The False Leadership Narrative, the Elite & Ecocide
(adopted from Stephen Barlow)

1. Introduction

Stephen Barlow ( explained the reasons “why we have totally inappropriate leadership in this era of facing a climate and ecological crisis.” in a thread on Twitter [Link]. Since the expressed ideas are similar to my own blog [Link] , I see Stephen Barlow’s thread as an independent confirmation of these ideas, which I, therefore, would like to quote here in a more readable format.

Note: The complete thread is also available as a single website [Link] and below with adjusted layout (headings, boldface) to increase readability and structure while preserving content. The numbers “/1”, “/2”, … refer to the parts of the original thread.

2. Original thread

2.1 Introduction

I want to clarify this point I keep making, and why we have totally inappropriate leadership in this era of facing a climate and ecological crisis. Where we are facing an existential threat to our civilization, and yet our current leadership fails to act appropriately.1/ As I point out above, after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, our leaders kept acting as heroes pledging to save us from the climate and ecological crisis, but then did nothing and carried on maintaining business as usual. [Link] 2/

2.2 The False Leadership Narrative & the Elite

After the industrial revolution, and in fact throughout the colonial era, and stretching back to the Ancient Civilizations, a style of disingenuous leadership developed. 3/ All these societies from the classical ancient civilizations to the present, had one thing in common. There was a small powerful ruling elite, who were far wealthier than everyone else, and they basically ran our societies for their benefit. 4/ Even in the most authoritarian dictatorship, the leaders need the consent of most of society to rule. They are few, we are many, and if a society decides their ruler is not representing their interest, they will be overthrown. 5/

Therefore, to be able to rule it is necessary for the rulers to develop a clever, but disingenuous narrative, to explain how whilst they appear to be simply exploiting everyone else for their own ends, that in fact they are everyone’s benefactor and protector. 6/ There are many ways to convey this false narrative, but basically it goes like this.

The world is full of powerful tyrants who exploit their people, and who would take over our society and exploit us to, if it wasn’t for my rule, where I protect you from this tyranny. 7/

The underlying message being I may be a bit of a tyrant to, but I am your tyrant, and to protect you from other tyrants, you need a powerful tyrant on your side. People preferring tyrannical rule by someone of their nationality, than a foreign tyrant. 8/ This argument had some merit in the past, because often a foreign invading army of conquest, would go on a killing spree, to terrorize the people of the country they were invading into submission. 9/ Or put another way, better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t know. So the ruler/rulers of each country had to sell themselves to their people, as a benign dictator, the least worst option. 10/

This narrative was necessary to sell what was a very unfair deal, in which most people laboured all day for very little, and their masters often lived lives of luxury, benefiting from the labour of those who got very little in return. 11/ For this scam to work, and it really was a scam, leaders had to be clever liars. They had to be very good at convincing everyone that they were their protector and benefactor, when in reality they were ruthlessly exploiting everyone else. 12/ When I call this a scam, I mean it quite literally. Powerful rulers are operating like what we call conmen, fraudsters etc. For a con-artist to con people, they have to be able to convincingly pretend they are their victim’s best friend. 13/ The MO of the confidence trickster and rulers in a large civilization is almost identical. They trick their victims into believing they are helping, and benefitting them, whilst actually ruthlessly exploiting them.14/

I’m not saying this from any judgemental standpoint, I am not moralizing, I am just saying how it works. It can be argued that if people are willing to put up with this, then that is their choice. 15/

For the last 6,000 years, the main issue with this style of system, has been social injustice and unfairness i.e. that has been the main argument against this type of power dynamic in our societies. 16/ In fact, the powerful use these arguments at times. That if people don’t rebel against their rulers and exploiters, then they are consenting to this rule, and it is up to people to chose what sort of system they want. 17/ In modern so called democracies, the ruling party, president or whatever, will argue their rule is legitimate, because more people voted for them than anyone else, and therefore, they are ruling by consent. 18/

As I say, I am not one to sit in moral judgement about whether these arguments are legitimate or not, and whether these people are truly ruling by consent, only to describe how the system works. 19/

2.3 The False Leadership Narrative, the Elite & Ecocide of Future Generations

However, sustainability, the climate and ecological crisis, brings an entirely different factor into this whole dynamic. Instead of it just being about social justice, there is the issue of future generations. 20/ The level of over-exploitation of not merely the people of our modern societies, but the over-exploitation of natural systems, our life support systems, is threatening the viability of our future generations. 21/

Put very simply, the modern ruling elite is so grossly over-exploiting the Earth’s natural systems for their own benefit, that in the near future, these systems will no longer support the Earth’s human population, and there is likely to be mass starvation and misery. 22/

