I predict that the Greta Thunberg Meme „How dare you“ will accompany us at least through the next decade, if not more. The meme will persist, the accusations she hurled at everyone will certainly not. The reason is that the meme is truly funny in the sense that it so accurately represents the current outrage culture. It’s as funny as the village idiot in the middle of a medieval market who shouts “repent” on the top of his lungs. It’s also funny because it’s based on the perpetually reheated progressive narrative of “speaking truth to power”, which in the minds of progressives must work at all times, whereas it was historically the sole privilege of the court jester to do that, and everyone else who tried soon became acquainted with the gallows or guillotine. I mean, please, Greta as the court jester at the UN – every comedian worth his salt must try to top that from now on. I enjoyed Greta’s show, as cringe-worthy as it was, I just couldn’t help laughing about it.
The misperception of those who think ‘speaking truth to power’ is kind of the holy grail of mass communication, can be laid out easily. The speaker is in the possession of all the truth and the listeners to whom the speech is directed possess all the power. Invert that sentence. The speaker has no power at all and the listeners have no truth at all. Doesn’t this sound like the simplistic world view of a 3 year old? Gimme dat candy now or I’ll drop to the floor and die. Imagine a would-be-bank-robber going to the counter saying “Give me 1 Million bucks or I’ll drop to the floor and die” or instead of dying, protest with chants in front of the bank, or protest with tikki torches (let’s not exclude right wing progressives here, shall we?). What do you do, if those in power respond with “OK, fine, drop to the floor and die.”?
The misperception that ‘speaking truth to power’ works, is the narrative that ‘we’ spun, the rationalization after the fact, in the very few cases where these coincidences occurred. Most Americans still believe that the protest marches and speeches of MLK changed the minds and hearts of the American people, which directly led to the end of race discrimination and the success of the ‘civil rights movement’. The fact that is probably closest to the truth is, that very few, very fearful politicians made a decision on behalf of the unconvinced majority that forced them to accept this. Of course the first narrative is much more palatable, much more self aggrandizing, much more glorious than the second one. After all, don’t we all want to be the good people? The pill has been swallowed, the new facts are the reality and we do what we always do after any decision: we rationalize it, in order to feel good about it. The east Germans still believe, that their protests at the Berlin wall and elsewhere directly caused the East German government (and the Russians) to give in and ‘tear down this wall’, as the rulers were convinced, changed their hearts and minds by the demands for freedom of the people. The fact that is closer to the truth is probably that the Russians decided, they just didn’t have the money any more to send tanks and soldiers into every nation of the Soviet block, to reestablish order and keep them in check for years to come. The “Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union” decided, fuck them, we’re going to do just fine as a Russian Federation, instead of always taking care of these belligerent idiots of the other nations, then repatriated their atomic weapons and were done with it. Again, the first narrative sounds heroic and glorious, the second is just dry, rationalist and a bit boring.
Just think about the many cases, where ‘speaking truth to power’ ended with plenty of dead or incarcerated speakers and no change in the power structure. Surely the narrative of the winners and losers of the current protest will differ very much. What will become of the yellow vests in France, the rebellions in Venezuela, the protesters in Chile, in Hong Kong, and so on? We don’t know yet who the winners will be, but we can be sure the story finally told by the winners will be very palatable, self aggrandizing and glorious, and most probably not even close to the truth.
Anyway, dear progressives of any political denomination, keep doing what you’re doing. Most of it is highly entertaining, and even if you’re unable to create funny memes out of it, we will for sure and we’ll enjoy the show. If you believe you’re in the sole possession of the truth, continue to enjoy your delusions. If you believe you have no power, at least enjoy your impotent chanting. Trust me, however, that those who have verifiable truths, those who truly have power and know how to use it, are not in the least afraid of your theater.
Dear progressives, in case you run out of ideas to be woke about, how about the following challenge. Scrap all the religious and other national holidays and replace them with an “international woke day”, for example every first Monday each month. Sorry Greta, but every Friday and only during school season is just too difficult to manage and can’t cope with reduced enthusiasm over time.
If you happen to stumble over jest and sarcasm in this article and are triggered by it, I have no excuses to make and the only explanation I can give is: That was the point 😀