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/