0 out of 10 for 10:10

by | Sep 3, 2009

It turns out we’ve missed a trick in our articles about the fashion for what we have called ‘pastiche politics‘, the phenomenon by which environmentalists attempt to muster non-existent public support by comparing themselves to world-changing political movements of the past – the Suffragettes, JFK, the New Deal, anti-apartheid, that sort of thing. Because, writing at Comment Is Free about Franny ‘The Age of Stupid’ Armstrong’s 10:10 Campaign, which seeks to get us all to reduce our emissions by 10% over 2010, Brendan O’Neill has provided a handy quote from Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst:

Socialism means plenty for all. We do not preach a gospel of want and scarcity, but of abundance … We do not call for limitation of births, for penurious thrift, and self-denial. We call for a great production that will supply all, and more than all the people can consume.

(Which is also a rather nice counter to the watermelon theory, which holds that environmentalism is the reincarnation of socialism – red on the inside. But that’s another story.)

O’Neill’s piece is a ripple of dissent in a sea of sycophantic Guardian coverage of 10:10. Which is not entirely surprising, given that the Guardian is backing the campaign. It presents so much material from the green great and good on the subject that it’s hard to know where to start. Happily, many of its flaws are encapsulated in this wee video of Franny Armstrong confessing all to Guardian journalists:

The good news is that the first 10% cut is actually very easy. It’s the low-hanging fruit, it’s the changing your light bulbs, turning down your heating, driving a bit less, flying a bit less, changing your eating habits a little bit – it’s that kind of thing. Unless you’re one of those people who have already started, in which case it’s a lot harder. But it only gets really hard around 30 or 40%.

But we don’t have to worry our pretty heads about that, because the good people at 10:10 will make sure the government will make us do it. And we already know that the government would like us to make them make us do it. As UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband said about the Heathrow protests:

When you think about all the big historic movements, from the suffragettes, to anti-apartheid, to sexual equality in the 1960s, all the big political movements had popular mobilization. Maybe it’s an odd thing for someone in government to say, but I just think there’s a real opportunity and a need here.

Unfortunately for Franny, governments are far easier to persuade than the electorate.

I’m of that generation that grew up being told that the point of our existence was to watch TV and go shopping and play computer games and then die. And I’m actually extremely excited and happy to realise that actually that’s not true. Actually, we have this immense responsibility – our generation has this immense responsibility. Because everybody who came before us didn’t know, and everyone who follows us, it’ll be too late for them to do anything. So it is down to us. And I actually find that extremely exciting and extremely inspiring, that we have got something important to do and that we’re not just passive consumers […] I find it much more scary the idea that our lives are just not worth anything, and if we just bought more Nike trainers, for example, then we would all be happier […] And I find that whole individualistic get in your little car and sit in a traffic jam for two hours and then go to a pointless job, that’s what I find really terrifying.

Don’t we all, dear. The difference is that Franny is happy to escape the treadmill by insisting that everybody else keeps on pedaling – literally. Meanwhile, Franny gets to go in big shiny helicopters:

At the end [of The Age of Stupid], there’s this great shot of this old guy mountain-climbing that was clearly shot from a helicopter. It was shot from a helicopter, because I shot it. And that kind of decision we had to make, like, you know, if we increase the production values of the film, we make it that much more mainstream by doing things like helicopter shots.

What was that she was just saying about passive consumerism?

It is de rigeur for environmentalists demanding that the rest of us change our greedy, consumerist ways to ritually, and with faux embarrassment, confess the size of their own carbon footprint. But it is only so big, they say, shifting uncomfortably yet sincerely in their seats, because they have a planet to save. Over to Franny again:

The thing about my carbon footprint is that it was really, really good. Because I’ve been vegetarian since I was eleven, I’ve never had a car, I live in a very cold house, I’ve got solar panels, I’ve got amazing insulation, I hate shopping, so I never buy anything. So I was doing really, really well until I made this climate blockbuster movie, and I’m now flying quite a lot to promote it. Like we’ve just been in Australia last week and we’re going to America next week. So my carbon footprint has dramatically gone up since I’ve become such a successful climate campaigner, paradoxically.

Not paradoxically at all. What Armstrong has succeeded in demonstrating is that, if you want to actually get anything done around here, you have to make an impact.

Her argument will no doubt cut ice with the converted, however – the converted being those with nothing better to do than read the Guardian and work out how to reduce their emissions. For everyone else, which is almost everybody, there is stuff to do. As we’ve said before, saving the planet is just a way to pass the time.

