We’re fighting an asymmetric comms war against the 1% – a war which, if lost, jeopardises not only society as we know it but also the biological world which sustains us.
Dangerous Globe are featuring a series of articles by Luke Andreski, looking at the weapons needed to fight this war. Luke began by discussing weapons of defence – a shield of values, a wall of truth – and now turns his attention to weapons of attack: The Socrates Bomb, Chaplin’s Stiletto, Kate’s Garrotte, the Truth Grenade and now, The Alternatives Ambush.
Anyone would think we had some sort of death wish.
“Me and you?”
No. Humanity. The human race.
“In what way?” you ask, clearly sceptical.
Well, for one, there’s the chemical war we’re waging against our own species:
- Particulates spewed out from our use of wood, diesel, coal and other fuels, particulates which we then inhale
- The pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers we pour over pastures and farmlands, which then permeate our food chain
- The microplastics we discharge into water sources, ending up in the water we drink
- The mass consumption of sugar, trans fats, processed meat, salt
- The wholesale use of barbiturates, opioids, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and other painkillers, tranquilisers and stimulants
- The moisturisers, make-up, deodorants and sun-blocks we smear all over our skin
- The ammonia, phosphorus, nitrogen, volatile organic compounds and bleach we use to clean our workplaces and homes
These are repeated, multiple acts of species self-harm.
“We’re hardly doing ourselves any favours, are we?”
I’m surprised we’re still walking.
And that’s just where it begins…
“Don’t say there’s more…”
We’re deploying weapons of mass destruction against the environment on which we all depend. Weapons like these:
- Soil depletion
- Water exhaustion
- Greenhouse gas production
- The mass production of domestic and industrial waste
- Plastics discarded into oceans and rivers
- Herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers disrupting ecosystems
- The decimation of insects
- The extinction, or near-extinction, of countless other lifeforms
- Oil spills
- Mining waste
- Urban and farming sprawl
And, as if that’s not enough…
“No, you can stop there, if you like.”
Just one last thing?
“Okay. If you insist.”
Well, there’s the kill shot… How could I not mention that? The nuclear weapons we’re holding in reserve for our moment of environmental Armageddon.
“F*** me – it’s looking grim.”
Sometimes it feels that way.
“I work hard to be positive. I’m not sure you’re helping.”
I’d prefer to be open-minded about risk than hide my head in the sand…
“I want to do something about it.”
About being positive?
“No. About the mess we’re in. About the nightmare reality you’ve just described.”
But you are doing something. It’s what these conversations are all about. We’ve been finding the root cause of our war against ourselves… so we can begin to put things right.
“And we’ve found that root cause?”
I think we have.
Yes – malign, viral ideas. They’ve infected our society like a plague.
Ideas like these:
- The biosphere can survive anything we throw at it
- Let’s keep consuming more and more – there’s no reason not to
- Waste doesn’t matter
- Technology will save us
- Don’t mess with the economy – it’s bad for business
- Don’t mess with business – it’s bad for the economy
- Nation states are more important than people
- Corporations give a f***
- We’ve got a free media and a free press – you better believe it
- Voting occasionally means you live in a functioning democracy
- The world’s like it is because that’s how it’s got to be
- Little folk can’t change things; we’re just pawns in the big folk’s games
“But we’ve found ways to resist those ideas…”
We’ve found thought vaccines: a shield of values, a wall of truth. And we’ve found antivirals, too – like the Socrates Bomb, Chaplin’s Stiletto, Kate’s Garrotte, the Truth Grenade…
Antivirals like these take the harmful, eco-destructive ideas and question them, laugh at them, assess them, challenge them… and expose them for the lies they are.
“But? I can sense there’s a ‘but’…”
But we can go one better.
We don’t even have to waste our time on those ideas. We can simply make them irrelevant.
Turning the other cheek
You see, sometimes the best way to deal with a problem is to step around it. It’s a different kind of ‘turning the other cheek’.
