As you’ve probably noticed, the world is phenomenally bad at the moment. The future’s not looking especially rosy for civilisation.
Then again, that’s been the case for a long time – and the fact that liberal metropolitans are wigging out so spectacularly over the (admittedly rubbish) news re the American Presidency shows just how detached people are from looming ecological disaster, immense, inexpressible suffering in developing countries, et cetera, et cetera, et cereta. But I digress.
Strange/stressful/horrible are these times in which we live. And, in order to 1) survive the mental ordeal of living through them, and 2) be as effective as we can be when it comes to trying to make them better, we have to take care of ourselves. Continue reading
If you like substance and things that matter, it’s not been a very good few months to be alive. Feudal-revivalist royal birthday celebrations. The eye-bulging jingoism of Euro 2016. An abyssal new low for establishment post-truth politics with the EU referendum. False-start leadership elections, grubby will-they-won’t-they political coups. And then the Olympics, where grotesque, mind-mangling amounts of money and resources get blown on a hyper-nationalist willy-waving competition.
But at very least, in its abundance of rubbishness, the summer has left us with some fairly big clues as to what’s gone wrong. We are, after all, hurtling towards a point-of-no-return ecological tipping point, having done more environmental damage in 150 years than any other species has managed in three billion – all to build a civilisation where the richest 10% own half the wealth, use 60% of the resources, and 20,000 people starve to death every day.
Why is the world so cataclysmically shit? I think the summer we’re having points towards one big contributing factor. In fact, all the recent events listed above, the Queen, the football, and so on, are arguably symptomatic of the same underlying phenomenon – a giant, normalised, and, as such, near-universally ignored problem afflicting civilisation as-is. Continue reading
A few years back I used to put out something I called the Bem Bulletin. Essentially, it was a collection of shorter bits about current goings on I’d write in gaps between rambling pseudo-intellectual essay type things. Now, with full-time work meaning those gaps are getting longer and longer, I decided it was a good time to resurrect the concept – and this one’s largely about last month’s local and mayoral elections and media bias, with a dash of me-standard ecological doom.
- Electoralism blues – Labour and the local elections
- Flak attack #1: that Ken Livingstone anti-Semitism thing
- Flak attack #2: Kuenssberg/sexism
- We should probably just shut the BBC down and be done with it
- Obligatory reminder of impending eco-doom
For a teetotal halfway-to-vegetarian rejecter of all things consumerist, I actually quite like Christmas
On a good day, my strange lifestyle is a semi-successful attempt to boycott the worst bits of ecocidal consumer capitalism. And at this time of year, more people than usual ask me why I bother.
That’s probably because more people than usual notice it. Normally very much off the radar as far as most people I know are concerned, at Christmas the whole political extremist thing surfaces in polite society like a hippy-communist submarine – “how’s the Christmas shopping going?” “I don’t do any”, et cetera.
So. Why am I so cynical/miserable/judgemental/extreme/anti-fun/generally intent on making life more difficult for myself than it needs to be? Continue reading
Economics is supposed to be the study of how limited resources can be used to meet unlimited needs. We’re well on the way to shredding the ecosystem with our frenzied excess, so we need it to be that more than ever.
But modern economics isn’t that at all. For a lot of people, that definition doesn’t have anything to do with the E-word as they understand it.
The way economics is presented to us, you’d think it was all about money, banks or business – and those things are definitely hugely important to the type of economics that we’re stuck with at moment. But it would be equally possible to have economics that didn’t involve any of those things.
The reason that suggestion strikes most ordinary modern people as insane is because, in the mainstream, the E-word has been reduced to unsubtle cheerleading for an incredibly specific, biased and ethically dubious way of conducting human affairs. Economics has basically become the study and practice of capitalism. And so, if you’re looking to explain modern economics, that’s where you need to start. Continue reading
London is the biggest city in England, by far. It’s the country’s commercial hub, administrative centre, cultural powerhouse, priciest 610 square miles of real estate and an eight million-person fuck you to everyone who says that different cultures and ethnicities can’t peacefully coexist. And it’s the ultimate symbol of the self-destructive insanity of our way of life.
To some extent, it’s true of all modern cities. But London represents the modern city at its most extreme – most unequal and elite-dominated, most wasteful and polluting, most insular and unaccountably powerful. It’s a planet-choking over-concentration of entitled, self-fixated, consumption-crazed hyper-individualists living life as if the world’s some sort of consequence-free playpen built for their own personal enjoyment – plus thousands of less fortunate Londoners living in abject poverty, and millions struggling and just about managing to keep their heads above it. It’s also world capital of neoliberalism, and the values system that’s a) destroying, and b) crushing any attempt to save the environment.
Never making much of an effort to hide my borderline Partridgesque London-phobia, I try and avoid going as much as possible. Recently, though, I couldn’t get out of it, and spent a weekend wandering around the capital being walloped by the wrongness of the place. Continue reading
2015, so far at least, has been a year characterised by me getting repeatedly distracted from banging on about the thing I need to be banging on about, which is the environment.
First there was the general election. And then there was Corbyn’s unexpected but delightful transition from pariah-status fringe parliamentarian to Labour leadership frontrunner. I sunk hours into writing about both.
Now Corbyn’s won, I can already feel myself being sucked in again – instinctively reaching for the keyboard to defend him with every new ludicrous slur or piece of borderline-criminal media impartiality. I’m at risk of becoming the political equivalent of one of those overcompensating macho boyfriends who hospitalises anyone who looks at their girlfriend a bit funny. Continue reading