JR'S Free Thought Pages
The Problems with Private Property
Everything You Own is a Façade and Myth
By JR, www.skeptic.ca, August, 2021
Only after the last tree has been cut
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten
- Cree Indian Prophecy
All property is theft – Pierre Joseph Proudhon
Behind all great wealth lies a great crime – Honoré de Balzac
Proudhon was only partly right about private property; it’s first and foremost, a fantasy or to employ a postmodern expression, a simulacrum. A century earlier one of the 18th century Enlightenment’s most well-known philosophers of freedom, egalitarianism and bottom-up democracy wrote:
“The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
The beliefs of “we the people”, referred to by Rousseau as the “general will” , those lower forms of humans exempt from any participation in our phony oligarchic representative “democracies” are not innate or preloaded like software implanted into our malleable brains. Conversely, we are “condemned to be free” as the great existentialist philosopher Jean Sartre argued. That freedom includes freedom of thought and the potential ability to think for ourselves. It’s an ability that needs to be nurtured and taught by logic and critical thinking programs in our schools that have been consistently blocked by calcified conservative elites and the Christian churches. On the other hand, from the time we emerge from the womb our beliefs are shaped by endless ideological inculcation, indoctrination and propaganda from parents, the corporate controlled media, the churches and schools. Real education is or at least ought to be challenging everything within the prevailing status quo. Skepticism and critical thinking are not skills taught by anyone in the privileged power elites, the ownership classes that have always existed throughout history. The last things that these plutocrats, tyrants, managers, administrators and bosses want are skeptical critical thinkers. They want docile drones and compliant workers. In our authoritarian hierarchical capitalist societies our ideological landscape is socially constructed to accept the status quo of a “just world hypothesis”, meritocracy, just deserts and the sanctity of private property. Like god, demons, punishment for sins, heaven and hell and capitalism, we are not born believing these devious human creations. They are pure theology and dogmatic ideology that serve the interests of wealth, power and privilege.
Consider the meritocracy myth, silly fables of “all men are created equal” and “self-made man”, according to which we all start the 100 meter dash of life from the same spot. The reality is we are not created equal in the genetic lottery of life in which some are physically stronger, more attractive and far more intelligent than others. Moreover, since the game of life has been rigged not only genetically but also by socio-economically inherited factors of privilege, power and wealth and laws crafted by oligarchic ownership classes, some of us start out on that 100 meter dash with a huge head start of 10 meters or more. Think of George W Bush and Donald Trump, intellectual, moral and social mediocrities born with the silver spoon. What if these two simpletons had been born in an impoverished ghetto with drug addicted parents? Where would they be now?
In the monopoly game of life many do not even get past “Go”. Others positioned on Boardwalk and Park Place, born into a wealthy family who are above the rule of law, have permanent get out of jail free cards, sent to elite private schools where all the right connections are made and their qualification for entry into an elite post secondary institution is a phone call or donation from the old man. If this sounds like your life, welcome to the winner take all Neoliberal Monopoly Game of predatory capitalism in which workers are paid just enough to survive; precarious “subsistence” while living in your 20 year old piece of shit car – a far different concept from actual “living”. And the owners and bosses are already obscenely wealthy and continue this trajectory with ease as they have their lobbyists (aka bribery con men and influence peddlers) and the capitalist nanny state government enabling their pillage of the planet and exploitive practices that enable offloading collateral damage onto the rest of us. This is the ongoing capitalist scam of “privatizing profits and socializing losses” an integral part of the ad infinitum boom-bubble-bust –bailout sequence endemic to neo-liberal predatory capitalism. The rich get richer on every sequence of the capitalist monopoly game of life. The way conditions are today in the zero sum corrupt crony capitalist game, what Naomi Klein called the “shock doctrine”, they will eventually own everything, the program of the Davos WEF corporate oligarchs and billionaires who are now promoting the notorious “great reset”. Back in the three decade post World II years, the highest marginal tax rate in most Western countries, including the United States and Canada, was over 90%. Today most of the multi-millionaire and billionaire classes, the corporations, banks and other financial mafia pay little or no taxes. But Joe Lunch Bucket who works as a wage slave has no access to offshore tax havens or countless loopholes to leap through and dutifully pays his income taxes that finance corporate welfare, obtuse cops and dehumanizing prison gulags, the military and imperialistic wars - or face the wrath of legions of government accounting apparatchiks.
