It isn’t that people don’t see the problem.
If you’re alive in America in 2020, you know about the novel coronavirus. Your life has been affected by it in some way. You probably also experience a whole slate of emotions about it: fear, helplessness, desperation to do something, confused horror at why nothing is being done, despair at the susceptibility of people you know to political propaganda.
It’s not that everyone doesn’t know about the danger. It’s that the nature of the danger itself has been wrested away from science and medicine and into the miasma of political opinion, where it is far easier to manipulate to shape public opinion. Data and laws of the physical world are difficult to lie about. You can’t just tell people that 2+2=5. Instead you have to attack the institution of math itself.
“Those mathematicians are clearly biased against you and everything you stand for.”
“Not all mathematicians agree with this.”
“Don’t you think that it’s possible for numbers to add up to other numbers?”
“Liberal Math Professor DESTROYED by Conservative Student”
Don’t believe me? Maybe try on some FACTS that don’t care about your FEELINGS:
From the description of the video: “Although each method has a mistake but it’s your task to identify the mistake.”
And that’s just it. No one is going to do the work to identify the mistake in the thing that confirms their bias. They want 2+2 to equal 5 because it’s part of a worldview that they find comfortable.
We were able to drag a simple, fundamental math equation into the muck of bad faith and interpretation. Now extrapolate that to vastly more complex sciences like virology or climatology, and you have a near-infinite number of opportunities for bad actors to derail, deflect and convolute.
“The science isn’t in.”
“Not everyone agrees.”
It took about two months for various rightwing and Libertarian thinktanks to convceive and roll out propaganda coloring government guidance, by way of the Centers for Disease Control, as symbols of state oppression and characterizing people who wear them as “sheeple”, blindly obeisant to the Almighty State.
This sentiment is, of course, not a persuasive argument concerned with facts, but rather a rhetorical club for people who refuse to process information to wield against people they already don’t like. The pattern is so predictable as to be boring to an onlooker, yet never fails to hook its intended audience.
We know masks work. This is something that can be measured and reproduced in a lab setting, and is, and has been, over and over and over. Viruses are governed by physical laws that we understand. There is no mystery here. There is no controversy.
Now we’re enjoying an entirely preventable and accurately predicted second wave of coronavirus outbreaks (that may or may not end anytime soon). Global cases and deaths are skyrocketing amid widespread civil unrest and yet another record hot year, and that’s just how things are going to be for as long as we consent to rule by consumter capitalist milquetoastocracy.
A population that has been cognitively destroyed by corporate and political propaganda for more than half a century is not a body that is empowered and able to excercise fundamental rights of self-government, but rather a chaotic force unleashed on the planet in service to its own delusions and fear.
All of this has been done in the service of upward wealth transference, and those systems are not going to voluntarily or peacefully relinquish their stranglehold on human life. The wealthy won’t stop because they aren’t in the same boat as the rest of us. The more resources they hoard, and the faster, the more securely and luxuriously they’ll be able to live, even if they’re the last people on Earth.
If you think that would bother them, it would not.
The wealthy have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo for as long as possible to keep that wealth transfer operational, especially as things heat up globally, both figuratively and literally.
As a class of people, the wealthy aren’t really that hard to disposses, but they’re protected by a militarized police state that exists specifically to safeguard their property and enforce class, and by an enormous, severely cognitively damaged population that has made America nearly impossible to govern in a meaningful way.
It’s impossible to have anything resembling intelligent public discourse on climate change, nevermind pass the kind of sweeping and dramatic legislation it would actually require to avoid the very worst case scenarios of climate catastrophe.
It isn’t that they aren’t aware, or don’t believe in climate catastrophe. Not at the top. These are people who evaluate risk for a living. It’s that they don’t care. The wealth class doesn’t care. It’s the price that everyone else has to pay for their wealth extraction.
It’s the propagandized middle class that’s quagmired in cognitive dissonance about climate change. They’ve been sold a bundle of identity politics to the point that they can’t afford to acknowledge climate change, no matter the evidence.
Well, what do you do with a class of people like that who are a direct obstruction to the continuation of life on Earth?
It isn’t just American conservatives, though. When we get down to brass tacks, the Democratic National Convention has proven itself to be an even more insidious advocate for its wealth class benefactors. Republicans, at least, will come right out and circulate anti-science talking points.
Liberals like the status quo, and liberal political candidates, backed by their political organization deeply steeped in fossil fuel money, will hedge more progressive candidates out of the way to avoid damaging the interests of their corporate sponsors. Green New Deals become Clean Energy becomes Clean Coal becomes ah, you know, nevermind, we have to contend with riots, a crashed economy and food shortages, this is something that can wait (while the money gushes up and out and overseas, naturally).
While the world still looks to America to lead the way in climate change and energy innovation, you have only to look at our coronavirus response to ugly, naked political and social paralysis that will define our climate response for the next crucial decades:
1. Lies and propaganda.
2. Incompetence and blame shifting.
3. Undermining at every turn by the wealth class for as long as it’s allowed to continue.
4. Hostile pushback and noncompliance from an ungovernable population.
5. Catastrophic political compromise that doesn’t really help anything.
There isn’t a magic pill to fix the eruption of this decades-long cultural abscess, but there are things you can do to improve the quality of life around you.
You can make plans to thrive locally.
The important thing is not to gaslight yourself. You’ve already seen this unfold. You’ve seen the shortages, and the selfishness and political impotence of a failed state. Use this when you feel crazy, or doubt yourself for accepting short term inconveniences for long term security.
Also remember the kindnesses you’ve seen. The sacrifices and heartfelt gestures. Don’t forget the essential workers and medical professionals who risk their lives to provide care. Remember that this won’t be easy, but you’re not going to do it alone.