Imagine a dystopian future in which every person in the United States is given free and total and preventative heath care from whatever doctors and nurses they want, but CNN talking heads pine sorrowfully for their beloved insurance companies.
Imagine that top-quality education from preschool through college is available free to anyone who wants it, but your elderly neighbor is furious because he had to pay for his education, and your local military recruiter is outraged because business is bad.
Imagine full employment with a universal living wage and the right to organize, including for all immigrants, but a billionaire on TV is spitting mad because workers are being “coddled.”
Imagine an economy converted to peaceful industries, with every worker aided in the transition, and no more of these catastrophic wars, but a weapons company CEO is on NPR describing the suffering involved in selling off a beloved yacht.
Imagine life becoming easier, less anxious, more enjoyable — as you un-plug your Tesla from your free solar power and three seconds later pass a gas-burning sports car with a bumper sticker that reads “Socialism sucks!”
Of course, it wouldn’t actually suck, and that fact might penetrate the awareness of many people whose televisions go on telling them it sucks. But there would be opponents, no matter what. No matter how well something worked, there would be opponents. And nothing is going to work as well in the age of climate collapse as it would have earlier.
How would you respond to opponents of improvements? What would your bumper stickers read?
“If you don’t want healthcare, don’t go to the doctor.”
“If you hate free school, pay me for it.”
“Don’t like living wages, donate them.”
“Love it or leave it.”
Would you tell people to love it or leave it? Would you tell them that good healthcare and schools and clean energy and a high standard of living are what we wave flags and bomb distant families for, just as crappy healthcare and schools and a dirty environment and a low standard of living were what we used to wave flags and bomb distant families for?
Remember when they used to tell you that if you didn’t like everything generally sucking you should get up and leave? If they don’t like everything being better, should they get up and leave?
Of course not. Because you’re not a jerk, and cruelty and nationalism are not compatible with keeping things getting better. Plus, most wealthy countries already have and have long had the supposedly radical innovations that the United States would have just acquired. The only place for your angry Washington Post columnist to decamp to would be an impoverished area of the globe — and unfortunately a major project of a decent wealthy country is going to have to be helping those areas of the globe with actual aid instead of weapons and coups and debts and exploitations. Actual aid does not include shipping them our most deranged inhabitants.
The only place left to run to might be a moon colony, but sadly, a human species that survives will survive on earth, and a human species that survives on earth will have very soon abandoned all fascination with the lunatic idea of moving on to other places.
So, I, for one, if anything good ever happens, will not be telling people to love it or leave it. I’ll be telling them to love it or improve it.
Funny. That’s just what I’d have wanted them to be telling me all these years.