The argument, that if the current generation wants to put up with this manipulative and exploitative system, then that is their choice, no longer holds true – because future generations are not consenting to this, and never would. 23/ What is more, nor would the present generations consent to this, if they fully understood that this current system is creating a future hell on Earth for their children, and their children’s children. 24/

Now, coming back to why 30 years ago, our leaders persuaded everyone that they were going to address the climate and ecological crisis, when not really having any intention of doing what they promised to do. 25/ The reason our leaders deceived the people of the world is very simple. That is what they have been doing for the last 6,000 years. Deceiving the people they rule over, so they can exploit the people for their own ends, and so they can carry on exploiting them. 26/ That is the model leadership which has developed over the last 6,000 years. Both the rulers and the mass of the people ruled, have come to accept this as normal, because it has been happening over so many generations. 27/

Prior to this (and remembering modern humans have been around for about 300,000 years),people lived in egalitarian societies where resources were shared fairly equally, and in those societies – the leaders had no more than everyone else. 28/ However, when powerful individuals started taking over our societies 6,000 years ago, and taking far more than their fair share, the rulers of these societies had to develop a way of justifying this very unfair system to their people, which is what I dealt with earlier. 29/ The rulers (not really leaders), could hardly be honest. They could hardly say, I’m just treating you all like a bunch of livestock, just exploiting you for my own ends and I don’t really care about any of you, or they would have quickly been overthrown. 30/ Therefore, the rulers of these unfair societies, had to develop thisfalse narrative, to explain away, that whilst they might appear to be ripping everyone off, that in fact they were protecting everyone, and that was the way the world worked. 31/ If you listen to a criminal conman, justifying how they rip people off and exploit them for their own ends after befriending people and gaining their confidence, they use very similar justifications, and don’t see what they are doing as wrong. 32/

I really am not arguing from a judgemental point of view, and I am just saying how this particular scam works, and to run this sort of scam, you need to develop false narratives to con people into consenting to it. 33/

2.3 The False Leadership Narrative, the Elite & Suicide of the Current Generation

As I say, up until the point where this style of exploitation was just taking advantage of other people, the only argument against it was a moral argument from the perspective of social justice. 34/ However, as this mode of over-exploitation via manipulation, and power over others is not merely amoral, but is destroying the viability of future generations, and all life on Earth, the dynamics have changed. 35/ In reality, the powerful engaging in this over-exploitation, are no longer even acting in their own interests, considering many of them alive now, are likely to be adversely effected in the near future, and certainly their children will be. 36/

This is why the exploitative nature of this system has become far more than a mere issue of social justice, although this is a legitimate matter of concern. It is well recognised that people with certain pathological conditions may represent a danger to themselves and others. 37/

30 years ago, when the most powerful people in our societies, pledged that they had learned from their mistakes and were going to address the climate and ecological crisis the 1992 Rio Earth Summit identified, we took their word for it. [Link] 38/ However, here we are 30 years later, and the latest@IPCC_CH makes it crystal clear that they didn’t address the crisis as promised, that there is no current viable plan to address this crisis and that our current leadership are deceitful. [Link] 39/

Notice how I quote the UN Secretary General, not some radical environmentalist group. Our current leadership is objectively deceitful, and is not acting in the public interest. 40/ However, as I’ve already explained, it is hardly surprising our leadership is deceitful and not acting in the public interest, because that’s how they’ve been acting for the last 6,000 years. They know no other way. 41/

The central problem is very simple. This powerful ruling elite benefitting from the over-exploitation of the Earth’s life support systems, has developed a system where only they or those approved by this elite, can become our leaders. 42/

Let’s say a potential leader came along, pledging to change the system, to avert the climate and ecological crisis, and to create a more equal system and disempower the billionaire class, and started to garner, mass support. What would happen? 43/ It’s pretty obvious. The billionaire class would abuse their control of the media, and other politicians to smear and monster these potential leaders to make sure they never got into power. 44/

2.4 Examples: Progressive Leaders Attacked by Elite

This is not even hypothetical. It actually happened with Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US. Now I am not necessarily saying either were our saviours, because they were never given a chance, so we don’t know. 45/ However, what we do know is that both promised to challenge the billionaire led hegemony, and to implement climate and sustainability policy far more radical than any of their political rivals. 46/ We also know that both developed a considerable political head of steam, and both were on the cusp of becoming the political leaders of their country, until a concerted campaign by the billionaire owners of the media etc, undermined them and derailed their campaigns. 47/

