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Replace politicians with philosophers.

“If we replace the politicians representing us in Parliament with philosophers, we’ll meet Cop26 goals.”

- Innes Burns (me)

Big shout but gees 5 mins of your time...

The debate in Parliament surrounding most things, let alone the climate crises, is about as well executed as a bunch ae schoolboys slagging each other for having a ‘wee tadger.’ Doing so in front of the lassies in the hope of impressing them. It’s a pishing contest at best.

It begins with what is becoming an age-old script in Scottish politics. Conservatives launch a personal attack on the SNP; SNP give assurance to what they’re doing and then point towards Westminster; Labour then comes in wae ‘aye the tories could do more, but so can the Scottish Government

And shock horror… each response suits the broader narrative of each party. To the letter.

And they’ll argue like it’s no coincidence, but to anyone wae half a brain cell it’s blatantly obvious.

We’ve gone backwards since devolution. What posed as a smidgen of hope in breaking away from the ‘us v them’ politics of Westminster has now reverted right back to square one. Union-leaning folk will blame the independence question, others will blame the hostile politics the Conservative party has brought back to put them on the map in Scotland.

And despite projects the Scottish Government has been able to fund in recent years, the debate remains dumbed down. & this is only, and I mean only, because of political complications.

Untribal Politics stands firm in its position on fracking: it’s a no-go. It’s definitively ‘untribal’ because only politics and money complicate the issue. Most people don’t want this. Even backbenchers of Truss’ government down south expressed their concerns about how we’re going to get genuine consent from the people to go ahead with it.

And by way, it’s a global effort. So even if the Scottish Government stand firm against it, folk have a moral duty to campaign against our closest neighbours doing it.

And I’m gonna say what nobody else is saying in media outlets… everyone I’ve seen on the tele talk about the benefits of fracking is OLD. It won’t affect them. All this will do is gee them better weather during the summer in their retirement. It’s selfish beyond ways I canny even describe.

Not only will the rewards reaped from fracking take years to come to the surface, but its rewards are unclear. We don’t know how much gas supply we’ll be able to dig up and it’s impossible to forecast. It won’t help our energy bills short term, and even when it begins to help, our energy bills will still be dictated by international market prices. It would take a monumental amount of gas supply on our end to significantly impact the international market. It’s not gonnae happen. All this before mentioning the earthquake disasters and damage done to the environment. Let us be clear: this is a con.

Over the pond, Colin Jost summed it up on Saturday Night Live a cuttla years back. I’ll translate it fae yank terms:

We dinny worry about climate change because it’s too overwhelming and we’re awready in too deep. If you’ve done in yer overdraft a grand spunking dosh at the bookies, you’d probably take a look at yersel and hink right better bin the gambling and work hard to pay this off.

But if you’re down a million quid… you’d probably lose all hope and generally just gee up.

The climate crisis is the most pressing and difficult issue politics has ever, and will ever, face up to and we treat it in a pretty nonchalant fashion. Sticking with gambling similes, we’re a bit like a casino dealer causally swiping away aw your chips when the roulette wheel beats the hopeful addicts, looking for an unlikely hot streak to earn some much-needed dough.

As a sea of grim-looking faces watch their mortgage payments go, their money for fags and bevy that’ll drive them up the wall without. All leading to an unfair mental episode lashing out towards your partner who’s none the wiser. The dosh saved away to take yer family out for a meal, under pressure to bring everyone together after the kids saw the same verbal abuse you gave yer partner… which was a direct result of the loss in the first place. The kids might not be able to go to school without looking like they dinnae belong cos you’ve dipped into the sinking fund saved for emergencies like if school uniforms needing to be bought. That feeling of letting your kids down then also ramps up all the internal frustrations that are hacking away at you inside despite that empty smile yer keeping up.

All that is happening, and this smug casino dealer is wiping away these chips as if they don’t mean a thing to anyone. Like it doesny really matter.

And this is how we are treating our resources, with absolute disdain. All our worries and concerns about the environment likened to the casino chips you’re throwing at the table are being wiped away spin by spin as if they have no value. As if they can be toyed with, used in numbers at our leisure.

Because hey, the casino is meant to be fun right? It’s there for entertainment.

Just like the t-shirt that’ll go out of fashion next year, the petrol-guzzling motor, the Big Mac, the Amazon parcel, the bottled water you ‘prefer’… the casino doesn’t know all your troubles, it’s not their fault you dipped into the savers account half pished. It’s not the casino’s fault you canny help yersel.

Except for one thing: they do know. It’s exactly why they’re there. It’s a money-making machine that exploits people with real problems.

And guess what? On climate change, we know as well.

We know exactly what we’re doing and we’re ignoring it. Ignorance is bliss. We’ll dress it up in Parliament as if we’re being decent about it, but it’s a façade. It’s all a sales pitch… just like the utter fabrication of intent that cop26 was.

And hey, it’s not Zara’s fault. It’s not on Range Rover, Mcdonald's or Amazon. You’re the one buying it. The corporations are just… there. Bit like casinos. If you’ve got a problem… don’t go in? Simple.

But that’s the problem. Those shaping our society are far too short-sighted. They can’t imagine the radical change it would actually take to properly dent the spiralling climate crises. How everything works… isny working.

Casinos are out there for the sole purpose of taking your money, even if it means feeding people with addiction. This is a pattern we see right across the board in the free market. Corporations are there to make money and in the name of things like ‘the economy’ and ‘growth’ they exploit the environment around us by draining resources like oil. All this is fed by a population that is addicted to consuming, just like the mug punter at the casino table. When money is the goal, manipulation is easy and it ain't against the rules… what else would you expect?