People rarely ask what is meant by “the economy” and more importantly who is served by it. And what do the theologians of money called economists really do and who are they working for? We worship at the altar of money, the real religion of the planet, but what is money as opposed to a god? Both are human constructs, mere abstractions; rackets that justify authoritarianism, control, exploitation and grand theft. And most importantly, what does it really mean, if anything, to “own” something like a piece of land or bar of gold? Does it mean you merely possess it with no qualifications or restraints? Isn’t there only so much “stuff” you can physically possess at once in the hedonistic treadmill most of us seem to be locked into and can’t get off? Is there some law of mathematics, physics or biology that justifies ownership? Not to my knowledge; so isn’t everything you’re not holding in your hand up for grabs?
Does owning mean holding legal “title” to property? According to what law and what right? In the United States, Canada, Europe and most of the rest of the world these days, people transfer titles to land, buildings, cars, boats, islands, among countless other things, requiring useless bullshit jobs for human drones who process the transfers. Is everything up for sale, even people? Unfortunately, yes. These titles clearly state that ownership rights transfer from the seller to the buyer, but if you push back time sufficiently who could possibly have been the original owner? Was it some fictitious demonic Deity?
Indigenous people throughout the world, particularly in the Americas, Australia and Africa lived on the land for tens of thousands of years with no state, no police, no prisons and no private ownership of anything except perhaps your cooking pot, spear and knife. Then Columbus arrived in the Americas followed by other slave trading predatory European Christian white men and other barbarian thieves and mass murders that kick started five centuries of land dispossession, slavery and genocide. For example, at some point American courts must have decided that land stolen from Native Americans was morally and legally transferred to the rapacious Christian white man, many of whom were monarchs or plutocrats already rich. That was just the beginning of the enslavement and thefts sanctioned by the Vatican, kings and capitalist courts legalizing the removal of people from land they had lived on and held in common for centuries long before any historical records existed. For most Indigenous People land is not regarded as controlled or owned by anyone; in fact for their societal, cultural and spiritual beliefs which are antithetical to both the Christian and capitalist notion that might is right, ownership of anything is sacrilege. Is it not reasonable to claim that the foundational property “rights” in the United States and Canada from which all other ownership has arisen was stolen from its rightful owners, often several times over? No property has an untainted title.
Who owns the animals on the land or fish in the sea? Are they harvested, bought or stolen? Who owns the air, birds and pollinating insects? Why is it that some groups are granted the license and rule of money and profit before all else to pollute the air, contaminate the soils and pollute the waterways? Who owns the trees, the minerals in the soil? Who owns the rain, the sun and rapidly disappearing clean water? Who owns Saturn and its rings? Who owns the clouds and the rest of the seemingly infinite cosmos? Under what authority are psychopathic corporations allowed to destroy lakes, waterways and huge swaths of the oceans, blow off the tops off mountains, harvest the timber, mine coal, copper, gold and other valuable minerals then walk away leaving a trash heap and environmental disaster they call externalities, collateral damage that will in many cases last thousands of years? What could possibly give someone the “right” to offload these huge costs to the rest of people on the planet? Certainly there’s nothing that I can think of. Even water is being privatized, coupled with global warming and drought and the massive scam of bottled water. Soon we’ll be paying for clean air to breathe. You don’t need a mask just to protect you against the mutating covid-19 virus, you need it to protect against apocalyptic toxic air and contaminants as wildfires are raging throughout the world, even in Siberia and the European and North American arctic regions. In other parts of the world there are massive floods.
