Just Stop Oil’s own account of its premeditated criminal activity and determination to continue it complete with contact number, something many conspirators find it advisable to omit, says one of those who threw soup at a Van Gogh was 21 and the other 20, ages at which it is not entirely obvious that people possess sufficient wisdom to follow their own reasoning to its full conclusion. The older of the two made the claim that “The cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels – everyday life has become unaffordable for millions of cold hungry families – they can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup.” Is that really what they’re angry about? Wait until they find out it is lack of fossil fuels that is making life unaffordable, and the answer is to increase supply not eliminate what little is available. And wouldn’t it have done more good to give that soup to a cold hungry family than throw it on a warm inanimate painting?
The full quotation reads as follows.
“The cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels – everyday life has become unaffordable for millions of cold hungry families – they can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup. Meanwhile, crops are failing and people are dying in supercharged monsoons, massive wildfires and endless droughts caused by climate breakdown. We can’t afford new oil and gas, it’s going to take everything. We will look back and mourn all we have lost unless we act immediately.”
To ask for coherent thought in such a context is a fool’s quest so we won’t. After all, JSO ranted on that “will not be intimidated by changes to the law, we will not be stopped by private injunctions sought to silence peaceful people” who smash stuff so “Stand with our supporters in prison, with the 1700 murdered across the global, for protecting our futures.” Across the global, no less.
Speaking of grunts and howls, the BBC (who covered the story under Climate Change but assigned it to an “Entertainment reporter,”) says
“Videos of Friday’s incident showed a protester shouting: ‘What is worth more? Art or life? Is it worth more than food? Worth more than justice? Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?’”
As if you could either glaze Van Gogh or ban fracking but not both. And the BBC story is oddly sympathetic, quoting the “climate activists” but not anyone calling them fools.
If members of the Trucker’s Convoy had invaded Canada’s National Gallery and hurled foodstuffs at treasured Canadian art, if any could be found, one wonders what nouns and adjectives our press might have hurled back. To be sure, the CBC did allow that “The group has drawn attention, and criticism, for targeting artworks in museums.” But it went on:
“Activists have also blocked bridges and intersections across London during two weeks of protests. The wave of demonstrations comes as the British government opens a new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas exploration, despite criticism from environmentalists and scientists who say the move undermines the country’s commitment to fighting climate change.”
And there it left the matter, with the pseudo-justification for this mindless if ineffectual destruction of the artistic heritage of personkind. While CNN included a link to JSO’s own manifesto-like object that included such overheated verbiage as:
“This is not a one day event, this is an act of resistance against a criminal government and their genocidal death project. Our supporters will be returning – today, tomorrow and the next day – and the next day after that – and every day until our demand is met: no new oil and gas in the UK.”
If it had been people protesting against large-scale immigration, say, or vaccine mandates, it is hard to imagine mainstream media helpfully linking to their propaganda. And we do not think it a mitigating factor that despite being a commercial failure who suffered paralysing depression that ultimately led to his suicide at age 37 in 1890, Van Gogh was a prolific painter, producing some 2,100 works including about 860 of his famous oil paintings, a surprising share of which date to the last two years of his short life including the famous seven sunflower paintings. So even if it had worked the world would still be enjoying his oeuvre. (And by the way it is not true that he never sold a painting while alive though we only know for certain of one sale, four months before he died, for 400 francs, whereas today his works sell for eight or even nine figures and the one that got souped is alone valued at $84.2 million).
There’s only one Last Supper even if there are parodies and imitations beyond count. But as the BBC observed, “The action comes three months after members of the same group pasted paper over John Constable’s the Hay Wain in the same gallery.” And even if Constable is not your favourite painter, and you struggle to call the Hay Wain to mind, pasting paper onto an oil painting is a destructive act with no redeeming social value.
In short, it’s nihilism, a moral and mental void.