Bill Mahler makes a lot of good (and highly amusing!) points in this clip.
But one thing that he (understandably) gets wrong is assuming that ‘BP’ still stands for ‘British Petroleum’; it doesn’t. BP is now ‘just’ ‘BP’ – it’s a global corporation. It has not been owned, nor controlled, by Britain since the 1980s – Margaret Thatcher, in her infinite wisdom, sold it off (along with a great many other family jewels). When you have a debt problem, you don’t ensure long-term success by selling off the geese that lay the golden eggs, Mrs — my bad — Lady Thatcher. Thank you so much; we Brits are paying the price for your lack of foresight. And we no longer have control of the beast.
Who owns BP now? I’d say that’s the wrong question. What’s more important is who controls it: and, like so many other faceless and soulless global corporations, there’s very little doubt that it controls itself, and is answerable to nobody but itself. Worse: as with too much of big business these days, it’s another organisation that’s ‘too big to fail’ (so much for the argument that capitalism is good because it promotes competition!).
- Modern industrial civilization is intrinsically unsustainable. This means that it will inevitably collapse.
- Any effort spent trying to prevent that collapse is pointless and misguided. It would serve only to prolong civilization’s death throes and the continued destruction of the natural world.
- Industrial civilization is created and supported by institutions that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, at virtually any cost.
- Any effort spent trying to bring it down is pointless and misguided. It will be met with massive resistance from civilization’s guardian institutions – our corporations, politicians, police, schools and mass media – and will foster unnecessary violence.
- Since collapse is inevitable, adapting to that change is the only sensible approach.
- We cannot count on the institutions of civilization to help us adapt to this change – it’s simply not in their interest to do that. Even worse, they can’t even comprehend the idea.
- That leaves individuals and small communities (aka tribes) as the only historically proven agents of adaptation.
- As individuals, the single most effective thing we can do to prepare and adapt is to awaken.
This is both poetic and, quite possibly, prophetic.
I agree completely with point 8: we all need to wake up. However, I think that the ‘manifesto’ as a whole is flawed, at steps 2 and 4. And I’m not alone.
If you follow the link to the Facebook post and read the (very interesting!) thread there, you will see that the author of the manifesto is, himself, not so sure that steps 2 and 4 are correct.
I have to admit that the question of working to bring down civilization is the one point on which I am not yet completely decided. My reaction is mainly against the sort of surreptitious sabotage advocated by the Edward Abbey-style monkey-wrenchers, including people like Derrick Jensen. Those sorts of operations, IMO, serve only to activate civilization’s antibodies to resist what they perceive as a dangerous infection.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is in danger of doing exactly this (‘activating civilization’s antibodies’). The BBC has just reported, via my idiotbox, on the activity against ‘alleged (sic) corporate greed’ (Me, I’d like to know who inserted the word ‘alleged’. Can there be any doubt that corporations are greedy? Accumulating wealth is not only what they do, it’s what they must do, by law! But I digress…) At St Paul’s Cathedral yesterday, there was a large police presence; today this is, fortunately, much reduced.
Interleaved with the reporting on the situation in London were scenes of insane violence in Italy, where (I don’t know for certain, but strongly suspect) the authorities have shown less restraint, and have — inevitably (and knowingly?) — provoked the mob.
If ‘Occupy Wall Street’ is to succeed, the movement must remain peaceful. If it is allowed to degenerate into mindless violence, this is counterproductive — and it plays straight into the hands of the corporations. Witnessing a peaceful demonstration can be a wake up call for those who have yet to realise the severity of our situation: contrariwise, seeing mob violence will, naturally, create knee-jerk response calls for more protection — and such ‘protection’ can only be provided by the institutions of civilization; i.e. the very things that must be forced to re-examine themselves, and change.
The ‘problem with steps 2 and 4’ is neatly summed up by a couple of other posters in the Eight-Step Manifesto Facebook thread (if you haven’t already, I urge you to go read it; it’s very insightful):
In my opinion, these institutions know the score, and are trying to amass wealth and privilege to help them prepare for the imminent collapse they have created, with an elite at the top. It’s completely a logical and predictable response, too. One who objectifies the earth will objectify their fellow humans, too.
My own ‘problem with steps 2 and 4’ is a combination of this view, together with the realisation that if one accepts this manifesto as it stands in its entirety, then it is, again, playing into the hands of the greedy corporations. The institutions of civilisation don’t want rebellious elements clogging up the spokes.
The question is, do we have time to make the transition before the lights go out permanently? To do that, there must be a sea change in thinking among all of humanity, governments and individuals alike, regarding the way we interact with our planet, and it needs to happen fast!
For a look at the background of my position, I highly recommend the book “The Ascent of Humanity” by Charles Eisenstein – it’s even available online for free. Also take a look at Paul Hawken’s book “Blessed Unrest” to see the social movement that I think is the key to the solution.
I have to read those.
When you find yourself in a hole too deep to climb out of,
switching to a more efficient shovel won’t help.