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Is it you or is it the system?

I get flak from both sides around this dialectic:

Some people are like “it’s only the system, you don’t have to do anything, keep nomming those cheeseburgers, the only problem is the 100 richest corporations or the 0.1% richest people”. Or, “the attention span crisis is something we can only address with collective action, all attempts at trying to address your own phone addiction is just selfish and advicing others to do the same is just cruel optimism”. And I’m like yeah, true, that’s the core of the issue, but do eat plants though, and go offline more often. We can’t throw out all aspirations of changing things in our own lives. Yeah, yeah, direct action isn’t the only tool in the box but we need all the tools we can get.

Others are like “in no way is it the system. We have only ourselves to blame. You are a free consumer, it’s all you, all the time, zero percent system”. Luckily I don’t get a lot of that anymore since by now it’s getting pretty hard to deny that market capitalism has emergent destructive processes caused by system-level perverse incentives that reward and exacerbate the worst of human behavior, like fossil fuels.

The supply side (a.k.a. the drilling side, the pipelines, the cigar-smoking megarich CEOs) is one side of the problem. The demand side is another part. The supply side is maliciously and selfishly blaming the demand side—”we’re only giving the people what the people demands”. The supply side needs to stop doing what they’re doing and realize that they do bear responsibility.

The demand side also has to change. That’s also true. That’s what the “keep eating burgers” side sometimes can overlook.

Both sides need to change (and policy-makers, probably better known as government, need to step in and regulate).