The fact is that “ownership” is just a tangled web of words, a fabricated human construct designed to get you to believe that people who have property somehow deserve to “own” it and those who do not have property deserve nothing. The poor and homeless obviously made bad decisions? They have chosen the wrong parents or political ideology like socialism or anarchism that promote sharing, caring and compassion. Even more absurd than ownership of physical property such as land is the fantasy, façade and swindle of patent rights and “intellectual property”, the right to “own” knowledge? Even at a time when Albert Einstein came up with his Theory of Relativity over a century ago, this abstract fabrication of intellectual property right goes far beyond what anyone at the time could conjure up and expect even the most obtuse and credulous to accept. Einstein, a dedicated socialist, surely never thought of his intellectual discoveries as his personal property. A patent is a way of protecting inventions, and is sometimes called intellectual property. It means that an inventor is the only person allowed to make, use or sell his invention. If others want to use that invention, they have to make payments to the inventor called royalties. For example, Bill Gates’ Microsoft makes $5-$15 on each Android smart phone because of patents on file structures used within those phones. Read Chris Hoffman, How Microsoft makes $5 to $15 from every Android device sold, How-to Geek, 5 March 2014, at:
But parasitic ghouls like Bill Gates have become one of the richest men on the planet by appealing to this now legal venomous swindle of intellectual property rights and patents. The irritating silver spoon asshole college dropout Gates who never invented anything and pilfered the ideas of both his PC operating systems and internet browsers apparently now owns more agricultural land than any corporation or human in America. Does anyone own the rights to 2 + 2 = 4 or the Calculus, discovered by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibnitz working independently in late 17th century England and Germany? Are the Laws of Gravity, Theory of Evolution and discoveries in Genetics, healthcare treatments and vaccines privately owned property? In today’s postmodern FUBAR world of greed, acquisitiveness and illogic, the answer is yes. 
Do you even own yourself? Of course not; nowhere in the world are people legally allowed to do whatever they want with their own bodies – or even their own minds. You cannot walk down Main Street naked and scream out revolutionary slogans or the “F” and “C” words without being arrested and taken to the nearest gulag or psych ward. You can’t choose whether or not to go to elementary school or pay taxes to finance cops, prisons, the military and imperialist wars. No one under the age of “legality” is permitted to own themselves so perhaps you are the chattel of your parents or guardians. It is illegal in most jurisdictions to take mind altering drugs, injure or attempt to kill yourself but if you succeed in the latter, how will you be punished? Perhaps you will be held responsible for killing yourself by the Xian dictator in the sky who we are told created us and that we will suffer for eternity in his personal barbecue pits called hell? Surely if you don’t even hold legal title to your own body and mind, what can it mean to own anything else?
Who does own you, if not you? Is it a mystical god, the capitalist state or some Silicon Valley trans-humanist technology AI corporate behemoth run by people like the arrogant narcissistic jerk Elon Musk? Musk’s companies have not earned a penny in profit, yet he’s one of the richest men in the world based entirely on the inflated value of the stock he “owns” listed on the insanely corrupt and manipulated global stock exchanges. 
Yes, the state and a few cyber corporations such as Face Book and Google (which in any sensible society would be owned by the users) considers themselves to be the rightful owner of every person within the boundaries of the country in which you were born and for the corporations globally – another concocted abstraction to make “money for nothing”. The state with its arbitrary laws written by the powerful and ownership classes can most definitely tell you what to do, incarcerate or even kill you if you do not comply. You might think you own yourself, but what does that mean if wherever you live you are the subject of a state apparatus that asserts authority over your activities? Do you have any choice if drafted into the military and become a killer goon in some imperialist war of plunder and profit murdering other working class people you’ve never met?
Your body and now your propagandized zombified cell phone addicted ADHD mind are considered state property in any country on Earth. You can be conscripted anywhere there’s a state. You can be legally restrained, detained, transported and held against your will, especially if you are an environmentalist, civil rights or peace advocate – or blow the whistle on ugly truths about the criminality of the country in which you reside. You can be held in confinement, dispossessed of your assets, forced to work as a slave and possibly be executed. It’s all legal as long as “due process” is followed and without much process in most countries, especially if you are not rich and cannot meet the bail requirements or afford legal counsel. You are owned by the state and you are obligated by law to not seriously challenge the state or infringe upon the capitalist owner’s property. How can you, a piece of someone else’s property, have any rights to property of your own? You don’t; you are on loan from the state. All your property and everything you own belongs to the illusionary state that serve the wealthy and powerful. And who controls this mystical abstraction called the state; for example, the United States of America? Is it we the people? Take another guess. Is it the infamous FAGMA (Face book, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple) that control the state? The state and the financial oligarchs and plutocrats who control the state apparatus, referred to by some as the “deep state”, can “legally” confiscate all your property any time they see fit. To think otherwise makes you an outlaw, thief and “enemy of the state”. Those protesting the contamination and destruction of what’s left of the natural world are called “eco-terrorists”. Even exposing unpleasant truths and crimes of those in positions of wealth and power, the power elite, can turn you into an enemy of the state. Just ask Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.
