Democracy is based on the idea of the individual doing whatever they want. So what do we do when what we need to do is unpopular, and so we can’t get our society to uniformly adopt it because few want to do it?
In a time when most people are looking in the wrong direction, momentous events can pass without many noticing. In particular, if we’re used to outrageous public statements as publicity stunts, we assume any statement outside the safe is just another stunt.
James Lovelock, who knows a good many things, made such a momentous statement this week. He said:
“Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.” – The Guardian
His point is that democracies are not going to respond well to disasters because the nature of democracies is empowering the individual to do whatever they want to do. And who wants to sacrifice their own comfort or possibly reproduction in order to do what’s right for the distant future? No one believes the great environmentocalypse is going to occur during their lifetime.
It’s like telling a class of sixth-graders that they can spend class however they really wish to, and there are no consequences, but they really should do their homework. Two goody-two-shoes kids do the homework, and then everybody else gets busy with the goofing off. If that class is a group project, everyone fails.
This makes a reversal for environmentalists. People have been telling us for over a century that, eventually, our reckless breeding, use of land and industrial pollution will wreck something. They’ve even told us that it’s wrecking our souls. Literature is full of such stuff, and if they find a way to make a video game out of it, the average voter might consider it.
Environmentalists recognized that this message went unheeded, so they followed the path of all things in a democracy or other individual/consumer-oriented society: they tried to make it appealing and at the same time threatening so people would pay attention.
First, they bundled environmentalism with off-the-shelf leftism, including the usual commitments to peace, diversity, the disadvantaged and so on. Then, they found a symbol for the sum total of our environmental damage and super-simplified that, coming up with global warming.
Of course, that bit them in the ass because when you offer a symbol as reality and your opposition — both the “screw the left” right and the “don’t make me get up off this couch” average voter — has the wherewithal to research it and debunk you or even hack your emails, you’ll lose. And they did.
So if you can imagine environmentalism like a great big board meeting, with a few known experts at one end of the room, the word went back up the table: that didn’t work. What next?
They realized at that point that their sexing up of their message had assimilated the message. Global warming failed as a meme because it was paired with typical leftist issues that end up penalizing the people most likely to care about the environment, namely Western middle-class moderates.
Instead of the save-the-poor clause bringing more people into the debate, it took over the debate, and alienated plenty of people from the global warming jihad.
Now they’re trying another tactic. While the little people are freaking out about local transgressions against the environmental spirit, those who know the problem well are worried about pollution and overpopulation.
Pollution comes from people demanding products they don’t need, and the poor do it as much as the rich; overpopulation comes from people, most notably the poor, breeding whenever is convenient at higher than replacement levels.
You cannot fix these things without telling someone no. No you cannot have that SUV; no, you cannot have more than two (or one) children. No, you cannot have fast food in your nation. No, we won’t help you get public transport or industry. No to all new growth; no to all new humans; no to all new things that will help make more humans, or end disease or war so humans can grow.
You have to say no. And democracies, being based in the idea of individual equality, can’t say no. Who decides? the voices cry. Someone will be left out! Someone will be the winner, and someone the loser, and the whole point of equality is not to have winners and losers.
As the environmentalists mull over this dilemma, they’re back in 1930 when they first started trying to get governments to limit population growth and the export of technology that would help the rest of the world reach first-world lifestyles. Are you sure this is a good idea? they said. I don’t know, the answer came back, but these people want to buy this stuff and I want to put my kids through college and maybe get an SUV.
Here at CORRUPT, we’ve never candy-coated reality. Democracy only works when all the participants are actually roughly equal, meaning equal in ability and discernment and depth of vision. Although we hide it well in democracies, we have our absolutes and our taboos, and we punish people just as much as any totalitarian regime. But we can’t admit that, because we have to keep the illusion alive — because it’s popular, you know.
However, as multiple problems — pollution, overpopulation, warfare, unstable Ponzi economies — converge on us brave modern humans, we’re going to have to make a choice. Do we stick to what’s popular, or try to face the unpopular truth?
If we want to hide in a human world where we replace reality with the judgments of others, clearly we go with the former. But as James Lovelock points out, if we want to actually fix our biggest problems, we’re going to have to think outside of that box.