🎓The Information Illusion

We don't need more information about how fucked we are. We know that. We need to know how to act together.

🎓The Information Illusion

A week or two ago I went to Manchester to talk publicly about the fact that the human race is heading for extinction. I used what abilities I have to empower people to enter into resistance to stop this ultimate obscenity. I only gave one piece of information: recently the UN Climate Change Secretary, Simon Stiell, said there are only two years left to “save the world”. Stiell added that he was not “being melodramatic” - meaning the world will not be saved without drastic action, meaning that if the world is not saved there will be “no world”, meaning Earth will not be habitable, meaning billions of people will be killed. The issue here is not about the “information”. Giving more information about this, in my view, would insult the audience. It would be as if your neighbour asked you to save their baby from a burning building and you got out your notepad and asked for more information about how flammable their bed is. If the house is on fire that is more than sufficient information to know what you have to do to - what a reasonably decent person like you has to do - get the fuck up and run over and help. 

The problem is not the “information”. “Information” is an abstraction. In the real world, it does not exist - it is a concept extracted from the act of communication which necessarily is embedded in a pre-existing matrix of meaning systems - an ever-interacting ecology of social, political, existential and spiritual orientations through which the “information” is made intelligible. Communication is saturated with what it is to be human - to be emotional - to feel. 

To convey information that we are about to enter hell unless we do something drastic is a massively emotional event - triggering overwhelming distress, then repression, then dissonance in an audience. To get from there to action - i.e. to actually create change - the last thing people need is more “information”. 

What people need are three things. 

First, they need to be helped to observe and then master how they feel so they can be how they really want to be. This can be done in several ways. They can be reminded that they are good people - or at least they would like to be good people. So what does that mean when faced with this reality? It means action. They need to be reminded that one day they will die and on their deathbed they will not be thinking about their bank balance, their status, or their security - they will be thinking about whether they loved the people they wanted to love, whether they made a difference in their lives. And this means that I have to act now. They need to be reminded that life owes them nothing - at any moment we can be subject to a life-changing accident, struck down with a terminal disease. We learn to accept these radical uncertainties: the necessity of accepting fate. Our fate in the present moment is to face this reality of social collapse - and the necessity to react to it in a way that conforms with what it means to be the people we find ourselves wanting to be. To get the fuck up and stop what is happening. 

Secondly, people need to be shown that they do not make decisions alone. They don’t make cool, calm calculations like a machine. We only exist in a social space - with others around us and we always act with others whether we recognise it or not. If others act in a way that leads to arrest, we will too. If others act in ways that lead them to be imprisoned, then we will as well. We will go over the top of the trench to face death not because of “information” but because we do what the guys on our left and right are doing. We learn to act not by being provided with information. We just do it. That is why I ask for everyone to give money together in a meeting. When acting collectively, just about everyone donates. When I did this at a meeting last week, 80% of the people donated. By my calculations, if they were asked to do it at home, alone, afterwards only around 10% would donate. The information they have been given remains the same information. The reason they donate a lot more money is not because of the information but because they are all donating in the same time and space. Only by experiencing acting together do we learn that we need to act together. 

Thirdly, we therefore must act together as well. I don’t ask people to enter into resistance - to think about it, to receive an email about it. I ask people to do it here and now. Everyone goes outside and sits down in the road outside for a minute. To learn what to do we don't need more information, or even more thinking, we need to move our bodies physically into resistance. The body tells the mind what to feel and thus what to think. You find yourself having the courage, you do not “decide” to have courage. Just as “information” is an abstraction so is the “individual” - the word is an ideological construction designed to disempower us, to keep us weak and miserable. To get together and act together is to experience joy and excitement. To start living life. To make a difference. 

At best what left intellectuals like investor Gary Stevenson and Owen Jones are doing when they pour information at us is entertainment - and it is genuinely great stuff - I love to listen to him. But it is an illusion to think what he does is changing the world. If anything it disempowers people because it reaffirms that things suck (we already know that) and then gives no pathway to action. We are thus drawn into greater depression, and aloneness, watching the screen.

What I would like to speak to Gary and Owen about is the contemporary research on how people act - which is only a rediscovery of traditional pre-modern wisdom. In contrast, their approach is rooted in the mechanistic, reductive and materialistic way of seeing which were forced upon us by the elites 250 years ago. A worldview which told us to think of the world as dead - just stuff, there to be exploited, plundered, raped. This worldview cannot understand that there is only one world - one ecology - and we live within it.

In fact, we are it. 

Yes, I would be contradicting myself if I did not give you a route to action. Come to my Revolution Conference this weekend to discover how people are acting together and how you can play your part with others. 

Revolution. We all know it's coming - so what's the plan!

The evidence for massive climate and social shocks is now overwhelming. And the collapse of neo-liberal regimes is inevitable. 

So the big question is what next? Fascism or a New democratic civilisation.

We need to start coming together and thinking seriously about this - the all important question of our time: what next?

This online conference this Saturday and Sunday is making a start. It is more a marker than anything else. People getting together to discuss the themes, with a view to doing a much bigger event in February 2025.

A few hundred people have signed up already. Will you join? 

We will be looking at:

  • Where are we at in the world at the moment?
  • What does a truly democratic revolution look like?
  • Post revolution: What is the plan for the new world?

Discover the program, our speakers – and sign up here

And as usual our focus on praxis - joining theory and practice. How we actually get stuff done.

The most important thing is to share it in your networks and with people who might be interested.

The Climate Situation is F*cked

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