Recently I have been finding myself having a series of similar conversations, and both the conversations and their topic are problematic for me. The conversations generally begin amiably enough, with some comment on current political or economic news – some bit of legislation, or a court ruling that’s of interest. Before too long however, everyone involved has recognised that there are major systemic problems with Western Society ™, and that there appears to be little any individuals can do about it. I imagine I’m not the only one leaving these conversations demoralized.
We know what the problems are – everything. We have no idea how to solve them as a society, or how to contribute to those solutions as individuals. And there is no agreement amongst us about how to fix it, or even what that would look like. The bulk of my friends are probably as or more tree-hugging than I am, but I have some extremely intelligent friends who believe in free markets, or don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change. Are they less or more crazy than my lefter friends who propse death sentences for fraud over a certain dollar value, or the abolition of limited liability companies as a thing?
While the discussion goes on, items like this one on Macdonald’s predatory employment practices flit before me. It’s clear this is evil, it’s not clear what to do about it. Beyond a certain point, it stops being possible to assume, as I do with my free marketeer friends, that these perpetrators have anything like good intentions – they’re becoming evil in my understanding of them.
Maybe it’s time for a revolution – but there’s no stomach for it. Maybe we simply lack toughness, because it’s hard to understand the failure to recall Scott Walker, or the decision to stick with FPP, where the peaceful revolution was handed to the public on a plate. It’s hard to imagine a country that won’t even take the most modest effort to protect its citizens from gross political inequality taking its LIBOR-fixing bankers and lining them up in front of firing squads.
We need a new system. We don’t need to fix this-and-that, or tweak some variables, or make some compromises. We need to toss the modern global form of consumer capitalism entirely, and do something else. I don’t know what that is, and I don’t suppose anyone else does either.