taCity

A site about the ephemerality of the socio-urban world

Don’t be surprised, mobilise

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The Anti-Trump Protest in London, July 2018

When President Trump called refugees coming into the US ‘animals’ on live TV, it wasn’t a surprise.

When Roseanne Barr, a prominent Trump supporter likened a Valerie Jarrett – an African-American advisor to Obama – to an ape, it wasn’t a surprise.

When it broke that the UK government has been deporting the Windrush generation as part of a wider ‘hostile environment’ that the Home Office has created for migrants, it wasn’t a surprise.

When Trump’s ICE team locked children in cages in conditions likened to prison camps, separating them from the asylum-seeking parents, this wasn’t a surprise.

When Victor Orban made it an illegal act to help refugees in Hungary creating a toxic and dangerous environment for vulnerable people, it wasn’t a surprise.

When the Trump administration declared the global temperatures would rise by 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, but then shrugged their shoulders, it wasn’t a surprise.

When Brett Kavanaugh got nominated to the Supreme Court for life, thereby cementing a patriarchal, homophobic, ablist, white supremacist hegemony at the heart of American life for the next generation, it wasn’t a surprise.

When Brazil votes in Jair Bolsonaro and he goes on to install a military dictatorship in the country that systemically and violently oppresses minorities, it won’t be a surprise.

When it becomes fully exposed that Brexit was merely a ruse by hyper-capitalists to turn the UK into, a) tax haven where oligarchs can park the blood money they’ve earned via plundering the (human and physical) resources of the Global South, b) a destination with such deregulated labour conditions that corporations can exploit workers to death, and c) a bargain basement bin of once prized and globally-envied public assets to the hawked to the highest bidder; it won’t be a surprise.

When whatever comes next in 2019 that’ll be far worse than all 2018 had to offer, it sadly, won’t be a surprise.

None of this should be surprising anymore because these are the actions of a power structure defending itself against impending ecological, societal and economic catastrophe. They are prepping themselves – and the rest of us – through subtle language, direct policy and normalisation of hate, that when it comes to the crunch and the world’s resources dwindle to subsistence level, genocide will be the only viable option.

The last decade since the financial crash has seen the smooth functioning process of rampant neoliberal capitalism exposed. The rise of a populist far right politics across Europe, the emboldening of fascism in the Americas and in communities across the world; they have occurred as a reaction to the failure of the existing globalised and neoliberalised institutions to stem the flow of wealth, prosperity and liberty from the margins of society to the centre. The spectacular collapse (and the even more spectacular rescue of the banks) epitomised the breakdown of trust in the prevailing order of the socio-economic world precisely because in the aftermath, we saw austerity for the poor, and pay rises and further deregulation for the rich. The paragons of a new borderless world and prosperity for all were recast as liars and an out-of-touch elite. And the attempts by the Silicon Valley-inspired corporatized global governance structure to resurrect an appified, faster and turbocharged version of this inter-connected globalised and liberal world has only served to further formulate a platform to the dangerous voices of fascist illiberalism.

The world that neoliberalism built was exposed as totally inadequate to bring about lasting prosperity for all, and if that wasn’t enough, it brought us to the precipice of planetary catastrophe.

But those power structures that benefited from this world are not willing to let go of a system that seems them live the lives they are used to so willingly. To maintain a comfort that comes from extracting surplus value from an exploited Other, one that is predicated upon the unequal consumption of the world’s resources on a massive scale, requires a shift as dramatic as the climate catastrophe neoliberalism ushered in. This shift requires the change in language that dehumanises others, it requires them to use force, detention, enclosure and violence and get away with it. It requires border walls, unsanctioned air strikes, an apathetic population and a complicit media too concerned with audience figures and bottom lines to question motives. All this happens so that when the genocide starts, it does so with a clean conscience.

So we should not be surprised when we see this prepping of genocide appear on our news screens and within the communities we live. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act, far from it. And there is still time to avoid planetary climate-induced omnicide.

The resources of this world are plentiful; we are blessed with an abundant and beautiful planet. But rather than radically change the distribution of those resources so that everyone on this world gets a fair share and live a decent fulfilling life, we seem to be complicit in the alternative that sees those resources flow to fewer and fewer people to maintain a vision of life that is no longer sustainable.

All those examples I gave at the beginning, there will be more of these unless there is a collective resistance to the continuation of this warped Malthusian (or if you prefer, Thanosian) worldview. When the options are either a massive, radical and yes, painful redistribution of the world’s dwindling resources that have been gobbled up by a greedy elite and a renewal of a planetary commons – or genocide – there is no real option.

That is why there is no point in platforming hateful ideology and debating them, no use in ‘hearing out the other side’. Trump, Kavanaugh, Orban, Farage and the ultra-Brexiteers, Bolsonaro and all those who fall in line to maintain their comfortable life of relative plenty, parrot their views or are complicit in their actions – they have all made their choice. Have you?

Don’t be surprised by the constant stream of more vociferous hate, mobilise against it.

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Author: Oli

Human Geographer at Royal Holloway, University of London

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