Weaponising apathy

Illustration by Rachael Bolton

Over the last week, we’ve seen stunning revelations of the largest-scale tax avoidance scheme in history and, and while we’ve yet to see any evidence of actual election hackings, the Paradise Papers revealed even more connections between the US government and Russian oligarchs, (who would have thunk it that campaign finance reform is a more pressing issue than election security). Along with these revelations we’ve seen evidence of how the world’s Big Four accounting firms not only set up these offshore schemes, but crafted the regulation that let them do it in the first place.

And we have further evidence of Hillary Clinton’s stranglehold over the DNC, courtesy of American political strategist, Donna Brazile, which locked Sanders out of the primaries on and starved up and down ticket candidates of the funds they needed to take back the house from the Republicans.

And while Twitter, Facebook and Google were censoring the internet on behalf of the Washington Post and the New York Timesturns out that they too were filling their coffers with Rubles and Saudi Riyals.

But nobody seems to care much.

I’ve seen the trailers for the The Post (The Pentagon Papers story) and iTonya (Tonya Harding’s biopic) get more traffic than the revelations of the malfeasance and corruption that is happening right now, under our very noses. Will we have to wait 30 years for Spielberg to make a film of it for anyone to care?

Now my question is: Is it that decades of interference, election rigging and corruption by the US government matters less than unsubstantiated claims of Russian election hacking?

Is it that the word ‘Russia’ allows you to think of this as an entertainment story instead of a political one? Or are you simply comfortable with the double standard?

If Russia is to be feared because of its long record of civil rights atrocities, its corruption, its dwindling concern for democracy, then we must hold the US government — all governments — to the same standard. “Interference” or flat out election rigging seems par for the course these days, the UK and France probably do it too. But citizens of any country should expect their election process to be free of foreign influence, be that in the form of campaign donations, social media, or voting source code. And when they think it is not they should speak out.

Every day we are inundated with stories revealing just how broken the economy is, and the judiciary and government and political parties.

And while some may lean on the ‘but there’s nothing we can do about it’ excuse, they may not realise that the only thing keeping the system standing is our threshold for bullshit.

Is it that you don’t care that the world’s wealthiest people have the protection of their governments that have colluded with the Big Four Accounting firms, the judiciary and financial regulators to hide their riches? Or is that because you want the same privilege preserved in case you strike it rich one day? Do you not realise that it is the very structure of the system that is keeping you from prosperity in the first place?

Exactly how far must we fall before we decide enough is enough?

You don’t think there are pollsters and pundits out there continually taking our temperature via social media? You think there isn’t a correlation between how much bullshit we are prepared to put up with and how much the corrupt and the greedy get away with?

The last thing ‘they’ want is revolt, which is why we must urgently raise our expectations.

We could change the world tomorrow if every person on the planet agreed not to go to work for a day.

But so long as creature comforts takes precedent over actual change, things will continue to get worse.

Ask yourself, how much are you prepared to put up with? That threshold is what keeps this broken system afloat.

This isn’t our fault but it will be if we don’t do anything about it.

Time to raise our standards.