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Knowledge providing revolutionary hope in a climate of ‘Doomism'
Lily Mannion

Feelings of hopelessness and doom are becoming a widely known phenomenon, specifically in response to issues like climate disaster, increasing wealth disparity and the ineffectiveness of capitalism to serve people before profits. These feelings are being referred to as ‘doomism’.

 

Doomism seems inevitable when facing a constant bombardment of headlines like, “Women are choosing to be sterilised as climate crisis takes its toll”  or “Wealth of the richest one per cent in the UK more than 230 times that of the poorest ten per cent”.

 

However, as attractive as it may be to adopt a doomist mindset, it insinuates that change is not possible and there is nothing an individual can do. This is a dangerous and highly privileged position to take and is simply untrue. How can we make any change if we don't think change is even possible?

 

Even though ‘doomers’ are seemingly very different to climate change deniers, this mindset is equally dangerous as it leads to the same outcome, inaction. Adopting a ‘we can’t do anything so why bother’ mindset can only serve the desires of fossil fuel companies and the wealthy 1%.

 

Dominique Palmer, a climate justice activist says, “it is a “privilege” to be a doomer and to believe that nothing can be done about climate change because many marginalised people in the global south are already suffering from the effects. People on the frontlines don’t have the privilege to turn off. They literally can’t ignore it because they are trying to survive. ” 

 

 

One viable way to combat feelings of doom is to not become stagnant in your beliefs and knowledge. It is important to talk and learn about climate change and social injustice, but arguably only when also learning about ways to combat this and how to fight for change socially and politically. Finding thinkers who are working towards new ideas and possible solutions in these areas can, I believe, empower hope. Community and connectivity are imperative when seeking change.

 

The Well-being Economy Alliance is an organisation that advocates for “an economy designed to serve people and the planet, not the other way around. Rather than treating economic growth as an end in and of itself and pursuing it at all costs, a Wellbeing Economy puts our human and planetary needs at the centre of its activities”

 

The WEAL website itself comprehensively explains its missions and beliefs for how and what needs to change to promote this type of economic shift. They include information about their achievements to date, their plans for different specific timelines and transparency regarding their funders. They also have a large archive of articles and resources to read relating to individual case studies.

Fig1: WEAL goals for 2030, found on their website

Timothy Morton is a writer known for coining the term ‘hyper-objects’. They are a major thinker in the object-orientated ontology movement, which in short “rejects the privileging of human existence over the existence of nonhuman objects.” Their work is largely focused on the intersection of object-orientated thought and ecological studies. In the book ‘Hyper-objects; Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World’, Morton explores the notion of objects and entities so vast in spatial and temporal dimensions that they transcend traditional ideas about what a thing even is.
 

Fig 2: Hyperobjects Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World by Timothy Morton

Morton has always pushed for ecological critique, largely towards the long-standing conversation that nature exists as something that sustains civilisation but exists outside of society’s perimeters. Morton states ‘Putting something called Nature on a pedestal and admiring it from afar does for the environment what patriarchy does for the figure of Woman. It is a paradoxical act of sadistic admiration’. Mortan explains these concepts further in the book ‘Ecology without Nature’.

 

This is a brief introduction to Morton and their work. I strongly recommend just reading the writing itself or watching Mortan’s videos on YouTube where they explain some of these concepts.

 

Having an open mind when learning and not being dismissive of potential learning points is crucial. Social media platforms inundation with useless and sometimes incorrect information is not something anyone can deny. It does, however, provide a space for smaller and more independent people to have a voice. It is a fantastic way to link people, build community and gather the momentum needed to work towards change.

 

Some great thinkers and activist groups have utilised social media to spread information and awareness. The group ‘Just Stop Oil’, who are mostly based in London, have been advocating for stopping the use of fossil fuels and have been gaining large amounts of traction on social media. The group and their methods have inspired many other similarly-minded organisations to form in other areas of the world, like the group ‘This is Rigged’, who primarily advocate for ending food shortages in Scotland. These groups, and many more are taking real physical actions to work towards change.

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Fig 3: Just Stop Oil Protest at the Royal Academy of Art in London

There are many reasons to feel doom and hopelessness and I fully empathise with those emotions. However, allowing yourself to fall too deep into this mindset is detrimental towards making any kind of progress. Knowledge, learning and building community are all imperative to working towards social and political change.

 

As Comedian Kiri Pritchard-McClean says, “Doing fuck all is scientifically proven not to work, so why not decide to do something?”.

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