The piece is called ‘Who would want listen to this?’ because such big threats of an ecological collapse which would cause unimaginable disruption and destruction are often too frightening for us to think about (only previously seen by our eyes on cinema screens), so instead we pretend that ‘someone will sort it for us when push comes to shove’ or we even coax ourselves into believing that it can’t actually be happening (I’ve heard people, who once agreed that climate change was being caused by humans, go back on themselves saying ‘how can one species do so much damage to such a big planet?’ – comforting lies). We would rather not listen to it when a friend in our company starts talking about it, or when it is on the TV.
But we are not to blame for feeling so powerless to do anything.
As well as causing this problem, the human system of capitalism makes it seem impossible for us to do anything to stop climate change. It relies on competition between the most powerful nations in the world, rather than cooperation. And these nations are sewn together with the biggest corporations in the world; and corporations, by and large, don’t want us thinking that things such as climate change are happening, because to take any action to stop it would be bad for their business. And being the richest most powerful in the world, they get their way. As things stand THEY are in control of the direction the human world takes.
So we feel powerless, and try to focus on smaller thing instead, we try to forget. Climate change just adds more and more weight to the feeling that everything is out of control and feelings of powerlessness to do anything about it, which is the reality of living under the global capitalist system. So focussing on smaller things, focussing on how to get through life, day to day, in the most bearable way is what most of us find is the only thing we can do.
In the drawing every figure is wearing headphones. This relates to trying to block out the sound of things that are upsetting to us. It also relates a lot to the living in a time where we have access to so much technology to keep us entertained, or distracted, from the real world. I have mixed feelings about technology; I think what the internet offers to us as a species is amazing, and it could be said to be one of the greatest inventions ever. Yet accessories such as mobile phones, Facebook can throw us into a continuous detachment from what’s really happening in the world around us, distracting us, as we are constantly in trying to get other people to speak to us and like us through them, as the popularity of these accessories means people are increasingly alone, communicating from box rooms and lonely bus rides, and lonely people feel insecure and continually seek company. These figures, who are blocking their eyes to the problems around them, aren’t bad people, but are finding themselves more and more consumed in a technological world, that promises so much but never really fulfils.
The people behind the speaking booth-like things are the political/capitalist class. They are equally wired up, with head phones, communicating through cyberspace. They believe in the fantasy that capitalist ‘growth’ can go on forever, and they chase growth like addicts, smiling with Cheshire cat grins when they say the word ‘growth’. They are ‘supposed’ to be the people to lead the citizens to safety and better lives, but they are desperately clinging on to hopes that become more impossible every day. Feeling powerless, we leave it to leaders of governments and capitalism to guide us, but they are even more detached from the real world than everybody else, and they guide us towards a dangerous future. The need for distraction and denial of the truth keeps growing.
I wanted the entire landscape to look like a rock in an empty space, a bit like planet earth in space. But I want this rock to look to have a similarity to a human hand; a human hand that is veering into the dark, into a void, into non-existence. The closer one gets to the fingertips of the hand, the more the landscape is being destroyed, being torn to pieces. This represents two different moments in time; the moment which are at now, when it is the poorest people in the world who suffer the most from the effects of climate change, largely caused by the richest parts of the world (and the most power institutions which come from these places), and a future moment when this becomes the reality for all of humanity, if we don’t change course – direct the human hand away from its route into non-existence.
2 Sides of The Same Band: why Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and Exterminator are the same album, just flip-sides.
It is a new day
We are together, we are unified
And all for the cause
Because together we got power
Apart we got power”
(sample taken from a Malcolm X speech, Come Together, Screamadelica)
I must admit that the only other two albums I’ve heard by Primal Scream are their 1997 album Vanishing Point and their 2002 album Evil Heat. Both are decent albums but yet don’t really seem to sum up what I believe is Primal Scream as captured by Screamadelica and Exterminator; everything else I have heard by the band (the ‘Indie disco’ hit Rocks and the 2006 song Country Girl) have put me well off even bothering to listen to their respective albums. Thus, this is also by no means an attempt to write some sort of band biography, it is more of a longing to explain how much these albums seem to be sides to the same record; a very important record to our era; the naive-hopes and optimism of the post-Berlin-wall, freedom-and-good times-demanding-rave-scene early 1990’s turning into the hollowed-out-need-for-denial-hedonism, bitter-disillusionment, and fear of things only getting worse that all those promising earlier components found themselves in. Screamadelica (released 1991) is one side of the very same coin to Exterminator (Released in 2000) – the former dreaming of Utopian togetherness, the other waking up to a Dystopia, largely allowed to unfold due to an hollowing out and falseness of those very components.
