Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Change, or the Same Old Thing?

Sometimes it appears that nothing is changing. The rich and powerful continue to find new ways to subjugate, oppress, control and generally get what they want. The injustice that we observe all around us can be overwhelming, a feeling enhanced by a rapid dissemination of information that is unique to our time. War, disease and greed are timeless. So too, though, are kindness, compassion and love. 

We may wonder, therefore, whether the age that we live in is really any different and to what degree we should be genuinely concerned for the future of humanity. In my writing, I argue repeatedly that we must reject the social/economic/political status quo. This is a status quo that has generated great wealth and has overseen remarkable progress in science, the arts and every aspect of society. If we are to advocate for a departure from it, we have a responsibility both to diagnose the problem and suggest a treatment.

Given this context, there are 5 key reasons that I believe that today is indeed different to any other time in history. This is why I think that we must consider radical alternatives if we are to protect life, health and human rights in the future.

1. Society/culture
- We are seeing a rise in nationalism and tribalism in politics. In more and more countries, society is driven by materialism, the quest for possessions. Externally, this manifests in displays of dominance and greed. Our education systems are producing robots rather than thinkers, lending their support to questionable societal and governmental objectives. A nuclear war is a distinct possibility, as the U.S. and allies further militarise and position themselves against Russia and China.

2. Environmental damage - We are in the middle of a mass extinction event, the so-called ‘Holocene extinction’. Last time this happened, the dinosaurs and most everything else died within 3 human lifetimes. We are losing species now at an alarming rate, and this is before we even consider the impact of ecological tipping-points due to climate change.

3. Consumption - Consider this; the global middle class is projected to grow to 3.2 billion by 2020 and 4.9 billion by 2030. Our planet is currently coming apart at the seams as it is and imagine the impact if most people consumed like the average middle-class Westerner, which appears to be the objective.

4. A Global Cabal of the Powerful - We rely on whistleblowers, hackers and activists to bring truth, while the mainstream media promotes and protects the status quo, collaborating and conspiring with the corporations, billionaires, politicians and other powerful individuals and collectives that profit from the established order of things.

5. Corporate Dominance - Since the industrial revolution, we have seen a continuous effort to privatise profit to generate wealth for a select few that hold power and influence. At the same time, any negative impact (social, environmental, economic) is shifted onto the public. Nothing is sacred, everything is subject to privatisation. Political lobbying and corruption has destroyed any pretence of governance in the interests of the people. National governments are run as corporate enterprises.

Today we face new challenges, or exacerbated conditions that demand immediate attention. We do not have time to wait and see what happens; we must act on the evidence that is before us. There are powerful forces that will oppose any radical ideas for change. They will divide us in any way possible. They will ridicule us as naive 'purists'. They will manufacture consent for their agenda.

We must organise for a fight.

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