You ignore the assault.
You step outside the fray. You go beyond the bad ideas. You outshine them. You leave them behind.
You offer something better.
I call it The Alternatives Ambush.
The ideas overwhelming our society? The socially disfiguring affirmations of greed and selfishness and the lust for power? They’re not great ideas. They’re not even clever.
There are better ideas on offer – ideas like these:
- We can coexist with a thriving biosphere – it’s not too late
- Consumerism doesn’t make us happy – let’s try sufficiency
- Waste is stupid. Let’s stop doing it
- Don’t wait for technological miracles – there’s stuff we can fix right now
- Let’s mess with the economy to make it fair
- Let’s mess with businesses to make them ethical
- People are more important than nations
- Corporations don’t give a f***. Let’s make them give a f***
- It’s time to free our media from the clutches of millionaires, corporations and the state
- Let’s fix our democracies so they can’t be bribed and manipulated by the powerful and the wealthy
- Our world can be happier and fairer – we’ve got the genius and capability to achieve that
- Changing society is a numbers game… so add yourself to the numbers
“I like those ideas,” you say. “And how about, ‘Isn’t it time to be kind to each other?’”
Perfect. Kindness is the foundation stone of all life-affirming philosophies – and it’s at the heart of the eco-sustaining alternatives we’re discussing here.
It kinda makes sense.
So, for those of us who sometimes struggle to stay positive, there’s good news:
- Humans are geniuses of creativity and imagination
- We’re amazing at problem-solving
- There are countless ideas a thousand times better than the slack-jawed, eco-destructive, self-harming narratives which currently rule the roost
Alternatives are there for the taking.
Insightful, creative and compassionate people keep dreaming them up… Wonderful ideas which make the malign concepts of the 21st Century mind plague look outdated and stale.
It’s time to run with those new and better ideas. It’s time for radical change.
“Oh, alright, then!” objectors cry out, jigging from one foot to the other. “What would you do? What would you do that’s so different?”– as if this is some sort of a challenge – as if there’s no possible or conceivable substitute for the social and environmental clusterf*** we’ve managed to contrive.
Well, here, for a start:
- A Green New Deal
- A Universal Basic Income
- The decentralisation of power
- The decentralisation of wealth
- Universal Basic Services
- The democratisation of our democracies
- Re-building for resilience
- Re-engineering for sustainability
- Prioritising fulfilment and happiness over profit and growth
- Encouraging cooperation instead of competition
- Educating for critical thinking, creativity and compassion
- Deprioritising possessions
- Re-prioritising people and communities
- Educating for sharing… because there’s enough to go round
- Embracing a new ethics suited to a new age
These are powerful and feasible alternatives to the mess we now inhabit – and there are plenty more like them. Great ideas keep knocking at the door. It’s time to let them in.
Can’t do it?
“A lot of people will say that.”
It’s not how the world works?
“They’ll say that too.”
It’s too difficult or expensive or unworkable?
Well, tell them not to be so short-sighted and scared.
There are 8 billion of us.
We’re astoundingly energetic, productive and capable.
Can’t do it?
There’s almost nothing we can’t do if we turn our minds to it.
Can’t do it?
There’s barely anything 8 billion of us can’t achieve if we want it done.
All we have to do is come up with the ideas… plan how to put them into action… then give them a try.
Luke Andreski is a founding member of the @EthicalRenewal and Ethical Intelligence collectives and author of Short Conversations: During the Plague (2020), Intelligent Ethics (2019) and Ethical Intelligence (2019).
You can connect with Luke on LinkedIn, https://uk.linkedin.com/in/luke-andreski-ethics, on WordPress, https://lukeandreski.wordpress.com/, or via EthicalRenewal on Twitter https://twitter.com/EthicalRenewal.
For the previous articles in this series see:
The mind plague
Everyone needs a shield of values
The wall of truth
The Socrates Bomb
The Truth Grenade