If you follow the chain of argument for private property whether under capitalism or any of the other hierarchical unjust authoritarian oppressive systems that has existed throughout history, all reason and logic leads to bombast and absurdity that include not only the mumbo jumbo of human inventions such as private property, but countless superfluous “jobs” such as lawyer, accountant, economist (glorified bean counter and crystal ball reader), marketing mystic, real estate agent or developer, stock broker and every dickhead boss, administrator and manager. These and countless others are what the late David Graeber called “bullshit jobs”. And this cavalier immoral capitalist ideology of exploitation of humans and other life forms, disregard for the natural environment, land and resource theft, enslavement, hierarchy, authoritarianism, punishment, guilt and police brutality is all sanctioned by Christian theology as expressed in the Bible. The earth is merely a pit stop on the way to the hallucinatory Paradise and Promised Land; consequently “go forth and multiply” and plunder the earth with reckless abandon. We are experiencing and witnessing the devastating impact of this vile ideology today despite warning by scientists for over a century and the mystic dream of heaven has morphed into a dystopian apocalyptic nightmare.
Existentialist philosophers such as Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus well understood the absurdity of almost all of what human beings dream of doing and how they live their lives. This includes, within the current obscurantist postmodern world of neo-liberal corporatism (aka fascism) and capitalist obfuscation in which money (another mythical abstraction like goblins, ghosts and gods) is the only thing worth coveting, worshipping and having. Unsurprisingly the Christian churches, embracing capitalism, have become businesses, capitalist con games and rackets - but unlike the rest of “we the people” – are legally exempt from paying taxes. Since they are not charities, can anyone explain why?
Regardless of your political affiliation, it’s patently obvious that capitalism is and never has been about justice and real democracy. Frederick Engels was right when he wrote in the introduction to the 1891 edition of Karl Marx’s The Civil War in France, “The state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than in the monarchy.” Vladimir Lenin echoed this sentiment in his 1918 pamphlet The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky when he wrote, “bourgeois democracy always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited and the poor.” So-called capitalist “democracy” is democracy for the business classes only and therefore is not democracy.  It’s a smoke screen for the de facto class dictatorship of money, wealth and power; a system that has descended into such a moral and ecocide abyss that it cannot and will not be corrected or remedied. The only realistic prospects are total collapse of the system and/or global revolution, with the quite plausible outcome being the death of all life on the planet, almost all of which is already in extinction mode except for the unthinking, delusional, docile and obedient creatures called Homo sapiens. 
 See Brian Martin’s compelling arguments in Against Intellectual Property here:
Peter Drahos & John Braithwaite, Information Feudalism: Who owns the knowledge economy, 2002
Derek Lowe, ‘The problem with patents’, Science, 13 Aug 2015, at https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2015/08/13/the-problem-with-patents
There was a time when morality and justice were at least recognized as having some import when gambling, lotteries, reverse mortgages, toxic “investment” algorithms such as derivatives* and predatory hedge funds were considered criminal and corporatist bullshit like “intellectual property” would be considered outrageously immoral and a cruel joke. Today anything that turns a profit is fair game and when the big banks and investment houses of ill repute lose big enough with their financial swindles, they are bailed out by the capitalist nanny state. The confused public is informed these crooks are “too big to fail”; some even believe this nonsensical gibberish.
* According to various estimates, the global derivatives market is valued at $1.2 quadrillion. A quadrillion is no chump change but rather $1015 US dollars which, if you remember your junior high school math is a “1” followed by 15 zeros. Nobody knows the exact value but this mind destroying number but this is an average estimate of how massive this banking gambling casino really is. This figure is greater than the entire world’s GDP, 20 times the GDP to be exact, and should not be taken lightly as many influential financial movers and shakers such as Mark Carney warn of an impending global financial collapse that will make the subprime mortgage fiasco of 2007-09 seem like a nun’s picnic in comparison. Former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King stated in September 2019 is on the verge of “financial Armageddon”. This grim reality was known long before the COVID pandemic was launched during October 2019’s Event 201. It is this oncoming financial meltdown that underlies the war drive against China which certain western geo politics gurus fear will shape the new system which they sought to control. France’s Bruno Lemaire laid out this fear in the most candid way in July 2019 when he said that, “Unless we are able to reinvent Bretton Woods, The New Silk Roads might become the new world order”. Then there is the huge unprecedented stock markets bubble, unprecedented in a world economy that is in the dumps for 99% of humanity.