To begin with, it is important not to dismiss the band due to it being appropriated into the Beer-swilling-football-style-chanting-loutish-Oasis-fan-laddism of the past 20 years, but also not to forget that those who one would associate with this image/lifestyle (mainly from the backgrounds traditionally working class) have had reasons for hiding behind this macho (I’ll-only-listen-to-bands-with-cocky-northern-frontmen) image.
It seems bizarre that it’s nearly 12 years since Exterminator was released; it feels as if there’s almost been a stagnation of time through the decade known as ‘the noughties’ from which the financial crisis, and its stark environs have awoken us (time seems to be moving again, although whether for better or for disastrously worse we cannot yet know). The more that time passes and Exterminator becomes older, the more it seems to sum-up western culture both at turn of the millennium and the years that followed it. Listen to Swastika eyes then the following track Pills, to hear an attack on the vacant nihilistic hedonism and denial of the growing inequalities/erosion of democratic rights/unjust (re)imperial wars, through an immersion in ‘big nights out’/recreational drugs/and phoney-togetherness.
.Not that any of us could be blamed for participating in such a stupor – denial often felt like the only possible avenue during the past 10 years; and as Charlie Brooker observed in his much-needed-for-terrestrial-Television comedy-cum-cutting-cultural-analysis ‘How TV ruined your life’, images of ‘the good times’ were being rammed down our throats to the extent that if we weren’t feeling like we were ‘living the dream’ 24/7, then something must be wrong – no wonder ‘uppers’ from the legal Red Bull’s/Pro Plus’s to the illegal Pills/Cocaine were needed by many of us just to get through the day.
Recreational drug-taking is the extreme end of that constant need to be pursuing hedonism, or at least ‘the good times’. This kind of lifestyle, after it took over from something a little more genuine and optimistic, as the early nineties became the Blair-year ‘BritParties’, used the same component’s to create a smoke-screen over reality, as darker things “best forgotten about” started to rustle as we approached The Noughties. Now, however, it’s harder to avoid the sobering truths behind the late-capitalist smoke-screen. Maybe (eventually) this will turn out to be a good thing. What choice do we have but to try to make it so anyway?
Back in 1991 the mood was different, Primal Scream’s Screamadelica (although not an endorsement for drug-taking) certainly embodies the mood of the period, and talks of drugs as something that can help ‘open you up’. Screamadelica’s mood is certainly one of an ‘inner flight’ of peace and love, as reminiscent of the hopes of the 1960’s as the psychedelia both in the guitar based and dance bands of the early 1990’s was. This is perhaps best exemplified in the track Higher Than The Sun.
Hallucinogens can open me or untie me
I drift in inner space, free of time
you aint nothin , you got nothin to say
shine a light on you, you fade away
woke up, felt drunk, throwin’ up, pissin’ blood
Think death, broke in, burnt out, holed in”
dead dreams……..Dead dreams…..Dead dreams”
“Dead dreams, dead dreams” – life has been hollowed out; can’t picture a future worth living in, so certainly can’t swallow the positivity of spiritual well-being spouted-out in previous years; take drugs to stay high to avoid the truth rather than search for it; like in A Design For Life by The Manic Street Preachers “we don’t talk about love, we only wanna get drunk”. No true hope in the long run, but if one can live a high life all the time, constantly pursuing pleasure it may build a precarious bridge over this underlying emptiness. This Erosion of democracy, from which we tried to hide, is the “illusion of democracy” in Swastika Eyes, the song before Pills.
A military industrial ILLUSION OF DEMOCRACY…
Swastika eyes swastika eyes swastika eyes”
.(Whilst looking for the song Pills on Youtube, I found that the user snowskrunch had use an image from Zero-Zero decade Indie popstar Jonny Borrell; an apt icon for a culture that turns away from the horrors commited in its name, hiding in retro-fashions/drugs/nights-out/Indie-cool. I hate to use the word Hipster, because it’s arguable that it extends to the entirety of Western Culture and not just some imagined pretentious young middle class kids, but when thinking of Jonny Borrell, it’s hard to think of another word.)
Come together as one……
For many the perfect-party-anthem Loaded is the highlight of Screamadelica, but for me it has always been Come Together. Whilst I listen to it, it can still dust down those ‘dead dreams’, and make them feel alive again. For me, it is the perfect fusion of Euphoria and genuine hopes (that we can sort things out, and life can be something more than this).