Anyway, good luck to ’em. They’ll need it. And congratulations in advance should their campaign actually manage to turn the heads of anything approaching a sizable chunk of the population. But we don’t believe for one minute that the public will go for this, like the public haven’t voted for green parties in the polls, like electoral turn-out has declined as all the mainstream parties have adopted mainstream environmental policies, like opinion polls repeatedly show that most people have little time for environmentalism, like ‘popular’ protests at energy plants and airports are anything but popular.

At the risk of indulging in a bit of pastiche politics ourselves, we would suggest that the real popular movement, the one that really is running counter to the mainstream and trying to change the world for the better, is the one that staunchly resists the political elites’ undemocratic push for a more sustainable, less aspirational world in which our only goal is to keep everything just how it used to be – forever. Because most of us, as (ahem) Martin Luther King once said, have a dream.


  1. jabailo

    Another bullseye! Bravo.

    In many ways, the “environmentalist” movement of the 00s reminds me of GenX. GenX goes around criticizing everything “old” but then goes out of its way to replicate the previous generation in all but name. Kurt Cobain lambasts the geezers, but based his music on the Cream albums his mom gave him. Go figure.

    The problem for Greens is that we’ve reduced auto emissions by 97 percent not by yelling, or legislating, but by waiting for the technology to be cheap enough for us to have electronic ignition.

    This is why Greens hate Hydrogen. Not only is it championed by George Bush and Arnold Schwartzenegger, but it doesn’t provide hooks for them to ply their trade of nagging criticism.

    The ideal “solution” then, for any societal problem has to be flawed rather than perfect for it to gain acceptance. It has to have a “Gold Level” for the elites to participate in…and it has to have various flaws in the technology to allow room for consultants and mechanics to make a buck.

    That’s reality, and quite frankly, I’m perfectly content with same.

  2. George Carty

    I’m one non-Green who also hates hydrogen as a fuel.

    Currently most hydrogen (used for non-energy applications, mostly ammonia manufacture) is made from fossil fuels (chiefly natural gas)! Burning fossil fuels directly is surely far more efficient than burning hydrogen made from fossil fuels!

    Even if we were to make hydrogen without fossil fuels (by electrolytic or thermochemical splitting of water, powered by nuclear energy), it still has severe disadvantages. Although its energy per unit weight is excellent (which is why space rockets use it), its energy per unit volume sucks. In addition, it has to be cooled to at least -240 °C to liquify it O(even at high pressure), and its tiny molecules mean that preventing leaks is much more difficult that with conventional hydrocarbon fuels.

    In my view, once we are making hydrogen from non-fossil sources, we might as well go all the way and make synthetic hydrocarbon fuels (with the carbon coming either from carbon-containing waste, or from atmospheric CO2).

  3. Ian Wilson

    Great article, and you saved me a job attempting to wade through the cr*p that is liberally displayed all over the Grauniad web site.

    I did however have a look yesterday on it for some reason, and skimmed the comments on the various 10:10 articles. Once again, probably 80-90% are very critical of this campaign.

    Its no wonder that if I was a paranoid green (they are paranoid aren’t they?) then I would think that there is a mass conspiracy against them by the oil companies, government etc. etc.

    Unfortunately, they still haven’t figured out what you so eloquently put in this article and others – the general electorate don’t give a stuff and don’t want to have constant lectures stuffed down their throat.

    I even felt the need to add a comment to the Brendan O’Neill article pointing this out to a previous poster, as they didn’t get it either.

    Further, I agree with George that Hydrogen fuel is a massive problem and not the answer (yet maybe). Storage and distribution (i.e. into petrol stations) is its biggest issue, plus the fact it takes huge amounts of energy to get it in the right form in the first place.

  4. PeterB

    I love reading your articles, I come all the way from Australia to do so.

    Last night on an ABC TV forum the new UK High Commissioner (Helen Liddell?) commented about the climate crisis saying that she couldn’t understand the level of AGW scepticism in Australia, that the UK finished this debate 10-15 years ago, that you’d had a carbon tax in place for years and were well on the way to being a low-carbon economy.

    As I understand it the UK is still building coal-fired power stations and is looking forward to energy shortfalls in the near future. Your piece above suggests limited support from the population at large.

    Any ideas how Ms Liddell can claim a morally higher position over us poor Aussies?