 As Jonathan Cook pointed out recently in an online piece, the insanity and absurdities of our current economic reality is well illustrated by a new self-serving ideological movement among the super-rich. Their intellectual 0and emotional investment in their right to remain obscenely wealthy is naturally much stronger than any objections by some of the rest of us in their staying rich. Sadly many are not bothered by this sense of entitlement any more than those in the Dark Ages of medievalism and the “divine right of kings”. The greatest ideological challenge facing the super-rich is imminent climate collapse; these are not stupid people since they know it is real and caused primarily by them. So, how do they rationalize an incredibly unequal and unjust economic system designed to satisfy their lust for profit, endless supplies of mammon and the continuation of their elevated economic status at the expense of the rest of us.
Some have fled into ridiculous childhood or utopian fantasies, the multi- billionaires’ equivalent of narcissism, cognitive dissonance and delusionary idiocy. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are pouring money – while of course like the jerk philanthropist Bill Gates offsetting it against tax – into the escapism of space colonies, premised on the same technological exploitation and monetization of nature that have been rapidly making our own dying planet uninhabitable. Others are looking in more practical, if equally futile, directions. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, has estimated that half of his fellow billionaires in Silicon Valley have bought what he calls “apocalypse insurance”, investing in safe-haven islands and luxury underground bunkers. Fancifully, they imagine that this will be their life-belt when the planet’s climate system breaks down beyond repair.
One of the spiritual guides and futuristic gurus of these billionaire dreamers is Nick Bostrom, a Swedish born Oxford University philosopher who has contributed an academic gloss to this new religious mysticism masquerading as logic, sound argument and rationality. He argues that, seen from tens of thousands of years in the future, the looming climate catastrophe won’t seem such a big deal. Oh really? To the contrary– it will look as important as the crimes of Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, the Roman, British or American Empire appear to us today.
The imminent suffering of millions or even billions of human beings from rising seawaters, wildfires, droughts , overpopulation, military oppression, growing fascism, religious fanaticism and food shortages pales when compared to the survival of the few who will refurbish and repopulate the planet and wider universe with conscious life. With the expansion of technologies already under development (by the supercilious billionaires), there will be many trillions of future biological humans colonizing the universe or digital equivalents living in a post-human or trans-human world. In Bostrom’s words, “The breakdown of global civilization is, from the perspective of humanity as a whole, a potentially recoverable setback”. Or as he puts it more bluntly, what is coming is “a giant massacre for man, a small misstep for mankind”.
 The Christian Boss Man in the Sky is purported to be both all- knowing and all powerful; that is, omniscient and omnipotent. The rational skeptic must surely inquire as to why there is a need for the earth testing station. Rather than the unnecessary earth detour, why wouldn’t the Christian cosmic dictator simply grant a one-way ticket to the saints destined for Heaven and a one-way ticket to the sinners destined for Hell? Duh – come on Sky King; wake the fuck up.
 As historian Paul Street wrote in a recent posting on Counterpunch: regarding the incompatibility and antithetical nature of capitalism and democracy:
You don’t have to be a Marxist or some other kind of anti-capitalist to understand the capitalism and democracy are not only different from each other but opposed to each other. My old copy of Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary defines capitalism as “the economic system in which all or most of the means of production and distribution … are privately owned and operated for profit, originally under fully competitive conditions: it has been generally characterized by a tendency toward concentration of wealth and, [in] its latter phase, by the growth of great corporations, increased government controls, etc.” There’s nothing—nada, zero, zip—about popular self-rule (democracy) in that definition. And there shouldn’t be. “Democracy and capitalism have very different beliefs about the proper distribution of power,” liberal economist Lester Thurow noted in the mid-1990s: “One [democracy] believes in a completely equal distribution of political power, ‘one man, one vote,’ while the other [capitalism] believes that it is the duty of the economically fit to drive the unfit out of business and into extinction. … To put it in its starkest form, capitalism is perfectly compatible with slavery. Democracy is not.” Thurow might have added that capitalism is perfectly compatible with fascism, racism, nativism, sexism, militarism and imperialism, among other authoritarian and anti-democratic forces and formations. More than being merely compatible with slavery, moreover, U.S.-American capitalism arose largely on the basis of the Black cotton slave system in the nation’s pre-Civil War South. This is demonstrated at length in historian Edward Baptist’s prize-winning study The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. “We must make our choice,” onetime Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis is reputed to have said or written: “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.” This statement (whoever made it) was perhaps unintentionally anti-capitalist. Consistent with Webster’s(above), the historically astute French economist Thomas Piketty has shown that capitalism has always been inexorably pulled toward the concentration of wealth into ever fewer hands.
