Hyperbole has long been a staple of rousing speeches, fiery manifestos, and widespread graffiti during uprisings, rebellions, and revolutions. No one believes every word of such extravagant slogans, or takes them literally or as full truth; neither, though, do people view them as false or misleading. They are an exaggeration that captures the exuberant, romantic, collective feeling of what is suddenly possible — even if in our hearts, we know that only a fraction of what we’re fighting for will indeed stick. Yet hyperbole inspires those in revolt to push further than they ever thought they could toward their ideals through all sorts of wild and wonderful dreams of and experiments in freedom.
Enter climate catastrophe, fueled by the most counterrevolutionary of forces, and now perhaps hyperbole too is headed toward extinction.
Report after massive report by hundreds of eminent mainstream scientists — all engaged in a discipline that is structured not to rush to conclusions, not to exaggerate — have proclaimed of late that we have 12 years left to basically end capitalism or end human (and other) life. Those of us who are anticapitalists know that is no light challenge — or even a remote potentiality. A perhaps-necessary despair has set in among radicals, compelling us to reflect on what possible strategies could come even close to dismantling capitalism in a dozen years. Or it should be compelling us — to stretch our minds and practices in ways we’ve maybe never had to, because humans haven’t quite felt this close to their own expiration date.
So suddenly what would have seemed hyperbolic street art, “12 years left; revolution or death,” is almost an understatement, or maybe just a sad, sad fact beyond exaggeration.
How will we light a fire in our bellies and hearts under such conditions? Where do you find embers, small and almost extinguished though they may be, to re-spark dreams of possibility?
(#ArtOfResistance seen on stolen lands of Tio’tia:ke, so-called Montréal)
i welcome the wake up note sounded by this wall art. my dreams stay big and it doesn’t serve us to attach to despair. one contribution i can make is organizing an art-based engagement prompt, like a radio project to broadcast wide and focus on how listeners can shift practices and policies now, to build the societal structures we need within ten years. education with art tools, especially art expressions that don’t only sound dire notes but which propose practical actions (like cultivating skills, reaching to ally with new comrades, etc.), is something useful to mobilize.