  5. geoffchambers

    Your comments on Armstrong are spot on, as usual, like the previous analysis of Monbiot and Kingsnorth in “Folie à Deux”. But over and above the weird ideas of this or that media person is the question of what is happening at the Guardian. On their on-line environment page I counted no less than 36 articles about their ludicrous 10:10 campaign, following a similar number about the Climate Camp. I know the Guardian is on its death bed, and religious conversions are frequent in these circumstances, but do they really think that chanting seventy Gaia Nostras is going to save them?
    Their publicity gimmicks – bracelets and sponsorship by MPs and other luvvies – is borrowed from Make Poverty History, so the project is obviously doomed. I commented on Armstrong’s article, that since anyone signing the 10:10 pledge is effectively promising to reduce their economic activity by 10%, it won’t be signed by anyone who’s just got a job, or been promoted, or got married, or had a child, or is about to start a business or realise some dream or ambition – anyone, in other words, with plans for the future. No wonder all the politicians have signed up.

  6. geoffchambers

    Much as I appreciate your consistent attacks on the follies of environmentalism, I’ve always felt that you are on dangerously weak ground when you point up its lack of popularity. This is a current weakness, true enough, pointed up by the Guardian’s boast of having signed up just ten thousand to its 10-10 pledge (only the first thousand got the free glass of champagne, so that leaves 9000 frustrated luvvies who’ve sworn off that flight to Tenerife in exchange for an aluminium bracelet).

    But things may change, and British politics is currently in a particularly unpredictable phase. Since the Greens got 10%+ in the European elections, it is no longer possible to dismiss them as being democratically illegitimate. Of course, those 10% of electors probably had little idea of the true nature of Green policies, but that’s democracy for you. They may fade away, like the ILP and the Temperance Society, or they may surprise us all, like the Labour Representation Committee and the National Socialist Workers Party. Not being climate scientists, we can’t claim to see into the future.

    The fact that all major parties are playing at being Greener than Thou, and the deliberate placing of climate change (whatever that is) at the centre of current political debate, gives the Greens a formidable advantage in propagating their message. Whatever they say, no important political figure in any of the major parties will dare contradict them. Whatever energy choices a future government may make (nuclear, coal, or the wrong sort of renewables) the Greens will be well-placed to reap votes by criticising them when the lights go out and/or electricity bills soar.

    If the Greens get a healthy percentage vote, but no MPs, this will be used as a further justiication for installing European electoral habits – (proportional representation, state-funded parties) and we could end up with a fragmented Euro-style political system which the British have no experience of managing – Berlus-cronyism without the countervailing stabilising force of a mafia-run parallel economy.

    You seem to want to stay above the political debate, while determined to deny the Greens the legitimacy of democratic existence. I believe this position is untenable, on grounds of political philosophy, essentially, (but on practical grounds from the moment the Greens score a political success). The Monster Raving Loony Party existed politically, at least for the one glorious moment when they beat the Social Democratic party into fourth place in a by-election, and put an end to a certain vision of the British Left. The Greens are well placed to make even more far-reaching changes in the political firmament, whatever the strength of their arguments. If those arguments are scientific, or pseudo-scientific, they must be countered in the same terms.

    I believe, like you, that their politics are more delusional, and less interesting, than those of the late Screaming Lord Sutch, but I don’t think you will beat them by attacking their democratic legitimacy.

  7. Alex Cull

    I’ll be interested to find out what happens to Franny Armstrong’s/TheGuardian’s 10:10 campaign in the end. Some problems I think are on the cards (aside from the entire dodgy edifice of CAGW, that is.) For instance, those people likely to notice 10:10 and sign up are already likely to be doing all the green, planet-saving things anyway. And those people who already think that CAGW is rubbish are unlikely to be influenced by a bunch of celebs wearing trendy scrap-metal wristbands. Hard-line environmental campaigners will think it doesn’t go far enough. And people hit hard by the economic downturn will have more pressing things to think about, i.e., money, jobs, bills. And as we near Copenhagen there will be quite a bit of climate fatigue. Not to mention the even bigger dose of climate fatigue due if there’s no significant agreement in Copenhagen, it’s already March 2010 and still freezing cold.

    But as always it’s fascinating to read all the comments on the Guardian site and find out how people are planning to avert the coming catastrophe. Like the teacher from Brighton whose family will remain having only one car, and Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, who will think very hard before booking more than one private international flight a year, DJ Sara Cox, who will install draught excluders, author Anthony Horowitz, who will cut down one flight in 10, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who will turn off his lights and Tamsin Greig, who will put on a jumper.

