Decades of neoliberal policies have undermined the cohesion of societies worldwide and created the conditions for the rise of right-wing demagogues and fascists, according to George Monbiot. At the same time, the world is heading to climate collapse and a breakdown of food production. Industrial agriculture, especially meat production, is one of the key causes for the destruction of biodiversity, soils, fresh water resources, and forests. In addition to “direct action” by groups like “Extinction Rebellion” and “Fridays for Future”, we urgently need, as Monbiot stresses, a new progressive narrative in order to replace a morally, economically and politically bankrupt neoliberalism.
George Monbiot, columnist with the Guardian und author of Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning and Out of the Wreckage. A New Politics for an Age of Crisis
Loneliness has become a genuine epidemic, not only among elderly people, but in all generations – an affliction responsible for grave mental and physical diseases. This epidemic is caused, according to George Monbiot, by a neoliberal economy and ideology which claims that people are greedy selfish creatures competing in a „war of all against all“. Social psychology, anthropology and evolutionary biology, however, tell us that the key values of human beings are a sense of community and altruism. The atomization of society is also creating the conditions for the resurgence of right-wing and fascist demagogues who promise community and coherence to people who feel disenfrachised, dispossessed and alienated.
In Britain, there has been a switch to a „gig economy“ where people pretend to be freelancers, competing under ever worse conditions in a „war of all against all“. After the Labour Party had joined the neoliberal agenda under Tony Blair in the 1990s, no real political choice was left to the majority of Britons for decades. The EU referendum was then used as a „kick at the establishment“. However, Brexit could turn out as a disaster for the majority of British citizens. The three billionaires who own most of the British press for example are pushing for a hard Brexit in order to achieve a regulation vacuum and closer ties to the deregulated US economy.
“Speaking of ‘climate change’ is like calling an invading army ‘unexpected visitors’”, according to George Monbiot. We are not facing slow gradual change, but rapid disruptions of highly complex natural systems. Industrial agriculture is destroying biodiversity, soils and fresh water resources even faster than climate breakdown. According to the UN, only 60 years of harvests remain globally, if agriculture continues on this destructive path. Especially worrying is the fact, that the pollination of crops like rice and maize could be inhibited due to global warming, as these plants only pollinate at night below certain temperatures. The biggest factor for environmental disruption is meat production: pastures and grain-production for meat are responsible for the massive destruction of wetlands and forests worldwide, including the Amazon. At the same time, industrial fishing is already causing “cascading ecological collapse” in the seas.
The activist goup „Extinction Rebellion“ is striving for an exit of fossil fuels by 2025, occupying bridges and government facilities. „Direct actions“ of this type are needed to ring the alarm bells. George Monbiot was involved in „direct actions“ himself previously, for example when he tried to arrest today’s National Security Advisor John Bolton in 2008 for his involvement in the illegal Iraq War. However, in addition to actions, a new progressive narrative is needed as well, in order to replace the neoliberal narrative. Although neoliberalism is morally, economicaly and politicaly bancrupt since the financial crisis in 2008, the left has not been able to challenge it with a new narrative.