.So It felt like a cutting betrayal of those ‘moments of euphoria’ the song would often give me, when a few years ago parts of this song were used to advertise mobile phones for the ‘Talk Talk’ brand – using “come together as one” to advertise the advantages of mobile phone communication, even though the mobile phone, through it further privatising communication between one another, has arguably perpetuated the isolation of the human faster than any other device, except maybe the Social Networking site; maybe capitalism’s biggest enclosure act in 200 years – it will get the oxygen if it can! I think the fact that it has shared out hopes for a better world to me, is the reason why this felt like such a bitter betrayal; that it was now being used as part of a process that is taking every bit of that world away from us.
.This is how much I value this piece of music as something unbelievably special, and believe that its potency to be that still carries on. When I try to imagine a worst possible scenario, as a tester of whether I could cope with it, I imagine a scenario quite like the apocalyptic scenes in Continental European towns/villages during sieges in 20Th century wars, as depicted in films ever-afterwards. The church bells would always be ringing, as a stance against the gunfire and carnage going on around. In my imaginings of this similar scenario there is ash from burning things falling from the sky, and guns are firing, but Come Together is the song I’d play at full blast from an upstairs room, with the windows open, as a call for peace, and a halt to the violence.
.We’ve become cynical in our times to these sorts of words, but I feel that songs like Come Together are becoming relevant again, but with a more grown-up look at the hopes and optimism that were there in the 89-91 period. We’ve got a long way to go to get to this place though; I, for one, still lapse into momentary hibernations from reality, by using alcoholic softening, and the same old meaningless pop music I’ve been listening to for over 10 years on and off – the roads to the future we must strive for often seem too daunting.
Exterminator is the uncomfortable reality that Screamadelica woke up from; no wonder that many people turned a blind eye to Exterminator whilst the former is still talked about to this day. Many will say that this is because Screamadelica captured a moment; well, so did Exterminator, just a moment society tried to hide from. So, ironically, it seems likely that it’s unpopularity (in comparison with Screamadelica) is because it message about the Dystopia forming around us was an unpopular truth! Screamadelica may have captured the essence of high and forward-looking times; but hasn’t Exterminator captured the essence of the mass denial aided by the very components championed by Screamedelica? that we in the UK are now, hopefully, starting to wake up from? no more false assurances to each other that things are OK and we are living in a free country?
One would hope that the rerelease of Screamadelica this year, rather than merely being something the band and record label can make a profit off, can be symbolic of a return of some sort of hope; that we really ought to “come together as one” now, and quickly. An arts event named Pandemic which I have partaken in recently uses a quote by the Philosopher Bertrand Russel which also comes to the same conclusion: “extreme hopes are borne from extreme misery”. Now that we are (possibly) awaking, maybe something can be done about all this.
.It’s a long hard road back after being dumped by the vehicle that was pushing us to constantly pursue pleasure whilst depoliticised and desensitized to the world. But perhaps we can take comfort in the fact that it was mostly an illusion of good times, maintained due to the fact that one thought that they must be having ‘the good times’ all the time, which actually a larger causation of individual unhappiness rather than happiness during the past quarter of a century. I suppose (‘comrades’) we having nothing to lose but our ‘indie disco’s’ (and the equivalents).
Shoot, speed, kill, light……….
My friend got me ‘into’ Exterminator when it was a new album in the year 2000 (I had to hear Screamadelica as a record from a past time which only sprinkled nuggets of blissful optimism on me; the early 1990’s was an happy childhood for me, and I thought things would “Only get better” – urrgh). We got excited about the energy and anger (especially the “fuck, fuck, fuck, sick, sick” ending to the track Pills), and we knew that there was shit going off in the world worthy of such anger, but it always seemed a million miles away, it never felt like it was angry at the very culture we were being drip-fed on. I cannot recall anybody I encountered having a political agenda between the years of 16-22 of my life, aside from a ‘blatantly obvious’ scratching-the-surface-dislike of bad things such as the far right group the BNP, cutting forests down, and casual racism and homophobia overheard in town centres on a Friday/Saturday night – a rightfully-placed objection, conveniently soft-touching, so as to not dig up too much of that uncomfortable truth.
Having spoken to quite a lot of young people who have recently started F.E/H.E education/recently graduated, or haven’t bothered with any of this but have come of age during the last 2/3 years, it seems blatantly obvious how much more politicised they are and how unaccepting of the “capitalism is the only system that works” rhetoric we receive when we first find ourselves ‘naively’ asking “why do things have to be this way?” in comparison with those of us who reached that part of lives in the 10 years previous to the financial crisis.
