Tick Tock Diets
People side with power because they value its favor.
When you have no complaint against a prevailing order, institution, or individual, not only can you maintain your sense of safety in proximity to that order, institution, or individual, you can validate it. And isn't it nice to be needed, to have a role so essential that simultaneously requires so little?
People often describe the “persecution complex” of those that defend the status quo. But it’s a preemptive identification. Most people don’t feel like victims. They fear the indignity of becoming one. The prevailing complex isn't the delusion of those who aren’t suffering. It’s the acute awareness of having escaped suffering and needing to know it was merited.
These people validate the version of reality in which their interests align with the circumstances. Where they can prove that not only does nothing have to change, they are qualified to effect that important no-change. Even the laws of physics announce how much easier it is to push down something already on the ground than it is to lift something up. How empowering it must feel to tell yourself you need to step on what is crushed in order to crush it. You can credit yourself for the result. You do it, because it’s easy. You do it, because it feels essential. And you remain moved to do it, because you’ll be appreciated every time. Faced with the whims of power, being among those who aren’t persecuted can feel a lot like being accepted—close enough to feeling loved.
When speaking of heightened collective aggression mobilized against something or someone, the cliches involve “blood lust”. The libido is second to the initial trigger, which is more childlike. People want to feel approved of. They want to feel important. They want company. What answers those desires is what activates the more base urges. After the progressive gains of the 60s the US state agreed, the market was a better place to direct civic energy and public funds. But in a failed state primarily made up of debtors, the market isn't enough to yield happy citizens. So the libidinal economy expands to accommodate the discrepancy.
America has a thriving libidinal economy. The people who determine the nature of life in this country are the people who can most effectively harness, and create opportunities for, fervency. They make sure the stakes feel high when they are very low. They make sure the reverse is also true. They stimulate desires in people they position themselves as the answer to. And suddenly quite a lot that’s already on the ground looks like it requires being stepped on. Something each of us can find an opportunity to do. Those who live in a profoundly and increasingly dissatisfying country will leap at the chance to satisfy themselves.
There are many different types of appetites, arguably all essential to survival. In their history on this planet polar bears have survived on seal fat. Just one seal could provide a bear with eight days worth of energy.
A 75% loss of habitat as a result of climate change has meant fewer access points to the ice ridges where bears would hunt seals. Since then, scientists have reported shifts in behavior from the bears, like an increase in cannibalism. Many struggling bears, with visible ribs, die in the water—unable to swim the lengths that now exist between ice sheets. The species is quite literally losing the ground beneath their feet. Melting ice collapses the dens they would otherwise raise their cubs in.
The first time a polar bear was ever seen eating a dolphin was in 2014.
Dolphins have only become available to polar bears once a warming climate created ice-free winters in the Norwegian Arctic. The dolphins swim much further north than they were able to previously. When the ice returns briefly in April, they become trapped—served to hungry bears when they come up for air. The dolphins are so filling, bears pack carcasses in the snow to keep for later, unable to finish them in one feeding.
The dolphin-eating bears have found a way to sate themselves with less far effort and just as much opportunity to use their teeth and claws. Through the immobilized dolphins, polar bears can maintain an illusion of abundance in a dying world, a convenience only possible through worsening conditions.
When I think of Americans I think of polar bears. I wonder which of them see dolphins. And for how long they think they can eat.