The Death of the Queen

The Death of the Queen
Image: Chris Levine, ‘Lightness of Being’ 2018.

Last night I met with other strategists to consider the response of our various civil resistance networks to the day’s news. I have the greatest of respect for my friends in that meeting but we allowed ourselves to be reduced to working out how her death can be “used” rather than looking at the “meaning” of what has happened.

I will “admit” that when I sat down and read about the death I shed a tear. If I had the courage I would have properly cried. Not because I know the queen in any personal sense or even because I am upset about the death in itself, but because of its emotional meaning in an expansive sense. Because this death, like all death, is an end – and I have a sense of being thrown out into a new cold and meaningless void. I am struck with a sense of something I will never cognitively gasp and yet I was thrown into it against my will. I am 56. I privately think about death every week. All at the same time I feel sickening terror, a dull “English” desperation, a lostness and aloneness, and then a feeling that no thought process is ever going to lead to a resolution. Death is beyond the grasp of something as limited as conscious analysis.

It is not surprising that the social media amplified voices of the repressed, so-called “radical left” screeching their disgust that we should mourn the death of “that woman” while the silent majority on chats feel a vague revulsion at such ugliness. The “radical left”, like their mirror image - the capitalist class - cannot grasp that a thing is never a thing in itself. “That women”, like “production figures”, these “resources” are not “things” but only arbitrary points in the unfathomable flow and depth of dynamic reality. The death of the queen is a collective psychic event, part of the ever-churning chain of being that is a society. People mourn because we sense we are part of this reality – death reminds us of it. That we are not atomised individuals. Death is deeply socially functional because it reminds us of our mortality – and thus reconnects us to our deepest values and loyalties. And we look anew at those around us and our responsibilities. At the sources of what gives us meaning.

This does not mean I am naïve about the politicisation of such processes. How they are used to reinforce a savage class and imperialistic system. The Right will be out in force in the next fortnight feasting on this event to reinforce the obscene lie that submission to the global capitalist monster is somehow an expression of the perennial conservative worldview. It is not. It is a disgusting violation of that worldview, as guilt-stricken Tory MPs I have talked to are well aware. Only their catastrophic cowardice prevents them from speaking out.

Going back to the “strategy”. There is a masochistic impulse in the reformist climate movement to always step back, and go silent, once the “real issues” and “real events” enter the public space – Covid, the Ukraine war, the election of the new Prime Minister, and now the death of the queen – a house slave deference to the death machine. Today this death machine is manifested not on the slave estate or in the genocidal “clearing” of specific colonial lands but in the project to clear whole continents, the whole planet, of disposable humanity. Not through guns and bombs but the release of carbon. What we see in Pakistan, a third of the country under water, is the latest outcome of our collective indifference to global genocide.

No, what we need to do over the next two weeks is insert our presence into the public space with even greater vigour. And declare to this government and their controllers:

“Our Queen who you declare your love – whose values of service and resilience you claim to follow – is now dead. When you drill for more oil you violate everything she stood for – you shit on the future of these lands, on our peoples, on our traditions. You are engaged in a vile and monstrous lie. You take life and you destroy it. You are not “in service” you are “in addiction" to your murderous selfishness. You are traitors not just to this country, not just to humanity, but to Life itself. And over our dead bodies will you perpetuate your lie. We are here, we are never going away. And we will overcome.”

As ever more people are slammed in prison and beaten up, ever more will come forward. The great paradox is that allowing ourselves to absorb the reality of death gives us the courage to battle the forces of everlasting darkness. Death gives us our furious love of Life.

The Climate Situation
is F*cked

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