    And the British Fashion Council, the Women’s Institute, Tottenham Hotspur, Delia Smith, Peter Mandelson and Gordon Brown have all signed up too!

    Well, I can resist no longer. I’ve just put on a jumper. I’ve switched off the kitchen light. I’m planning to switch off this computer too, before I go to bed. That’s me done. Where do I sign up for the free champagne? Oh.. It’s all gone? Damn…

  8. gofer

    They see life, working, jobs, recreation, etc. as lacking in any meaning. They look for some kind of meaning to life and something to make them feel good about living. So what better than just “save the world.” Nothing like that to make you feel like you’re superman and morally superior to all the rest of us, who aren’t enlightened.

    It happens in every generation. The robber barons use these people to establish movements and extract great deals of money from the public. It’s too bad they can’t see how they are being used for the profit of devious people.

  9. artwest

    So are the signers going to be rigorously monitored to see how well they keep their promise?
    Only kidding.
    I am sure that the campaign is more interested in the numbers than they are in whether or not the signer’s New Year’s resolutions last beyond the first week in January.

    I undersatand what you mean but the Greeen’s vote was 10% of a very poor turnout and barely more than the BNP. This is surely dismal after a couple of decades of virtually wall-to-wall hysterical AGW propaganda in the media with barely even a mild questioning of the most absurd claims. If the Greens can’t manage better than that in a Euro election (when the fringe parties always do better than in a General Election) and with the main parties at historically low levels of support, it’s unlikely that they’ll go much higher as the world continues not to fry.

  10. SJones

    Still longing for the days before environmental protection became mainstream?

    Dreaming about what a `better´ world it would be without all those tiresome environmental regulations hindering `progress´?

    Factories could go back to discharging toxic effluent into rivers (toxic sludge is good for you!) and stop worrying about atmospheric pollution from smokestacks; far better for profit margins. People could stop the costly business of waste disposal and simply throw rubbish in the streets like the good old days. Forget about sewage treatment plants, far too expensive, just pipe the raw sewage into the sea like they used to do, who cares about clean beaches anyway. Protect marine ecosystems, what a joke! what´s wrong with denuding the seas of life? All the better for use as a giant toilet. What a relief it would be to everybody to stop having to be concerned about wildlife conservation or biodiversity. Farmers could go back to using noxious pesticides on the land, safe in the knowledge that nobody gives a toss, and the useless wild places could all be torn up and concreted over to provide more roads, carparks, airports, shopping malls and all those other important things that give human life such meaning.

    Above all everyone could simply stop having to be bothered about whether or not increasing greenhouse gas emissions is causing the climate to change, (what a blessing that would be) and could carry on pumping out C02 with impunity, after all the more we pump out the better it will be for the poor people of this world.

    Lets clog up our cities with cars, throw plastic into the oceans, cut down the forests and to hell with the environment!

    You remind me of dirty teenagers who won´t clean their rooms.

  11. Editors

    Sjones misses the point of our criticism. Which is a surprise, given how often he or she visits this site.

    No, we do not long ‘for the days before environmental protection became mainstream’.

    What we argue is that environmental problems do not call for special politics. Furthermore, it is clear that eco-centric politics is prior to much of the ‘science’ on which it is putatively founded.

    And no, neither do we long for the politics of before the emergence of the environmental movement. Nostalgia is definitely for the environmentalists. After all, it is the romantic idealisation of nature and a sense of loss that is the emotional driver of many an environmentalists’ argument, and the restoration of ‘balance’ with ‘Her’ its objective.

  12. geoffchambers

    to artwest #9
    10% is huge for a fringe party historically in British politics, poor turnout or not. New Labour in a burst of typical suicidal insanity, installed proportional representation for the first time in British elections, allowing voters to choose any old group of sympathetic nice guys (and gals). (Don’t get me wrong. I agree with 90% of the Green Party’s aims, and would vote for them, if they weren’t terminally bonkers). 10% is big in PR democracy. Nuclear power and genetically modified crops would be impossible in a UK where the Greens scored 10%.
    If they can’t manage better than that … ”with the main parties at historically low levels of support” as you say, well, maybe they’ll manage better next time. As I said, we’re not climate scientists, so we can’t foretell the future.

  13. Editors


    The UK turnout for the European elections was 34.7%. The Greens scored 8.38% of the vote. That represents about 2.9% of the electorate *actually* voting for them.

