So, you may not have heard, but we’ve got a bit of a problem where we’re taking too much stuff out of the ground, and making too much other stuff with it. It almost feels weird to say that when so many people are trapped in grinding poverty, but as I’ve covered before, poverty in 2022 is not due to a lack of resources. The reality is that we’re over-producing. We’re making far, far more stuff than we need to, primarily because capitalism is a way to turn raw materials into money and power, and the folks at the top have less self control than my fucking cat. That’s why we have things like planned obsolescence, and it’s part of why garbage and chemical waste are such a huge problem. It’s also a colossal waste of energy.
None of this is new. None of this is a revelation. Apart from some of the words and perspectives in that paragraph, I could just as well have posted an excerpt from one of the Ranger Rick magazines I read in the 90s.
If we want a habitable planet, we need to dramatically reduce the amount of stuff we’re making. That doesn’t mean a worse life, or even necessarily fewer personal belongings. It means that the personal property we do have will be built as well as it can be. It means producing fewer things of higher quality (more on this theme in a future post). The step before giving up everything is making sure that we’re using the resources we have in a responsible manner. That means no more products designed to break so customers need to buy more. That means much less in the way of “single-use” products, and it also means making sure that when something like a machine no longer works, we salvage the parts to make other machines run.
Since we’re on the topic, I’m personally of the opinion that we ought to halt most of our mining, and return those sites to Indigenous control. That should come with a blank check for cleaning and restoration of the land, and help setting up more sustainable mining practices if that community decides that they want to do so. At the same time, we focus on using and re-using what we’ve already got. We need to actually recycle. We need to mine the landfills and junkyards. The goal is to both reduce the energy expended on extraction, refining, and overproduction, and to take a more active role in healing and supporting the ecosystems that give us life.
I’m sort of just riffing on this, because I want to give an taste of the kinds of conversations we probably should have been having for a while, and we should definitely be having now. You know how I started this with “you may not have heard”? Yeah, that was a joke. I feel like this stuff should be obvious to any halfway reasonable person.
I’m over-explaining now because apparently it’s possible for fully grown adults with real power and responsibility to still not get this shit.
Own a dirt bike in New York City? Ride around and find out what happens to them. pic.twitter.com/g9ZLg8c2pH
— City of New York (@nycgov) June 21, 2022
What the fuck is this?
Why is this happening?
What is going on in our society that this doesn’t trigger an immediate investigation for criminal waste of resources?
In what world is this pointless destruction less of a crime than riding dirt bikes in New York City?
We are facing an existential crisis unlike anything in recorded history. We know that we need to use our finite resources more responsibly, and our so-called leaders are performatively destroying functional, efficient vehicles. Because in a city infamous for having its streets choked with cars, dirt bikes are the real problem. Are you kidding me? Is this a prank show? Did some college kids get drunk and hijack an earth mover?
No, none of that. It’s our responsible, serious leaders destroying perfectly good vehicles and bragging about it.
This would be like incinerating a bunch of PPE at the beginning of the pandemic because you caught non-medical personnel with it. This would be like destroying a few tons of good food during WW2 rationing, because the person who cooked it wasn’t licensed to do so. Even if just taking those people’s dirt bikes was a legitimate use of state power (and of course it’s not), don’t destroy them!
For that matter, I thought our society was all about protection of property! I thought destruction of property was supposed to be a bad thing!
I am beyond fed up with public officials who act like this is all a game, or a play or something. They’ll do performative bullshit that demonstrably makes the world worse, and then expect us to praise them for it.
I think I’ve mentioned once or fifty times that repetition is an important part of getting any message across. I think another important part is knowing to whom you’re speaking. There are a lot of people out there who will not change their minds no matter what we do, and I’m sorry to say that a great many of them are the ones running things. I think it’s worth it to keep repeating most of the actual statements I’ve made in this post, but I do not think repeating them to people like NYC mayor Eric Adams will do any good. I feel the same about most of our leaders.
No, the repetition I’m building to is this: We have to take power away from these people. We’ve seen what they do with power when they have it, and I can’t think of a better metaphor for that than the braggadocious destruction of these dirt bikes.
We have to take power away from these people, and that means we have to build collective power. Organize, train, and practice taking action in coordination with other groups in other locations.
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