Yet, I do not believe that this politicisation of the youth is just down to the recession and the ruthless cuts to welfare; yes it is the banner that they chant under, but these issues have merely made an open door for them to look and be horrified at (to use the famous phrase) ‘the desert of the real’. This is the ‘glorious’ century that awaits them, and they know that they probably won’t even have the chance to drink, dance and deny it’s happening like those before them. If many before found it disturbing to open doors further down from the ‘Iceberg’s Tip’, the financial-crisis-kids are having to enter the world through those very doors. High tuition fees, and other things that deny them mobility, perfectly cap a hideous array of social, economic, environmental problems that, because they cannot escape like the young professionals of the 80’s and 90’s could, will have to be tackled, together. Does “Come together as one” sound so dated and corny now?
I’m not saying that this current crop of young people are our only hope, and it is sadly without-a-doubt that the marketing/publicity that has bombarded these youths is more intense than the life-long-course-in-how-to-be-a-slave-to-capitalism that we received, as is the case for my age group in comparison with those before me and so forth; the omnipresence of imagery that lures one into the consumerist mindset grows and grows, to open more doors for capitalism’s insatiable thirst for more and more growth. However, the anger and politicisation is in itself an hope that new things are afoot, contrary to what everyone told us in the years following Thatcherism, that “there is no other way/there is no hope of the sort any more”. “New things are afoot” was what a friend of mine (one of the creators of the Pandemic event idea) said to me, when I said how I fear being defeated from within, like my parents and their contemporaries were defeated by Thatcherism (even more cutting coming from an area directly affected by her defeat of the Miners Union) – and he is right, we won’t be, whatever happens now.
Shoot speed kill light, the last track on Exterminator (UK edition) possesses the anger and energy of the rest of the album, but there is something massively encouraging in this song. Initially it became the song stuck in my head when I was leaving High school, thus the soundtrack of that moment. You expect something exciting to happen after you leave school, it feels like a moment when all will change, you’re too naive to realise that things won’t change that much at all, and people still treat each other the same, and have the same opinions (at least until they reach 20) “no togetherness, stick your headphones in a run away from reality”. It was also the turn of the millennium, and our naive 16-year old selves expected life to get nicer and better as all the hollow aspirations and optimism’s of the late 1990’s fooled us into thinking. In 1999 I can remember that me and my fellow school friends used to joke about how we expected to see spaceship-like-flying vehicles appear in the sky as the clock struck 12 on the evening of the 31st of December, but behind these jokes was a serious expectation that our lives would be better, humanity would be better! A mega-comedown, finished off by the 9/11 terror events – the life truly did become an escape from reality, whilst dreams began to die off.
But dead dreams and fading hopes (which are wrongly labelled as ‘just growing up’) can become momentarily alive again whilst listening to certain songs. After the dystopia revealed in the rest of Exterminator, Shoot, Speed, Kill, Light is like a surge towards a better world, the world you can tell Primal Scream have never stopped dreaming of. Earlier on in Exterminator, in a calm moment in the middle of the storm of anger, Keep Your Dreams warns us to “be careful” not to sell our souls, and give in. Now, with Shoot, Speed, Kill, Light it feels like a call to all to get up and surge forward to get those dreams – it is the song that Vanishing Point, on the album Vanishing Point seems to have considered being, but just wasn’t ready yet.
When I’m listening to it on my walkman whilst walking I get the urge to start running, faster and faster down the road, but never actually doing so due to the social taboo of expressing oneself in this manner. But this feeling emerges because of the sheer forward drive of the song; it uses all the energy of the album, and it feels like it is pushing through it all, moving to a different world, where things have changed for the better. It is fully modernist in its forward drive, never looking back in a search for a beautiful future. The words ‘Shoot, speed, kill, light’ conjure up images of smashing right through something; breaking the speed of light – demanding the impossible! It is almost that, as it turns the anger into a truly forward looking energy, it does full-circle and catches up with Screamadelica.
It has often been said that Primal Scream are capable of masterpieces and absolute crap; perhaps, whilst this reaction is harsh, it is maybe appropriate to dismiss the rest of the music in order for the masterpiece, created by the joining of Screamadelica and Exterminator to be complete. As the rest of Exterminator calls for us to wake up (something we are showing slight sings of doing), maybe the last track Shoot, Speed, Kill, Light calls for us to press forward now – a call from 12 years ago to right now!!
Maybe this song is the Geist of what The Now should mean. Which is why I make reference to the politisation of the youth (as well as an unchannelled discontent emerging in many previously defeated by Thatcherism): because it has an air of something of this sort about it. I always find that talk about spiritual well-being, as embraced in Screamadelica, a good thing, but useful for a world which has moved past the era we are in, to a place where this is actually achievable for the majority, not just a few who find their own way out. Have we awoken to Shoot, Speed, Kill, Light’s ask, a realisation 12 years too late but better late than never, to push forward to this world? If so, maybe after the push, and we’ve arrived at this place, will the spiritual well-being of all be found, and we can truly appreciate things like Screamadelica again, full-circle.
