CULTURE BEYOND OIL

Not If But When

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The new booklet by Platform London, entitled “Not If But When: Culture Beyond Oil,” is available for free download here. For well over a decade this art-activist group has been informing the public of the vast ecological damage attendant on the operations of the two British oil majors, BP and Shell. Platform’s recent campaigns have focused on BP’s sponsorship of the arts – what you might call “culture washing.” See the video above for a response!

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The secret is out: less than 1 percent of our planet’s population is destroying our world for their profit.

This shocking fact has been known for as long as any thinking person can remember. It is the chief characteristic of the political-economic system known as neoliberalism. But now something has changed. This truth can be stated in public.

On the street and in the media, it can now be openly said that we have a ruling class, with all the abuses of power that the very existence of such a class entails. The disaster of Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, like the more recent Chevron oil spill off the coast of Brazil, counts among those abuses.

Is it not time to begin asking what other truths have remained unspeakable? Here is one of the most obvious:

Our consent is vital to the rule of the 1 percent.

In every arena of daily life, particularly where knowledgeable bodies gather, the 1 percent disburses huge sums of money in the form of what we may as well call propaganda, in order to ensure the continuity of their rule. They spend billions of dollars to construct, in our  heads and hearts, what they call “the social license to operate.” This is the function of elite sponsorship of the arts. Shall we not learn to say that in public too?

Are Shakespeare and Leonardo going to matter when the earth has been ruined by climate change? Is French impressionism beautiful when people are starving in the street? Do you want your art to become a tool of the corporate elites?

If the answer is no, then Platform London has a great suggestion:

Withdraw your support from the sponsorship of the 1 percent.

The social movements that have appeared across the world this year give courage to everyone. They encourage us to speak up. To ask why things must be done in the way they are done today.

Platform London is one of my great inspirations. Check it out. Let’s stop the pollution of our planet. Let’s end the rule of the 1 percent.

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