Quo Vadis? – Individual responsibility

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To go against the flow (by Ubaay.)

Blog No 104 .

We are all creatures of the thought fashion of our time and our time is what has to be the curtain call on ‘the Century of the Self.’ (Blog No 91.) https://khakispecs.com/?p=2148 The directors of EXXON (Blog No 99) https://khakispecs.com/?p=2354 are acting in accord with the morality that society has imbued them with. Their dominant criteria for decision making is whether or not the decision will increase the wealth of the shareholders that appoint them and pay them their vast salaries. The long-term welfare of society and future generations are not problems they are paid to take into account.

If this situation is to change, it can only be through the actions of individuals making a conscious stand against the current morality. Only when a sea-change in the public consensus has become general, through the example set by multiple individual opinion leaders, will governments fall into line with the new morality and that sea-change be reflected in government actions and regulation.

Thanks to the sociopathy of such as EXXON and the unremarkable myopia and/or lack of a social ethos of past political leaders, the time remaining for effective action against climate destabilisation is desperately shortened. Consequently, the measures called for have to be that much more draconian. In effect, the global and national economies need to be put into reverse and the neo-liberal ‘growth economy’ aborted. Despite what politicians might say, it is unlikely that the landing will be ‘soft.’ However, the longer it is postponed, the harder it will be – and if delayed too long, it is likely to prove fatal.

Until an effective alternative to the burning of fossil fuels can be found and universally deployed, the ideal of permanent growth and permanent material improvement will have to be abandoned. Ours and the previous several generations having pigged out on fossil fuels and having also grossly overdrawn their environmental account, the coming one, or maybe two generations are going to have to opt for a managed descent into austerity and material restraint. The alternative is to have the planet ram it chaotically down their throats.

economic downturn
Austerity

The opinion leaders, who are going to lead this change will have to lead by personal example. The Web offers no end of suggested behavioural adaptations, which, were they adopted my millions of individuals, would significantly dampen the speed with which the climate is being destabilised. This is just one such site, which I happen to have played a minor role in composing. https://climatekaranga.org.nz/add-your-drop/

What is being advocated in this blog is, in effect, the start of a grass-roots movement to boycott intensively farmed animal products and fossil fuels and to discredit the neo-liberal myth of the sustainability of perpetual economic growth. This is not being advocated in the cause of social justice, nor for any of the standard ideological reasons of political movements. It is being done to save the climate and our species from extinction due to the self-seeking of the too-much-in-control 1%, as exemplified by the EXXON board (to whom both Adam Smith and Chomsky would refer as ‘The Masters of Mankind.’)

Governments, and the business interests to which they are largely in thrall to, are effectively controlled by the wealthy one percent, who own approx. ninety percent of global wealth. https://inequality.org/income-inequality/ The attempt to save the climate through grass-roots action will be interpreted as an assault on the private interests of those who exercise the most influence on government decisions. Expect governments, media and business to fight back. (For an analysis of this conflict of interests in democracies, going back to the times of Aristotle, in which the wealthy minority are continually at pains to warp democratic procedures in order to safeguard their wealth from the demands of the poorer minority, you cannot do better than Noam Chomsky’s ‘Requiem for the American Dream.’) https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/requiem_for_the_american_dream/

Opinion leaders, who commit themselves to the sea-change, will have to operate at three levels.

  •  The first is in the life-style adjustments towards frugality they should make, and should be seen to make, in their personal lives. A reduction of animal-derived food intake; the adoption of strategies for the minimisation of personal fossil fuel use; a deaf ear to the blandishments of the globalised brand masters and where practicable, a preference for acquiring used, rather than newly manufactured goods.
consumerism
Consumerism
  •  Secondly, they have to work, not only to spread awareness of humanity’s current peril, but also to develop social solidarity to help support society through the now inevitable economic recession. (Be it a consequence of the internal contradictions of the current neo-liberal economic system of giving the 1% unregulated carte-blanche to exploit the 99% as best suits their goals, or as a result of the general take-up of the new frugalism being advocated by the merchants of sea-change.)

Think global: act local! It is individuals in local communities who will need support from neighbours and it is at this level that the necessary resilience to face the now inevitable, climate induced disruptions will be built. Much has already been initiated in this direction: (try Googling ‘transition towns’). National governments will always attempt to centralise political power and decision–making. The activist must fight this tendency and work to retain political and economic power within local communities. Effective advocacy of the principle of subsidiarity will be key to effective decision-making and communal survival. (Blog No 10.) https://khakispecs.com/?p=8

To this end, long before national governments get around to considering constitutional changes (i.e how to disrupt a status quo, which has so well rewarded those being asked to consider changing it) private individuals must have come together to decide on the changes they wish to see implemented. Different cultures will come up with different solutions, but ways must be found by which material inequality is reduced, social cohesion is increased, political decisions are made at the appropriate level (subsidiarity) and understanding and social responsibility, rather than wealth, are the drivers of political power.

  •  Thirdly, they have to become active in the political arena. Governments must be pressured to enact legislation that supports the planet and the rule and development of international law, rather than the elite interests of the Masters of Mankind. Most importantly, urgent action has to be taken to confound the war-hunger evident in the USA. This will be the subject of the next two blogs.

 

As a footnote to the above argument for an adjustment in personal consumption habits https://khakispecs.com/?p=1507 (Blog No 66.)

For habitual carnists to turn vegetarian or vegan is not as big an ask as it might seem, at first sight. If one is making the move for pragmatic environmental reasons, rather than for health, religious or sentimental reasons, one can do it gradually. You can go cold turkey, as my wife and I did, or you can incrementally drop meat or fish portions out of a week’s meals until you arrive at a balance at which you feel comfortable.

It is certainly good for your health. The average westerner’s digestive system composts far more animal protein than is necessary for human well-being. Humans evolved to eat meat only as an occasional supplement to a vegetable diet. https://www.rense.com/general20/meant.htm (N.M. If you drop meat and fish completely, you will need a daily supplement of one drop of vitamin B12.) As far as dairy products go, for vegans, there are multiple soy and other plant-based substitutes available. You only actually need milk in your diet if you are a suckling. And now, coming down the track, after textured vegetable protein (from Soy) and Quorn (myco-protein) there is another meat substitute derived from plants, but which is indistinguishable from dead animal matter – other than in its enhanced health benefits. The manufacturer’s forecast is that it will replace all meat in fast food outlets within five years. Climate change activists, will just have had their advocacy made less daunting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TpQl9V9yoA

think-global-act-localThis article offers a clear insight into the severity of the fossil fuel problem confronting humanity – a boycott on its continued use is urgently required despite the huge economic disruption it will cause https://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176164/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_fossil_fuels_forever

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