Globalsapiens: an introduction to Parallel Paranoia, Humans In Cages and Silently Chained – the respective alternate names for artistic collective Mikk Murray, John Ledger and Jade Morris. Each artist has, at some point in life, stumbled across these titles and found them poetically fitting descriptions of their own predicament as young adults in the 21st century: tied to lifestyles that they know are destructive to the planet and most often self-destructive; struggling forwards from this, trying to find cracks in a hegemonic social landscape that drags humans toward an ultimate battle with nature that we are certain to lose.
Thus this show cannot be a means to an end for Globalsapiens: it has to be the start not the end; one of many ‘atoms for peace’, clustering together, always growing never standing still, until their shout is big enough to make one final stand against a world ruled by money. This exhibition aims to resonate with all those who care but feel trapped and helpless to make a change, and possibly then inspire them to believe that they need not feel trapped and helpless.
As a society, our actions, our expressions, our reactions, all show signs that we are aware of living in end times. Make no bones about it; no matter how much we talk about getting married, getting a house, settling down, we reek of a dying civilisation.
This exhaustion of everything in our merry-go-round swap between being the exploiter to the exploited has to end. Nobody can predict what ‘end’ we can expect, but we can guess what the prolongation of this current manmade nightmare will lead to. But we can also guess and hope; to hope that “surely this can’t be the end of the human story just yet…!” Grim resignation is dangerous; hope generates possibilities – but hope is sometimes hard for one to maintain.
Globalsapiens are artist’s who are desperately trying to find a way forward into a future worth living in. Our instinct is to express – we may not be the most pragmatic/practical people, but our contribution is a desperate attempt to realise a new way of living for the sake of the human race (sound self righteous? No: all species battle to maintain their existence). The time is right. Artists have no future in this old world, they must end their post idealist malaise/capitulation to the business mentality and join the cause to act now to make a future worth living in.
We felt aligned by a feeling that our artwork seems too driven, and too realmerely to be for exhibitions only – which often seem to just castrate it and make it nothing but mere consumer spectacle. This is a pressing concern that is played out within the show: we know that this is all our works may be, but we are still often driven by a powerful dream-boat of blind optimism that refers to the opposite, and seems to be generated by the ideological coding of the very system we are trying to help unwire. We want to help pave a way out of this bleak place our species (and the planet it has dragged down with it) has stumbled into, but we too often get too trapped in our minds to be/or do anything but what the system would happily have us be/doing – what keeps it thriving off human day-dreams and desires.
Nobody is in any place to preach. To resonate with others to generate in others. To alienate is to disintegrate. Let’s take the No Them, Only Us belief seriously again.
Human beings offer fundamentally special qualities to life on planet earth, and wherever else life may flourish. However, we are not better than the rest of life; if we were better we wouldn’t need it; but strip the life away from under our feet and we’d be dead before you could say the words ‘Easter Island’. Nevertheless, this is what out species is currently doing. But to say that we are a species of existential contradictions is to give up without even trying, and to let the idea of perpetual profiteering drag our eyes to the grey floor, where we watch our feet take one step at a time, in a potentially lethal small-world view. This exhibition wishes to contribute to the voices of reason in this time of collective insanity.
Inside Humans In Cages’ isolated cell
“Humans In Cages is feeling a little trapped, and without a vision of the future at present.”“The weekly ASDA shop likes this”
“The capitalist system still advances across the face of the planet, destroying the world that we depend on to survive, and pressing the boot further and further into our faces, as freedom/democracy become obstacles stood in the way which must also be destroyed. But here I languish; informed but passive; not knowing which foot to put in front of the other; so letting faint hopes of something better do the walking for me.
Here in my cell there will constantly remain the doubt that my artworks/artist shows may end up as nothing more than self-profiling within the capitalist dictatorship of individualism; the fetishisation of the self in the forced-competition of status advancement, based on the ultimatum of prosperity and a terror of failure. Thus, everything I have done within my isolated little world sometimes feels so counterproductive: that the truth may be that I am simply bolstering the realism of a system my work fundamentally opposes in its messages, by seeking recognition, and respect from it, for my individual endeavours.
I’ll do my best, but it’s hard trying to stop an exhibition become a means to an end from whereworking towards one final goal, (as anyone who as put on a major show will resonate with) leads to anti-climax, depression and a defeated-slump straight back into the realism of capitalism – to start right back at the beginning, but with less time than before.”
