The Structure of Scandal: Jimmy Saville, Jeffrey Epstein, Three Mile Island…. And us.

The Structure of Scandal: Jimmy Saville, Jeffrey Epstein, Three Mile Island…. And us.
Photo: Alan Jones, Chrissie Hynde, Jordan and Vivienne Westwood at Westwood/McLaren's shop 'Sex', Kings Road, London - 1977

After a hard day of zoom calls, I’ve been watching films about scandals. Series about these three topics have recently appeared on Netflix and they are well worth a watch – not for the contents so much as for their common structure. This structure is essentially the same as the moral depravity now developing with the exponential intensity of the climate crisis.

The progression of scandals is well known but I think it is worth reminding ourselves of the stages. Here is one way of doing this:

Stage 1: people are doing bad things but they are not so bad, and there are lots of other things which are bad so people don’t pay attention to them.

Stage 2: a positive feedback dynamic develops – people get away with being bad and so become worse, but it happens slowly enough for people to get used to it. And people benefit from the badness and so decide to go along with it.

Stage 3: the situation gets so bad that someone finally flips and declares the truth of the matter but they are stamped on, not least by those complicit in the badness, either because they don’t want their cowardice to be exposed or because they benefit from the badness – they have been bought by the bad people. Expediency trumps the truth.

Stage 4: After a number of people who try to speak out have been stamped on, the badness gets to such an intensity that someone’s truth-telling finally breaks through. They are hated like hell for speaking out, but the bad guys (and those tied into their way of thinking) fail to stamp the person out. There is a tipping point where the whole house of cards collapses, and justice is done. Truth trumps expediency.

Stage 5: things return to how they were before and everyone cannot believe “how anyone could have let such badness happen”.

We might add another stage: that the badness becomes unexplainable and thus separate from history, therefore “unique” and thus no lessons can be learned from it. And so the cycle repeats itself. This is largely what has happened with the Holocaust.
When I was young, people were encouraged to talk about it and dwell on the nature of evil and its lessons for our time. Now, no one can speak about it in any comparable way without being stamped on. People endlessly tell me that I must not speak about the H-word in the same sentence as the C-word. I am banned from speaking at universities because of “my comments”.

The point (which we cannot speak about) is that the climate crisis is the mother of all scandals. Everyone knows about this, but we cannot speak about the situation in any morally commonsensical way because that would expose all our complicity in its utter badness – the raw and blatant depravity of allowing millions to be killed to protect the power of the few. To stop us from dealing with it in an objectively humane way, we are only allowed to talk about it in a scientific and thus emotionally repressed and banal way.

Why is it, for instance, that no one compares the climate crisis with child abuse? Isn’t that plainly what is going on here, and on a global scale? One generation is complicit in a project to destroy the next generation. Think of all the psychological pain we are imposing on the young by declaring that we love them while fucking them over on a scale unknown in human history. No wonder there is a mass breakout of depression and self-harm amongst the young.

The liberal establishment, as is usually the case in scandals, is the enabler of this violence. They are the collaborators. They provide cover through deadening euphemism and police the repression of truth.
Of course, if we are honest with ourselves how it will end on the climate. We will be exposed for our complicity. We will be looked upon with the same moral disgust as you will have for those that covered up for Saville, Epstein, and the Three-mile Island management if you watch these films.

A young working-class woman abused by Epstein says “I do my fucking job – you do your fucking job”. She is referring to the cowardice of the police and legal authorities who refused to do their job and bring a billionaire child abuser to justice.

This is what those who are being abused by our complicity are saying to us
“Do your FUCKING JOB”. Meaning, of course, get out of the house and fucking rebel.

To contact civil resistance projects around the world:

The Climate Situation
is F*cked

Help me to get with the job of sorting it out.