The Politics of Dismay

Two very troubling episodes this week…listening to the debates over the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, and the discovery of the video of U.S. soldiers urinating on the corpses of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.  Even though these are unrelated events, I cannot help but draw comparisons in terms of how dominant culture approaches the world. It degrades it.

Regarding the pipeline, industry and business are using the same rhetoric of assurance they have always used when they want public support for development and job creation.  In addition to the economic argument, they’ll minimize risk by saying it is unlikely that there will be a catastrophic environmental disaster.  I actually heard one interviewee on CBC Radio say the odds of such a disaster were 1 incident every 15,000 years!  What a ridiculous statement.  We haven’t been drilling or shipping oil for that long.  That is just a stupid way of framing the issue.  How many serious accidents have there been since companies started drilling and shipping crude oil?  Too many to tolerate.  Do the corporations – like BP – ever get shut down because of the environmental damage they have caused?  No, they just get fined, and the fines, in their cost-benefit analyses, are cheaper than safer practices or encouraging tighter regulation.  I am also alarmed yet unsurprised by the way that opponents to the project are being dismissed as “radicals.”  Fifty First Nations Groups, ordinary citizens, and Robert Redford – radicals?

The military incident exploding in the media instantly had authority figures, such as Hillary Clinton going into damage-control mode.  Of course the episode is being labelled “deplorable” and “unacceptable,” because it absolutely is.  However, it is not an anomaly.  We’ve seen this type of behaviour before (Abu Ghraib).  Isn’t it better characterized as a symptom of a world in which people are assassinated without due legal process (Osama Bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi)?  A world which tolerates – even encourages – people to party in the streets and celebrate when they learn of an execution, even torture?  Is it really that far of a leap to urinating on corpses?  There is something much deeper that is wrong within Neo-liberalism, and we need to take a serious look at what we are becoming.  Both the environment and human beings are being pissed upon.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sherylmcdougald
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 20:30:19

    Some years ago my older sister, a quietly spiritual person, told me that she believed that we as a species are devolving. I hadn’t even heard the word and I was genuinely shocked.
    Not so much now.

    Reply

  2. Heather
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 00:28:46

    but the good news is that the world as we know it won’t be ending for another 500 billion years, according to a reliable source – a physicist who suspects our oceans will dry up and the planet will become similar to that of venus, all due to the sun getting warmer – which begs the question – how much influence do we have on that!. So, in the mean time the species has time to change its ways – I have faith we will, but, in my opinion, it is the responsiblity of the enlightened to help enlighten those who aren’t! Great Blog Sandra!

    Reply

    • Sandra Seekins
      Jan 16, 2012 @ 17:05:49

      Thanks Heather. Nice to know the world will be spinning so far into the future, no doubt uninhabitable and no longer with any signs of life! I just saw a television commercial for an electric car in which a polar bear travels into the suburbs to hug its driver. If it were only so easy to fix things!

      Reply

  3. merrell
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 17:50:41

    I am not totally sure we are getting worse as a species ( i kinda think we are generally getting kinder ) but our methods of destruction( war ), harvesting resources are more impactual ( ha new word?) than ever before. WHat once took loggers years to harvest now takes days. ( the GOlden SPruce )
    Our world’s fishing industry is raping the oceans ( especially shark finning practices ). We can kill more people ( friendly or not) now with long range missiles and we don’t have to look at their faces when we do pull the trigger or push the button. our OOOOPSSes are bigger than ever and do more damage than ever.
    We are making far to much crap and far too many babies for us to sustain a healthy planet. We need the Change i had hoped Obama spoke of. And as artists and educators we need to start thinking about making art and teaching art that is non toxic and doesn’t end up in land fills. sorry words/sentences awkwardly coming out today.

    Reply

  4. sherylmcdougald
    Jan 31, 2012 @ 06:33:56

    I do like friend Google – I think of that as good progress…

    Nice Blog re-do!

    Reply

    • Sandra Seekins
      Jan 31, 2012 @ 21:11:26

      Thanks! The blog re-do just takes the touch of a button.

      Sandra Seekins Humanities Division Chair Art History Faculty CFA 1st Vice President Capilano University 604 986-1911 local 2288 sseekins@capilanou.ca

      Reply

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