Achieving And Getting Things Done (installation)
Inside Silently Chained’s isolated cell
They all smiled gingerly and meekly.
Had they simply forgotten, or had they never known anyway? I guess it is neither.
They’re neither alive nor gone.
Not until the hour of the moon crosses the path of the sun.
Then they will know, and they will realise, what they had known all along.
But for now, it is too late. Too late. Too late?
Inside Parallel Paranoia’s isolated cell
This painting (above) is from a series of works called Where have all the bees gone? Where a parallel universe was created to highlight the importance of bees to the ecosystem and our food supply. Without the bees that pollinate roughly a third of our food crops there would be less food around. The chain reaction could be devastating to the human race and all life on Earth. The disappearance and death of bees or Colony Collapse Dissorder (CCD) as it is somethimes known is puzzling scientists and researchers still with mites and pesticides being the main concerns.
In the parallel universe the bees have been lured into a lab by a mad scientist and experiments have taken place. For some reason the scientist becomes psychically connect to the bees and finds they will do as he wishes. The scientist sets about creating his own Utopian vision. Using the soldier bees to hold the planet under siege and turn things around. Food, shelter and equality for all. Harmony with all living creatures and the landscape the ultimate goal. Organic produce, waste reduction, ocean cleanups, knowledge and wisdom passed on to all. The trouble was the scientist did such a great job that he became some sort of a celebrity. A leader and ultimately was devoured by power and greed. Alan is a dog and he spends most of his time walking around in his horse suit. Alan is the mad scientist’s best friend. The horse suit is an extension of Alan and his status/power and also the scientist’s eccentricity. The portrait of Alan was painted by Mikk for the Scientist in 2027. “I didn’t have a choice!” he said.
Many of our endeavours are maintained by reliance on oil. Many of our endeavours are purely narcissistic – taught by the system to be so. Reflecting on this can sometimes make one see their own ‘achievements’ in a very different light. And is it really that precious? (this piece was once used in a Seawhite Of Brighton arts suppliers brochure, not black gooey paint, with a look of oil about it, drips down it).
Parallel Paranioa is in the process of filling up a paddling pool with needless consumer plastic waste. In another water filled area (The Pacific Ocean) a floating island of plastic trash twice the size of Texas is currently existing.
Pandemic-Sheffield! Plague breaks out!!!
Note from self outside the cell to self inside the cell…
In the summer of 1944 delegates from 44 countries met in the midst of World War 2 to reshape the world’s financial system. The location of the meeting – in rural Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA – was designed to ensure that the delegates would have no distractions, and no pressure from lobbyists or congressmen, as they worked on their plans for post-war reconstruction. The New Hampshire Bretton Woods is part of a land grant made in 1772 by royal governor John Wentworth, which he named after his ancestral home (West) Bretton, in Yorkshire, England.
In the summer of 2011, Globalsapiens met in the midst of a global meltdown (financially, environmentally and socially) to throw around their own ideas of making a better world, with changes being needed now more than ever – A HUGE ALTERATION IS NEEDED. The location of the meeting – In rural Bretton woods in West Bretton, Yorkshire, England – is a symbolic gesture: the USA Bretton woods conference reshaped the world after the war, to prevent the problems (financial crisis’s for example) which led to the war; shaping the world for the past 60+ years, and beginning global capitalism as we know it today.
We need a Bretton woods conference now! Not to reinstate capitalism but to figure out how we can move beyond it. The sources of power whom we would usually assign these tasks to have gone insane; a systemic press-ganging on anything which tries to halt the forces of big business – which leaves this conference to people assumed-powerless like us (Globalsapiens). In this mock-version of an all-important conference, we will speak about, and demand a better world; suggesting, through the thoughts and words they never speak, both what these all-important meetings should really be about, and also emphasising what is more important; assigning the decision making to the assumed-powerless.
After just being shown a ‘top tip’ in a gossip magazine for plastic grass (a despair-in-humanity inducing page, even by gossip mag standards) ironically labeled as a ‘Brainwave’ it has been made clear that, although it is one of the worst examples I have seen, it is just an element of a trend which cannot be simply labelled as ‘for stupid people’: it’s an element of a trend in humanity to flee further from the reality they are facing by bolstering up their denials.
