First, the definitions: A denialist is somebody who plays hymns full blast when the rain keeps pouring down and flood waters rise around his house, or somebody who goes looking for his favourite fishing rod when told his son has raped somebody’s daughter, or somebody who shoots asylum seeking immigrants huddling together at a reception centre because he, not they, flunked out of school.
A denialist calls those of us who have the gall to use – from time to time – the ugly word “sustainable”: conspiracy theorists. He calls us arrogant – and by golly, he may very well be right. Denialists and everything-will-be-just-fine-ists believe that as long as they are investing and being invested in, no questions need be asked. Just turn up the volume, bring in the cake, send up the balloons, and hallelujah, the day is made, who cares about the morrow.
Meanwhile, thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands – millions! – of people across the globe open their eyes every morning to look out upon a parched field with a few blades of yellow grass, or the corrugated iron or flapping canvas of a cramped refugee camp. And the stench! I have trouble forcing myself to imagine the stench of a refugee camp.
At the moment I am listening to a sonata by Schubert. A thing of beauty. I am never hungry, never cold, never lacking. Or rather, almost never lacking. One thing, only, is missing from my life: Confidence. Confidence in the sincere and concerted will of politicians – mine and yours, the business sector – mine and yours, the media – mine and yours, voters – here and there, to make the entire – I repeat entire – world a better place for all, starting with those who lack everything, including those who manage hanging by their teeth, including even those, who, like myself, lack nothing but confidence in people who have power.
There is little hope in sight. The world’s most powerful man has understood, at least, one thing: Unless conditions improve in the poor part of the world there will be hell to pay. I doubt Mr Trump would care unless he feared for himself and maybe his family. Since it is unlikely that fleeing to Mars will be feasible within his lifetime, he is taking his typically decisive steps: Multiplying the arms budget. He seems to be saying “We will beat the shit out of them!” I’m sure he means it.
Mr Trump has reason to fear, without doubt.
It is true that UNDP figures indicate that the total number of destitute people has decreased globally. Vaccination programmes have made headway against fatal disease, and education is somewhat more available than previously, even in poor countries.
However, growing parts of the world are becoming uninhabitable due to climate change, a tendency that will grow exponentially over the next years. And with globalisation – television, internet, etc. –resentment among the have-nots is growing. Yes, it is true that Mr Trump has reason to fear. So do we all.
Mr Trump’s solution, on the other hand, is no more a solution than it was in Vietnam. There is little you can do to beat people whose lives are so miserable that death is preferable.