Individualism Will Be Our Death
This week has been a lot - and even just looking at my immediate vicinity I feel like screaming. Not a scream a la Edward Munch, that I always picture as a wail of despair. A scream of frustration at the injustice, at the loss of life, at the waste of time, at the brazen lies. Dear reader, I am tired.
A friend of mine called this action 'to Alf '(which flattered my ego just enough), as he read and watched the racist, antisemitic, homophobic, and transphobic drivel being shared by the National Conservative (NatCs - as they called themselves in either trolling, idiocy, or both). I did not consume any of their media but I retweeted stuff critical of a speech where the two world wars and the holocaust were called Germany 'mucking up' nationalism. Tens of millions of people dead and the systematic plan for the extermination of Jewish, Roma and Sinti people, as well as gay and transgender individuals, and political prisoners, is not "mucking up". But these people know they are fascists, that they are sharing fascist talking points, and that the media will give them a free pass. Adding the cherry on top, a dinner was hosted at the Natural History Museum which afterward distanced itself from the event claiming it simply rents out rooms without questioning who it is for or what is it about.
Bullshit. Come the fuck on. You simply did not care because this fascism is coming not as black boots and stormtroopers but in suits & ties & access to the media and politicians. And even if you haven't interacted with it, you might still get the disgusting content they produced.
A new podcast episode for The Astroholic came out and I was uploading a short promo on youtube. A channel that I only use for space stuff where I only follow science accounts, and somehow a video from the NatCs was right there as my suggested videos. featuring Melanie Phillips. Melanie Phillips whose writing was cited extensively by Anders Breivik in his manifesto. Breivik is the far-right Christian terrorist who killed 69 people, most of them teenagers, on the island of Utøya in 2011. The youngest was 14 years old.
Why would a channel that is all about science and only interacts with science stuff have far-right content promoted to it?
In the northern region of Emilia Romagna and Marche, incredible rainstorms have caused huge floods, the deaths of 14 people, and made over 10,000 people homeless. Extremely upsetting scenes. In places, the emergency continues but politicians being politicians are looking for someone to blame, which included some farcical claims like blaming environmentalist groups for fighting against river drainage systems. Some of those systems failed anyway. I don't want to do a blame game, but we could easily point out how the cancellation of a broad sweeping project like Italia Sicura - that was going to look and find solutions for the dangers of flooding all around the country - by the Conti Government in 2018 should be high on that list. But that doesn't provide a solution. Also, it doesn't bring back to life the people who died, most of whom were old and isolated. I do not believe they were particularly alone or lonely.
Videos from some of the people cleaning the streets, and singing songs about the region show there are communities there, but communities can only do so much in the face of immediate unfolding emergencies. We need a state that takes care of those communities. And states that act as communities. We are all in this climate emergency together, everywhere on the planet. In Italy, we often praise ourselves for how ready and generous we are in the face of emergencies, both domestically and abroad. And anecdotally I do believe is true. But it is reactionary. While we should look at the possible problems and act before, creating safety nets before things get even worse.
As you can tell, I have stopped screaming. Fascist movements that aim to exterminate any portion of the population are likely to always pop up. We are just at a point where it is proudly rearing its ugly head again. At the same time, we are facing a climate emergency. The climate is becoming something we have not experienced before. One-in-a-decade events might happen annually, the extreme might become the norm.
And if we only think about ourselves, we are most likely fucked. Without communities, we are not going to come out of these crises ahead of us very well. And it means communities in every sense, including a state that can provide a safety net where nobody can fall through. It means caring so much for our fellow humans that we act politically and socially to have the difficult conversations to bring forth the changes, and we need to be smarter on how we do this, some compromises are useful if we are steering the ship in the right direction - others are a trap.
I am happy to be self-reliant and have achieved a lot by myself but I would be a liar to say that all of that has not been made possible by having communities - whether families, friends, colleagues, organizations, etc. - that have helped me. Individualism is a lie that claims that the self is above all. We are made of connections. And even if we weren't, the challenges ahead can't be won by a single individual. There is no superman waiting to save us. So the goal is linking ourselves to others. I do believe connections and communities are key. All humans deserve a happy and safe life. I do not think that is a controversial statement. Then we need to act for the safety and happiness of all humankind. And we might have to be a bit less selfish, but is that not worth the goal?
WHAT I LOVED WRITING THIS FORTNIGHT
It was fun to write about the first radiation belts discovered around an ultracool dwarf. This is the same object that was in the news for having the first aurorae beyond the solar system - which are 10,000 times brighter than those of Jupiter. And those are so bright that they shine in ultraviolet and even x-rays.
And to keep ourselves around Jupiter, NASA's Juno has flown by Jupiter for its 51st time and it also passed by the volcanic moon Io. This is the closest human instruments have been to it in decades. Juno also took some pretty photos, a tease of closer flybys over the next 10 months.
The Astroholic Explains
We talk about everything, everywhere all at once as we enter the multiverse! In this episode, we describe some ideas that scientists have proposed to explain things we see in the universe with no explanation, or simply to indulge in the idea of parallel dimensions.
Listen on Apple Podcast or on your favourite podcast player through Anchor.
The wheel weaves as the wheel wills and I have finished the Wheel of Time. Not the end, but an end. ;)
Llywelyn got the snip this week and he's been such a brave and calm boy. So enjoy him in his doughnut!