Bill Totten's Weblog

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rain Dance

Clusterfuck Nation

by Jim Kunstler

Comment on current events by the author of The Long Emergency (July 09 2007)

Live Earth is a 24-hour, seven-continent concert series taking place on 7/7/07 that will bring together more than 100 music artists and two billion people to trigger a global movement to solve the climate crisis. -- The Live Earth Web site

Am I the only one who wonders whether rock and roll extravaganzas in the service of Great Causes might be exercises in grandiosity and futility? What I wonder especially: is this the only way we know how to respond to the difficulties that life on earth presents - to engage a corps of professional narcissists to strut and pose in stadiums, affecting to wave their magic wands (or Fender Stratocasters) and make everybody feel better about a given problem (distress on the farm, disease in Africa, global warming ...)? Can't we think of other, more meaningful things to do? Or are we stuck in a perpetually delusional rut of Woodstock-style symbolism, out doing a global rain dance instead of really changing our behavior?

I'm not convinced that these big public service rock shows do much harm - other than perhaps inflating our expectations and using too much electricity - but this particular one galled me a little.

For one thing, even though global warming is by definition a global problem, the notion of a global community as a permanent fixture of human history is, I think, a mirage. If there is any salient macro implication to the problems I term the long emergency, it is that the world will soon become a bigger place again; the great nations will soon retreat to their own corners of the world as they powerdown by necessity; and all the trade relations, cultural exchanges, and geopolitical conceits that have lately made the Earth seem like a big international hotel give way to much more local issues of sheer survival.

There was so much about the Live Earth show that actually expressed what is worst about the current state of American culture: the obscene posturing of zillionaire celebrities, awarding themselves brownie points for the largeness of their concern - even while, like Mr Sting of the band called the Police, they buy-and-sell $20 million Manhattan condos, and burn god-knows-how many tons of Wyoming coal amplifying the bass runs to "Roxanne". And the flip-side of these celebrity pretensions, of course, is the disturbing fealty paid to them by the fans, as members of the public caught up in celebrity-worship are called. Obviously, the whole thing is a kind of self-reinforcing feedback loop spiraling up to ever worse grandiosity on the part of the celebs and ever more pathetic groveling worship of these fake gods by the fans - until it becomes little more than an object lesson in the tragic limitations of the human condition.

Looming behind the spectacle like some Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon, is the puffy figure of Al Gore, who has managed to turn his journalistic accomplishment into something uncomfortably like a Nuremberg rally. I say this perhaps incautiously, not because I believe that Al Gore is a bad person, but because it could get to the point here in America, not far down the line, when a desperate public will beg some political leader to push them around, to tell them what to do, to direct their behavior in some purposeful way to save their asses. And these prancing, preening rock and roll celebrities may be paving the way, so to speak, for some corn pone American fascist to strut his stuff for an American audience worried about the growing darkness, and the falling needle on their car's gas gauge.

The last thing we need now is the carefully packaged postures of concern from "stars". Al Gore could do a lot more good militating to get regular hourly passenger train service running between Nashville and Atlanta, or stomping his state, from Memphis to Chattanooga for swapping sales tax on regular merchandise for a higher tax on gasoline. Or, he could just put aside his pretensions for being a kind of global Wizard of Oz and just cut the shit and run for president of the US, where he might actually make a difference.

Bill Totten


Post a Comment

<< Home