    The 2004 turnout was 38.52%, with the Greens scoring 6.05% – or 2.33% of the electorate.

    A far more interesting result for the Greens happened in the 1989 Euro elections -their first as the Green Party, having changed from the Ecology Party. The turnout was 36.7%, but they polled a relatively huge 15% – 5.5% of the electorate. They have not been able to build on this.

    If, by some miracle, the Green Party change their electoral fortunes, we will, of course, have to reconsider our argument. What strikes us at the moment, however is that environmentalism remains a political idea that has achieved unprecedented success, despite never having been tested by the democratic process, let alone debated within the institutions of our ‘representative’ democracy. That is what needs explaining.

  14. Ian Wilson


    I’ve seen (and had) this argument before on other websites with those who choose to believe the climate change rhetoric.

    I’ll say what I said to them, just because I (and others obviously) don’t believe in climate change, doesn’t mean that we don’t care about other aspects of real, proven and obvious causes of environmental damage.

    Its quite amusing actually to see you espouse all these good environment related technological improvements that have taken place over the last 100 years, whilst still clearly being of the ilk that would rather return us to the “good old days” of no mainstream electricity, no regular supplies of water or heat and no worldwide transportation.

    Which is it for you, dark ages or the enlightened ages?

  15. NYCNark

    Geoff may or may not be right about the popularity of green parties at the polls. But as long as Greens articulate the most sustained critique of work in contemporary society (see Armstrong quote below), they will be able to capture a large audience. Those who would oppose them must be able to posit a viable alternative to their critique, and not just argue for the status quo (albeit a status quo in which muscular governments intervene to develop new technologies or promote consumerism). Armstrong is right to find worklife under capitalism impoverished and, yes, terrifying. We can’t allow the devil a monopoly on the best tunes.

    “And I find that whole individualistic get in your little car and sit in a traffic jam for two hours and then go to a pointless job, that’s what I find really terrifying.”

  16. George Carty

    Is the outsourcing of manufacturing to cheap labour countries (mostly in Asia) to blame for the rise and rise of environmentalism in the West? The following two mechanisms would be involved:

    1. Outsourcing means far less manufacturing in the West, so Westerners are far more apt to view themselves only as consumers and not producers. This would encourage Malthusian thinking.
    2. Outsourcing created a need to create vast numbers of make-work jobs to conceal the unemployment it caused. The control-freak tendencies of environmentalism (and other political areas strongly backed by NuLab) are designed not to improve society, but to justify the existence of the make-work jobs.

  17. geoffchambers

    To the editors at #13
    Thanks for the details of the Green vote in Euro elections. I didn’t realise that their vote was down from 15% to 8%. Presumably Chernobyl, with its 600 dead was a bigger worry in 1989 than climate change, with its 300,000 deaths a year (and counting) is now…
    I agree with you entirely that the unprecedented success of green politics, despite their minimal electoral presence, is what needs explaining. I just don’t think you’ll get anywhere by repeating: “Only x demonstrators – it’ll never catch on”.
    As you know, I share your distrust of politics based on environmentalism, and disdain for the vacuity of the mainstream parties. I still feel that your criticism of the poor electoral showing of the Greens in elections is the weak link in your argument. Things change, sometimes in unexpected ways, which is why at #6 I mentioned the Labour Representation Committee, which was formed by the Liberal Party to gain the working class vote, and rapidly devoured its parent. Labour’s current espousal of Green politics seems to me to be a similar tactical error.
    The Greens have managed to gain the moral high ground by their specious appeal to science, despite the fact that – on climate change, genetically modified crops, and nuclear safety – science by no means supports their ideas (or rather, attitudes). They need to be countered on scientific grounds, but apperently no-one in mainstream politics has either the scientific knowledge (or even the animal cunning) to challenge them where they are weakest. I would love to know how clever politicians like Ken Livingstone were transformed into wilting green houseplants, lecturing us about dripping taps.
    When mainstream parties kowtow to the Greens, they’re not after the 8% of Green votes. They’re after the 90% of uncommitted voters who express vague sympathy for vague ideas about being vaguely nice to the planet. (For once I know what I’m talking about. I used to conduct focus groups for government departments).
    If the big parties let the voters down by espousing green policies, and taxes go up, but it gets warmer anyhow, or taxes go up, and it doesn’t get warmer, voters might do something funny (they already are, in numbers unprecedented for a century). We need to be ready for this eventuality, and continuously intoning the fact that Porritt and Monbiot and Goldsmith are rich silly billies with no democratic mandate is not enough. So was Churchill. And a fine mess he got us out of.

