‘The New Normal’ is a phrase you will have heard over the last few months to describe the current state of our existence as we stare into Zoom meetings, watch gigs online, walk around with face masks across our mouths while keeping 2 metres apart from others and unable to travel across the world.
Author Robert A. Heinlein first used the phrase in his 1966 novel ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’:
“Citizens, requests may reach you through your comrade neighbors. I hope you will comply willingly; it will speed the day when I can bow out and life can get back to normal — a new normal, free of the Authority, free of guards, free of troops stationed on us, free of passports and searches and arbitrary arrests.”
Sound familiar? Our governments like to wrap everything up in simple slogans for the public, this is nothing new as follows:
“Liberty, equality, fraternity.” Robespierre, 1790
“All power to the Soviets: bread, peace, land.” Lenin, 1917
“A fit country for heroes to live in.” David Lloyd George, 1918
And then of course there was:
“Hands, face, space.” Boris Johnson, 2020.
Really? Unfortunately, yes. It speaks volumes about us as a nation right? Of course the other phrase we are currently hearing a lot is ‘The New Normal’. This phrase interests me because what it declares is that what we had before was ‘normal’, which in turn begs the questions:
What is normal?
Who sets what is normal?
Who is the arbiter of normality?
Where is the ground zero of ‘normal’?
So I ask you:
Is it normal for the nearly half of the world’s entire wealth to be in the hands of millionaires?
Is it normal for us to vote in a prime minister or president who protects the interests of business before the people he or she is meant to serve?
Is it normal for people in Britain to be having to rely on food banks to eat?
Is it normal for the Doomsday clock to be moving closer to midnight?
Is it normal for our countries to be bombing and invading other countries illegally?
Is it normal for everything to be in the hands of private unaccountable corporations?
Is it normal to attack those who are different from us, be it colour, origin, class or gender?
Is it normal to fill the sea with plastic waste?
Is it normal that we have now entered Anthropocene?
Is it normal for people on the other side of the world to be living in destitution to produce our so-called luxury goods?
The questions can go on. If we are to be told we need to get used to living in a ‘new normal’ then we should start to look at who benefits from this supposed normality, for this will clearly show who sets what ‘normal’ is. But what it was also importantly shows are the results of our actions, and from there we can ask ourselves whether we think this should be ‘normal’.
This phrase, slogan, statement itself could be, if seriously taken into consideration, a catalyst to change the whole infrastructure of the current business and financial institutions that currently control and dominate our lives and the world. It simply begins with asking the question:
What is normal?