Eamonn Kelly: You Can’t Be Too Radical


From top:  Kate Bush fans in Fairview Park, Dublin last weekend  celebrating ‘The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever’. Eamonn Kelly.

David Attenborough told the UK parliament that radical thinking was needed to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, most people don’t do radical thinking.

They do safe thinking. They do thinking as it has always been done, and then they vote for politicians who do the same and then you end up with an imagined future world of private electric cars, a slight tweak on the present scenario because most people don’t do radical thinking.

Artists do radical thinking. That’s what makes them artists. That’s what makes them outsiders, and that’s what makes them in the present system “worthless”, because the non-radical thinkers can’t put a price on what they do.

Some argue that it was radical thinkers; artists, creatives, who created all the goodies that the non-radical thinkers now squabble about. I believe this.

And for every invention created by a radical thinker, you can be certain that a majority laughed and scorned and called the inventor “mad”. That’s the bulk of humanity, now swanning around empowered by the inventions of “mad” radical thinkers.

Everyone agrees that radical thinking is needed to tackle climate change, but unfortunately, the world is ruled by safe people who don’t do radical thinking. They do the opposite. They do safe thinking. They think what has already been thought.

I believe it was Edward de Bono who said that companies have two states: the initial creative state that establishes the company, and then the maintenance state that keeps the company going.

The people who create and establish the company generally move on and create something else, because that’s what they do; they make things.

The people who maintain the company are generally seen as a safe pair of hands. The main thing is that they don’t change anything, because if they do the company might collapse. Their role is to maintain the thing. They are generally not radical thinkers. They don’t make things. Their strength is maintenance.

Capitalism is a kind of company. It served everyone at one stage but has now become stagnant because it is run as it was always run, by the functionaries, despite the fact that it is in dire need of radical thinking to adapt to change.

But it can’t do that.

The great machine lumbers on, oblivious to the destruction it is causing to people and to the environment. It is run by people who don’t do radical thinking and so they can’t see the problem.

That’s why David Attenborough told the UK parliament that climate change needs radical thinking.

But the problem is not a shortage of radical thinkers. The problem is an abundance of safe thinkers occupying powerful positions and actively blocking the emergence of radical thinkers, even though everyone professes awareness that radical thinking is needed now more than ever.

By chance I caught a video of hundreds of people dancing to Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. A celebration, a commemoration of the artistry of the record and the dance that went with it.

This is done all over the world. This one was being done in Fairview Park in Dublin.

But the interviewer seemed intent on mining for Kate Bush’s oddity as a person. She was a “bit special”, he says at one point, a term that is often used to kindly remark on a person’s perceived mental deficiencies.

Later he observes “She’s kind of kooky though, isn’t she?” As if this were a problem to be shied away from, to be managed. Something questionable.

This is a wonderful example of a righteous square attempting to label a creative mind, a radical thinker, as odd and mad and ultimately pointless.

And the square’s righteousness is validated by faith in the economy and the great capitalist machine run by squares with eyes fixed on the bottom line who believe that radical thinking is “mad”.

Though everyone agrees that radical thinking is needed to tackle climate change.

Radical thinking is a wasted resource, its value unrecognized by the safe thinkers that run the world and who, by their lack of imagination and vision, risk running the whole planet into the ground.

That’s your future, my future and everyone’s future. End of story, game over.

Simply because some safe thinkers in power are blocking the human ingenuity required to modify the great machine of capitalism, designed by radical thinkers, which has served us so well but which now needs modification, because the damn thing is running wild, driven by people who can’t see the damage in their wake.

Radical thinking is needed to tackle climate change, but conservative non-thinking freezes in resistance, because it finds radical thinking a bit “odd”. The truth is, it finds creative thinking a bit challenging. A danger to their power base.

The ethos of the normalton also skews the definition of work into a kind of hard graft slavery, achieving little or no end – except perhaps a perceived statistical improvement to the abstract “economy” – while thinking and creativity, the very activities at the root of human progress, are generally regarded as being out of touch with reality.

Though everyone is agreed that radical thinking is needed to tackle climate change.

The problem is that so many people not only don’t get radical thinking, they think there is nothing to get. That radical thinking is simply a “madness”.

That’s the difference between the person dancing in Fairview Park to Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, and the interviewer trying to tarnish the artist as a freak. The dancers get it, though they admit they can’t do it.

The interviewer, on the other hand, seems to believe that there is nothing to get, and seems determined to get the dancers to admit to the perceived “nothing” of it all. To prove that the artist and the artist’s followers are all equally “mad”.

Though everyone is generally agreed that radical thinking is needed to tackle climate change.

Eamonn Kelly is a freelance Writer and Playwright.


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12 thoughts on “Eamonn Kelly: You Can’t Be Too Radical

  1. won't you join too

    They think what has already been thought.

    The new Irish arts, media and Twitter world. And this opinion piece.

  2. CO2 is Food For Plants

    The true radical knows that the Climate Change Dogma is a scam.

    The Carbon Cycle – check it out. It’s how we get our food.

    1. Termagant

      We disrupt the carbon cycle that’s existed for the entirety of the time in which we have evolved when we take carbon that’s been locked safely away underground for all that time and burn it in atmosphere

      1. CO2 is Food For Plants

        You do realise that the earth is naturally and constantly adding more CO2 to the atmosphere at all times?

        In fact 97% of atmospheric CO2 is natural in origin. Just 3% is a by product of human activity. But it’s all available for plants to consume.

        Are you trying to claim that naturally produced C02 is fine. But human produced CO2 is not?

        Or are you planning to somehow penalise the earth itself for constantly fertilizing its own atmosphere with this miraculous molecule that plants need to grow and which is turn provides us with all the food we need to survive?

        1. Termagant

          I don’t realise that, because it’s not true. It’s a cycle, the amount of atmospheric carbon waxes and wanes as more or less carbon is bound up in biomass. When we take carbon out of the ground, carbon that has been locked away out of the cycle for millions of years, and add it to that cycle, we disrupt the cycle. Carbon isn’t “consumed” by plants, it’s used to build mass and then when the plants die and rot it’s released again. Trees don’t make it go away, they just assist the cycle.

  3. Termagant

    The problem with applying radical thinking to an objective large-scale problem like climate change is that a lot of the time radical thinking is wrong. Taking a wrong choice when you’re painting a painting or writing a song is perfectly fine, you can just keep throwing whatever just-crazy-enough-to-work concepts you want at the wall until one sticks, the stakes are low. You can’t take the same approach when you’re dealing economies that keep billions of people alive because if you screw up you can’t just throw the country away and go back to the drawing board.

  4. Broadsheet Is Controlled - Official Dogma Only

    I like cheese. My favourite is Wensleydale.

    Does anyone else like cheese and what is their favourites?

    1. Sham Bob

      You think being a climate sceptic is radical? The fossil fuel lobby have done their job well with you.

  5. McVitty

    What does Kate Bush think of this appropriation of her image for political activism ends? Kate Bush comes across pretty ordinary in interview and her political views might surprise people in their conservatism…

    1. Fools Are U

      You’re not silly. You’re stupid and ignorant and you hate truth or any discussion that might lead to truth.

      Lying to people and allowing others to lie to people is not big and it’s not cleaver.

      You are also a coward.

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