Felix Stalder on Thu, 18 Oct 2018 13:04:46 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> the rising costs of denial

I think one of the major drivers of the collapse of the political center
and the rise of the far right across the globe, across widely differing
contexts, is the collective inability to deal with the reality of
climate change.

The political center -- with with its post-democratic commitment to
science, technology, numbers and experts -- cannot the deny the reality
of climate change, both in terms of immediate experience (very year,
were are all witnessing numerous, well-reported
"once-in-a-hundred-years" climatic events), and in terms of predictions
that become more dire every year.

But the centrist actors are too corrupt to translate this
acknowledgement of impeding catastrophe into any action. By corrupt, I
don't mean only classic corruption, like the various scandals
de-legitimizing political parties in Brazil, but also structural and
institutional corruption such as the way US politics is dependent on
private money, or the way the German government is subservient to its
major industries.

In some ways, the German example is the most shocking, because Germany
is a relatively well-run country, with comparatively decent media, still
somewhat functioning political parties, lots of money, expertise and a
stated political commitment to energy transition ("Energiewende"). But
even here, politics is unwilling to confront well-documented criminal
activities of its key industry. Which has been caught manipulating
emission caps and, in effect, polluting the entire population with all
the associated health consequences that are well known. The scope of
this scandal and the weakness of the grand coalition to address it is
hard to underestimate.

What the political center is effectively communicating is that they know
the problems but they cannot, or don't want to, act to solve them:
"We're doomed, but we cannot do anything about it, please vote for us."
This is hardly an appealing proposition and it's not surprising people
don't fall for it. And all of this in the name of reason and realism.

The far right never cared about reason and realism, and it's answer to
the problem of climate change is to simply deny its existence all
together. Not the least because the unmitigated exercise of state power
against the "other", the core political recipe of the far right, is
irrelevant here.

But compared to the center -- which acknowledges the problem without
addressing it -- the far-right is consistent, it denies the existence of
the problem so that fact that it cannot address becomes irrelevant.

There is a quote floating around, usually attributed to Nietzsche but
never sourced, that "people choose bad meaning over no meaning" and to
some degree, this far-right offers bad meaning, while the center offers
no meaning, and the left barely exist beyond the grassroots and the city

But the costs of denying the obvious are rising as the right needs to go
to ever more extreme measures to continue its approach. Science is being
de-funded and discredited (at a time, when China is investing
massively....), government agencies are handed over to lobbyists
hell-bent on gutting and dismantling them, or they create fake events
such as the never-ending panic over immigration, or Brexit. And what
will be next? War?

This denial even is part of what makes the strange coalition between
ethno-nationalists and globalized financial elites work in the first
place. They both live well with it. While the ethno-nationalists prepare
for unrest through borders and militarizing the police, the financiers
are preparing to ride out the storm on their own private island, guarded
by global mercenaries, or better yet, robots.

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