Tim Rickman can't see the emperor's new clothes.


Who controls the world?

Funny thing, democracy. Not something people have experienced much of, until recently. Previously, civilisations with clout tended to be bog standard dictatorships. They only wanted opulent lifestyles and associated high consumption for the elite few, which kept environmental impact down.

Now, there is no stopping us. We - all of us - have got the planet by its oil wells and nobody can make us let go. An interesting charade has evolved between electorate and elected, consumer and supplier, commentator and audience, to make sure we are all happy.

First, we elect a government that we know we can rely on to dispossess the rest of the world of its wealth and bring it to us. Our job is both to enjoy the benefit and, contradictorily, to rain invective on those who arrange it for us. Since we (pretend to) have a conscience, we demand that someone be held to account for allowing - nay, facilitating - our draining of the life from the planet. The job of government and big (but not small) business is to receive this criticism and be bloody careful not to defend themselves against it using the obvious argument. These bastards should, we are convinced, be made to answer for letting us bleed the undeveloped world, trash the planet, be corrupted with power, wealth, greed and conceit. Politicians and business people have become quite good at this, building unwieldy institutional and academic machinery to perpetuate the myth and pretend be trying to tackle the problems. They have little choice, since we would cease to support them with votes and custom if they did otherwise. So they suffer the ritual criticism gladly. It is sweet opprobrium accompanied, as it is, by a really good living. Following a Darwinist necessity, the media does likewise. This is not to say that no independent author has ever written a piece denouncing us for our hypocrisy and sent it in to some periodical. But editors know what readers and advertisers approve of. In a market economy, we censor our own press and consider the result very good value indeed. We even have enough stolen wealth left over to bribe a few charities, who will blame anyone but us for the ills of the world and deliver a few loads of palliative aid to anyone who can look grateful. Of course, we need a spectrum; without the Times the Guardian would not look radical. Otherwise, someone might ask if there is some greater truth. So all play their part.

No one ever is to blame

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