Apocalypto-Nihilism

Three fatal system errors and three mass “aha!” moments.

Imagine our global system disintegrates. Hunkered down in scattered pockets of survival, people try to adapt to the savage new landscape: scavenging for bits of food and water and defending themselves against marauding bandits. Imagine the recriminations and the finger-pointing as this dark age dawns … the gut-wrenching autopsy of our murdered way of life. What picture of blame would emerge? What were our fatal system errors and who among us was responsible for making them?

Culprit #1 would undoubtedly be the economists. How could this prolific class of scholars, wreathed in medals and PhDs, have led us so far astray? How could they not see that every product in the global marketplace was valued incorrectly, and that every purchase pushed us deeper into the cosmic red? And how could they, like villagers with their backs to Vesuvius, simply keep counting the money while the end drew so ominously near?

Culprit #2 would be the unholy alliance of commercialism and communication, which transformed our information delivery systems into tools of mass merchandizing. Why did we allow a cavalry of marketing hits to assail our minds every minute of every day, each of them telling us the same lie: that to live is to consume and to consume is to live?

Culprit #3 would be the corporation, or rather the way we abdicated our reason and endowed it with the legal rights of a human being. In doing so we created more than a person – we created a living monolith, stronger than any man and impervious to all assault. A supreme being who, once animated, could never, ever be stopped.

Now … imagine the power of three incidents of collective recognition. Three mass “aha!” moments in which we identify our fatal system errors and fix them, preempting the ultimate crash. First we break the unholy alliance of commercialism and communication and clean up the toxic areas of our mental commons … then we design a global marketplace in which the price of every product tells the ecological truth … and, finally, we kill the corporate “I” and get capitalism bubbling from the bottom up again.

Are we capable of such meta-level systems tinkering? Can we pull this thing off?

—Kalle Lasn, AdBusters.org

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