Autism, Bolsonaro and climate change – more autistic people in politics

Würden Autisten in der Politik anders handeln? Diskussion am Beispiel der Klimakrise.

Some time ago, I read an article about Bolsonaro (the Brazilian President) and climate change that made me think. Yes, exactly; it’s about Bolsonaro, who regards the Amazon Forest as a more or less useless landscape and would like to burn it down overnight. Last year he had an interesting idea that briefly went through the media and was never discussed again. He – or rather his Economics Minister Paolo Guedes – suggested that Brazil asks for money for the Amazon’s oxygen. (Source: https://www.derstandard.at/story/2000106758657/brasilien-plant-offenbar-fuer-amazonas-sauerstoff-weltweit-geld-zu-verlangen )

From (environmental) politics to neurodiversity, it seems to be a big step. However, one can still connect: It would probably be necessary to bring more autistic people into politics because “normal” (aka neurotypical) people always seem to use the same patterns of thinking/ argumentations. Let’s follow the neurotypical way of thinking in that example: “Boslonaro, that’s a “bad guy”, we don’t even talk to him at first.” That is the way neurotypical politicians might think. But this attitude has a high price: The goal itself (less CO2 in the atmosphere) is missed. Would autistic politicians have acted that way as well? I don’t think so.

Neurodiverse persons vs. neurotypical persons in politics

In principle, one hears again and again that neurotypical people are “right”. In contrast, everyone else (i.e. all non-neurotypical people) would be “wrong”, “disabled”, or “in need of therapy”. Neurotypical decision-making patterns are considered to be the better choice. But it may be the other way around. Why? I’ll try to explain:

OK. Bolsonaro is not at all the politician that I somehow trust at any point. But in this one case, he hit exactly the sore point: After the global North has already cut down its forests, it now wants to tell the global South what to do with its forests. And what the South has to do should be done as free as possible, because the Amazon is magnificent and worth protecting.

But the criticism – even if it comes from Bolsonaro – is quite simply correct. If the industrialised countries were to pay for the oxygen, which they currently receive free of charge, then the fires and clearing in the Amazon would end very quickly. Personally, I wouldn’t care about the label under which the cutting is stopped. If it’s just about selling oxygen, then that’s the way it is.

So we see that politicians, whom I now assume to be neurotypical, do several things:

  1. Whoever is allowed to say anything in politics is defined according to the landlord’s way. Bolsonaro is “bad”, so you shouldn’t talk to him if he says something interesting.
  2. Facts, if they are disagreeable, are ignored anyway.
  3. Instead, “moral” arguments are used.

First about politics in general:

Which half-truths are we talking about? Which topics are almost continuously overlooked in politics? Why is that like that?

  1. The entire environmental policy debate does not necessarily take place on an equal footing. While the global North has already cleared most of its forests in the course of industrialisation, now states such as  Brazil “decreed” the protection of the rainforest.
  2. The entire prehistory of the environmental problem, i.e. colonialism and the overexploitation of nature and mineral resources at the time, is also not exactly at eye level. I would rather speak of a western “debt” of reparation. OK.  Earlier in history (before the Europeans showed up), the world was not perfect either.
  3. However, today, we are (fortunately) no longer in the age of colonialism. Nevertheless, the reality of life e. g.  in Africa has not really changed as much as one should assume, and an entire continent is more or less used as a cheap raw material source or inexpensive garbage dump used. Depending on what you need.
  4. If, however, production is carried out in the global South, it is often destined for the North, and the local population has less of it because the products are exported cheaply. Soy and beef from South America are the best-known examples. Production in sweatshops also falls into this category.
  5. Another variant of how global imbalance is created is that certain things are no longer done in the north for ecological reasons, and they are simply outsourced to the south. Do you want an example? In the US, five mines for rare earth have been closed in recent years because the ecological standards there are too high to operate these mines profitably. But since smartphones and electromobility are not possible without Rare Earths, China is now doing the dirty work.

And now the connection between politics and neurodiversity

What I have described so far (i.e., doing problem analyses and consistently excluding factors that one does not like.) is a procedure that neurotypical people do again and again. There are several names for this in psychology. Displacement is a popular term used by Freudians, whereas C.G. Jung uses the term “shadow”. But whatever you may call it on a psychological level: It is simply a shame, a mistake, a failure!

The fact that autistic people in particular (Remember: They are those who are supposed to have problems) is much less susceptible to such things. We see the topic quite rationally, and in the case of Bolsonaro and the Amazon, it would be something like this:

  1. If we want to have less CO2 in the atmosphere, there are a few options: – Save CO2
    – Convert CO2 into O2
  2. You can convert CO2 into O2 using machines (which have not yet been invented) or by planting trees.
  3. There are calculation models for both to define the framework conditions (efficiency, costs, duration until deployment …)
  4. The Amazon rainforest converts XY tons of CO2 into O2 every year
  5. We have a price to talk to Bolsonaro about

Conclusion:

In my opinion, it would not be wrong if more people with autistic diagnoses were in politics. I suppose we would have a much higher level of truth. Certainly, we would have fewer lies and, at the same time, more qualified statements. It would probably be dry and boring statements, but politics is not really about shows. We want to work on topics. At least that’s what I mean as Asperger’s. So who is “normal” now?

Oh, by the way: Is Greta Thunberg not said to be Aspie too?

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