The Greatest Lie We Were Sold
Capitalism has shaped the Western world through lies and guilt, and it is pushing humanity towards collective suicide.
“There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide.” The thought-provoking idea that begins Albert Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus is the foundation Absurdism, and one of the most famous lines of 20th-century philosophy. Camus’ point is to argue that the most fundamental problem of all is that of the purpose of one’s life and whether it is worth living it or not. While he focused his argument on the individual, the question can and should be asked on a societal level.
We are going through a mass extinction event, with species disappearing at a rate up to 1000x the normal. Over the past 50 years, the world animal population has decreased by over 70%. We are destroying our planet at an unprecedented pace, fauna and flora alike. Global warming and climate change cannot be stopped anymore; all we can hope is to avoid the worst effects, and even this lame objective seems out of reach as it would entail changing our ways of life in dramatic fashion, something we seem hell-bent not to do.
We can’t pretend anymore. We must face the truth. We are committing suicide on a planetary scale. And as we’re killing ourselves slowly but decidedly, we’re left with Camus’ essential question.
Up until the second half of the 20th century, ignorance might have been an acceptable excuse. Since the 1970s, however, when the issue of climate change became so obvious that oil companies started spending millions of dollars trying to downplay its importance, we have lost the right to claim this line of defence. We’ve been merry-go-rounding our way to annihilation, sticking our heads in the proverbial sand.
While we Millennials, Gen-Z and Gen-α, could and do point fingers at all the generations before ours for their failure to act, the problem lies much deeper than their failings. It is not an issue with individuals or any group thereof. It is a flaw in the system that made them.
Humanity’s failure is much more than the sum of all human blunders.