Big greens want us to believe that we will fall into a pit of despair once we accept the situation as dire and will become immobilized. Is this true? No. In fact, history demonstrates time and time again that when faced with cataclysmic emergencies, people and communities pull together. Facing disaster, citizens of nations have shown they can unite for the common good. Sure, when we face the facts that now exist, despair is only human. The question is whether acknowledging our circumstances will immobilize us or give us the truth we need to face a daunting task. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche distinguished between what he called the “pessimism of strength” and the “pessimism of weakness”. “Pessimism of weakness” means succumbing to apathy in the face of overwhelming odds. “Pessimism of strength” means facing up to the facts, acknowledging the danger fully, and making a decision about how best to act. In other words, fear is good, and these parameters define our sense of responsibility.
Big greens are certainly aware that we are now in a death-spiral brought about by the capitalist, consumptive, and corporate domination of society. Yet they actively choose to remain muzzled on the subject. Power structures in place today do not act, and never will act, to stop climate change, because the changes so desperately needed by those most vulnerable on the planet are in direct conflict to the needs and rapacious desires of capital. Capital has no empathy. Capital has no children to love and protect. Capital has only one imperative, and that is to grow. Under the current economic system, the penultimate measure of success is profit. Corporations exist to maximize profits while externalizing costs. That is their nature. They cannot behave otherwise. Spewing greenhouse gases, toxins, and chemicals into the environment is a fundamental feature of capitalism employed by modern corporations and governments, and accounts for most of the pollutants directed into our air, water, and earth. Waste, pollution, and ecological destruction are built into the system.
Creative commons photo courtesy of Francois de Halleux via Flickr.