As I say, I make no judgement on whether either individual could have managed to change the direction of the globally suicidal path the climate and ecological crisis has put us on. [Link]48/

However, what I do know for absolute certain, is that what this demonstrates, is that any potential leader who could change the direction, the suicidal trajectory we are currently on, would be attacked and undermined by the present power structure. 49/

It is crystal clear that there is no limit to which the current billionaire led elite will go, to stop any potential leader who challenges the business as usual economic model destroying our life support systems, which gives them their wealth, profit, status and power. 50/

For reasons I have given, the ruling elite have been using the same method for the last 6,000 years to keep their hands on the reins of power. They promise to
change everything, but they are thoroughly disingenuous and simply do not mean what they pledge. 51/

2.5 Example: Rio Earth Summit

It is no longer my opinion, my hypothesis. What they pledged after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit was crystal clear. They pledged to change the unsustainable system outlined in Our Common Future, the basis of that summit. [Link] 52/ Their pledges seemed very convincing at the time. We had no way of knowing if what they said was genuine, other than to wait and see if they actually did what they pledged at the time. 53/

The thing is we waited 30 years and as the latest@IPCC_CH lays clear and the UN Secretary General@antonioguterres says in the clearest possible terms, they were lying to us. There is no other way of seeing it. [Link] 54/


However, the important thing is this. It hasn’t been some leaders have been doing the right thing, and action was obstructed by some bad leaders, as another false narrative claims. No leader in any position of power has even tried to do enough. 55/

This is the crucial fact, that needs to be held above all others. No political leader, no business leader anywhere, has even tried to change direction on the scale necessary. NOT ONE OF THEM, ANYWHERE, THEY HAVE ALL SOLD OUT! 56/

As I’ve said, a few more radical potential leaders promised to go much further. However, none ever got into a position of power and leadership, because they were undermined, even though they came close. 57

What this tells us, is that the oligarchs, the billionaire elite, the most powerful people in our societies, will never allow a potential leader in our present system, to get into a position of power, where they could change the suicidal direction we are currently on. 58/

2.6. Solution: A Massive Global Movement

I am not saying it is impossible, but it is only possible with a massive global movement so powerful, that it would overwhelm the strangle hold that the oligarch class has over the media and our system. 59/

Yes, I do believe such a thing is possible. Which is what keeps me going, and why I’m up at an ungodly hour writing this thread. 60/ I’m sure what I say will be largely ignored, because other narratives of more palatable, not so disturbing. That the usual naysayers will come along and say resistance if futile, we’re all doomed. 61/ But as long as there is breath in my body, I will keep banging away at this, as it is not just my idea, not just another idea, but it is objective fact, supported by the empirical experiment of the last 30 years. 62/

2.7. Purpose and Strategy: Alert People & Follow the Evidence (not the Idea)

My purpose and strategy is very simple. To alert people to how things work. What we must do to create change, what the obstacles are, and why nothing has changed.

You see, effective problem solving means first acknowledging what the problem is, and then fully understanding the problem through an ongoing process, to create the solution to the problem. 64/ Again, this is not just my idea, not just another idea, but the empirical evidence over decades and centuries, prove that this is how effective problem solving works. 65/

This empirical evidence, also proves that all the other favoured ideas people have about how to create change, simply do not work.66

This leads onto something else I keep trying to get across. The problem of ideas.

There is this myth that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and ideas are the same as reality. That one idea is as relevant as another idea. No, no, no! 67/ It’s all about the evidence, not the idea.

The narrative I put forward here about why there has been no effective action in the last 30 years is not just an idea. It is supported by the evidence of what actually happened. 68/ This is the whole problem in our modern culture. People don’t test their ideas against empirical evidence. Instead they cite some favoured authority, and say Smith or Jones says this that or the other. 69/ The scientific method succeeded because of the principle which is the motto of the oldest scientific society, Nullius in Verba (basically take no one’s word for it). Instead, always look at the evidence. [Link] 70/

Unfortunately, the rest of academia and intellectualism hasn’t caught up with the founding principle of science, and they are still in thrall to their preferred authorities on their cherished ideas, and not the empirical evidence that idea refers to. 71/ They do not check the evidential basis of their ideas, to see if these ideas really work in the real world and if they are based on sound principles of empirical evidence. They cling to their ideas, despite all the evidence that things don’t work like the idea says it does. 72/

Don’t take my word for any of what I say. Instead, look to the evidence I point to, and try to contradict it with evidence. If you can’t contradict it, then you probably don’t have much of a valid argument. So why do people ignore it? 73/

2.8. Postscript


@threadreaderapp Please unroll?