Albert Einstein once said, ‘The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results’. Sure, it’s probably the most overused cliché of all time, but that’s probably because it’s true. Perhaps the definition of frustration is repeating the same cliché over and over and expecting people to ‘GET IT’. Or to change their behaviour.
Because let’s face it – we’re lazy. We’re spoilt. We’re shallow. And we don’t like discomfort. Even when we know we’re screwed we won’t pull back from the brink. Human beings, it would seem, would rather bring the planet to its cataclysmic demise than not use a plastic bag. Or walk when you can drive. Or have one car when you can have seven. Or build a smaller house. Or only use sustainable, ethically sourced Botox.
We’re narcissists. We want what we want and we don’t want anyone to tell us we can’t have it because we believe we signed up for this thing democratic capitalism calls ’choice’. The truth is there is no democracy. For the people by the people? No, it’s all clearly for the corporations. And there’s certainly no ‘choice’. Our choices are as manufactured and processed as our food. Probably more. At least some food is free range or organic.
It’s finally time for revolution. I’m sorry. I know you’re sitting on the couch going, not now. Not me? I’m watching Master Chef. Can’t we have a revolution next week? Next year? Next decade? I’m too fat for a revolution. Will there be much running? Can I be part of a revolution and still stay in my chair? Maybe. Maybe not.
Human beings need to stop waiting for change. They need to create the change. Think of change as some sort of craft beer made by artisans in the backyard rather than something you pick up at a drive-through bottle shop. We need to give up on the hope that these silly things we call ‘political parties’ and ‘government’ are ever going to enact the policies and processes required to facilitate real systemic change. It’s not going to happen.
I remember reading Marx in my early twenties and pondering this concept of when the workers would rise up. He predicted that revolution happened when industrialisation pushed the ‘worker’ to what he called ‘alienation’. He described this as a time when the dehumanising work conditions estranged people from their essence. What he didn’t foresee was that it’s not just the workplace, it’s the whole of society.
Everything estranges us from who we are. We are depressed, suicidal; we are psychotic; we are drug dependent; we are violent; we are lonely; we are fat; we are thin; we have eating disorders; we hate ourselves; we have nature deficit disorder; we have ADHD… we have first-world capitalism! Congratulations!
This is what ‘our choices’ have signed us up for. Don’t despair. The system you live in has a vested interest in telling you that ‘this is how it is’, ‘just accept it’. But it’s a lie.
Other people around the planet are starting to wake up. Like in Italy with the Five Star Movement (M5S). Started by a comedian and blogger Beppo Grillo in cahoots with a web strategist, this is a populist, anti-establishment, environmentalist, anti-globalist movement that does not wish to be included in the left–right paradigm. In fact they call themselves a movement. They are not a party. And the five stars? Well they are a reference to the five key issues: public water; sustainable transport; sustainable development; right to internet access; and environmentalism.
The party also advocates the principle of zero-cost politics, degrowth and nonviolence. And no, they’re not loonies yelling in the wilderness. They are in office. They hold seats throughout Italy. In fact two of their members, Virginia Raggi and Chiara Appending, were elected mayors of Rome and Turin respectively in 2016. Their belief is that politics is not a career – it is a temporary service.
Finally! Some true democracy! So why not make it happen here? Interested in a conversation about how to make this happen? Local Futures are presenting Hope in a Time of Crisis at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall this Wednesday at 6.30pm. Come join the conversation. Tix $20 at the door (concession available).