All the old ideas for uprooting the status quo have failed.
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All the old ideas for uprooting the status quo have failed. I point this out not to depress people, but to persuade them to stop twisting on locked doorknobs. The old ideas don’t work, so we need new ones.
The political process has failed. Capitalism has failed. Socialism has failed. Libertarianism has failed. Marx has failed. Populism has failed. Anarchism has failed. I say this not because of any glaring flaws in any of those ideas (in theory any of them could potentially work in an alternate universe), but because we are hurtling towards extinction in the fairly near future, and none of them have saved us.
“But Caitlin!” you may object. “My particular favorite ideology would have saved us long ago if only everyone had gotten on board with it!”
Okay. But they didn’t. And now we’re on the brink of armageddon. That means it has failed. It doesn’t work.
We are well on our way to extinction via climate collapse or nuclear holocaust, and even if we miss those by some miracle we are headed toward an artificial intelligence-led tech dystopia in which our consciousness is permanently enslaved by a propaganda network that is far too advanced for there to be any hope of escaping into truth.
We are witnessing a mass extinction the likes of which we haven’t seen since the end of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, with some 200 species going extinct forever every single day. The very ecosystemic context in which we evolved is vanishing underneath us. More than half the world’s wildlife has vanished in forty years, and the worldwide insect population has plummeted by as much as 90 percent. Fertile soil is vanishing, and so are forests. The oceans are choking to death, 90 percent of global fish stocks are either fully fished or overfished, the seas are full of microplastics, and phytoplankton, an indispensable foundation of earth’s food chain, have been killed off by 40 percent since 1950. Science keeps pouring in showing that global warming is occurring faster than previously predicted, and there are self-reinforcing warming effects called “feedback loops” which, once set off, can continue warming the atmosphere further and further regardless of human behavior, causing more feedback loops.
Our ecosystem is very fragile and rapidly fading, and the difference between the ability to survive without it and our current scientific capability is the difference between flying and jumping. Which won’t matter if one of the many small, unpredictable moving parts in the steadily escalating new cold war with Russia results in a nuclear weapon being deployed as a result of misunderstanding or miscommunication and sparking off the annihilation of every organism on earth, as nearly happened during the last cold war on more than one occasion.
This is where the status quo has gotten us. All attempts to overthrow it have failed. The time is up, and the results are in.
The political process doesn’t work.
I say this not because the political process can’t work, due to some technical failure in the way it has been applied. I say this because it doesn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that we’re on the cusp of the apocalypse with no signs of steering clear of it. Attempts to uproot the status quo via political engagement and voting does not work.
“But Caitlin!” you may object. “The only reason the political process doesn’t work is because it has been hijacked by corrupt powers with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo! If we can extract those corrupt powers, we can make the political process work!”
Okay. But you didn’t. You were unable to extract the corrupt powers, and now we’re on the brink of extinction. Your strategy has failed.
Capitalism doesn’t work.
I say this not because capitalism can’t work in theory, I say this because it doesn’t work in practice. How do I know it doesn’t work in practice? Because the planet is dying and we’ve all got doomsday weapons pointing at our heads that may go off at any moment. The results are in. Capitalism doesn’t work.
“But Caitlin!” you may object. “What we’ve tried hasn’t been real capitalism! The free market hasn’t been given a chance to solve all our problems, because of the artificial interference and regulations of Big Government. If we can get rid of Big Government, we can solve all our problems!”
Okay. But that never happened. And now here we are at the end of the world, watching our planet ripped to shreds by status quo power structures. Capitalism failed. It doesn’t work.
Socialism doesn’t work.
I say this not because socialism can’t work in theory, I say it because it doesn’t work in real life, as evidenced by the fact that our world is on fire, our time is up, and we are all about to die. Socialism failed to save us. It doesn’t work.
“But Caitlin!” you may object. “Socialism hasn’t worked because it’s never had a chance to work! If the capitalist imperialists would just stop sabotaging socialist experiments, it would thrive and replace the status quo! We’d all be saved!”
Okay. But we’re not. The worldwide populace has not answered the call of socialism in sufficient numbers to overthrow the interests which oppose it, and now we’re at the end of days. The plan was to unite the working class against the elite oppressors around the world and implement socialism, and it failed. It is a strategy which does not work.
Libertarianism doesn’t work.
We could do this all day, with any number of ideologies. Perhaps libertarianism could work under the right circumstances, but attempts to rally the public around it have utterly failed, and now we’re staring down the barrel of extinction. You can object and make excuses, or you can acknowledge that the strategies for implementing your preferred status quo-challenging ideology don’t work, and find new ones.
It’s easy to isolate yourself within a particular ideological echo chamber and create the illusion for yourself that your pet ideology is making progress. Oh look, Russiagate was disproven. Oh look, Jeremy Corbyn did well in those last elections. Oh look, the Democratic Socialists of America gained a few thousand members. But if you step out of that echo chamber and look at the big picture, you see a futile tug-of-war between feuding ideologies with no gains made anywhere near the scale that would be necessary to avert the massive threats on our horizon.
My point here is that we may have found an ideological standpoint that really resonates with us, and that ideology itself may be intrinsically worthy and vastly superior to the status quo. But the strategies for implementing that strategy have failed spectacularly. If you can’t implement your strategy, you’re just diddling cutesy ideas while the world burns. It’s just a nice identity for you to hold onto and make your feely bits feel nice.
“I’m a Marxist!”
“I’m an anarchist!”
No you’re not. You’re an ideological LARPer dressing up in an identity and pretending to change the world, while the world itself tumbles into the abyss.
Again, I say this not to create a sense of hopelessness, but to get people to stop wasting time and energy pushing on locked doors. Stop trying strategies that people have been trying for decades with essentially zero ground gained, and try something else instead. Stop hanging out in your little echo chambers and thinking that anything’s changing just because you are surrounded by people who agree with you. Sure, hold onto your beliefs about what kind of system would most benefit the world if you like, but be acutely aware that those beliefs in our current situation are completely meaningless.
The reality is that as long as powerful people control the dominant public narratives, no ground will be gained in steering our species away from the status quo trajectory that’s killing us, because you won’t be able to awaken mainstream consciousness to what’s going on. The only thing that has any hope of prying the oligarchic hands off the steering wheel is the mainstream public seeing what they’re doing and using the power of their numbers to force drastic change in a wildly different direction. If we can’t make that happen, we’re all just banging on locked doors while the curtain closes on humanity.
We all need to do better. I include myself in this. We need to try new things. Many, many new things. We need new ideas. What kind of new ideas? I don’t know, that’s why I’m telling you. I’m just one woman, and I put as many ideas out there as I can, but it’s not enough. Clearly it’s not enough, because here we are.
In my opinion the obvious way to open up a path for dissident ideas to replace the status quo is to kill the public trust in the stories they were told in school and continue to be told by the mass media about the kind of world and country they live in, but so far that hasn’t happened. My own ideas for advancing that agenda which I’ve been seeding into the world have been inadequate, and so have everyone else’s. So we need more new ideas. Lots and lots of new ideas.
What we’ve tried up until now hasn’t worked, so if there’s anything that might work it’s going to come from a wildly unanticipated direction, from way outside the failed mental processes which have accompanied us to this point. We need to open ourselves to that kind of idea.
That’s basically all I’ve got to offer today. A helpless but sincere plea for humanity to try something new, spat out onto the internet in the Hail Mary hope that it might plant some seeds and loosen the soil for something unprecedented to open up in human consciousness. Sometimes that’s all that we can do.
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