So. Here we are. The final month of 2016. John Oliver made a shitty-year-tribute to it. Do look that one up. Anyhow, this is my first post since the infamous elections. I feel obligated to write about the state of the globe, and the task has presented itself to me as daunting. Thus, here I am, digging up my old motto. It’ll have to come alive again.
A symptom, they call him. Žižek in particular. I agree. But a symptom of what? The plain and clear answer would be voters’ dissatisfaction. About the slowly tightening thumbscrews, compelling us to conform to the psychoindustry. Mindscrews. Dissatisfaction with the tiny cubicles that we are forced to create and recreate. The prison we have to work harder and harder for. If we even have that chance. Our identities. Our trust. It could have been Sanders, now it was Trump.
The ecological crisis
I’m quite sure that the history books will point out climate change as a trigger for the current instability. After all, the consistent lack of water in Syria was one of the main drivers of the local war and the consequent refugee crisis. More of such events will follow. And let’s be honest: those refugees were an important trigger for the Brexit and, for example, the Dutch ‘No’ against the trade agreement with Ukraine. Their arrival also encouraged the pro-Trumps. It was certainly part of the campaign discourse. What flabbergasts me though, is that no one is truly threatened by these people. It’s only in the minds. This never needed to become a crisis. These people could have just dissolved over the many European cities… Such a shame.
And though I don’t have data to prove it, I’m sure the repression of the ecosystem is part of the cause of the upsurge of anger worldwide. I’ll get back to that briefly.
Now, when it comes to these refugees, we should not forget that Europe has been a breeding ground for discriminatory views upon the arrival of strangers, notably those of the Islamic faith. The media have gratefully fed us with our own shitty thoughts. The vibe has been able to spread over the net and infected the US as well. The emergence of the FPÖ in Austria came even before the 9/11 incident, when the Algerian integration in France was still considered a success. But the schism was already latent. Could we have cured it back then? It doesn’t matter now. What matters is that the constant repetition of thoughts we condemned 20 years ago has worked. Even if, gratefully, Austria has voted against the extreme right wings today, their numbers have been growing all over Europe and in the US.
Dictatorial leaders all around the EU break the rules consistently
Putin, Erdogan, Orbán and the eastern European cluster, now possibly Trump as well. All have an effective regime of controlling media and education, eradicating political opponents and encircling themselves with a fortress of trustees. They all structurally and consistently break international agreements and by that lower the standards of international collaboration.
Continuous economic instability
While the US stock exchange is at a higher point than ever, recent years have not been reassuring. The fluctuating oil prices, Chinese, Russian and Brazilian market failures and the threat of gradual EU dismemberment – if you’ll allow me the term – have demonstrated significant weaknesses in the system. House prices in several regions in the world, including in the Netherlands and the US are above the pre-crisis levels, whereas the salaries have barely raised and unemployment is far higher than in 2008. Where did that money come from? It’s a bubble again. People sense this kind of thing. They are not stupid.
The emergence of surveillance infrastructure
Oh. Something else. 20 years ago, there were no mobile phones, barely any cameras and certainly no crazy algorithms that track down people who even think about performing an illegal act. We all know how it is today. Our environment is filled with spyPhones. And while they constantly watch and listen to us, software is figuring out what our actions mean. Knowing us better than ourselves. No real threat, until we undermine someone or something that does not want to be undermined and is willing to make some sacrifices for that. Or until we are faced with malevolent hackers or AI. The progressive intrusion into our private spaces is something to be nervous about. This nervousness is collective and it’s global. Even if we choose for it ourselves: the choice is no real choice. It’s seduction. There’s an uncanny voice in the back of our heads.
Our heroes are falling
The fact that there are wealthy elites in this world is rooted in abuse. We know that now. Slavery of the poor. Economic disadvantaging. Land grabbing. All keep happening day in, day out. People are not entitled to their own little spot on earth, no, they are persecuted. And the role models, whom we thought had deserved more than ourselves are dropping like flies. Clinton was just one of them. Lance Armstrong, Bill Cosby, the Church, Sinterklaas, Neelie Kroes. The list is infinite and growing. Wikileaks, the Panama Papers, Edward Snowden. Revelation upon revelation fuels the anger. And to quote Michael Caine in The Dark Knight: ‘In their desperation, they turned to a man they do not fully understand.‘ A clown.
I’ll tell this story more elaborately one day, but I once met a guy in a valley in Istria, Croatia, who told me his third eye was very developed. Don’t ask. He heard voices sometimes. Once, a voice told him: ‘if the clown becomes the president of the US, this man will start the third world war’. This was eleven years ago. He was convinced the voice spoke about Rudy Giuliani. When it comes to being a clown, however, I don’t think that guy competes with Donald Trump. And if I look at the circumstances, it wouldn’t surprise me if the voice in this man’s head, who had excellent local wine by the way, knew what it was talking about.
But even if we’re at the dawn of a new global conflict, and don’t get me wrong here, I believe there’s still a huge chance that people will prove wiser than that, I believe we can learn from our ancient spirit father Douglas Adams. When the world gets eradicated because of an interstellar bypass, it’s a great idea hold your thumb up and hope for an extraterrestrial race to pick you up and swipe you towards your next adventure. Don’t panic. Those two words were his.
No, but seriously. I used to wear Adams’ quote on my black Eastpack at school. Painted in Tipp-Ex. The soundbite feels like a dear old pet. And I still think that’s the way to go. Not by ignoring the problems: we should keep looking the beast in the eyes. Because even in the face of war, it’s ungrounded fear, being swept away, that will lead us to make wrong decisions. If anything, being afraid of war will cause us to move straight towards it. Bouncing back will invite it to bite us in the face. Like a driver who fixates on a tree ahead. He’ll hit it. And we shouldn’t. Nobody wants that. More than ever, we all have to speak out against the injustice in our surroundings, aware that us westerners were born into being part of the evil. Fight to bring justice back. And I don’t mean lawful justice. I mean soulful justice. Cos when the shit hits the fan, there’s no need to give yourself to quick-tempered choices. Even then we can stay cool.