The Next Right Thing

I didn’t notice the flag behind me at the time

I wanted to dust things off a bit and get my writing muscles going again, if for no other reason that to get ready for school again, more  on that later: I do frequently think about doing things for the site, I have ideas for new podcasts, quite of lot of new meditative insights, a number of changes to keep people updated on, and clearly the world situation and our ongoing march into the crisis narrative has a lot to it that can be spoken of.

In large part I worry I may have succumbed to the general disorientation, fecklessness and helplessness that appears to have infected almost every aspect of social discourse and people’s attitudes to it, and expressed itself most acutely in the sad spectacle of the occupy movement, so I’m making a conscious effort to shake off my ambivalence about engagement with these issues, at least long enough to check in with my audience. gotta start somewhere, so I’ll just uncork the bottle and see what comes out. Bound to have few posts in me this month.

From the top: My plans to follow up on the hunger strike for economic justice were sort of pre-empted by the explosion of the occupy movement last autumn. People have sometimes asked me to talk about my ocuppy experience in more depth, and hopefully this will be a small start in that area.  I mean, I certainly cannot take the slightest shred of credit for kicking off a global backlash against economic and political corruption, but I can least be gratified I was still a couple months ahead of the zeitgiest on that one, and maybe helped to seed the public mind, at least in my neck of the woods. The odd timing is an ongoing source of bemusement to me, I assure you.

I just got finished last summer trying to launch a thoughtful public dialogue about resource distribution and the necessity of moral progress in this area, and suddenly thousands of people are marching the streets to this very tune. And yet I could not for the life of me get any of these ‘general assemblies’ to engage in any substantive political dialogue, let alone converge around actual action points with any mass traction.  the whole thing devolved into a nightmare of orwellian ‘consensus’, politcally correct censorship masquerading as ‘inclusiveness’, explosive outbursts of barely disguised Oedipal  rage at the authorities and each other, and a general inability to think coherently about anything besides nebulous affirmations of good feelings and the importance of a utopian commune in the public square. If it sounds like bad comedy, sort of a reprise of Ariostophanes Clouds, but with more urine flinging and Reiki priestesses, that because it was and is.  If it sounds like I am bitterly disappointed, particularly now that it is clear the mass upsurge died on its ass last summer and won’t be back this year, that’s because I am. Maybe I’m wrong, but if the the people I met are anywhere near as shocked and disgusted as I am about the state of mass movements in the 21st century, I don’t think I will be.

I think the failure of mass movements in this setting are a sign of state power reaching diminishing returns.  The tea party lunatics probably seized the last real window to hijack the political system for their agenda, and even they have not amounted to much, except for increasing the rate of stagnation and ruin in the political and economic spheres. Mass movements generally work by applying pressure on institutions, which only works if the institutions are actually capable of doing anything. However most of the institutions in question are essentially bankrupt along every axis; financially, ideologically, morally, you name it. Applying pressure to these structures right now will only cause them to fracture and devolve into less and less useful forms. You go out into the street to protest bankers and fight austerity, they ignore you, toss out your elected officials and replace them with banker technocrats, tighten austerity and proceed to the next bailout. Think I’m exaggerating? Look at Greece.

You try to change the dialogue, it changes right back, and stupider than before. You try to educate people and build political consciousness, you get called out for being a shill of the united nations, an intelligence agent, a malthusian, heckled for being a white male, shouted down by angry homeless people, chastised by decrepit old hippies, drowned out by drum circles. You want to involve unions, teachers, nurses, working people, and debtors, and they get alienated by hitler quotations, child porn, and chemtrail enthusiasts… and all that’s before the media and the cops go to work on you. Decades of culture war have rendered us into the psychic equivalent of child soldiers in uganda: fucked in the head and shooting each other for no good reason.  Alex Jones is the Joseph Kony of the western activist counter-culture. Fuck me, Joseph Kony is the Joseph Kony of the western activist counter-culture, as I found to my dismay on campus this year. Are people really only noticing this now?

Something else needs to happen. And what is that you may ask? The state knew it was hitting a wall decades ago, that is why they keep trying to unload everything onto ‘the market’, but as of 2008, ‘the market’ has hit its own wall. The brits are now being fed the next thing which is called The Big Society, which is more or less a code word for ‘you’re on your own’. Cue London Riots. Fingers crossed that open source, superempowerment ala John Robb, network culture, fab labs, and radical consciousness change will pull a rabbit out of the hat. More and more it’s looking like the good old bottleneck at the end of history. Except there is no end, and nowhere to go for there to be a bottleneck to, only a webwork of chasms opening up between those of us who actually want to understand what is going on and do something about it, and those who just want it all to go the fuck away.

One mustn’t underestimate the death instinct; the part of us that wants to destroy itself and everything around us, rather than deal with guilt, shame, despair, anger and the failure to deal with responsibility. You gather people together in the name of ‘consensus’ and they end up hating each others guts and agreeing on nothing at all, because they’re all too involved in their own solipsist bullshit. This is the way the world ends. Yeah you got hurt. Join the fucking club. the solution is not to get the entire world to acknowledge and share your pain. If we need group therapy for everyone before we can feed and house the poor, we might as well fold up the world now and and go home.

Sometimes the apocalypse can look better than admitting you were wrong, working hard to be better, swallowing your pride, and facing that there are precious few magic bullets and tipping points in life. If you want to be fit you have to watch what you eat and exercise every day. If you want to live in a better world, you have to think hard about the next right thing, and do it, every day. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. There is nothing else.