This article continues on where Part 1 of this three post set left off, after using the work of Charles Eisenstein to establish two premises: First, that the perpetual growth of the economy and expansion of the human species is a delusional fantasy. Secondly, that rapid and intentional degrowth is needed to sustain our civilization.
The purpose of Part 2 is to provide a program for the reader to integrate the shocking realities detailed in Part 1 (informed by Eisenstein’s “Sacred Economics”) psychologically without becoming overwhelmed by the immensity and urgency of the situation.
How Not To Feel Insane
Growing up in the Global North means being subjected to constant programming since birth; in the propaganda the ideologues and predatory elites use to manipulate the working class into debt slavery.
It starts in your formative years as you’re subjected to mesmerizing, repetitive, obviously pro-state propaganda in the form of children’s entertainment. Then in school, state-determined curriculum teaches a convenient revisionist history and broadly -offensively- paints any culture outside the Global North risky, unstable, and corrupt. Sports teach a win-at-all-costs attitude. Entertainment sensationalizes materialism and imbues a sense of superiority to participants of the hive-mind / group-think rituals that captivate pop culture.
As an adult, you learn quickly that fluid ethics and sociopathy are the keys to success in the workforce. In your private life, the media and your peers badger you into a state of confused compliance with the convenient pro-state, pro-capitalism narratives that circumvent awareness with a self-justifying loop of entitled ignorance.
Above all, consumerism works its dark magic on you through advertising, celebrity endorsements, lifestyle media, guerrilla marketing, and worse. All of it feeding a debt culture that sacrifices millions of lives per generation to keep hungry archons from devouring our civilization outright -and this will prove a foolish pact in the end.
There’s nothing to do with such cancerous ideas but cut them out. They steal our opportunity to observe the world around us dispassionately and without bias. The purpose of such programming is to prevent us from allowing thoughts into our mind which might contradict the doctrine of capitalism and endless growth.
Ruthlessly we must carve into our psyches and excise these demons. First we expose the lies by looking directly at them and being honest with ourselves. Technological advances rarely improve our lives, financial success is meaningless, and the vast majority of our lives is spent in service of things (and people) we despise. We don’t benefit from these fallacies, they only burden us, and distract us from spending our time more meaningfully.
Like fighting fire with fire, we can destroy small-minded ideas with broader understanding. By first emptying our minds of preconception and then rapidly, voraciously, consuming broad, conflicting, and -whenever possible- dangerous ideas, we create paradoxes and tension in our minds that cannot be easily resolved.
Reeducation isn’t a curriculum, and it isn’t a masterclass. We don’t become anything through decolonialization, except perhaps wiser. This is a journey without a destination. The act of motion, of “going through it”, is the point in itself; the benefit is constant self-reflection.
Books and lengthy articles, rather than short, consumable media, are the mainstays of serious de-colonizers. Digital media has its place but the commitment that’s required to complete a book, and the wealth of your attention invested over hours of reading the material, offers the writer a greater canvas upon which to paint possible futures for you to discover.
To guide the way, divine providence ensures that luminaries in any field of discourse occasionally appear to light the gloomy darkness, like fireflies, ready to be caught and studied for their brilliance. Seeking out these living treasures offers much to those with a light touch and an open mind.
Once free of the yoke of cultural identification, our challenge is not to give in to our weaknesses and rejoin the herd. Friends, colleagues, family, cultural icons, and even personal heroes may not grasp their own indoctrination and the isolation of this self-awareness is daunting.
Likewise the pressures of sustaining one’s self (and family) and finding ways to thrive in these toxic times strain against the structure of our morality and sense of truth. To be honest with one’s self about the impact of one’s life on Earth and our mutual future is deeply disturbing and coming to terms with it has the potential to fracture subjective reality.
The solution is to abandon solutionism. To resist rather than react. To abstain and observe, to commune with, to seek wisdom from, or perhaps aid -but never to “solve”. Removing one’s self from the system is less an act of physical departure (though I highly recommend it) as it is a commitment to radical non-participation.
Grow your own food. Create mutual aid communities. Resist totalitarianism of every form. Abandon toxic culture. Protect your mind from subliminal programming. Exercise choice, practice tolerance, and show kindness and generosity to all forms of life.
In truth, existing completely outside the system is probably a fantasy at this point. However, finding shelter in the fringes of society (physically or metaphorically) still offers intrepid escapees the opportunity to maintain a high degree of personal agency by avoiding attention from the state.
Banding together in micro-communities within the state, but that hold no candle to the state’s authority where it isn’t actively being enforced by threat of violence, offers sanctuary and opportunity for sustainable growth.
Operating as a node in many decentralized networks, with decentralized technology, leveraging decentralized currency, is a model for survival both in the dystopian present and post-civilized futures.
Practical Ways To Embrace Degrowth Now
With a firm grip on sanity, we can move on to making changes designed to bring on positive futures worth dreaming towards. It is essential though, to have done the work of changing perspectives before attempting to appreciate the tactical aspects of this work; for no amount of good intentions will supplant a lifetime worth of social programming and indoctrination.
Until the world around you feels totally insane, and unmoored from reality, these ideas will instead appear insane within the cosmology of the dominant culture and its demiurge.
Featured Image: Minotaur by DOFRESH .