Friday, August 06, 2010

Less Mellow, More Harsh

I never do this, but I am posting an addendum to my previous piece "Harshing Your Mellow". I am posting this for anyone who considers my position to be somehow pessimistic (the epithets have started to flow in) or feels that small victories should be celebrated to help urge others on.


Though I often agree with the formulation of Antonio Gramsci: "I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will" I don't think the label pessimist is appropriate in this case. You call my opinions pessimistic because I am not cracking open champagne over the New York State Senate's vote in favor of an 11-month moratorium on new hydrofracking drilling permits. For you, this is a victory.

I think writing what I wrote--because someone, somewhere, may be comforted knowing there are others who see through the smoke & mirrors--is actually an act of optimism. Humankind is better than the shit we are in. It is civilization that is fucked. Witness cultures that are tens of thousands of years old interacting & surviving. I have great "faith" in humanity. Pessimist is a lazy epithet that I get over & over from people who hold me & my convictions at arm's-length, who are quicker to identify with our young culture (industrial civilization) than our ancient species. They mistake comfort for love.

Imagine, friend, that instead of soil & water & air we are discussing a person, perhaps you, perhaps your child. And instead of multinational drilling & extraction corporations we are discussing a serial rapist that you, or your child, is in some sort of relationship with.

The abuse has happened, is happening now & will continue to happen. We want it to stop, so we take our case to a judge, who rules that it must stop temporarily to study the ill effects the abuse has on you, or your child. It must stop IF a second & third judge agree. The second judge will consider this matter in a month's time. Meanwhile you, or your child, continue to be abused by this monster rapist. If the second judge rules in favor of temporarily halting the abuse (again: to study its ill effects!) a third judge will consider the matter. If the third judge agrees with the first & second judges (this could be months from now, meanwhile you, or your child, are being violated by this monster) you will have a legal respite until May. It is now August. You might have rape to look forward to in late spring.

But there will be loopholes. "Exploratory" abuse will continue. "Conventional" abuse will continue. You have friends in other states, where the laws are different, who continue to suffer from completely legal abusive relationships. The laws do not protect the victims, you see, they protect the abuser.

Drilling leases are still being signed. The abuse continues. I cannot & will not celebrate a sham victory that allows something that I love--in this case the soil & water & air--to continue to be abused. It is twisted pessimism to think so small as to celebrate, now, to think that this slap in the face is a sign of hope. Such thinking is why we're in this mess in the first place: we too often celebrate sham victories & fail to fight for substance. People around here are still drunk from celebrating Obama's campaign victory (to take one of my least favorite examples). So drunk, they fail to notice the torture chambers are still active (those are not screams of delight, friend), the bombs continue to drop (those are not celebratory fireworks), the prisons are overflowing, the deceit compounds.

If you or I were involved in a genuine struggle to prevent these multinational corporations from turning our planet into toxic swiss cheese, we would not stop to celebrate now. (I am reminded of what Bob Marley said when he chose to perform two days after being shot: "The people who are making this world worse are not taking a day off. How can I?") As I wrote yesterday, this possible moratorium, this sham victory, is written into the script for us. We decide if we want to change the script. All we have to do is wake up to the abuse that continues around us, call it what it is, & stop it.

There is so much to do & we have the power to do it. What could be more optimistic than that?

1 comment:

michael greenwell said...

I agree.

And on a side issue, being labelled a "pessimist" is only one of the things. Often there is being called a downer depressing for pointing out such things as well and it is another lie.