“We are so far above the population and the consumption levels which can be supported by this planet, that I know that one way or another it’s going to come back down, so I don’t hope to avoid that. I hope that it can occur in a… a civil way, and I mean civil in a special way: peaceful. Peace doesn’t mean that everybody’s happy, but it means that conflict isn’t solved through violence, through force, but rather in other ways, so that’s what I hope for. The planet can support something like a billion people, maybe two billion, depending on how much liberty and how much material consumption he want to have. If you want more liberty and more consumption, you need fewer people, and conversely if you have more people – I mean, we could even have probably eight or nine billion if we have a very strong dictatorship which is smart; unfortunately we never have smart dictatorships, they are always stupid, but if we had a smart dictatorship and a low standard of living … but we want to have freedom and we want to have a high standard of living, so we’re going to have a billion people. And we’re now at seven, and we have to get back down. I hope that this can be slow, relatively slow, and that it can be done in a way that is relatively equal, you know, so that people share the experience, and we don’t have a few rich forcing everybody else to deal with it. These are my hopes, and they’re pretty pessimistic hopes, but that’s what lies ahead.”

Global genocide (or depopulation, to use the polite term) is a somewhat novel situation to find oneself in, but I should have prepared better. OK, I made a farm up north, completely organic, with groundwater wells, fish-ponds and canals. And, by the way, there were warnings about 2020 within the Rama IX self-sufficiency movement in Thailand. Red was told in 2019, when she was researching organic farming in preparation to go back to her village — If you’re going to do it, do it now. You’ve got a year to get up and running.

Reasons were not specified, but when she asked how he knew, her informant tapped his nose and said,

“Old man told me.”

Thai language doesn’t use the definite or indefinite article. An old man? No. The old man.

So I did something, at least, or helped to, and the farm is fertile and producing: rice, fruit, vegetables, timber, fish. That’s where I’ll go if and when the shit hits the fan or I completely run out of money or, most likely, both.

But I should have prepared better for the problems of communication and persuasion that were going to arise.

At this point I have managed to make myself a virtual pariah to my remaining family back in England. My consolation is the knowledge that I am far from alone; that this situation has played out time and time again in families and friendships across the world. It’s the insane disjunction that is so frustrating, the impossibility of communicating. Everything is taken the wrong way, just as they have been taught over the years by the entrainment media. Blanking was initially standard; my persistence merely elicited pompous diatribes from my brother about living in an ‘alternative reality’ — while my daughter was forced to get quite vicious with me to preserve her privacy on the vaccination question, her right to euthanise herself in whatever way she saw fit. She ran the gamut to defend that fatal space. Anything, to avoid the lethal text. The invention of ulterior motives for my simple desire to warn her about the clear and present danger she was in. The psychologising; everything subsumed into the sanctioned stereotypes, just the way they’ve all been trained to do. I knew it would be difficult, but it was much crazier than I expected, both with her and my brother; the groupthink, the lack of critical intellect, the inability to name premises or validate logic; the appeals, exclusively, to emotion and belief.

But I have to let it go, and breathe, and leave it in God’s hands. I pray for understanding to dawn. What else can I do? The truth is coming out, slowly, slowly, and I pray that they will be able to hear it in time to make a difference. I am not confident, though. More likely they will continue their games of Russian roulette until they finally catch a bullet. Except that, in this version of the game, the bullet slowly accumulates inside the body, grows a little more with every empty click.

But I must be nice and not mention it. Global genocide has its own etiquette, you see. That’s what I should have known. I apologise for my uncouthness in not knowing that, in failing to observe the protocols. I must write a nice newsy letter which doesn’t even mention the pandemic, the vaccine, the aftermath, nothing — just as if none of it had ever happened. This behaviour will meet with approval and be reciprocated, and so we will continue, uneasily, pretending we can’t hear the cracking of eggshells like tiny skulls beneath our feet.

The quotation at the top is a passage from an interview with Professor Dennis Meadows, an American academic and one of the lead authors of the Club of Rome’s ‘Limits to Growth’ report in 1972. I cannot post a link to the video because WordPress will censor it. The interview must be from around 2010, based on the population figure to which he refers.

Meadows was born in 1942, and, assuming he still has all his marbles, he must recognise what is happening. Perhaps he buys into the propaganda narrative (the Official Science Fiction) that we are witnessing some kind of revenge of the planet, of nature, against the human species. When he speaks of human numbers ‘coming back down’, of the depopulation ‘occurring’, he is using equivocal language to suggest a natural process, a Malthusian correction that happens all by itself without intervention. He can’t entirely sustain the equivocation, however, and clearly knows that these are political decisions, that population will be stabilised at a desired level: the statement ‘We’re going to have a billion people’ clearly suggests an existing consensus. It is obvious that this stabilisation could be achieved only by a scientific dictatorship taking control of both human reproduction and mortality.

Thus far, then, Meadows is getting his wish: a ‘peaceful’ depopulation, a ‘civil’ genocide, everyone politely pretending that it’s not happening, preserving a democidal decorum. Only my kind keep spoiling it with our uncouth grasp of facts and our primitive faith in objective truth.

To me, it’s the final triumph of kitsch, the way Milan Kundera defines that concept in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. In that great novel of ideas, he takes the word and expands its horizons to include not just taste in art but world-view or cultural attitude. He defines it, in a metaphorical sense, as ‘the absolute denial of shit’.

