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Jan
08

Apres Nous Le Deluge

It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities. – Josiah Charles Stamp

Madame de Pompadour was a mistress of Louis XV, a contemporary of Voltaire and by all accounts an intelligent and beautiful woman. She is credited with the political manuevering that led to the Seven Years War, which saw France, Austria, and Russia allied against Britain and Prussia. The kings ministers, seeing financial ruin and social destabilization in their future would admonish her for her extravagances in politics, entertainment and interior decorating. She replied: “Ruine, si vous voulez, quand nous sommes morts et disparus, apres nous le deluge.” Ruin, if you like, when we are dead and gone; after us, the deluge. Prescient as she was, it took another 25 years after her death for the unraveling of her society, the deluge of consequences that history would call the French Revolution.

The French Revolution (1789–1799) was a period of radical social and political upheaval in French and European history. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years. French society underwent an epic transformation as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from liberal political groups and the masses on the streets. Old ideas about hierarchy and tradition succumbed to new Enlightenment principles of citizenship and inalienable rights. – Wikipedia

I sometimes think that we are living in very similar times. The power structures in our culture are becoming brittle, as their leverage on the masses of “consumers” is evaporating along with the cheap oil they have used to finance their incredible run of profit taking. All profit taken of course from the ecosystems, habitats and the bodies of the plants, animals and indigenous peoples of the world. Once they are no longer able to keep the “bread and circuses” flowing, it won’t take long for the the citizens in Western countries to come to the same realization that billions of others already know. Those old ideas of hierarchy and tradition are alive and well and the Enlightenment principles of citizenship and inalienable rights are like smoke in the wind.

But I digress. Back on December 10, 2010, I happened to catch the CBC reporting on the latest EKOS poll. It showed all of the usual jockeying between the Conservatives and the Liberals and a two point slip for the NDP. But what really caught my eye was the following quote:

According to the pollster, the Green Party now holds a significant lead among young people and would be close to the range of a majority government — if voting were limited to those under 25. If only seniors voted, the party wouldn’t get a single MP elected, the poll suggested.

Looking at the behaviours of the majority in this country, the consumerism, the death grip of “Business As Usual”, of growth, of jobs, of more money, more money, more money and a profound disinterest in the consequences of these fixations, to the point that in the face of ecosystem collapse, we are bargaining to somehow keep our cars, to keep our economies growing, to keep destroying, keep destroying, keep destroying.

After us the deluge indeed.

Madame de Pompadour would have been proud.

As it ever was…

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