Tag Archives: State

Unicorns aren’t dead

If you met a unicorn, would you take a picture of it, or would watch it for as long as it stayed, then let it leave you with nothing but a memory? Would you close your eyes?

The first specimen of the unicorn was spotted in India, millennia before Christ. It has reappeared many times since, as described by numerous religions. Unicorns are white, four-legged, large mammals who supposedly dwell in dense forests, where they are accompanied by a sprinkly melody. They look like white horses with a single horn pointing out of their forehead, which serves for non-violent communication only. A unicorn can be caught solely by virgins and North Korean emperors. Throughout the years, it has embodied purity, innocence, enchantment, and all their opposites. A bit like the colour pink, in fact.

When Nietzsche said “God is dead”, he did not mention unicorns, who supposedly remain alive untill further notice. This is visible in the three Western subcultures which are currently most concerned with the unicorn.

The first and most prominent unicorn-concerned subculture is that of the little and not-so-little unicorn girls. They revere a kind of unicorn that looks like a new version of My Little Pony,  This unicorn commonly dances on a rainbow, bathes in it or takes a bite out of it. Oh, don’t worry, it’ll grow back. Girls in this group regularly post unicorn related content on Facebook, along with some fairy dust. This way, they reveal how magical their lives are.

Then there is the equally notable subculture of the proud unicorn spotters. These are the people (or the state in the case of North Korea) that announce they have captured a unicorn in the wild, and post their proof online. It could be a shaky YouTube video, a blurry picture or, in the case of North Korea, archaeological evidence. They usually fuel an online debate on whether the interpretation of their proof is accurate or not. This group is generally not concerned with unicorns alone: they’d capture multiple kinds of mythological creatures and a UFO or two if they get the chance. Behaviour or ecology of these creatures do not matter much to them, nor the types of rainbows they come along with. All they need is the documentation.

Thirdly, there is the group of atheists who say they believe in the unicorn (sometimes pink…) as a metaphor to rhetorically prove to religious people that God doesn’t exist. That could sound like this: “Hey religious guy! Do you think unicorns exist?” “No, dear atheist man” “Why, not?” “Because nobody ever saw one.” “Well, religious guy, that’s why I don’t think God exists.” The internet examples where the unicorn is brought forward as the terminator of God are endless.

What does the prevalence of the unicorn in an otherwise secularising global society mean? For one thing, I think it is an indication that the appreciation of the supernatural is still alive among us. It even gives atheists a smile on their face. Are we guarding our mental state of the child’s fantasy, perhaps? Silently protecting the thought that there may yet be something more? Luckily that hasn’t died.

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To jail with the state!

The Dutch state was sued for not investing enough energy in the avoidance of climate change. The summon is now being translated into different languages, meaning more states will follow. The case is unlikely to win, but the news is nonetheless interesting.

Who can we blame for climate change? It is well established by now that it is happening, and that rich humans’ role is massive. To whom can we point our fingers on this potentially disastrous turn of events? There are so many of them.

The consumers perhaps, who grow fatter and fatter with products that tingle their big, sloppy tongues with ever more exquisite taste? Can we blame them for driving the expansion of product availability by their constant curiosity for more? Can you really blame a fish for biting a worm on a hook? Should rationality have prevented man from going for the bait over and over again? Or was it this very rationality that caused the trouble? Where have our ethics abandoned us?

Maybe we should blame the producers for not caring about their product cycles? Could they, after all, not have thought the business through? It has been clear for quite a while that the earth’s surface is limited. Did that ever hit them? Are they honestly aware of the problems that they cause? I think many of them are operating under a narrowed vision, caused by the fear of being outcompeted. Or perhaps it with blinding greed. Who chooses his greed in full understanding?

Suing a state for climate change clearly is an act of desperation. I don’t disagree with the act: politicians could indeed make far greater effort to avoid the mass hunger and suffering expected to come hand in hand with this disruption. So why not address the independent keepers of ethics, rights and law to force that upon them? Let them, at last, speak the truth! Let the state pay! Then again, who really pays when the state pays?

It’s too late for blame. The problem has outgrown us. What we can do, is to hold ourselves and each other responsible for the moves we make. I just wrote this down, knowing it is far from enough. What have you been doing?

Pirates in Wonderland

“I can tell you in advance that you will not enjoy this meeting.” The words of the local mayor surprise me for not more than a second. Sooner or later, this had to come. “We have decided that we will not give you the permit for your yearly festival.” After this meeting, Salome the chairlady, Jan Jaap and I will each have a seven euro beer. It’s only when they present the bill that I will let my anger out. Such things ought to be dosed.

“When they ask you for your name, don’t give it to them. They will hold you responsible for everything that happens.” Colan has entered the Coffee Barack -my old house- and it seems to me as if he tries to move us to a mental war against the state. In the past week, we have done all in our capacity to cut back the growing feeling that the absent permit is just another expression of the increasing party repression by governments all over Europe. I think this case is different: we have an open communication channel with the municipality, and we’d like to keep it that way.

There is another tendency: in the past decade, the droef festival has grown enormously. Outsiders have lobbied in Droevendaal, persuading inhabitants to allow a party in their house. Some of these parties had darkened the atmosphere at some specific spots. Last year this seems to have withheld the police to enter our terrain because the were afraid. The Droevendalers, of course, have always prevented trouble. This place is their home.

We have moved the earth and the skies to scale Droeffest 2012 down. Steered two hundred inhabitants into a new direction. The police seemed to threaten us this morning, sending a constant stream of police cars over our terrain, visible and undercover, fining those who’d parked their cars in front of their own house. We have greeted them friendly, tolerated their threats and shown them there is more to life than rules and control. The party is great as always. Smaller, decentralised, but the atmosphere is as it sould be: relaxed and connected. Bands play in gardens, DJs bring about a silly mess and beer and rum – though hidden – are as available as ever. The theme: Pirates in Wonderland.

One week later the story is not over: it’s merely a start. It’s an example of how a mass of people can be wiser than their anger. More caring than self destructive, even in the face of such childish governmental futilities. On October 10th, we will go back to the municipality, holding the facts. We will ask the fines back and show them diplomatically, how childishly they were playing this game. We will demonstrate the redundancy of some rules and negotiate a new course. I hope this will become an example of how non-commercial organizations, groups without money, can prevail with merely the powers of reciprocity and reason. Searching for a path where freedom is achieved not against, but together with the other.