“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
Will Bitcoin rally and become the new gold? Is Britain’s hamfisted exit from the European Union symptomatic of a broader malaise and fear within developed Western countries? Will Kanye West do the right thing and run for president (and win) in 2020?
Those questions are important.
Speculation about the trajectory of Western Civilization and attempts to cajole the government into doing this or that have their place. Such intellectual endeavor is the bedrock of a free and flourishing society, if you’ll forgive the pomposity of the sentence. Having a loud and combative public sphere where ideas can be smashed around, dissected and tested enables us to produce a solid bench of back-up plans for the powerful to choose from when whatever they are doing now inevitably collapses. Policy wonks, journalists and NGOs and their constant fractious bickering thus perform something of a public service.
It may even give you a broader perspective and depth of understanding and all that other character building stuff humanities professors like to wax lyrical about when they’re on form.
What such thinkery doesn’t do is give you practical options for how to change the reality in which you live.
In part, this is due to the vast scale at which decisions such as Brexit, or the election of Donald J. Trump are made. Yes, you vote counts. But when it’s thrown into a pot with 300 million other votes? The impact is somewhat diluted.
Excessive energy expended on matters you can only minimally influence becomes a drain rather than a boon. A bloated political media sector lends more energy, more attention, focus and power to those at the top, at the expense of the agency of those in the middle and at the bottom. It saps energy away from dealing with your own problems and externalises it. This externalized frustration can then be harnessed by unscrupulous leaders to further their own agenda. (It’s not your fault that you’re fat and broke and your wife left you. It’s my political opponent and his policies which are ruining this country! Only blind allegiance to me and my plans can save you, and this republic, from collapse…etc).
What is lacking in the media are outlets which are citizen rather than government focused. It is one thing to say, “what could the government do to alleviate problem X.” It is another to say, “what can you as an individual do to alleviate problem X.” However, this still falls within the realms of advocacy. Many charities have this as a goal. They seek to address a certain problem, and in their writings come up with prescriptive solutions that they wish their audience to take in order to address the concern at hand. For example, an environmental charity may exhort its supporters to recycle more, or to volunteer to help clean the beaches after an oil spill.
This too is another form of top-down approach. The goal is decided, usually by the donors. The plan of attack is decided by the strategists and directors of the organization. What remains is less an exchange of ideas or an attempt to inform and empower the citizenry, but an attempt at mass mobilization. By means of an email campaign, a social media drive, a petition, a movie, the organization attempts to rally supporters to take a specific action and move the needle on the issue of their choice. The eventual aim of such movements is often to persuade some personage of importance (a congressman, a judge, a tech CEO) to make a different policy decision.
What Lunacy Now recommends is a third way. As we continually say, the world is changing at an unprecedented pace, faster perhaps than humans can keep up with it. This breakneck speed is causing all kinds of ills such as alienation, discombobulation, nausea and gibbering terror. Among the second order effects of these are rising mental health problems, political extremism, mass despair, relentless consumerism and a struggling economy. It is also opening up an unparalleled array of options for the keen-eyed and quick witted to take advantage of.
For the politically engaged and intellectually open, this presents something of a conundrum. It is very tempting to nerd out on wild guessing as to what will happen next. But incessantly refreshing Elon Musk’s Twitter feed to see if he’s got to Mars yet isn’t going to do you any good. Better to focus on what you, the individual citizen, can do in this moment to play an active role in building the next phase of civilization. Neither is poring over ideological texts, constructing a utopia in the mind without taking any action to make is so.
Politics at its most basic is the art of decision making in groups, about the future direction of said group. We believe that starts from the individual, determining which way you want to go.
Spending hours reading the news is interesting, but it can be a waste of time. Instead, that time can be spent researching all the ways in which the changing technology and cultural reality can be used to your benefit. Lunacy Now wants to connect you with information about options, so you know what destinations are possible, other than the ones which have been advertised to you.
This is the politics of the apolitical. Not what the government can do for you, but what you can do for yourself.