The Politics of Pretend
Arctic News: Over 20 Of The Most Terrifying Images on 2016 (already posted in the recent comments, but I didn’t have the rest of this article ready).
Warning of 10°C increases within 10 years fails all calls to action. It’s been clear for some time now that nothing will cause us to act, so let me discuss this observation:
There is a lot of talk of what it is going to mean to scientists, Americans and the world at large to live under the Trump Administration. Within climate, environmental and human rights groups, there is a plenty of hand-wringing, finger pointing and complaining going on right now (where WERE you people two years ago?).
We will all have to get used to this because it certainly isn’t going to go away. Meanwhile, as always, the struggle for life, stability, safety and hope for the future is being tempered by unknown-as-yet expectations of doom. Some people think things will be better; others think it will be much worse. I think that this is the wrong focus.
Humans believe that politics will solve any crisis or condition that comes along. This is only true in a tiny few cases and only offers temporary relief. Politics is very poorly suited for providing lasting solutions and as we all know, often politics simply gets it all wrong because the political process is so easily manipulated. Many climate change advocates are very upset at the Trump (s)Election, believing that anyone but Trump could have solved or dealt with the climate crisis. This belief was always false because humans always choose wrong when it comes to serving self or serving planetary survival.
Politics does not cater to deep concepts like planetary survival or long-term lasting interests. Politics caters to self-interests, which I’ll further define as selfish interests. We’ve all seen it, disguised as “national interests”, or national security, or as corporate interests or ideological interests. None last long, the winds of change happen faster then American (s)Election cycles.
Politics is pretend diplomacy and coercion to promote self-interests of particular groups, but at no time has the world ever seen politics used as everyone’s and every living things actual interest. This is a hugely important distinction.
Politics relies upon competition and coercion in pursuit of self-interests. Nation-states are in competition, always competing against all other nation-state. Only the interests of the state is of true interest and intent by those in power. Strong nation-states always overpower weaker nation-states or ignore their plight and condition. Allies from other nation-states are formed only when common interests align, and only where there is gain to be realized. We’ve never seen or experienced an alignment of all nation-states and probably never will, given our history.
So when we consider politics as an entity to ensure or even plan for planetary survival of all humans, we are failing to recognize that politics has never had any such interests and never will. Our record on this is how we can already know this answer so clearly. We are quite content to let other humans suffer, starve or drown when it comes to our self-interests and survival. We have long had the power to solve these issues, but have always chosen not to do so. Our own self-interests have always won the day.
We have ensured – through our political processes and institutions – that everything, every resource, every opportunity, every activity, every conceivable human endeavor – has been fully monetized as part of our political processes. The animal kingdom and its survival and declining state of affairs isn’t even on the same playing field as humans, except as exploitable resources that can be monetized for exclusive human benefits. Politics goes even further – presuming to control and even own everything through one mechanism or another. In short, politics appoints itself as the false owner and creator of civilization and the Earth itself, and everything that has ever existed within it.
There are of course, many other breakdowns I could expound upon, such as corporate and private ownership, nation-state boundaries and rules, cultural identities and religions and so forth. But it is all politics in one disguise or another, institutions which have been widely embraced to govern and control and own and profit from all that mankind does and endeavors to do.
Some authors have called this Leviathan, which is certainly accurate enough for my purposes. But Leviathan goes deeper then this, more extensive, more insidious. I’ll try to keep this brief and only describe how politics is us, and how pretend it really always is.
There is a lot that politics leaves out, that it does not control, does not actually own, and takes no responsibility for. This is not accidental, it is by design. Politics does not take responsibility for the pollution and destruction of the Earth. This expense is taught as being inherent in human activities, and at best, some few humans have managed to hold some few corporations meagerly accountable over the centuries. But by and large, politics does nothing of substance about this. Oceans and seas and even the sea floor are plundered for riches and treasures, mountains and forests and even animals are all fed into the maw of gigantic machines for human refinement and consumption. Politics ensures that this voracious destruction continues, having almost no mechanisms or even thought to inhibit or prevent any of this. Why this is so is answered below.
Civilization in the past 200 years has devoured more and more, faster and faster, with every step, every decision and every bite taken by the green light of politics. Strident warning from researchers, scientists and even the very Earth itself continue to go unheeded because the political processes and institutions which have authorized and monetized all of this are simply unsuited for stopping or even slowing down any of it.
Every new (s)Election, the people are promised essential changes which are never delivered by the political process and the people / candidates those processes put into power. Not one American put Trump “into power”, even if you did vote for him. Nobody made him a candidate for (s)Election either, the political process did all of that. That’s why we had such poor choices this (s)Election and every (s)Election. The process is deeply flawed and easily manipulated; only the most flawed and corrupt can even compete; the very process itself ensure this.
None of the changes offered or claimed by the political process carry any real meaning. In every case, they always enable more of what is already well-underway, and that is “more of the same” that I’m so fond of using. Slaves were emancipated and women were given the right to vote, but nothing changed. We’re all still slaves and more of us voting changed nothing. The Equal Rights Act outlawed discrimination but did not eradicate discrimination at all. The Drug War spends billions of dollars and cost countless lives, but does nothing to ease drug profits, production and use. The Glass-Steagall Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and thousands more similar attempts to resolve corruption and manipulation hasn’t stopped any of it. The War on Terror and all of the legislation since passed only spawned more war and more terror.
