An open letter reply to Patrice Ayme.
Two days ago I published a rather introspective post called The temptation to turn ever inwards. It was the result of reading three disturbing essays about the ‘affairs of man’; essays by Tom Engelhardt, Jim Wright and George Monbiot. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting a great response either in the form of ‘Likes’ or written replies. However, the first reply, a long reply, came in from Patrice Ayme. I made the decision to reply to Patrice via a new post; ergo today’s post. Since making that decision a further comment came in from Sue Dreamwalker, also republished today.
What I am going to do is to reproduce Patrice’s comment but interspersed with my replies.
The biosphere evolved over billions of years. Now it is taken over by critters who live for just a few years. Solution? Make it so that said critters live longer, thus attaching a greater value upon survival.
I presume that the ‘said critters’ refer to humans? The average lifespan of humans has increased hugely. From a life expectancy of 30 years  at birth in Medieval Britain, back in the 13th Century, to an average of 67.2 years for humans worldwide in 2010. 
That’s an increase of 124% in a little over 700 years. Yet despite that incredible increase in lifespan, humans have shown no interest in attaching a greater value to their survival: far from it! One might even muse that humans have attached a greater value to those things that actively harm our survival.
For all the (over-) elaborate set-up of dear Monbiot, it’s simpler than that. Instead of going back to Baby Thatcher, Baroness god save the queen knows what, let’s grab a clear and present example.
I’m unclear as to what is meant by “the over-elaborate set-up” but as a long-time reader of Mr. Monbiot‘s essays I applaud both his commitment to the highest standards of journalism and to the UK’s Guardian newspaper for publishing so many of them over the years. I would invite Patrice to give an example of over-elaboration coming from the pen of George Monbiot.
Britain, and many of the Brits, say our dear friend Chris Snuggs, a participant to your, and my, site, have said that they hated Europe, because Europe was not democratic enough. However, one of the latest improvement of the European Constitution is now effective: the head of the EC, the European Commission, is now to be elected by the just elected European PARLIAMENT. Guess what?
Chameleon Cameron, came out of the woodworks to bark, in the clearest way, that it was out of the question to do things differently from before, and now dare to have the European Parliament to elect (what is basically) the European Prime Minister.
Never mind that Britain voted for that European Constitutional change.
Never mind that in representative democracies, the leaders of the executive are elected by Parliament.
So what do we see here?
Contradiction within moods and thoughts systems (Britain agreed to the democratic change, and now does not). We also see erroneous ideas imposed (leaders of the executive says Cameron should be nominated undemocratically, that’s erroneous).
The same sort of things is also perking up in Iraq: the USA caused the mess there, committing several major war crimes in the process. Precisely because those war crimes were not prosecuted, a strong push has been exerted on Obama to duplicate Bush, and go back to attack Iraq some more.
Thus, it is simple: there bad ideas out there, and they need to be destroyed. And bad moods too (an example of bad moods is the enormity that the American population was made, by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc., into an accomplice of the most major war crime there is, war of aggression. Now that this war is in the process of being lost, some clamor to have the war pursued with renewed vigor.
We are now the stewards of the biosphere, whether we like it, or not. We can’t just sit on our rumps, strokes dogs, and whine we will attend to our garden (Voltaire style). By doing nothing, we leave criminals such as Bush, or their spirit, or their mood, in power. And thus we become accomplices.
There is total agreement for the idea that humans are the stewards of the biosphere. But if the “sit on our rumps, strokes dogs and whine we will attend to our garden” is aimed at me, as it appears to be, then I strongly disagree. Living as simple a life as we can is a long way from “doing nothing”.
So go out there, and engage in combat, bad moods, and bad ideas. That’s what even very old alpha monkeys, covered with age spots, do. We don’t want to let very old monkeys be examples of moral rectitude we cannot emulate.
A last point: Monbiot does not realize the contradiction he engages in. In the guise of criticising the opposition, he puts it on a pedestal, and engages in its very propaganda. Monbiot, and many like him, bemoan a “shift towards conservatism”. Nothing could be more false. People who destroy the biosphere are NOT conservatives. They play conservatives on TV. In truth, they are just the opposite. They are destructionists.
I am of the opinion, totally so, that George Monbiot is not playing at conservatism.
So, dear reader, there is little in the comment from Patrice that has me nodding my head. Don’t get me wrong! Patrice Ayme is an individual of extreme intellect as even a dip into his blog will confirm. I am a regular reader of the writings over at that place.
However, there is one major stumbling block for me, one that I have communicated privately to the said Patrice, and that is the issue of anonymity. Because Patrice Ayme is a nom-de-plume. Despite following ‘his’ writings for some time and sharing the occasional private email, I have almost no idea about who the person is. Yes, ‘his’ writings are often very strong and highly critical of many aspects of modern life, especially the American political system. But that is not unique. There is a long line-up of writers doing the same, and doing the same over their signatures: Tom Engelhardt, Jim Wright and George Monbiot and many, many others
For me, hiding one’s identity so securely behind a ‘virtual’ mask yet writing so passionately about many of the issues critically affecting the future of mankind, doesn’t work. If one can’t or won’t be honest about who they are, then better, perhaps, that they keep their thoughts and ideas close to them. There is no shortage of people openly being critical about the American Government and much else across the world, and being critical openly.
Later, Sue of Sue Dreamwalker added a comment. That resonated perfectly with me and it, too, is reproduced in full.
Paul sometimes I despair at how Mankind plays out his life in the world Paul… We bemoan lots as we sit in our homes as the virus of hate, greed, and disaster pours into our living rooms via the BLACK BOX of FEAR tricks… Which helps depress, make us anxious, fearful,…. It insights anger, aggression and the spiral of thought escalates out via the Web… Internet at our fingertips- instant reactions…
Some times I wonder as I ponder… at the soup being remixed… as only this week we hear of ISIS another branch of the terrorists we are now supposed to fear… As the UK now makes friends with its long time enemy Iran.. reinstating diplomatic relationships again.. The Saga runs on an on… With Oil as the major players .
That’s why turning inward is sometimes Paul the only thing we can do… As we can only live our lives… While I so want to save the world.. The world has also got to want to save itself…
I can only live my own life and stop the petty squabbles, the judgements, the criticisms as I mend my own world to live at peace within it…
Once we all realise its our thoughts which in fact we send out, in fear, in anger, as we judge and condemn that are reflected back …
WE create the world.. We consume its products, We want to live in the lifestyles that demand this World to exploit others for riches.. And yet condemn the conditions of the haves and have nots…
We have lost sight of our basic values in life Paul…
So yes I often retreat inwards… I have too.. Because I worry too much about the kind of Earth we are leaving our Grandchildren to grow up in…
In final reply to Patrice, I shall reproduce this well-known quotation :
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.“
1. “A millennium of health improvement“. BBC News. 1998-12-27.
2. CIA Factbook.
3.This saying is widely attributed to Voltaire, but cannot be found in his writings. With good reason. The phrase was invented by a later author as an epitome of his attitude. It appeared in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall under the pseudonym Stephen G. Tallentyre.