The ‘business as usual’ is not normal

Source: Maps International

Living on a planet with finite resources requires a strong sense of intergenerational commitment. The opposite attitude is living as if there were no consequences. As if there was no tomorrow. It would mean continuing the ‘business as usual,’ and that is not normal. The normal thing to do is to act responsibly and provide life quality not only for the present generations but also for those who have yet to come. They don’t have a voice, but their concerns echo loudly, in the form of climate change, as our daily actions reduce their chances to enjoy the similar life conditions as we have today.

There are no signs that the (too long) ongoing debate about whether capitalism can be fixed or Marxism should be spread out globally will provide long-lasting solutions for climate change. In neither of them, I see the potential of going beyond what Harvey called the ‘Spatio-temporal fix.’ The way each of them deals with solving the environmental problems is moving them further away in space and time.

But things are changing and in a world where love is being reduced to romance[1], and faith into religion, ecology carries a promise of transcending that spatial fix mentality. It helps us to go beyond self-centered, money-driven, and nation-state embedded human relations. However, the monochromatic «business as usual» mentality is trying to reduce ecology either to capitalism or Marxism. It is a mistake that may cost us time. A time we don’t have. It’s a distraction from making the sacrifices we owe to the generations to come.

We can’t move forward while looking back. If we do, we’ll crash.

Capitalism, Marxism, neoliberalism, individualism, or any other –ism, are formed through language. They are sustained and perpetuated through the ontology of language. Although the individualism has freed us from many burdens, we should take Friedrich Schorlemmer’s advice, and not confuse the lack of ties for freedom. Instead of living fulfilling lives through deepening relations with each other, we are letting go of freedom in return for false promises of safety. We are, AGAIN, falling prey to dangerously dividing populisms and the «certainties» they preach.

It is time to embrace the uncertainty as the way Stephen Hawking described it, «the fundamental feature of the universe we live in.» It is the ultimate boundary for the laws we are formulating to predict the nature around us. It is time to get comfortable with uncertainty. This begins by saying, ‘I don’t know’ and not feeling the pressure of ‘failure’ or any other label of shame, judgment, or condemnation. Otherwise, we will keep on forcefully molding the unknown within the limited and fragile structures of the ‘known’.

It is time for us to move away from capitalism and Marxism, as the reference points we use to define the nature of the socio-natural relations. It is time to start seeing ‘commodities’ as relations. It is time to begin structuring the language of the unknown and developing the new ecological grammar—the one where the same object pronoun is used for ‘us’ and for ‘them’. Where the future is seen as, what Carlo Rovelli calls, a ‘faraway present’ and not as some distant reality that has nothing to do with here and now.

In just a couple of months, the Covid19 has reshaped the world and the most repeated questions today are: «When are we getting back to normal?» and «What is it going to look like when we get there?» We can’t move forward while looking back. If we do, we’ll crash. That is why I don’t see meaningful intergenerational answers to those questions neither in capitalism or Marxism.

The only worldview that can globally, cross-culturally, and trans-ideologically unite humanity to implement the solutions that are needed is the ecology. However, no matter the grade of the social, economic, and scientific progress we have achieved so far when it comes to the ecology, the ultimate unknown variable in any equation remains. It is, as Sarah Burch and Sara Harris put it: «What will humans do?» The method to resolve the equation is semantical, not mathematical. It takes us back to the beginning. To the language, whose analysis Wittgenstein defined as the «sole remaining task for philosophy». This is why ecology must remain ideologically free and brave enough to start constructing the language of the faraway present in which the intergenerational equity and environmental justice can be integrated. This new ontology starts with decoupling the ‘business as usual’ from normal.  


[1] Paraphrasing Horkheimer&Adorno (1944)

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