The ‘top tip’ was to have plastic grass in your garden instead of real grass because you don’t have to cut it (unfortunately, however, I do not have access to the original article. This is because all gossip magazine titles, no matter how colourful they are, translate into just one word in my head: shit). To anyone who doesn’t immerse themselves in gossip magazines to the extent where they take this tip on board, this is an utter absurdity which one would only expect to be used by residents of streets where the Christmas lights can be seen 5 miles away, who will all soon be homeless because they can’t pay the electricity bills. But these banal and destructive suggestions have a reason for being: they highlight a human tendency to bolster up their denials of looming problems of environmental destruction by living in a more plasticised and nature-less world. The more plasticised their lives become, the less the natural world interferes, the more real the illusion of unlimited resources – that things can go on for ever like this – becomes.
Of course, let’s not forget that the gossip magazines, perhaps more than any other kind of magazine, are hardwired into the system of consumerism. Although many who read them take them with a pinch of salt, I would say that they appeal to a collective who are almost entirely submerged in consumer culture. But blindly conforming to the tide of society in this way isn’t as clear cut as to say that these people don’t even know about the huge environmental and political problems facing us in this century. It is impossible not to know!, it is impossible not to sense that there is something seriously wrong with the way we live under this system. I just believe that those who are completely submerged in consumer culture are in hyper-denial: where their denial fills in for reality, so that one can carry on building a life and future for themselves in a type of world which is coming to an end.
I am notoriously poor at ‘blotting out’ the bigger picture than others (I am constantly told that this is detrimental to my well-being by people who don’t think about it most of the time, and I’ll be honest in saying that at times I would like to blot it out almost entirely also as, from an outside view, it does look to make life a lot easier to get through. But I am not like that, and all I can attempt to do is to turn it into a strength) But blotting out looming threats is a usual human tendency. A diet of the gossip mags, The X Factor, Vampire trilogies, retail shopping outlets and new cars (oh come one! I don’t think I’m generalising!) blots out the ’empty spaces’ where you’d probably have chance to gasp and think “oh fuck, we are totally screwed!”
This means that as the opportunities to prevent climatic catastrophes from happening fade and fade (and they are fading fast, I am talking about a few years not decades before the affects are irreversible) the need to build the illusion that it isn’t happening expands (although the ability to do this will be more costly, which seems plausible enough as those few with any money at all in the future will likely have it all, as the power of the corporation swells in the global ghetto). Thus, the idea of having plastic grass in ones garden instead of real grass (with real living creatures) becomes a plausible idea in society.
Of course if we all didn’t initially feel so powerless to so something about environmental destruction this farcical scenario would not need to exist. A society founded on togetherness, community and equality would be fit to challenge this problem. Likewise, green movements have to be left-leaning; you can’t bargain with capitalism on sustainability. Not only has capitalism directly caused the collapse of the natural environment it also creates a mental environment of self-centralism which exacerbates a problem at just a mention of the troubles it would bring, as it profiteers on peoples need to escape the truth, either by selling ‘green goods’ which create the illusion that the world can be saved simply by adopting a less toxic consumerism, or by simply by profiteering on a complete denial of our fragile 21st century existence.
The advertisement of Plastic grass to replace your garden’s real grass isn’t just just an indicator of how terrible gossip magazines are, it is an indicator of how terrible the times are.
We sit eating our picnics, talking of sweet little things. Forgetting the boulders shifted and pyramids build in order for us to live like Eloi; forgetting the hard times that are coming due to our malaise and complacency in standing up to a corrupt order that still exploits us but in ways wholly different to the ways it exploited our forefathers. We look back to them with pride and respect, but they are still here and living.
They serve our plates from an underworld far away from the underworld which our own forefathers used to tunnel through to fuel the mouth of a machine, still in its infancy. But that machine was allowed to grow into a monster; we let it do so, because our minds were put at ease by never-seen-before food luxuries and sentimental TV dramas, panning home the message that all is well.
This monster now controls the whole world, but it is a parasite which takes more than the world can afford to give.
People are still living like our forefathers, so we can eat the scones with the cream on a lovely hill in a tourist spot, crystallising all its beauty by using our digi-cameras, so that the beauty will always surround us. But the veneer is cracking, rips are starting to appear in our sunset happy ending; and what waits on the other side is an harsh confirmation that our day-dream is gone, and the utopia we had been promised is never to arrive.
The impetus on growth suggest that such a place is where we are heading, but you have to keep one eye shut to the billions who have already arrived in an anti-utopia. But this task still isn’t too hard to do; you can always turn the channel and watch the Sunday night drivel. Hopefully when you turn the channel back, some fresh-faced man will be making you feel nice by talking about more growth – lovely growth.
