I’m seriously impressed that for once, anyone at all is willing to take responsibility for the latest atrocity of the day. That really is something you don’t see much of lately. Yet whether or not we agree to let him take the blame, or take responsibility ourselves as consumers, or point fingers at rich business owners, I still think that it’s not enough. Maybe some of these, or all of these above actions are appropriate.
I just don’t think that any of them are solutions.
He can take responsibility and push for changes in policy in his company, and they can just replace him. We can fill ourselves with guilt and pretend that everything can be solved by consumer choices, but have you ever tried to find new clothes that are NOT made in Bangladesh or in some other country where people are enslaved and worked to death making our things? If you do find them, they cost sometimes 10x as much. Should we hoist that responsibility on our own desperately poor? We can fuss and fume until the company axes a few heads, but what happens then? Even if we could close that companies doors, how many will be there buying up its assets and filling its shoes the next morning?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t do any of these things. Surely we should keep trying, and I’m certainly NOT saying that it’s hopeless or advocating for status quo. What I am saying is simply that while we do these things, we also need to think more broadly. We need to realize that these things are not just happening due to a few greedy bad apples. We need to realize that these things are systemic. It’s not that people exists who will do bad things. It’s that we passively allowed these systems to form around us where the people who do bad things are not only allowed to get away with it, but rewarded, honoured, and treated with fealty. Even they are not always the masterminds we may sometimes think they are. Often enough, I think they are just as duped by corrupt ideologies as we are (albeit no less responsible or heinous in nature).
We swallow the dogma that allows it all to flourish and grow. We decry the horrible things happening in the world, then turn around and kowtow to free market dogma about what’s good for the economy, good for business, and that we must have growth. The dog-whistle of progress is blown and we howl in chorus. We’re full of “oh dear“s, but when someone makes the radical suggestion that these dogmatic mantras of the elite are not in fact true or in our best interests long term, there’s a wall contorted faces and fears of conspiracy theory.
Our lies bring us comfort.
I don’t have a camp. I’m not an anarchist, or a communist. I don’t have the blind confidence that many of them have to suppose that if we just do X, everything will right itself. What I do know, is that things aren’t working and that I’m starting to become aware of which things are lies, and why, and fairly solid framework of everything ties together at present. To me this is the first crucial step toward change and where things are really getting stalled. We’re far too busy with distractions like whether we’re red or blue: two side of the same ignorant presumptions, firmly in the camp of missing the forest for the trees.
The individuals are sometimes the locus where these systems coalesce into material form and where we can affect it, sure. But like a hydra, we can cut off a head only to find two more in its place. You see it’s not just the indivuduals, or just the companies, or just the consumers. It’s not just the bad apples. It’s the entire self-feeding system and the IDEAS that keep it all running. Most of us, even those who are supposedly progressive and left that are also duped and support. I believe there needs to come a tipping point when enough of us snap out of these default frames of mind, these lies.
I point to another current events happening in Quebec to draw from a very poignant slogan on one of the banners:
“We are not demanding a liberated university, but a liberated society. A liberated university within a capitalist society is like a reading room in a prison.”
Likewise I think that a few isolated policy changes, or sacrificial lamb executives being axed, is not real change. When it comes down to it, real transformative change will be made up of small individual progressive changes, but they must be informed by a broader and more radical understanding, and with such a reach and scope to attack it on ALL fronts at once, leaving no quarter to run to. If one’s perspective is limited to the confines of the current system, they will continue to serve the current system.
Instead of real change, we will just be making a kinder, gentler hell.