In every case, politics proposes to resolve real issues and real needs, but never accomplishes this. Yet this is always the first and the last institution humans turn to for relief from crisis. And it never works. In our thousands of years of civilized history, we find the same results.
There are two overlooked but huge, glaring problems here that need to be identified: the political process cannot change what it is and what it can deliver and what it can actually do; and the people themselves don’t want that process to change either or what it can deliver or what it can do.
We all practice politics. It’s how we live. We justify what we do, when when do and how we do all of the time. We negotiate with self, conscience and others to gain agreement and justify our actions. We are eventually indoctrinated into the process of public politics, but this is just an extension of the private politics we’ve all practiced. We only differ on who we hold responsible while we go on ignoring our own accountability. Politics is our way of deferring accountability to someone else. If we were all actually accountable, we would have no need for politics.
Ultimately, we all serve self and our own interests, just like tiny little nation-states. We all recognize this too, which is why we forgive so much in our politics, both publicly and privately. We practice competition and coercion in pursuit of self-interests and we don’t want to be held accountable for our actions.
This is why a different candidate doesn’t change anything, and never really has and never really will. The same processes as ever continue, the same greed, the same levels of consumption, the same excesses, the same demands, the same desires, the same self-deception as we engage in the politics of pretend. New programs, agendas and priorities will be offered, but the outcome is always the same because the process is us. What we are, what we do, how we live, who we hold responsible and so on. We’ve not changed one bit and never will, and neither will our institutions because they are in reality, a reflection of who and what we are.
The reality is this: humans have no intention of changing their habits and expectations or their politics, the practice of coercion and pretend diplomacy. All claims to the contrary aside, the facts are evident. We fully intend to continue along this path of self-destruction as long as humanely possible. This intention is inherent and immutable to our civilization now.
I expect nothing from politicians or the political process except more of the same, and only worse. This is what I expect from you too. That’s been my entire life experience since I was born, and from what I’ve read of history, that has been the entire human experience since the onset of civilization. It is simply foolishness to expect or hope for anything different within this civilization.
This is why I laugh at those that have placed their faith or trust in yet another political hack. This isn’t the institution or the candidate that is going to save humanity from itself; it is incapable of doing so because we are incapable of doing so. Those that will disagree are deceiving themselves. They understand nothing. They continue to support civilization, taking (temporary) benefit from the ongoing environmental destruction themselves, and have done nothing to quit it (and don’t even intend to), which is to say, they remain blind contributers.
Every human enmeshed within civilization’s voracious maw is a participant in the planetary destruction and cannot escape their own contribution and accountability to the global predicament. The proposed baby-steps to have civilization solve civilization’s problems while growing civilization is asinine. Only morons would endorse such a suggestion, understanding nothing. The reality is as I’ve already said: humans have no intention of changing their habits and expectations or their politics. We want to defer our responsibility and accountability elsewhere if at all possible.
But it won’t work.
Humans will rape, plunder, destroy, devour and waste everything that is left, justifying their essential needs and actions with phony claims of superiority and requirements, until the very end of human time. This is the very predictable outcome of our injustice, what we call civilization. The coercion of all things bent to our will and demand. Our false words that we “care” or have empathy for others and other living things is defied by our actions every single day by each one of us. Our self-deceptions knows no bounds or barriers that it will not cross and deceive. Our politics codifies these deception into falsely esteemed institutions of human folly whereby we misplace our trust and confidence, never even realizing that we are looking at our own selves.
There is no hope here and there never was. The ongoing failure to uncover the root of what we have become guarantees our failure to resolve anything.
3 thoughts on “The Politics of Pretend”
Oceans poisoned by plastic –‘No matter where you go, the sea is covered in plastic’
More examples of our utter indifference.
is clearly not indifferent, and in his travel series he particularly noted the maltreatment of animals and abuse of the planet by humans, the ‘Tropic of Cancer’ series culminating on a beach in Hawaii that was composed primarily of plastic, which Reeve described as bloody depressing.
Despite his high profile and the popularity of his documentaries, everything continues to be made rapidly worse because the global financial-economic-political systems demands that everything be made worse.
Selfish gene theory postulates that an individual must acquire resources in order to thrive and reproduce, and will employ strategies of cooperation and competition in order to acquire the resources needed to thrive and reproduce…..which is the origin of politics.
In the pre-industrial world, population was kept under control by predators, disease and warring over resources. Indeed, the population of Europe fell dramatically in the fourteenth century.
It was clearly the invention of steam engines and the notion of progress based on technology that set humanity on its trajectory towards self-annihilation, since steam engines facilitated the rapid movement of food from one location to another, and ‘progress’ via technology reduced the mortality rate of children and young adults. Promulgation of Fractional Reserve Banking and charging of interest on money created out of thin air was the final nail in the coffin of a long-term future for humanity.
The twentieth century saw humanity go into severe population overshoot in the back of expansion of monoculture agriculture and fossil-fuel-powered delivery systems, despite wide-scale conflict eliminating tens of millions via industrial warfare.
We now know that ‘progress’ amounts to conversion of self-sustaining systems into unsustainable systems, together with generating pollutants that disrupt the geochemical systems essential to the maintenance of life as we know it on Earth. And that politics, as currently practiced, makes everything that matters worse faster.