The status quo is impossible.
1. Fossil fuels are finite, and this one-off ahistorical extreme level of energy consumption is now reaching its end, never to be repeated. Humanity soon shall resume historical levels of energy consumption. Therefore the extremely expensive, luxurious, high-maintenance civilization dependent upon this extreme energy consumption will collapse. In particular, industrial agriculture will collapse, thereby dooming to famine any civilization which has not transformed to agroecology.
2. Ecosystems at every scale are at their breaking point. Climate change, poisonism, and the general destruction of biodiversity are reaching their kinetic climaxes for civilization. This fragile hothouse flower shall not withstand general ecosystem collapse. Again, the most directly catastrophic effect will be the collapse of industrial agriculture, dependent upon the environment as it remains in spite of all its attempts to lift itself outside of the Earth.
3. The corporate technocracy system is committed to totalitarian tyranny. Even if capitalist civilization were physically possible to sustain, the people are being liquidated politically, economically, and eventually physically. We see the global campaign to drive all people legally and physically off the land. This portends their literal disappearance from the planet. This campaign has been most aggressive across the global South but increasingly is liquidating the Western middle class as well. Their liquidation may be more gradual so far (but it’s accelerating), but their final destination is the same as that of the South’s people of the land: Famine and pandemics amid the shantytowns.
Therefore the rational, sane course of action is to commit to building movements toward the necessary new cultural, agronomic, socioeconomic, and political forms. The rational, sane course is to build Food Sovereignty and agroecology.
Conversely, any mode of action or support for the status quo is irrational and insane. Any such action or support, however superficially “moderate”, implicitly seeks the most extreme insanity since in its death throes the corporate system will resort to literally any measure it can, no matter how extreme in its violence, to maintain its power and existence. Prior to these death throes the system’s attempts to prop itself up will manifest in ever greater political and economic volatility, which comprise a direct cultural mirror of the ever greater physical volatility generated by climate chaos and poisonism.
In all these ways the masses feel the ground shake beneath their feet.
And they feel how the corporate system is destroying their economic existence.
And they sense how the system itself is tottering.
All this musters tremendous free-floating fear. Left to itself this fear-itself makes most people inherently timid, conservative, desperate to believe in the very status quo which afflicts them. Most are desperate to believe the very thing which is most insane and self-destructive for them to believe, that they don’t feel the ground shake beneath their feet. This desperate will to self-delusion drives the masses to their own volatility and implicit extremism corresponding with that of the elites and the physical environment.
This was the situation for the 2016 US plebiscite on the corporate globalization system. One’s choices were to vote Yes to the status quo in all its chaotic extremism, or No.
Let’s look at the major subdivisions among the Yes vote.
*The Clinton vote was the most conservative vote. Superficially this was the most acquiescent status quo Yes vote. This was the most obvious way to say “I like the status quo and want nothing to change.” This most pure status quo vote seemed the safest, most conservative way to vote Yes and refuse to acknowledge the ground shaking. Thus the voters refuse to face reality, they flee into fantasy, and they vote for the system’s volatility, which led to Trump.
*Most absurd were the Sanders and Stein fantasies. Ironically this mode of voting Yes indicates the most active, conscious affirmation of the status quo, since it takes the form of constructive criticism. One votes this way to say, “I like the status quo but have thought about it and want some changes.” These voters are more likely to pay lip service to reality, but are still unwilling or unable truly to face reality, reject the status quo, and commit to what’s necessary. Thus they too ultimately refuse to confront the crises, they flee to fantasy, and they vote for the status quo volatility which created Trump.
*Then we have the de jure Trump vote. Some of the wealthy and some die-hard cultists may fail to feel the ground shake and voted only for a change of parties. Some feel the ground shake and may vaguely want some kind of change but are uncommitted enough that the corporate system still could manipulate them into voting Yes to it. Most are like the others and refuse to face reality, and these voted most directly for the most volatile manifestation of the system-driven chaos. Regardless, the de jure Trump vote was the same vote as the others, the refusal to deal with reality and the will to prop up the fantasy, and the binge, to the bitter end.
All three of these Yes modes are modes of the refusal to liberate oneself, refusal to acknowledge and confront reality, refusal to commit to the necessary ideas and actions, and the desperate clinging to the electoral religious fantasy. Thus they all voted for whatever result the plebiscite coughed up. They voted unanimously for it.
It wasn’t inevitable that the wheel would land on Trump and not Clinton. The vote was close enough, a few breaks this way or that and it could’ve landed on her. But all the voters voted Yes. This was the only vote possible.
And then there’s the No vote. There may be some non-voters who are so vegetative that they don’t feel the ground shake and don’t care. Most of the No voters recognize that there’s no point to the rituals of the system and have given up on these. But they haven’t committed to the necessary movement action.
Then there’s the small group of affirmatively conscious anti-voters like myself. Most of these also haven’t committed.
Objectively the people are aware that it all matters, it all counts, abstention is not an option. The Yes voters are those who react by doubling down, digging the hole faster, “committing” by denying reality. The No voters are those who have stopped digging, even if most don’t yet exert themselves to climb out of the pit. But in principle it’s they who may be able to climb, whereas those who can only look downward and dig faster are unable even to think of climbing.
They’re the ones who dug up Trump. All of them. And what will they dig up next, if we don’t climb up out of the pit and fill it in behind us?