The world is not ending, it is only beginning
Believe it or not, but propaganda wasn’t always an ugly word. Rather, it was made ugly by propagandists. I will gladly confess I write propaganda, I propagate ideas, I explore my own thoughts and invite you along for the journey. I seek to agitate, and make people think about things. In the words of Slavoj Zizek: It is not the task of the philosopher to show you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is the task of the philosopher to explain how it’s another oncoming train.
This is a difficult task, because by no means should the truth disarm you. By no means should the fire consume you. But the contrary, the biggest task in agitating is not to make people feel helpless, but rather to feel a sense of acuteness that stirs the very heart. That makes people understand how there is no more waiting, that something is happening, and that no recourse will assuredly kill us all.
So do not be afraid, the world is not ending. Things are not that dire. Life will find a way. However as it stands, it will probably find a way without you.
As we live in a realism wherein crisis, misery, contradiction, turmoil and cynicism grip us each morning by the throat and tells us to try not to think about it, as the bad news from the world is in a state of encroachment, and we begin to see precisely what it means.
COVID was just the beginning of this. Finally, something came to find us, finally it was not merely another story about some exploited place in a colonial warzone. Finally we got a taste of things to come. The age of reason has returned once more, and people can no longer keep their heads in the cloud.
I feel relief not because I am of callous disposition, but because what we have experienced is not the exception, but the rule. I feel relief because common sense just became more common. Because we are a sick species, and we just got a splash of water to our faces.
Do not feel fear, nor hopelessness. Feel resolve. There is always something to be done, and we are finally in a public consciousness wherein agency is no longer dismissed as folly.
And yet this splash of water was from but one crack in the dam. There are many more, and each day they grow in size, the tide is coming. Homelessness, debt, poverty, austerity, war, recession, military industry, market collusion, land speculation, predatory lending, third world exploitation, neocolonialism, climate change, the list goes on and grows ever larger by the day.
The news have taught us to remember weekly news cycles, to put things behind us, to constantly face narratives that go silent without resolution. Each one compounding on the next. The perfect storm is brewing, and it has been hidden in your recollection this entire time.
But it always comes with a fascinating subtext, a subtext that you should pay careful attention to: All the world’s problems are bigger than you, there’s nothing to be done, you are a small being in a big world, and all is lost. Let the leaders, the upper classes, the great nations worry about it. You are but a spectator. Keep reading, keep subscribing, keep observing, you are the audience, not the actor.
This is what is called news, and public information, and what used to be called propaganda. A news reporter is a propagandist who is lying, who wants legitimacy above you. Do not trust them. Do not trust the punditry of media men and publishing companies, they are simply a human face of a terrifying order.
In reality, we are not helpless, nor are we spectators, each and every one of us plays the biggest role of them all. It is only when we are placated, and silent, and passive that this may go on. That our interests are not served.
Propaganda from this order tells us to be individuals, to pursue something unique, and profound, that authenticity comes from blind contrarianism and vapid products. That our identities exists in brands, clothing, products and ultimately in our capacity to put money in their tills.
That expression is done using T-shirts, that democracy is done using brands and corporate consumer ethics. That if you just sort your paper from your plastic, this will offset the millions of tonnes of plastics that the petrochemical industry is dumping into our oceans.
There is a far more inconvenient truth than that of Al Gore: We cannot buy ourselves out of this. What pitiful comforts and false hopes these companies give us do not examine the reality of it all. Slavery was not abolished with fairtrade, it was abolished with blackpowder. Segregation was not abolished with nike sneakers, it was abolished with mass movements, and organising.
The weekend placards of activists who are looking to get rich and famous on social media, the pretenses of hashtags and NGO slogans, the focus grouped campus politic of trendy liberals and upper class hippies will not absolve us.
What won the workers suffrage, equal citizenship, fair trials and equal recognition under the law was labour unions, general strikes, organisations and yes, at times, rifles and bravery.
If a proposed solution involves you sitting at home and doing nothing, then you are listening to your enemy. If a proposed solution involves parting with your money to an institution, who does not demand your labour or participation, then you are listening to your enemy. If a proposed solution involves a party platform, from politicians who face no liability when they lie to constituents, then you are listening to your enemy.
