We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Hope is a Mistake and a Lie
I've always had some problems with McPherson's notion of its too late to save our human habitat on our home-Earth. I've since identified basically two problems: 1) the scientist McPherson has never mentioned the system of capitalism and its tiny group of benefactors who've enjoyed overwhelming power and wealth in a system, which they designed, and which has brought us to this place of extinction. For him, the system has always been a given, much like the Sun, stars, Moon, or gravity. He never had a problem with capitalism (or "industrialization" as he still prefers to call it) until relatively late--2007 to be exact. He is typical of highly trained specialists who swallowed the ideology of capitalism: "liberal democracy" (or "bourgeois democracy" as most of the world prefers). But, oh my, he was well-rewarded in terms of salary, benefits, and perks.
After working in the ruling capitalist controlled universities, McPherson became enlightened to the damage done as a result of the capitalist's compulsive habits of extracting profit (again, "industrialization" in his mind) mostly in order to obtain power in the world. Initially this tiny new ruling class thought their system was miraculous because it used science to create useful things for sale in markets, and markets they saw as rational. However, very soon they discovered that power came along with the concentration of wealth. Unlike wealth, power was so addictive, and they easily succumbed to this new drug. During the 20th century, they started using advertising, public relations, and indoctrination to create many addicts among the general population in order to take control over every institution and to insure the survival of their system and especially their power.
The other problem I've had with McPherson's position is that he only recommends one action: to accept our demise/extinction as a species while treating each other with love. I've decided long ago to fight for socialism and to rid our species of the scourge of capitalism. I regard such a fight as the highest expression of love. But I've come around a bit to his form of action because I've discovered that to keep one's sanity in order to fight, we must love each other like never before. We must establish what I think was eventually possible under a democratic socialist system, but we must do it now and in our immediate social settings and communities to the extent possible. There is no other solution while fighting the system and awaiting our extinction.
At 82, and with no children that I know of, I realize that this is easier for me. I will likely die a natural death before the mass extinction event sets in. But, I recently came across another person (around age 35) who fully realized the threat of climate destabilization and who had children to worry about. I thought long and hard as to some way to ease her pain. The only thing I could come up with is love. Not merely the cheap love that is portrayed in Hollywood movies, but a much higher state of contributing to others well-being so that they and we can live life to the fullest extent possible during our remaining time on our home-Earth. This is quite a challenge, but we must begin otherwise we will go insane (or engage in total denial).