 Returning to futurism mystic Nick Bostrum, he even hijacks a key concept of the environmental movement; namely, that the planet’s resources are finite and makes a case for maintaining our current gross inequalities while justifying and reifying greed. If there are limited resources, they should not be “frittered away” on “feel good projects” and philanthropy to save those about to reap the whirlwind of the very economic system – neo-liberal vulture winner take all capitalism – that has created the billionaire class. That would be to betray the survivors, the super-rich bastards and a few lucky others who will need those resources to create a new civilization built on the ruins of the current failing one.
The long term success of the super rich in gas lighting us can be measured in the fact that billionaires are seen as fulfilling a legitimate, philanthropic role in our societies – so much so that they grow ever richer – rather than parasites leeching the planet of its resources. Then listen for those so brainwashed members of the gig economy hoi polloi that they eagerly rush to defend the multi-millionaire and billionaire classes of the 1%, not only accusing critics of envy but warning us off comparing any of them as parasites.
During the first 16 months of mass suffering spurred by the pandemic, the world’s 2,690 billionaires increased their fortunes by $5.5 trillion – hoarding more global wealth than they managed in the previous 15 years. And a large part of the reason for their accelerating enrichment is that western politicians and corporate lobbyists – now barely distinguishable – have made sure that the corporate class pays ever less tax. That this in itself has not provoked an uprising of riots in the streets come down to the masses of walking dead ADHD docile cell phone and face book addicted crowd held captive by the endless propaganda of the corporate media owned by those same billionaire classes. Very few seem to detest the quintessential asshole Richard Branson, good boozing buddy of Barrack Obama, his rich “astronaut” customers for frittering away many millions on a few seconds in space when the oceans are choked with plastics, the insects are disappearing and burning forests are not storing but rather pouring carbon into the atmosphere. Instead, the BBC reports uncritically Branson’s fairy-dust ecological justification for the massive waste of resources – and addition of even more carbon to the atmosphere – jetting the wealthy into space. As the raving hypocrite Branson testifies, “Why shouldn’t they go to space? Space is extraordinary; the Universe is magnificent. I want people to be able to look back at our beautiful Earth and come home and work very hard to try to do magic to it to look after it.”
As Jonathan Cook remarked, “The public discourse echoes the thinking of the billionaires in other ways. We have rushed headlong past the stage of a proper reckoning with the causes of the unfolding climate catastrophe to the global equivalent of the children’s game of musical chairs. If the super rich are pondering where to build their bunkers, and which islands to buy or planets to colonize, to escape the coming collapse, we are being conditioned to think in similarly deranged, if cut-price, terms. New studies are assessing the countries best placed to ride out climate catastrophe. The winners apparently will be New Zealand, Iceland, the UK, Ireland and Tasmania. Four years ago the supposedly liberal Independent newspaper offered, with a straight face, an eco-porn travelogue article suggesting “25 places you should visit before they vanish from the face of the Earth”. Now, just a few years later, we are playing the reverse game: where can we hunker down most safely as the world vanishes? This is cognitive dissonance in over-drive.”
But the indulgence of the super rich such as Branson run deeper, and is only made starker, by the report this week of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It warns that the effects of the manmade “climate crisis” on temperature rises and more extreme weather events are now “irreversible”, and that urgent action is needed to stop runaway overheating of the planet.
Since the billionaires own the mass media, including face book and other social media, no one ought to be surprised by the IPCC’s warning that we are standing on the edge of a precipice writing our species’ suicide note rated second billing in many papers, while others frantically grasped for silver linings or attention-grabbing but mind-numbing “Code Red” headlines as the Doomsday clock is 100 seconds to midnight. As Noam Chomsky said in a recent interview, “The Bulletin of Atomic Scientist cited three major increasing threats: nuclear war, environmental destruction, and what some have called an infodemic, the sharp decline in rational discourse — the only hope for addressing the existential crises. Every year that Trump was in office, the minute hand moved closer to midnight. Two years ago the analysts abandoned minutes and turned to seconds. Trump steadily escalated all three threats. It’s worth reflecting on how close the world came to an indescribable catastrophe last November. Another four years of Trump’s race to the abyss might have had incalculable consequences. “