“The fact that until recently the word ‘shit’ appeared in print as s— has nothing to do with moral considerations. You can’t claim that shit is immoral, after all! The objection to shit is a metaphysical one. The daily defecation session is daily proof of the unacceptability of Creation. … The aesthetic ideal of the categorical agreement with being is a world in which shit is denied and everyone acts as though it did not exist. This aesthetic ideal is called kitsch. … Kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and the figurative senses of the word; kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.” (Part 6: The Grand March.)

In Kundera’s usage, ‘kitsch’ becomes a worldview which denies the unacceptable by simply acting as if it did not exist. In fact every outlook or movement is liable to devolve into a kitsch version of itself: romantic kitsch, patriotic kitsch, religious kitsch, communist kitsch, and so on. In totalitarian kitsch, the ‘shit’ is independent thought, and the gulag becomes the septic tank of the totalitarian system. In bourgeois kitsch, shit consists of sexuality, social unorthodoxy, status-lowering behaviour, dress, language or occupation, certain political ideas, and, of course, death.

As well as actual shit, naturally.

As a small child I sensed the familial constriction of kitsch. I wondered, for instance, why the grown-ups mowed the lawn. It seemed to me, to paraphrase Kundera, a denial of grass. As soon as I was old enough, I embraced bohemian values. Not only Velvet Underground and The Doors, Nico and Patti Smith, but Chatterton, Keats and Baudelaire, de Quincy and Shelley, Messiaen and Bartok, Salvador Dali and David Gascoigne, all showed me something through the flimsy paper walls of bourgeois kitsch. They hinted at the sublime.

I didn’t discover Kundera until I was in my thirties, and his musings gave me a new way to think about what I’d been trying to define all my life: what it is that has so bothered me, and made me so difficult. It is Kitsch — kitsches of all kinds — that induced this alienation. Suburban kitsch, Anglican kitsch, Christmas kitsch, married-with-children kitsch, Guardian-reading, New-Labour kitsch, educational kitsch, globalist kitsch, New Age, positive-thinking kitsch. Human beings produce kitsch as continuously as they produce shit.

Now, even with marriage and child-rearing and The Guardian and my international school career all in the past, I feel it more than ever. There are so many things I’m not supposed to bring up. Certain realities we may never speak of. Certain questions, even though they are no longer academic but a matter of life and death, which we can’t discuss.

It’s not polite.

If I or any of my fellow spirits harbour secret hopes that our New Normal families, bless their hearts, will ever allow themselves to be schooled by reality to the point of realising that we were right all along about this, forget it; I don’t think it’ll ever happen; it’s not the way the world works any more. Nothing exists outside the Sleeping Beauty’s castle of kitsch. Kitsch is the death of imagination, the death of conscience, the death-in-life I’ve always feared more than anything. It’s like that Catholic priest said, livestreaming urgently as he walked home through the deserted streets of Rome after midnight Mass, more than two years ago it must be now, signing off with ‘Just don’t pretend it’s not happening.’ And that, I believe, is important spiritual advice.

The authorities will make it as easy as possible to do so, and reinforce the cognitive and psychological fences between the ‘normisphere’ and the reality-based community, which threaten to become real in the form of concentration camp — sorry, quarantine facility — barbed wire. In the more extreme outposts of the Covidian empire, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, that totalitarian nightmare could become reality much sooner than we would like to imagine. But totalitarianism comes from below as much as above, and the new normies will collaborate in the achievement of a suffocating silence, masking the unspeakable. The insuperable instinct of kitsch will ensure that a disaster of millennial proportions does not occasion any awkward conversations over dinner, as families purge themselves of their extremists and conspiracy theorists. The masks, it’s clear, were only ever of ritual significance; our very own Rite to Remain Silent.

Photograph by Sam Sherratt


  1. Powerful. Your pain is palpable and shared (by me, at least). That last sentence is a knock-out punch.

    The words of Dennis Meadows were, to me, quite moving in their sad acceptance of the “necessity” of mass murder in the name of population management. He reminds me of my stepfather, a former CEO in the energy industry who used to say things like “benevolent global dictatorship” whenever I pointed out various ghastly things inherent in “the system” such as war, espionage, organized crime, sophisticated swindling of the common man via fake money, genocide, etc. as a lad still young enough to be seen as inquiring innocently about these things.

    True enough, that ravenous consumer culture combined with a constantly rising human population will eventually result in an Earth consumed. Avoiding, of course, any investigation of what drives consumer culture (which would doubtless shine a light forcing us to confront our “shit”) we tell ourselves “everything would be fine if we just didn’t have so many people”.

    Is it not precisely “denial of shit” that drives ravenous consumer culture? Our denial of the real, our failure to explore the true satisfying depths of our very selves causes us great existential pain in the form of boredom, alienation, restlessness, enmity, malaise. Lacking the courage to find cause within we instead double-down where we’ve lost before, betting on the same old losing handful of cards, ie, continued acquisition of wealth & implementation of power. We find relief only where it does not frighten us to look (transhumanism, AI, stakeholder capitalism).

    The job then falls to the maddened masses to root out & choke those among them that hold the keys to unlock the prison gates and move everyone forward out of the willful, mad delusion of self-creation toward acceptance of the endlessly unfolding, kaleidoscopic beauty of life as it is and not as petty personal preference would dictate.

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