Photo By: Choong Deng Xiang from Unsplash

As we prepare for the end of the 2021-22 school year here at The Brock Press, I thought it’d be worth it to go over the good, the ugly, and the uglier parts of 2022 so far.

Starting off with the good, it seems as though the NDP-Liberal agreement is at least a step in the right direction in addressing major issues not only in Canada but globally this year. Issues such as the housing crisis and the polarization of wealth in the wake of the pandemic, all the way to more existential threats such as the climate disaster are being discussed at the federal level. This is important because these issues need to stay at the forefront of our collective thought if we want to avoid the pitfalls of frustrations building and manifesting in epiphenomenal ways such as “Freedom Convoys” and conspiracies around why we wore masks for two years (probably because they work). 

Which leads us to the ugly. If anything is becoming clear in the current cultural-political — however you want to call it — chasm is that latent effects of consumerist culture are really starting to bare themselves in a range of hotly contested arguments. Examples include COVID-19 protective measures, race issues, this often meaningless attempt to establish various meta-languages to avoid offending people and their particular identities on social media (mainly Twitter) a la political correctness, and more. 

What’s common across all of these issues is a kind of solipsistic appeal to identity and the overarching relativization of truth. Nothing captures this attitude better than the feigning of neutrality behind Ontario premier Doug Ford’s statements on removing mask mandates, saying people “have a choice” and then putting forward proposals to cut public health further, all in time for an upcoming election. 

As the culture continues to atomize further, the highly-liberal idea that a fluid centre that allows a multiplicity of thought and perspective is easily weaponized and absolutely reflects the way a high-tech, postmodern, late capitalist society treats individuals like relativized nodal points of personal truths, laid out like a restaurant menu or Tinder bio; any kind of dialectical process of thought is felt to be too strong of an impingement on one’s right to hold onto their particular flavour of experience that week and the retreats into conspiracy and delusion that are so manifest in the hysteria surrounding a “return to communism” and Trudeau being a tyrant, etc. should be viewed as a product of this stage of global capitalism. 

And with that, we arrive at the even uglier. Pardon me for doing a “everyone is looking at X, meanwhile X is going on” but the fact that the Will Smith Oscars slap has dominated meaningful conversation this last week and the Russian invasion of Ukraine (which itself has shown the ugly side of racial solidarity as Ukrainian refugees have been treated with open arms while the refugee crisis of Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. were never treated in such a way) or the climate crisis aren’t registering with the same kind of urgency at this point is worrisome. 

Obviously, this decade started off with the disaster of the pandemic and recent global military tensions are just another horrible addition to the mix. The way our — and I include myself here — modus operandi is a kind of denial which is easily glossed over by drowning in entertainment and petty culture war scuffles, signals that we need a change from the bottom up. We have an economic model predicated on treating the world like a husk to be shed, that pretends there are infinite resources to burn through, and which, as Karl Marx demonstrated in his critique of political economy, includes in it via the concept of surplus value the very impossibility of striking a smooth flowing global homeostasis of use-values once all the “kinks” are worked out; instead constant growth and decay as well as improvisations followed by catastrophes, are part and parcel of capitalism. 

The only options that seem suitable at this point — unless we want to take the Elon Musk idea of simply leaving earth seriously, and one should question who will be the privileged class to go first— is to pressure elected representatives to start thinking of new ways to allocate resources more effectively and justly from the bottom up. 

As my favorite contemporary philosopher Slavoj Žižek likes to point out, Hollywood has been predicting a global dystopia with an elite upper class hoarding and hiding from the ensuing crisis’ of resource depletion, war, famine, mass migration, etc. for the last decade or so as seen in films like Elysium, Wall-E, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and more. The shared premises of these films will only continue to be mirrored in the real world as global catastrophes are met with a collective fear, treated as completely independent and natural events that represent the “real” state of things.