Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Taking Shorter Showers Doesn't Cut It: Why
Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change

From AlterNet:

Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance.
An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.


I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

More here.

This is the argument I've had with liberal friends who give me shit about shopping at Wal-Mart. I mean okay, Wal-Mart sucks, for many different reasons, and I would love to see the mega-retailer's mammoth influence on labor and the economy radically shifted toward a more fair and just model of doing business, but hey, I'm fucking poor and I can afford the shit they sell. Apart from hurting me financially, what, exactly, will a personal boycott of Wal-Mart do? Answer: absolutely nothing. Wal-Mart will continue to do business in its own ruthless and evil style no matter what I, as an individual, do or don't do. Now, if some of these liberal smart-mouths were to channel their energy into organizing a national boycott of Wal-Mart, I'm fucking there. That might reasonably stand a chance of changing things. But no. Liberal smart-mouths prefer to lecture their would-be allies, accomplishing nothing but bad vibes.

Fucking liberals.

While I am not an ideological ally of the creators of television's South Park, I have to admit that they often get it right, specifically with their episode "Smug Alert," which portrays hybrid driving, wealthy, San Francisco liberals as being so enamored of their righteous selves that they literally bend over to inhale their own farts. That is, a great deal of this earth-friendly anti-corporate pop leftist lifestyle is about making people feel like they're better than everybody else. In other words, it's meaningless left-wing elitism, snobbery designed to do nothing but make you feel better about yourself, at others' expense.

Meanwhile corporations continue to ravage the environment, warp our culture, and kill millions through war or tainted food or labor exploitation. At least liberal farts smell good.

The point is, as the essay asserts, that the only way to change the power establishment is through organization and agitation. Not easy, but it is historically effective. Buying different shit will never change anything. I mean, all that happens is that big business makes it all about marketing: Whole Foods, "green" energy companies, hemp stores, all this shit, they're just different products; the business models stay essentially the same. Stupid liberals just don't get it.

Sometimes I have an acute understanding of why liberals drive some conservatives bat shit crazy. That is, asshole snobs suck big donkey cock, even if I agree with them on most issues.