The wheel needs entirely reinvented if we’re to make any progress. If manipulation isny tamed then we’re essentially humped. Rules need to be there to encourage us or rid our behaviour altogether. If we can act how we want, masked by daein a few ‘responsible’ hings, then we’re just delaying and worsening the problem for generations ahead of us.

And I’m not saying ditch capitalism and start over wae sout else… but we do need some kindae drastic shift. Not even in the economic direction of communism or anything like that… but somehow, someway we need a level of universal conformity to different goals. The numbers on our banking apps willny matter a jolt if yer sitting at hame, sweatin out yer ring unable to dae anythin.

Think about how hot London was in summer… imagine that but hotter and hotter and hotter in 20, 30, 40 years? How are we going to work during these months? Offices will be like working in amongst a Scotland-sized steak beak out ae Greggs. The streets will be a gigantic Tanz. Yer car will have metled intae that gooey form of tar you see hingin aff a pair ae lungs on a backy pouch.

Some of you will be hinkin aye rant on ya clown but what’s YOUR patter.

I’m no Karl Marx or that but ken what would be a start… a decent conversation about it.

First off, those in Parliament are currently incapable of having a decent conversation.

No that they’re thick or canny talk about it… they’re not actually capable of having the scale of conversation required to even begin the process. Political ties make this impossible.

You might hink aye but there’s surely decent work done behind closed doors… but programmes like First Minister’s Questions are where they tell us about it. They’re just making it simpler for us to understand, feeding us slogans so we get the gist. If they’re hiding anything then it’s cos they’re daein a snidey. Anything done that’s half decent is voiced to us, trust me on that one.

And there’s a clear consensus in society: oil and gas bad, environment good. It’s gee or take ingrained into people’s thinking now. Few people would think otherwise if they were making a decision purely on morals, ie based on what is right and wrong. Its economics, the stability of how we all operate, and the ability to consume what we want and when we want gets in the way of making decisions on that sole basis.

But if there is a general consensus that something is right… why isn’t the functioning democratic body, serving the purpose of turning voice into action, delivering that consensus in practice? Isn’t that what politics is meant to be? Deciding what’s right and wrong & then acting on that decision?

The chink in the chain is, therefore, at the stage those delivering the consensus. The politicians. Those in the democratically elected position to act on our behalf.

How is it that we have an idea so entrenched in our thinking, an idea so indisputable that even the corporations doing damage make a point of saying ‘by the way, we’re environmentally responsible’ just to stay in line with it, an idea that corporations have actually gone… hud on… this is that popular we could actually make money off this, let’s put this into the branding of the company, lets change that wee bit of the logo to green, lets actually make money off it… how is it such an accepted idea is so massively debated about in its importance and level of priority when it comes to the delivery of decisions.

There is surely something wrong between the transfer of consensus and elections to the next stage of delivery. There is surely something wrong when our answer to dependency on Russia’s gas is to reinvest our resources into that same industry. Reinstating our reliance on the same thing that’s holding us back is a line of logic I just canny get my head around.

Stop burning fossil fuels, sell more electric cars, save more forests… these are things that scientists have told us over and over again. Any sane man on the street knows it.

It’s knee-jerk psychology. Like when someone says something to you and you go ‘what?’ Even though you heard them loud and clear… people think of these things right off the bat when someone mentions the environment. Oil. Cars. Trees.

And aye, it's more complex than the pop psychology I’m lecturing folk fae behind my laptop… but if the outcome of our current system is repeatedly so disappointing then surely we look to that system to change something?

We literally had cop26 in Glasgow and near nothing has changed. Dunno about you but nothing in my life is different before and after that event. When I turn on the tele in the morning and watch the news, I’m telt nothing different. Everyone is having the same conversations. We’re gawn round in circles.

Now, I was listening to a podcast the other week. It was called ‘Philosophy of our times’ and the folk on there were talking about nature.

One talked about how nature is vulnerable and can’t be sorted by technological fixes, how nature should be seen as sacred… in a secular sense… whilst remaining pro-science… and how vastly different metaphysical approaches are required to truly steer us in the right direction.

Another talked about how essential it is to stop and think very critically about each decision we make when it comes to the environment, like when the excessively normalised suggestion of extracting fossil fuels pops up.

Another panellist moves the conversation on to how our relationship with nature is rapidly diversifying and the different ways of understanding these changes.

An a wis honestly just sat there hinkin, ‘draft in these c*nts man.’ It probably wasny even groundbreaking stuff to someone that kens the script… but it aw made sense, it was interesting and it was forward thinking. Like they were actually getting to the crux of something. Really fleshing out what the puzzle in front of us is and doing so from a viewing platform located a step back from all the concerns and worries that humans have fabricated in the systems we use.

And more importantly, it was miles apart from some of the nonsense you hear in Parliament. Get these conversations in the mixer and I bet someone will pop up with a towering heider of an idea that might get us somewhere.

So, like in a humanitarian emergency in which you’d draft in doctors, I think the same thing is needed for some politics-free intellect in our Parliament. That’s my shout. Get the philosophers in. Maybe it wouldny solve the climate crisis but I think it’s a start.

1 Comment

This is Plato's "Republic" reheated. We already have wouldbe philosopher kings, and the world is run by a series of conferences and committees behind closed doors. They meet at Davos, COP26 etc, and their policies are instituted throughout most of the world e.g. QR Code digital IDs, carbon taxes on the poor (rather than things which would genuinely help the environment.)

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