“We die so that others can be born
We age so that others can be young
The point of life is live, love
and if you can then pass it on, right?” *
I write to live, so it follows that I am alive. Sometimes we can find a story in small, seemingly insignificant truth that connects us to a larger condition shared. Let’s take the environmental apocalypse for instance, before the language of religious fanatics is the new nihilistic condition of the political left. I feel my own suicidal tendencies and mental health reflected in those who understand both the changes of our environment and its acceleration by international capitalism.
We have all been tainted to survive in this system. A true worker would be one who accepts capitalism’s conditions and work, rather than choose their employment and refuse to work for those who would seek to exploit them and their communities. They would then be ‘unemployed’ and so loose their status as a worker. Perhaps as a consumer you can change the system by personally boycotting Nestle and buying all your food at Bio shops but as we all know that is a question of income – an individual capitalist solution to ease the anxiety of the breakdown of civilization.
Let’s start small.
A few months ago I lost consciousness. I mean to say I had an epileptic seizure but I did not know that the time. I started to get a painful sensation down my left arm and then knew I was loosing control. I knew this, because it has been happening to me for 13 years. You become consumed by what they call an ‘Aura’ but I would describe as a hallucination, a complete loss of understanding for the context of your environment. Over these 13 years I had fallen down stairs, I had woken up in the streets without knowing how I had got there.
I never went to the doctor. When people were around me and asked me If I wanted an ambulance I would reply – ‘No. I am fine now.’ Considering I always resumed consciousness, I assumed that it would be OK. Tick tock, 13 years. Since I was 17, I wanted to drive a car. I wanted a motorbike. I wanted to move as fast as I could towards that speck on the horizon, the beautiful infinite, eating and consuming a grasp at freedom. Tick tock. A seizure at the wheel would have been the final ride, if I ever had enough money to do the lessons.
The epilepsy effected my depression, it lead to the increase of suicidal thoughts – the looping of hopelessness pulling me around and between jobs, harbored by those who have loved me in the chaotic sea of emotions. Homelessness and the cruelty of the city is resisted only by those who let me dock. Tick tock.
Tick tock, We’re fucked. We live in between the paradoxical live streaming of disaster and embarrassingly ineffective market democracies that would never respond to such a trivial issue as the ‘survival’ of the human race. Instead we continue to ‘live’, the hedonistic jig at the gates of hell, the mass consumption of products that piles up around us, piled into landfills and into the sea.
I realize the tone of environmental articles should have some kind of rallying cry to change, or maybe some hopeful twist or example of how beekeeping in an obscure town is the answer for a greater solution but I refuse to propagate the mania that everything will be OK. I know with the same intensity that I see myself hanging from the trees in the madness of my suicidal tendencies, I know you too see our world crumbling, under the weight of a greed that has consumed us all and the grinning jokers that are pushing the pedal to the floor.
As the wall approaches, take off the seat belt. Open the door and jump. The landing will hurt, remember to roll. The faster you do this, the quicker you have to learn. It is the end of living and the beginning of survival.
“We’re just your playful gailforce friend in these end times
Come to remind you, you’re not an island
Life is much broader than borders
but who can afford to think over the walls of this fortress” *
The answer has always been there but exists outside of capitalism. I know the only way we can manage our changing environment is through the community reclaiming control over it. Instead of truly coming together however, to completely overthrow our archaic ideas of power, we somehow fall short and settle with the liberalization of capitalism. Forcing a system of exploitation and inequality to somehow become environmentally aware.
Elements of those in Extinction Rebellion (XR), are an example of this. Some within the movement have advocated, as a means of ensuring our survival, to get arrested. To flood the privatized jails and bring the country to a standstill, somehow instigating revolutionary change without political praxis.
Apart from the missed point that the prisons are already full and continue over-capacity to the extreme deterioration of their inmates, the individualistic idea of martyrdom – self-sacrifice – does nothing to challenge the nature of our international capitalist systems. The theory of the revolutionary has been consumed by the individual. We can all be Mandela or Gandhi, just for one day.
As an idea, it is possibly as laughable as resuming the tradition of assassination in anarchism to remove those in power by force, as these are not solutions for our times. Communities organized around Mutual Aid and Free Association give greater power to all of those within the community than these mass state or capital structures. Despite imitations of local government in nation states, they are always at the mercy of national politics. Does removing some of our most capable and radical members of our community do anything to prevent environmental doom or does it reinforce it?
Instead of fostering a politics of individualistic nihilism that does nothing but diminish us into agents of a suicidal society, we must challenge this tyrannical economy with collectivization. This challenge exists within me too, the same martyrdom of suicide I must overcome within myself. There really is no alternative. The planet may be changing but it is capitalism, kicking and screaming, that is truly fucked.
*All quotes are by Kate Tempest from the Album ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’
Illustration Nick Victor