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Michael, you are frugal, and this is always commendable. The personal should be distinguished from the systemic, but the message developed by the fossil fuel companies, and disseminated through government and media, is that emissions are purely our personal ethical responsibilities.
This is gross psychological abuse of the public – including you personally, michael – on a massive scale. It is victim-blaming. It is gaslighting, forcing global scale responsibilities onto individuals unequipped to cope with them. While the government and media publish advertising campaigns exhorting us all to turn down our thermostats, put a woolly on, put less water in our kettles, cycle to work instead of drive, they vastly subsidise the fossil fuel companies, neglect to legislate against planned obsolescence and the financial sector’s massive investment in fossil fuel extraction. It is utterly hypocritical.
Even worse for our individual psychology, the government actually promotes massive obsolescence through greenwashing, inducing ecological guilt into the population to make them replace, for instance, working and reliable gas boilers with marginally more efficient but far more complicated condensing gas boilers, all at great individual expense. Replace perfectly good washing machines with “low energy” washing machines with flashy, unreliable electronic controllers that cost the manufacturer about a fiver but are extortionately expensive when they go wrong. Replace working vehicles with “lower emissions” vehicles which are too complicated and computerised to service ourselves.
Doing all this permits the government to inflate GDP to increase its borrowing power, and to raise more tax on all those individuals’ additional purchases. People who can afford all this new stuff can then develop a pious, self-satisfied smugness and look down on poorer people who are supposedly “doing all the harm”. Then, at massive taxpayer expense, the government devastates Iraq and Libya to secure supplies of diesel. I can’t tell you how unspeakably angry such rampant hypocrisy from the government makes me.
Michael? YOU. ARE. NOT. TO. BLAME!
Fuck this government shit! Our government is meant to exist to serve us, not to facilitate commercial exploitation of us. It’s meant to protect us and our environment, not make us feel guilty about being individually unable to afford to protect it. Looking after things at the systemic scale is what we pay our damn taxes for.
The government is over fifty million times more powerful than you or me. This is psychological bullying on an unimaginable scale, and it causes psychological injury. Us individuals cannot possibly take on the massive burden of guilt of the destruction of our own biosphere and the consequent plight of our own descendants, so our minds start to malfunction. We start to believe contradictory and impossible things – psychosis. We subconsciously go into denial, or we try to displace the guilt. Then we blame each other for our varying symptoms. Some of us choose yet more retail therapy, some resort to comfort eating, others get pills from the doctor, indulge in internet porn, or get a pet for comfort – and all these things make yet more profit for the system, raise yet more tax, AND… Protect the damn government from the responsibility that was rightfully its own in the first place.
Extinction Rebellion Principle 8:
– We avoid blaming and shaming.
– We live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame.
Michael, please forgive yourself. We need you, to help fix this damn toxic system.