Sunday, March 09, 2008

our times

I was originally going to call this post Resistance 3 and had written a few notes, but in light of some of the blogging around C-484 and other nefariousness, and some commentary about opting out of the system (thanks Mike) I've decided to put into words a some things I've had in my head for a while.

I’m pissed. I’m at least as pissed as many others out there on the not-deranged wingnut side of things. I demand, and will not stop demanding a degree of decorum, honesty and integrity from my public officials, regardless of the current status quo. I refuse to accept the idea of tolerating the likes of Harper out of anything more than immediate and utter tactical necessity. There is only so far a repugnant and narcissistic creature such as he and ilk should be allow go before the hammer is brought down. I know something like C-484 has a few more opportunities to be extinguished, but I don’t accept that it should have gotten as far as it did. Derision and fuss making is well in order.

That being said, I also recognise that the institutional structures that are meant to bring that hammer down are faltering and faltering badly. I do not know what will become of the political scene in Canada over the next few years, or decades. There are more forces for instability at work in the world now that at any point in our past as a species. Our neighbour and biggest economy is trillions in debt and on a downward slide that may well turn into a freefall if assorted chickens come home to roost. We stand on the precipice of a climate upheaval that will rewrite everything we know over the next century. There is an inertia to the world system that means we’ll continue to do things the way we do them until we’re forced to change.

I speak in terms of a world system, because the shifting sands of short-term domestic politics are fairly meaningless unless they seriously begin to factor in the broader global change. I take a long-view. Like Dana I don’t have a lot of faith in the capacity of our current ways and means to adapt to what’s coming, unless we as a collective get our goddamn heads out our arses. It would be nice if we did, and I’ll devote my efforts to trying, but I don’t trust it to work out, notwithstanding some of my more optimistic posts.

There are several cats out of the bag now that have grown into lions, and any attempt to stuff them back will fail. In the short term, attempts to enforce an oppressive social agenda on anyone will be met with peaceful resistance at first through engaging politically as we are now. If this fails, many of us will likely stop participating in their system (to varying degrees). And. if this again fails, there are other means. They risk much. Most of all, in the long-term, the concentration of change happening to this planet – social, political, economic, and ecological – goes well beyond some conspiratorial attempt at applying a U Calgary faculty fetish to reality.

What we have to endure under Stephen Harper is probably be measurable in weeks, months, or even a few years. But not much longer, I don’t think. He and his cohort represent a reality-blind economic and social worldview that does not factor new variables, like climate, multiculturalism into their understanding. They do this at their peril. If history is kind, they’ll end up losing an election or two and be sent on their way and we’ll carry on as best we can. If history is not kind, they’ll die alone and terrified at the hands of a mob because they failed to prepare us for the coming changes.

I want to say something on a personal level. I’ve been on this planet a little over three decades now. I belong to the cohort that has to face much of the dark promises of the coming century. At our current projections, I shall see the end of the ocean fishery, the end of a stable climate, the end of the post-war world order, the end of predictable food production, the end of petroleum availability. This probably means the end of an international state system, of global air travel, of supermarkets, cars, and banks. Everywhere, everything is failing. These pillars that support our civilisation, are eroding like an Arctic shoreline in a permanently extended summers. I do not know what will happen to me in this context. I, and a surprising number of others, are asking serious questions about where we best ought to live to survive what is coming – where can we grow food? We’re not worried about retirement savings; we don’t think the banks, and to be blunt, ourselves, will live that long. It is a gnawing fear that sits in the back of our minds and to one degree or another informs every decision we make. I want desperately to be wrong, but the evidence so far is not in my favour.

What do I do in the meantime? I work on two levels. On the surface I work for change. I try in my small way to help us pull our collective head out of our collective arse. This takes a few different forms and works within the system as it is now. I play the game of living in a society with banks and cathedrals, universities, nationalisms, left and right, conservative and the rest of us. Like most, I talk about issues as if they exist in a vacuum. But underneath, I operate on the near assumption that this will not last and wonder what it means for me, for my loved ones, and the rest of my species once this game is over. I haven’t got an answer.

No comments: