A Fatal Game of Make-Believe
A couple good friends of mine recently moved to Calgary. They used to live down the street, and it’s annoying that they’re gone. I miss them; there’s a quiet comfort in knowing that you have friends close by even if you don’t see them as often as you’d like.
One of them asks me a lot how I’m doing or what I’m thinking about. I post a lot of politics and talk a lot of media and he’s genuinely curious as to how I’m doing and the answer is pretty okay. My personal life is good for now, but things are spiraling out of control in a big way due to circumstances beyond my control and it’s infuriating.
I chat with a few intellectuals from time to time. People from a variety of places – artists, business people, con men, the sort of people you’d expect if you know me. I live for in-depth conversation, preferably in person, on the nature of reality, imagination, faith, and history.
You can’t discuss any of those things – anything at all – without getting into politics.
And here’s the thing: we made them up. We, as a species, invented nation-states and political systems. It’s a giant game of make-believe that becomes important due to policies that affect the lives of those that live in those games. It is mostly a good thing, I think, these games we play. When handled properly they allow for roads, hospitals, education, healthcare, and more. When handled improperly they lead to corruption, suffering, and death.
This has always been the case.
I want to type ‘it wasn’t always like this,‘ but that would be a lie. Back in the Christian Dark Ages people believed that cleanliness was bad and that cats were of the devil and it was politically convenient for the Church to encourage those beliefs. The result was the Black Death. We’re currently seeing a resurgence of that pattern with anti-vaxxers allowing their kids and other children to die because of a falsified report that a doctor who lost his license wrote in order to make money.
And that brings us to the whole point of this article.
Every living thing on this planet exists with two underlying narratives. One is subjective, the games of make-believe. Politics and the economy. These are social machines that were designed to allow for communication over large areas and the building of large structures, be those structures material or social in nature. The other is objective, and is simply the biosphere we live in, the one that existed before we did and can continue to exist without us.
The scariest thing about modern politics is that we have a tendency to think that the second category falls into the first.
Let me be clear: science has been warning us about the dangers of greed for decades, and we’ve been ignoring them so that a few rich people can get a little more rich. The end result of this is that every living thing on this planet is now at risk so that a few hundred people can feel better about themselves.
Their greed is going to kill us all.
We know that the beneficiaries of this greed were told about the damage they were doing decades ago and decided the best course of action was to spread propaganda about it. They took something that is truth and made it political, and then worked to dumb politics down to a red state, blue state binary. For boomers specifically and those that still subscribe to a philosophy that is really nothing more than gimme gimme gimme, politics is a team sport. Are you red team or blue team?
Don’t think outside the box: the Republicans and Conservatives are the party of Selfish Greedy Evil, concerning themselves with the very worst of humanity, destroying the republic while conning people into believing otherwise. The old Democrats and modern Liberals are weak and refuse to fight for anything, but at least they’re not the Republicans or Conservatives. It’s a question of left and wrong.
Who do you want to vote for?
I remember sitting down with my Uncle Mark and a handful of other politically aware relatives at a wedding in 2015. The Republican Primary for the 2016 election had just happened and Uncle Mark and I pegged Trump as winning from the get-go based on his answer to one question: given that you have no political experience, why would anyone vote for you?
His answer was probably the most honest and insightful thing that useless lump of human waste has ever said, something along the lines of: whenever there’s one of these election things, everyone on this stage calls me and asks me for money. The Democrats, too. And I give them money, because if they win I can call them up and tell them how to vote. So, stop voting for the puppets and vote for the puppet master.
The media really wanted Jeb Bush versus Hillary Clinton. It’s a good headline: Clinton/Bush II: Electric Boogaloo. A rematch for the highest position in the world, the leadership of America~! You could tell how angry they were about Trump and especially Bernie, the Clinton-favoring CNN even rehashing the old Obama Boys thing with Bernie Bros even before they started trying to rig debates and committing fraud with the DNC.
It should amaze me that Debbie Wasserman Schultz got to step down because of her corruption and was immediately put back to cushy work without even a slap on the wrist, but it doesn’t.
One then has to wonder why they even bothered, what with the Electoral College being able to ignore the will of the people in the tattered lie of democracy. But at least we got to see the truth: America is a Kleptocratic Oligarchy and has been since at least Nixon. Bernie (and those like him) were and are naive enough to believe in democracy as a concept, and maybe they’ll be able to change things for the better.
The real question is whether they’ll be able to do it in time.
A lot of fires burned parts of the world down this summer, the hottest summer on record. The hottest summer on record before that was just last year. The one before that, the year before. And so on. And so forth. For almost twenty years. Science tells us that we need to move away from fossil fuels, that we crossed a line a few years back but the politicians and business people barely noticed. This is worrisome, because the line was a big one.
We crossed the point where we could fix things. The best we can do now is minimize the damage.
The truly rich think they’ll be able to buy their way out of this, but the truth is that the world they’re creating will be a terrible one that they and their children will be able to survive maybe a little longer than the rest of us. The world we are moving into will not have air to breathe or water to drink or food to eat, and I’m laughing as I write that because there are chunks of the world where that is true already.
Places like Louisiana, the Carolinas and Virginias, anywhere where the Republicans or Conservatives have managed to take and hold onto power in North America. They destroy infrastructure, foster hatred and intolerance, drive away investment and jobs, take away rights, and then blame any place they haven’t destroyed yet for causing the damage. The worst part is when people believe them, looking for any confirmation of their bias, abdicating reason so that the people they have literally enslaved themselves to can steal just a little bit more from them.
Republicanism and Conservatism are a cult.
An abusive cult.
They’re fascist, racist. It’s the same hatred and ignorance that created the slavery-based Confederacy, the kill the Indian, save the man Christian Residential Schools. They project constantly and vilify education because they dare not look at themselves or ever admit that they could be wrong. In their determination to be right they ignore science, ignore reason, ignore facts in favor of alternative facts, a buzzword that basically means a lie.
Call them what they are: an alternative fact is just a lie in a suit. A person claiming alt-right alliance is a Nazi in a tie. A Trump supporter is an ignorant but still racist victim clinging to a cycle of abuse, like many abuse victims. There’s nuance to them, sure, but that is the core. They want to play victim with fictional Wars on Christmas or American Exceptionalism or even athletes kneeling for a magic song about a special cloth so that maybe racists will stop shooting them, all the while ignoring that the military is paying sports leagues to play them or that they at home stay seated and feast on snacks while the magic song plays.
They’re hypocrites, and to call them anything but what they are just lets them get away with their bullshit and we no longer have time for them to wallow in their filth.
Right now in Canada there’s a big fight over a pipeline.
A province called Alberta was conned by Conservative leadership into basing their everything on oil. They had a lot of it and they refused to diversify their economy for decades. You can see this in the sprawling infrastructure of their largest city, Calgary, which meanders about like the drunken idiot in some early Irish novel. It’s a city not built for people, that has no means of supporting itself other than paying people to be there for the sake of oil.
Trick of it is, oil is a limited resource. We have no way of making more of it and now they’re down to tar sands and they have nothing else with which to support themselves. Tar sand oil is dirty, not worth much, and getting it out of the ground is a process that damages the world even more than taking oil out of the ground usually does. You can see Calgary slowly withering because of it and their lack of anything else: the capital of Alberta, Edmonton, at least diversified into crime and has Canada’s largest mall, so it can book itself for tourism.
Calgary has nothing.
A left-wing politician inherited the mess Conservatives left her and is scrambling to fix it while taking the blame for the damage the Conservatives did. She needs resources to try and do anything and is stuck working with the only thing the Conservatives left her: oil.
Her plan involves a pipeline through British Columbia that will break more First Nations treaties and cause horrible damage to British Columbia, which relies on three industries to keep moving: tourism, lumber, and film.
Right now, British Columbia looks like this:
Alberta would like British Columbia to look like this:
Oh, and did I mention about half our province is on fire every summer because of the mistakes the Conservatives and Republicans have made?
That looks like this, for those wondering:
So, Alberta would like to abuse British Columbia so that they can deal with the abuse they suffered from decades of Conservative misrule.
It looks like the social machines and games of make-believe we indulge in reflect ourselves, to the shock of no one that’s paying attention.
Here’s what Alberta – and the rest of us – need to do: Go Fucking Green. Invest in green and sustainable technology and infrastructure. Replace asphalt highways with solar ones and sell the excess energy to those that need it. Train people to do more than work on oil fields. Realize that we’re almost done with capitalism and the idea of an eight-hour workday, five days a week, is simply no longer necessary for anyone.
We can move past this and live in a better world. We have the technology and we can start building the infrastructure. We can save ourselves.
But the argument is, no, we need to move that tar oil before it becomes worthless or we’re all dead from moving it and using it. We need to destroy the make-believe economy of one place to save the make-believe economy of another place in the short-term so that we can all real-life die in the long term.
This is the reality that we’re facing, and the example of Alberta and British Columbia is just the closest one of dramas that are playing out worldwide, dramas where a lot of people will be murdered so that a few hundred people – the richest people in the history of the world, people that already have more than 90% of the world’s wealth – can became just a little richer while the people that make them that money starve, suffer, and die.
The questions are, what are we going to do about it? and will the rich people let us save them from themselves?
The immediate answers are I don’t know and I’m not sure, and that’s terrifying.
We need to stop this game of make-believe we’re all trapped in before it kills us all. We can do better than this, but a change that fundamental to the paradigm in which we live requires a lot of people willing to make it all doing it at once.
I talk about the things I talk about because this is what I can do: listen, doubt, inform, talk. Listen to what’s being said and what’s going on, pay attention to information. Doubt the information, look for holes, alternatives, anything to disprove what I’ve listened to so that I can understand it fully. Inform others about what I’ve learned. Talk about it with those that want to chat.
Boomers, this is the world you’ve left your children, the brow-beaten Gen-Xers and vilified Millenials. The world we leave our children might not be liveable at all, though there are some people that are willing to fight back and maybe fix this mess. If we’ll let them. If we’ll vote them in.
This is all that’s left. The powers of old and evil are hellbent on killing us all to satisfy the greed of people they’ve never met.
What are we going to do about it?