The gilded days of social democracy, wherein the rueful indignations of capitalism could be thrown over a high wall, where the poverty, misery, suffering and war that exploitation demands could be outsourced to some colony in Indochina, far away from the worries of polite society, are coming to an end.
Today it is COVID, but pestilence is but one of the four horsemen. War and famine will follow. Our food supply, our medicine, our technology and raw minerals all come from Latin America and Asia, and the heat is turning up. As farmland becomes deserts, as cities become exclusion zones. As flooding moves across the tropics, and disease and pests fervently gestate as temperatures rise, and warm seasons last longer.
Even the US, who are usually the most impervious to these consequences, have in the last few years faced shortages of food and vital resources, and even do so right now as of writing this. That is but the shot to the bow, things will proceed according to this pattern.
Little by little, we see the writing on the wall. Rome is falling, and what comes next is two things: Death and rebirth. This millennium will begin no differently from the last one.
So do not mistake me, I am not making another doomsday sermon, I am not saying all hope is lost, I am not telling you to repent. Rather, I am saying the same thing revelations did: The darkest hour is just before dawn. Crisis, turmoil, death and misery will visit us, yes. In fact, a lot of it will. But we should not give up, and we should not be fearful. We should get ready.
A great storm is coming, and we must weather it. We must be organised, prepared, supplied, and prepared. I am not saying things will be fine either, all rebirth is painful. Birth is to suffer for new life, to face trauma, and injury, and profound pain, and this is also ahead of us.
But it does not have to be the end. What we must understand is how we have something far better than politicians, and corporations, and petty politics:
We have eachother, we have our class, we have workers. We have labour, and production, and skills, and ability. We, the ordinary people, the people who built every civilisation, every home, every road, who collect every harvest and treat every injury, us, we are the ones who inherit the Earth.
When they tell us to stay inside, to follow orders, to remain spectators, to be isolated, forgotten, obedient and sheepish, they are not instructing their subjects, no, they are pleading for their lives. It is not a demand, nor is it advice, nor is it education, it is a plea, the plea of tyrants. Tyrants who, in their starkness, are as fragile as a pipping hatchling.
This grand illusion is what agitation seeks to break through, to help you see precisely, in the most crystalising and acute sense, how you need to do something. In the words of James Connolly: Our demands are most reasonable, we only ask for the world.
This is indeed quite reasonable, because it is precisely our task at hand. The beginning of this world, this thing that will remain after the aftermath, as the great turmoil begins, will be defined by what we do today.
We do not need to destroy, capitalism is destroying itself at breakneck speed. We might have to defend ourselves, sooner or later the rich might destroy us too, especially if we have something worth taking.
What we need rather is to build. To prepare. To organise and help one another. To procure resources, to build communities, to look out for people. To train, educate, organise and labour, to build our own things independent of corporate and political control. Things that rest in the hands of workers and organisations built by workers. Things that are not managed by board rooms and shareholders. Institutional power which may produce economic and social good, which may feed the hungry, aid the injured, assist the disabled, educate the downtrodden, and mobilise the working classes.
Let us stockpile for every want, let us train for every job, let us assemble at every avenue. Let our resources and labour be put into our own hands. It begins with us, a state within a state. A party that does not demand votes, but volunteers. A society that does not exist in law, but in action. A reality that is not lived through newspapers, but through ourselves.
The system is falling apart, and all we have to do is to build a new one, and make sure it’s ready by the time Caligula is crowned emperor.
We decide what happens next, and it will happen through hard work, shared efforts, and tangible and real democracy. Do not quarrel over elections, do not demand parliaments, do not delegate your power to opportunists. Rather, use your means, your hands, your voice and your mind, to join with others, and to build a society of workers.
The old democracy of city halls and voting booths is dead, build a new one. Build a new democracy that takes place on every street corner, and in every labour union. A democracy where the wealthy and the politicians are not invited. Where pundits and charlatans have no say, and where corporate lobbyists may only expect bruises and fractures.
Let us not be fearful of today, let us prepare for tomorrow.