Did the Daleks really mean it — Do we?

Did the Daleks really mean it — Do we?

“Exterminate! Exterminate!”

So shrieks the violent, merciless and pitiless cyborg aliens that Terry Nation invented to populate the Dr Who television universe. These complete metal-clad gits demand total conformity as they seek conquest of the universe and the extermination of what they see as inferior races… just like the Nazis.

Engineered by Davros to have nothing but hate in their souls, the Dalek is the archetype villain that can only be stopped through destruction. Be or be killed. Throw all that anger and disgust toward the source of hostility and exterminate them or they must destroy you. No half measures.

Jeff Sapprow thinks that our current global environmental crisis embodied by warming and biodiversity loss is an ‘extermination event’ and claims that the people killing nature know what they are doing.

Here are just two snippets from his piece in the Guardian.

In 1988 George HW Bush promised on the campaign trail to fight climate change. “I am an environmentalist,” he declared. “Those who think we are powerless to do anything about the greenhouse effect are forgetting about the White House effect.”

Jeff Sparrow

HW wasn’t an environmentalist and the White House? Well, it is just a residence with ineffectual tenants. No matter than some were well-meaning.

“In 1997 the world’s leaders signed the Kyoto protocol, with Bill Clinton declaring “a commitment from our generation to act in the interests of future generations”. More emissions have been released since that agreement than in all of previous history.”

Jeff Sparrow

Yes, in all previous history.

The last twenty years have seen us all burn, belch and clear to release more greenhouse gas than the combined efforts of all the people gone before. The Daleks would have nodded if they could.

That we have done this with intent, along with the habitat conversion, pollution and resource depletion that goes with it, is a bold call. Did we do it to exterminate and control the universe or just to make a buck and fuck?

The evidence is that we have not been blind. The warming and the loss we have known about since the 1950’s making ignorance a poor excuse. If we knew what was happening, then we knew what we were doing.

Obviously we knew (know) that we were (are) pillaging but our intent was (is) probably personal.

We each want a better life for ourselves and, maybe at a push, for our children. Better means more food, a bigger house, bolder cars and streaming services. Those in less blessed places just want some food and a bicycle. Either way, it is personal motivation, not exactly global domination at the expense of the weak and inferior that guides our behaviours.

However, it is bold to say that our intent is to exterminate.

The Dalek caricature strips back any mediating emotions to leave hate as the primary source of power for raw hate is blind and ruthless.

Surely we have some mitigating emotions within us. There is a kernel of goodness in there. We connect, love and live amongst each other most of the time. That you can dial 000 and get help remains quite remarkable evidence that we are not all bad.

Indeed, when my tooth broke this week and my wife booked a dental appointment for the next day from her phone at the beach it was awesome. Then when the treatment was super high-tech and the dentist first-class fixing the tooth within 24 hours I knew I was both fortunate but also grateful.

So I do not believe it is an extermination event, even though it looks like one.

Humans are not pitiless cyborgs but we are easily led by the stupid, ignorant and morally corrupt. The result might be the same.

I’ll leave with a reminder from Jeff Sparrow’s piece of how fine the line is between the two motivations.

“How petty, how small, how childish do those politicians with the temerity to attack Greta Thunberg look! She speaks for science, idealism and hope; they embody an ignorance or cynicism so deep as to constitute depravity.”

Jeff Sparrow

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