  18. geoffchambers

    NYCNark at #15 makes an important point when he/she says: “We can’t allow the devil a monopoly on the best tunes”. Fran Armstrong’s throwaway remark about boring work in a capitalist society was a commonplace of radical social criticism from early Marx to late hippydom (though I’m not sure if Marx mentioned traffic jams. Anything about it in the Grundrisse? I’m sure our editors can enlighten us).
    The Greens have seized the moral high ground by insisting on their commitment to saving the planet, (starting with Bangla Desh), and attaching a pseudo-scientific justification to their moralising more successfully than Marxists ever did. Because their science is totally false, (scepticism about global warming is not heretical, simply because many sceptics vote Republican; new crop varieties are not evil, simply because Monsanto makes a profit from them) their good intentions risk having disastrous results. (Africa has cheap coal, and people dying for lack of electricity. Armtwist a bunch of corrupt dictators into signing up to the latest Western global warming fad for PR reasons, and join the dots…)
    The Greens may be feeble electorally, but they have probably signed up a good number of the educated, politically aware young who would in former times have been the spearhead of radical left politics (“cadres”, I think they used to be called, though here in France that means senior executives).

  19. George Carty

    I wonder if much of the environmental devastation of Africa which the Greens blame on climate change is really caused by deforestation?

    Maybe we should build some cokeworks in Africa, so that poor Africans can use coke for their cooking instead of wood or charcoal, thus saving the trees there.

    (Note that Europe banned coal in medieval times because of the air pollution it caused, but had to repeal the ban in the early modern era because the wood was running out.)

  20. Robert Wood

    Which is also a rather nice counter to the watermelon theory

    Except that you are ignoring that socialists deliberately lie about the conucopia to come. Their goal isn’t plenty for all; it is control for all by the sainted few.

  21. Robert Wood

    Once again, I find, after reading your quotes of this “Fanny”, I am struck by how these bourgois “elites” (for they are only water carriers for the true rulers) are all for denial for the lower classes, but not for them.

    Now, it is the stated British government policy to make air travel prohibitively expensive … except for them, who can afford it. The squawking masses are soooo annoying at airports, after all!

  22. Editors

    Robert – ‘Except that you are ignoring that socialists deliberately lie about the conucopia to come. Their goal isn’t plenty for all; it is control for all by the sainted few.’

    It may be what you think. But as an assertion, it might need a very powerful mind-reader (in lieu of a coherent argument) to sustain it.

    We prefer to assume that socialists (and any other ‘ists) mean what they say.

  23. Editors

    NYCNark, the UK Tories began their latest process of greening with the ‘Quality of Life Challenge’. http://www.qualityoflifechallenge.com/

    But the Labour Party had a ‘quality of life barometer’ nearly a decade earlier. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/220317.stm

    Naturally, both of these projects attempted to tie spurious ideas about ‘subjective well being’ to environmental sustainability. That’s just what Franny’s doing. Everyone knows that work is mundane.

    I wonder if Armstrong and co are really capturing disenchantment as much as they are causing it.

    Walking to work in a hair shirt would be far more mundane than sitting in a car is. And what does Franny imagine work ought to consist of? She’s not arguing for ‘hope in work and joy in leisure’.

    So Prescott’s ‘quality of life barometer’, the Tory’s ‘quality of life challenge’, and Armstrong’s fear that she might wake up as an ordinary person with an ordinary job look more like pathetic (or just callous) attempts to connect, than radical critiques of contemporary life. “We understand your pain”. It’s also consistent with the more general ‘happiness agenda’, where ‘subjective measures of well being’ are surveyed, to produce theories about people in poorer countries being ‘happier’. With subjectivity objectified and happiness quantified, the promise is that even if we can’t be rich, we can at least set ourselves targets to make us happ… and anyway, if we were rich, it would cause global warming which would kill us.

    It’s not just Franny and her lot who are promising happiness and offering a criticism of Modern Life. The government and the opposition are at it too. Little wonder that nobody is happy!

  24. geoffchambers

    Thanks George Carty for reminding us about this article. A good prophetic read after Splattergate. Climate Resistance can take credit for pointing out the sinister fantasy aspects of environmentalism long before 10:10 sprayed it all over us.


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