By Caitlin Johnstone
As the world burns, as ecosystems die off, as the insects vanish, as the forests disappear, as soil becomes rapidly less fertile, as extinction takes over, as the oceans gasp for air and become lifeless deserts while continents of plastic form in their waters, it is interesting how often you hear the sentiment that this is the result of some flaw in humanity for which we all share equal guilt.
To hear people talk about it, you’d think we all had some say in the way our society is organized, the way food, goods and energy are distributed, the kinds of vehicles which dominate our civilization, the way our planet is being stripped bare to turn millionaires into billionaires and billionaires into trillionaires.
And of course, we don’t. We’ve never gotten to vote on how corporations behave in our world. We never got a vote on which technologies would be suppressed and which would be subsidized and backed by wars and military scams. We never got a vote on the US war machine becoming the worst polluter of any institution on earth. We never got a vote on whether a tree should be cut down for profit or left standing for the benefit it provides to our ecosystem.
And the things we do get to vote on don’t count because our dominant political systems are owned by corporate elites. And even if they weren’t it wouldn’t matter because those elites use media propaganda to brainwash us at mass scale and manufacture our consent for the ecocidal paradigm that has turned them into modern-day kings.
The kings of today do not live as the kings of old. They don’t sit on thrones publicly issuing decrees to their subjects; they hang out in the background behind the theatrical performance of the officially elected government, quietly funding think tanks and corporate lobbyists, buying up media, bribing politicians with campaign donations, rigging the system, amassing more and more wealth and power, and shaping the fate of our world.
Yet if you ask the wealthy who is to blame for the death of our planet, they’ll tell you it’s the fault of the riff raff for having too many babies. If you ask the billionaire-owned media who is to blame, they’ll tell you it’s your fault because you didn’t go vegan and ride your bike to work.
In our extinction existence of invisible kings and wall-to-wall lies, those with all the wealth and power are completely free of responsibility, while their rank-and-file victims are made to justify their very existence to the system every day and pay through the nose for every misstep. None of the world’s worst people are in prison, and if you tell the police your employer stole your wages you’ll get a very different response than if your employer tells them you stole from the company.
You can get a hefty fine for throwing a paper cup out a window, but corporations can fill the oceans with plastic without ever being told “This is your fault. Fix it.” You can go to jail for smoking a leaf, but corporations can blacken the air at immense profit without ever facing any consequences.
They are living as kings on wealth they made by raping the planet we all live on, whose health we all depend on for survival, and because their mass media propaganda is so successful it hardly ever even occurs to anyone that they should have to pay for it. They take what they want and do as they please, at our expense, for free. They are spoiled little boys with flamethrowers.
The people who are leading us to armageddon are hailed as charitable and industrious job creators. Rob a man for money and they’ll call you a thief. Rob a planet for money and they’ll call you a philanthropist.
This cannot stand. The one area in which we do have power is the fact that there are a lot more of us than there are of them, a fact that secretly terrifies them which they spend vast amounts of energy making sure we never notice ourselves. As folk singer Utah Phillips famously said, “The Earth is not dying, it is being killed. And those who are killing it have names and addresses.”
But this insight does us no good if only a few of us realize it. Until a critical mass of the human collective rises up against these sociopathic ecocidal tyrants, we won’t be able to stop them. But stop them we must, which is why it’s so important to spread awareness of what’s going on and where the blame really lies. All positive changes in human behavior are always preceded by an increase in awareness, whether it be individually or collectively.
And from there, perhaps we can create a healthy world directed not for the greed of the few but for the good of everybody. Where scientific endeavor is poured not into creating billionaires and finding new ways for the war machine to kill people but into ways we can harmoniously collaborate with our natural environment.
If we can’t find some way to pull this off, humanity’s epitaph will read, “In the end it was easier to let them kill the ecosystem than to take away rich people’s rocket money.”