Hated by fools, worshipped by idiots: Greta’s Way of Sorrows

Nicolas Casaux 26/09/2019
“Greta, I love you!” “Thank you, Greta!” “What courage!” “She’s got guts!”

Greta Thunberg, a sincere and probably too naive girl, does what she can – and is expected to do – under her own circumstances. Paradoxically, she’s kind of nice to me.
Tradotto da Fausto Giudice
But there is something incredibly indecent – and/or stupid – in the worship that a part of the population devotes to her A white girl, from the bourgeoisie of one of the richest countries in the world, chosen not by chance, but because of who she is (family members, their relationships, etc.), supported, since the beginning of her media epic, by various personalities or organizations, rich, influential or powerful, would thus demonstrate outstanding merit and courage by expressing herself, after being invited, at the Davos forum or at the UN?
It is estimated that up to 1 billion children aged 2 to 17 years worldwide have been physically, sexually, emotionally abused or neglected in the past year. Do they have courage? Why no media coverage, or so little, and so much for Greta? Thousands of children in Africa and elsewhere are enslaved in mines and other labour camps on behalf of globalized technocapitalism and its privileged classes. Do they have any merit?
There is a reason why Greta Thunberg – and not some young Palestinian girl forged in anti-imperialism, some young Zapatista revolutionary, some young Greek anarchist from Exarcheia, or some young activist from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta – was chosen to become an icon for youth. Yet all these young people would also have been able to tell us not only about climate change, but also, unlike Greta Thunberg, to tell us much more “truths” about the world in which we live.
Because I have read several times that if Greta was so extraordinary, it was because she was telling “the truth” (to the elites of industrial civilization, to the mass media, to the whole world). The truth? Greta talks about the ongoing ecological disaster. Yes, but she also promotes the so-called solutions developed by these elites and for the preservation of capitalist techno-industrial civilization – she never ceases to glorify “science”, to insist on the importance of respecting the Paris Agreement, to put in place the “solutions” recommended by the IPCC (which is everything but an anti-capitalist, or anti-industrial group). As she explains:
“We must simply convey this message, without making any requests. We don’t have the education to make requests, we have to leave that to the scientists. We should just focus on speaking on behalf of the scientists, telling people to listen to them. And that’s what I’m trying to do. Do not have opinions yourself, but always refer to science.”
That’s why she adds:
“Personally, I am against nuclear power, but according to the IPCC, it can be a small part of a major low-carbon energy solution, especially in countries and regions that do not have the potential to massively develop renewable energies […].”
That being said, I have never heard Greta denounce the multiple forms of systemic violence, coercion, servitude, dispossession, alienation, ethnocide, militarism, or patriarchy on which capitalism and civilization have been based for decades, centuries. To put it another way, I have never heard Greta Thunberg denounce the current course of events for societal reasons (other than climate-ecological). I have never heard Greta explain or suggest that the State (“Sovereign political authority, civil, military or possibly religious, considered as a legal and moral person, to which a human group living on a given territory is subject”, as defined by the CNRTL), capitalism, or industrialism, could be problems, obstacles to the resolution of ecological problems that she rightly underlines. Or even ask the question.
On the other hand, I have heard Greta say on many occasions that she does not particularly want to do what she does, that she should not do what she does, that she should not be where she is, that she should rather “be at school”. Idea formulated in various ways by various young personalities of the “climate movement”. Always in the sense that if, at last, you, the leaders, decided to take action to manage the climate crisis, we, the children, could go back to school and life could resume its so just, good and normal course. However, “the truth” is that the school as an institution has always been, for State and corporate leaders, and now for technocrats, only a “means of directing political and moral opinions” (says one of the fathers of public school, Napoleon Bonaparte). As François Guizot put it, “the government” has always “taken care to propagate, through national education, in the light of[…] morality, politics, doctrines that suit its nature and direction, these doctrines soon acquire a power against which the gaps in freedom of thought and all seditious attempts fail”. Elwood P. Cubberley, Dean of the School of Teaching and Education at Stanford University, explained that:
“Our schools are, in a sense, factories, in which the raw materials – the children – must be shaped into products. …] The manufacturing characteristics meet the requirements of 20th century civilization, and it is up to the school to produce students according to its specific needs.”
(All this explains why the school does not produce massively anti-capitalists, anarchists or anti-industrial people.)
So when Greta Thunberg suggests that if only our leaders acted, the children of the “climate movement” could finally go back to school, she is – once again – defending a society, a type of society, infinitely more problematic than she suggests.
Of course, I already hear from some that she is doing what she can, that her speech is not perfect but – but, damn it, I thought her merit was precisely to tell “the truth”, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. Or others, still, tell me that she will succeed, that she is just starting, that you have to give her time, that she is only a child, and that you can’t expect much more from one child – which is not true, as I said earlier. As if the day it would start to hold a truly subversive discourse – including towards the mass media and their role in the advent of the current political, social, ecological and other situation. – would not also be the day she would disappear from the mass media.
The ridiculously superficial nature of her circle’s claims can be seen in the demands of the legal action she has recently brought, along with 15 other young people, against five States:
“We recommend that respondents review and, where necessary, amend their national and sub-national laws and policies to ensure that mitigation and adaptation efforts are accelerated as far as resources allow and on the basis of the best available scientific evidence in order to (1) protect the rights of complainants and (2) ensure that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration, particularly with regard to the costs and burdens involved in mitigation of – and adaptation to – climate change.
“We recommend that each respondent initiate international cooperative action – and intensify its efforts with regard to existing cooperative initiatives – to establish binding and enforceable measures to mitigate the climate crisis, prevent further harm to complainants, and guarantee their inalienable rights.”
It is therefore about asking leaders to spend money and laws on mitigating climate change, as well as on adapting our society, the capitalist techno-industrial society, to the change. This reflects the raison d’être of the movement initiated by Greta Thunberg. A movement constituted above all, it seems, because of a concern of its members for their own future within the techno-industrial civilization – “you steal my future”, “you don’t care about my future”, are phrases that Greta Thunberg repeats regularly. (And not because, once again, of the iniquitous, fundamentally anti-democratic, coercive, slave-like, violent, alienating nature of capitalist techno-industrial civilization; Greta would simply like the climate crisis to be managed so that she can return to school, to her place, or rather to the place that children are assigned in industrial society). And so a movement that helps to maintain this absurd hope that it is desirable and should be possible, on the one hand, to preserve the essence of techno-industrial civilization, to guarantee its future, but also, on the other hand, to stop global warming and to put an end to the destruction of the natural world. That is to say, a movement with contradictory aspirations, some of which are undesirable.
Her hope guarantees her support for absurd “solutions” that do not – as we can already see, for example, through the consequences of the development of the so-called “clean” energy and other so-called “green” technologiy industries – and will only worsen the situation. And all the Gretians (members of Greta’s cult) to rejoice in it. Could it be that through the cries of support for Greta Thunberg it is “not the revolt we hear, but the anticipated submission to states of exception, the acceptance of future disciplines, the adherence to the bureaucratic power that claims, by coercion, to ensure collective survival [the IPCC and its recommendations]” (as Jaime Semprun and René Riesel put it in their excellent book Catastrophism, disaster administration and sustainable submission)? It is understandable that succeeding in stimulating and bringing together (part of) “the youth” around such an ambition may not appear to be a great victory.
Because in the end, most of those who praise Greta and those who attack her stupidly, maliciously or cynically, agree on one point, on one objective – at least. All hope that industrial civilization will succeed in perpetuating itself and securing its future. This is the very purpose of any “new religion”: “to change everything so that nothing changes”.