Phew! things are all-right after all; you can sit back, relax, and wait for utopia to arrive. But in those passing moments, when the sun isn’t lighting up the park and the scones hadn’t filled your belly, a thought keeps drifting into your mind; a voice which seems to be speaking of another world, but claims to be speaking of this one. It says “when are you going to make that change? when are going to be part of that change? you know this life you have cannot be like this for much longer, and the longer you leave it the worse it will be when things begin to fall apart. We don’t eat scones and jam; we eat oil, and that oil is running out”
“surely this can’t be my world?!” you say “everything seems to be OK, I cant see anything on the horizon?”
Rest assured! You should ignore that thought anyway! You’re meeting Matt and Susan and kids for lunch in half an hour; the footballs on the TV this afternoon, and you’re having dinner tonight in that lovely new Tapas bar!. Today’s going to be a lovely day!!
The bigger picture
Capitalism sucks the money out of your pockets by, first of all, sucking your sense of self-worth out of you; making you buy it back through product purchase. The collected advert suggestions combine, almost in mutual agreement, to create the feelings of inadequacy in the individual. They support each other by collectively making this environment of eternally dis-satisfied ‘Consumers’ constantly trying to buy back themselves; each company feeds off this mental environment. Capitalism is a parasite on the human being.
The two words I never hear any of the politicians say are ‘Capitalism’ and ‘inequality’. We hear the words ‘growth’ and ‘fairness’ mentioned countless times; and although they seem to be familiar words, to the respective former, they generate profoundly different thoughts. Growth always generates optimistic thoughts, and even in those who out and out oppose Capitalism. However, the ‘growth’ mentioned is entirely for the benefit of Capitalism, and getting it moving again. However to say this would sound profoundly less positive, and would receive a much less agreeable the reaction from the majority, Barr the few who actually benefit from the system.
‘Fairness’ is subjective. What is viewed to be fair by one person may not be fair to another. So ‘Fairness’ doesn’t necessarily mean tackling inequalities, which is the real issue – which, I am sure, if most were completely aware of the actualities and and consequences of it, would want action on.
‘Equality of opportunity’ are words that are widely used by the advocates of Capitalism, as if it equates to some kind of overall fairness, but it is a fundamentally flawed promise; life chances and social mobility are more favorable to those who are already more privileged/affluent. You will never hear a spoke-person for one of the major parties say “We aim to tackle inequality” or “We aim to do more to distribute the nation’s wealth”; to say this would be counter-productive to the Capitalist forces always whispering in their ears.
Because we are constantly diverted from the bigger picture of the consequences of global capitalism, as if it didn’t even exist, (we are much more likely to bring the other ‘isms’ into a conversation, such as Fascism and Communism, and look baffled if anyone mentions the C word) we collectively talk its talk without even realising it.
I was talking with a friend, about a year ago now, who was telling me about a television program he had had mis-fortune of viewing. The program was about the advertising of fashion/glamour products. One of females speaking within the show was talking about the techniques used by an advert aimed at young women. Apparently she said the advert was great because it stole the lady’s sense of self-worth, making her feel inadequate without possessing the product the advertisement was selling.
My friend found it baffling how this woman could see this as a good thing – and he was right to feel this way. He was justified in thinking that what this woman thinks is a good/positive thing – making ‘consumers’ feel inadequate and not good enough (which if prolonged, leads to mental suffering) – equates to a cruelty, even evil-mindedness
I think that the context of what she said, on its own, does equate to evil, but I do not think the woman was evil for saying it. Commerce takes precedence over all other factors that are essential to a society, under capitalist order. It is seen, always, as a positive thing, linked with the thoughts about ‘growth’. I believe she, like many others, cannot see the deep negativity in what she said; blindfolded to the social consequences caused by a commerce that is given free reign over everything else.
For example: people can pity the Anorexics, starving themselves to be as good as the ‘digitally-perfected’ models on every screen, but they never dare to come to question the source of all of this pain, from which they’d cease to see commerce as a wholly positive thing.
Of course, we are never encouraged to look at the bigger picture; the politicians carefully construct their sentences to avoid using words which would prompt us to do so; they tell us that justice is being done and fairness is being brought in, without actually changing anything, execpt the alteration of a few words. Like George Orwell said in the 1940’s “Political language is deisgned to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind” today the main political parties tell us they are making a fairer Britain and that they will take steps to tackle Climate change, when it is all lies, becasue they refuse to even mention the source of these problems, never mind challenge it, which is the stubborn system of Capitalism, which is well past its sell-by date. When we smile at the words ‘Growth’ and ‘Fairness’ we view the world through Capitalisms persuasions, and we see through the politicians’ tunnel-vision outlook, which is why advertisement techniques, a new Starbucks opening in town, or new advert on the bus stop billboard, greet us with a feeling of positivity, as if it is one more step up the staircase to a utopia.