When the signal fails during the advertisement break, who will be screaming: the children in the middle of getting their fix of consumer messages; the shoppers finding out what they can buy on their next mall run; the drivers being tempted by vehicles with more power, more safety and more sexiness; the television sales executives placing advertisers' messages where they will be absorbed by the maximum number of people; the advertisers creating the adverts that sell product and dreams for their clients; the companies that produce the goods and services that make them money; the system that needs the children, the shoppers, the drivers, the sales executives, the advertisers and the companies to all play their part so that the economic machine can keep on turning?
You can make the system scream, if you want to.
Adam sits in his apartment in front of 5 kilowatts of broadcasting equipment, watching the channels, flicking and flicking until..."We’ll be right back after this break"...474 MHz on scramble: and the aerial sends out a wave of television liberty, just until the adverts are finished.
It only takes a few hours until the "off" switches are used. The hypnotic dance of the lights across the glass teat that once sold dreams to the masses is now an unintelligible squall of white noise, cascading arcs of interference, static dissonance of interest to no one: least of all the children, the shoppers and the drivers. They look to each other, they talk, they connect: where once there was a room of atomised individuals hooked into their own electronic realities, there are families and friends once more.
Until Adam is prosecuted, and locked out of harm's way: a criminal, an airwave terrorist, an enemy of the system.
To understand the need for sabotage, we have to go back to a few basic principles. Rather than reinvent the wheel (if only the wheel had never been invented, then we would probably not be in this mess) here is a short list of logically connected statements, extracted from A Matter Of Scale (www.amatterofscale.com), that take us to an inevitable conclusion:
1. The world is changing rapidly and dangerously, and humans are the main reason for this change. If we fail to allow the Earth's physical systems to return to their natural state then these systems will break down, taking humanity with them.
2. Humans are part of nature; we have developed in such a way that we think we are more than just another organism; but in ecological terms we are irrelevant.
3. Regardless of our place in the tree of life, humans always have been, and always will be the most important things to humanity. We are survival machines.
4. Our failure to connect the state of the planet with our own inarguable need to survive will ensure our fate is sealed. This must not happen.
5. In order to bring us to a state of awareness, we must learn how to connect with the real world; the world we depend upon for our survival. We are all capable of connecting.
6. Our lack of connection with the real world is a condition that has been created by the culture we live in. The various tools used to keep us disconnected from the real world are what make Industrial Civilization the destructive thing that it is.
7. To understand how to remove Industrial Civilization we must realise that we, along with everyone else in Industrial Civilization, are the system.
8. Industrial Civilization is complex, faith-driven and extremely sensitive to change and disruption. It will collapse on its own, but not in time to save humanity.
So what is the next step, assuming you follow this line of argument (if you don't, then I strongly recommend you read the whole book on the web site linked to above)?
It’s obvious when you think about it: we need to do something that will remove the things that stop us connecting with the real world, the people around us and our own ability to think for ourselves. These "Tools Of Disconnection" are everywhere: advertising that makes us want things we don't need; legal systems that bind us to a standard way of living as prescribed by the state; communication systems that tie us into restricted, and synthetic means of connecting with each other; economic systems that deign to carry our lives along a path of material growth; education systems that turn us into good and willing workers; corporate lobbyists who ensure that our every activity is touched by the hand of industrialization – all of these things and more work together to keep us under control.
We exist in a state of cosseted discontent: convinced that the way we live is the only way to live, and yet constantly craving more of the same.
The only way to ensure as many people as possible can live their lives in a sustainable, non-industrial, non-approved way is to take away the things that stop them thinking there is another way. To give the people a chance, we have to sabotage the Tools Of Disconnection.
The things I have mentioned are pretty esoteric and so the link between the things that stop us from being ourselves, and the things we can actually attack directly, needs to be made clear. I wish I could do so, but to do so directly, would be to place myself in a very difficult situation: at some point the words I write could be classified as terrorism; maybe not now, but maybe some time in the future when a growing number of people are carrying out many minor acts of sabotage (or, to be more specific, things that Undermine the Tools Of Disconnection) and it becomes clear that Industrial Civilization is starting to lose control over its slaves.
Adam lost his liberty because he chose to sabotage the media machine - the one selling the wares of the corporations that drive economic growth and environmental catastrophe - on a large scale. What he was doing lost no lives, and freed up the minds of thousands of people, but he broke the rules: he became undesirable.
That is the risk you take, but it is a risk that many people would think worthwhile. Adam didn’t need to be caught – he could have used a smaller transmitter over a shorter period of time, working in loose collaboration with a number of similarly equipped and motivated people. He could have, under cover of night, stripped off billboard advertisements; removed advertising from public transport; blocked radio rather than television adverts. He could have.
And Sarah could have posed as a corporate lobbyist in conversation with politicians; or posed as a politician in conversation with corporate lobbyists. She could have got them to agree to things normally considered off limits. Sarah could have recorded the conversations and placed them on the Internet, making sure as many web sites as possible mirrored the recordings. She could have made the political system very unstable indeed.
And Pierre could have taken a job in an educational establishment, altering curricula to remove positive references to economic growth and the need to be good citizens; or perhaps sent a few memos to schools, without even needing a job at the education authority, requesting the downgrading of citizenship and economics, and the need for compulsory nature walks, gardening, community work and time for students to think freely. He could have given a few children their lives back.
And Rosa could have started spreading information about the dangerous side effects of certain carbon-intensive, highly processed food products – placing letters in newspapers and calling up radio stations. She could have posted information on financial web sites reporting on the financial precariousness of highly destructive companies currently trashing the planet for economic gain. Rosa could have created instability.
And Keith could have run a web site devoted to exposing and broadcasting the greenwashing and blatant environmental lies told by corporations, governments and even the half-hearted efforts of environmental charities, helping people to understand that what they see, hear and read may just be designed to keep them living a destructive existence.
They could have, and so could you…
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