do not stand a chance.  ‘They’ are shit scared I reckon.  Hence all this cyber spying and neo fascist nonsense we are beginning to read about everywhere.  The next ism will have to be invented.  I don’t know how it will turn out any more than Brand does.  But everything’s about to change, and most people have no idea.  And they vote.  Still.

mikestasse’s blog can be found at: http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/

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20 replies

  1. An interesting read. I am not ready to be quite as defeatist but salient points made.

  2. Just let people say NO, instead of forcing them to say YES in a greater or lesser degree, to any ratbag who wants to stand for election.

  3. I could never understand how the economy could keep ‘growing’ forever. I naively thought that the powers that be, would manage things and keep ‘it’ going to protect their own interests, not necessarily ours. But the pathological nature of the powerful, meant assured self-destruction.

  4. Yep “getting it” is tough but also strangely liberating. This video of climate scientist Kevin Anderson did it for me: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/events/2012/194.html
    My blog post on this (with links to an academic paper) on the ‘creative self-destruction of corporate capitalism and climate change’ is here: http://climatepeopleorg.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/ipcc-2013-and-creative-self-destruction-redux/

  5. @ richo…… No way am I enouraging defeatism. In fact I encourage fighting back! Just don’t rely on guvmints to come to the rescue. Soon, you will be on your own, and believe me it takes much effort to abandon the Matrix and become self reliant.

    Revolt!

  6. BTW……… coincidentally, today is the anniversary of the Russian Revolution!

  7. @mikestasse … thankfully you have answered richo.

    I hope I never loose my faith in humankind to rise to the challenge.

    But I do wish some of us would haul back on the joystick and level out for a breather … just to see how much damage has been done.

  8. Mike, a bit of light relief:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tractionfr02.jpg
    Nearly bought one of these in 1966 but couldn’t find the wiper switch. Rven so, a good socialist car.

  9. The very one olddavey…… it was a big 15 like in the photo…

  10. I remember reading a bit of research way back, probably 60s, the boffins were studying rats and population dynamics. Up to a certain population density the rats behaved like rats. Ate, had sex, built nests, raised families, had squabbles with neighbours. Then when populations reached a certain density it all went to hell in a handbasket. Wars, cannibalism, collapse of society.
    You don’t have to look too far to see cannibalism happening now, isn’t that what the mega corporations are doing, feeding off the poor to get fatter and fatter, you can see individual examples of ratty behaviour from the me generations, lots of very selfish and brutish people. Then there’s the bogan behaviour that Allan Jones likes to whip up, powerless rats hanging around with the powerful to try and get some scraps

  11. How economic growth has become anti-life
    An obsession with growth has eclipsed our concern for sustainability, justice and human dignity. But people are not disposable – the value of life lies outside economic development
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/01/how-economic-growth-has-become-anti-life

  12. Reality is small white paper bags are acceptable in these days of political self-regulation. Even large white envelopes are tolerated because corruption is brown and overseas. Brand is, as expected right and wrong. We vote at the end of the party process when the selection is finished. If we voted one step earlier???

  13. Comments by financier Jeremy Grantham are very pertinent. Resource crisis is already underway and capitalism is the root cause.

    From http://my.firedoglake.com/cassiodorus/2013/11/06/and-now-a-financier-weighs-in-on-global-warming/; Grantham’s article at http://www.nature.com/news/be-persuasive-be-brave-be-arrested-if-necessary-1.11796.

  14. An epic tale of #CapitalismFail

    I personally think Prof. Richard D. Wolff, America’s top Marxian economist, educated at Harvard, Stanford and Yale where he says they spent 0.00 hours discussing Marx or anything critical of capitalism – I personally think he has the way forward… bring democracy to the workplace and change corporations to worker co-ops… We must also attempt to fix the education system too. If you study economics at Harvard, Stanford and Yale, and they literally do not discuss Marx or anything at all critical of capitalism, then it’s no surprise that universities are churning out cheerleaders for capitalism in their economics depts.

    Richard Wolff presents Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism at the Baltimore Radical Bookfair

  15. I’ll just add I am not sure if uni’s in Australia are the same, there is very little left wing Australian media, I can study capitalism far more by watching European political scientists like Mark Blyth and US economists like Prof. Richard Wolff… But I feel safe to assume it would be a similar situation…. I see a lot of cheerleaders for capitalism in economics here too…

  16. “But Brand’s gut feeling is right.”

    I agree; yet, Russell has been branded (apologies for pun) as an overindulged buffoon who offers only criticism and no solutions. Well, I am older and maybe a little wiser than Brand and I don’t have any solutions either. One thing I do know, keeping silent is not going to make the problem go away (anyone who has followed my posts at all will know I believe what I am saying).

    Mikestasse’s comment on Brand’s gut feeling reminded me of Ray Bradbury’s novel from which the title is taken by one of its protagonists, quoting Shakespeare’s second witch in the cauldron scene in Macbeth:

    “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”

    We can feel it, the evil of apathy, the apparent futility of calling upon the powerful to fucking do something.

    John Howard, this week claimed to be “agnostic” on the idea of AGW – apparently for him there is no proof. WTF – 97% of the world’s climate scientists isn’t proof for this ‘Christian’?

    I really needed a cathartic release from our former leader, so I turned to Angry Aussie who knows how to swear without offending anyone – except for people who faint a the 4 letter word or 2 or 3…

    Finally, I enjoyed John Fraser’s comment:

    “But I do wish some of us would haul back on the joystick and level out for a breather … just to see how much damage has been done.”

    Some of us are too busy rorting money, conjuring weekly public announcements, hiding in the cone of silence, avoiding Poland to ensure the axing of carbon taxing, sacking public servant by the thousands (cos they aren’t really people with families and mortages ‘n stuff), and engineering a fearful ‘climate’ to justifying cutting any social good that was achieved in the past 6 years.

    “Double, double toil and trouble,
    Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

  17. As usual I’m running late to comment but then I figure it gives me the leisure to really enjoy and critique your work. Excellent, as usual, Michael Taylor! I’d love to have the talent you have, putting words in the right place to paint a picture others can see … diannaart has the same delicious talent. And I steal what shows my real feelings .. so “Macbeth” (Wm. Shakeapeare) and (dianaart – for finding it) are both credited …

    “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”

  18. Thank you, Buff, but this is a guest post from one of our commenters, mikestasse. :)

  19. The Party is over.

    We are at a crucial time in history. Capitalism has failed to protect the natural environment upon which all life ultimately depends and the physical survival of humanity will require a radical change in direction. Drastic economic and social change need to occur if we are to avoid catastrophe.

    Ignoring the risk is irrational especially when it is set against the risks we are prepared to take in other aspects of our lives.

    Yet we continue to party on; we ignore the signs, we denigrate the scientists who are telling us this and we do next to nothing about it.

    Why?

    http://sema4rip.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/party-is-over-part-1.html

  20. Buff

    You are too kind. However, your words have brightened my day.

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