Thursday, February 16, 2012
"Lone Wolf" But Not Despairing
I thought you might enjoy this pic, "The Lone Wolf" by Wierus-Kowalski.
It has been FORTY years since I, as an 18 year old kid, realised that most of the productive output of civilization is both stolen AND wasted, and yet I see no signs of that understanding ANYWHERE. Your work is the first evidence I've seen that anyone, other than myself, understands this critically important point....
I've thought long and hard on why no one gets this very obvious fact of economics, let alone its implications. I think one reason for this is that the diversion of wealth beyond that required for sustenance and security is difficult to sense. Historically, insurgencies and revolutions occur when the populace experiences any threat to their security and survival such as starvation, loss of civil order or extreme crime (predatory or terrorist) These thus serve as triggering mechanisms that alert the people that there is danger - and elicit action.
Technological civilization has generated unspeakable amounts of wealth relative to anything in prior human experience. There are thus no cultural or inborn biological tools(e.g., hunger) to allow for effective monitoring of predation and the waste of such a vast resource pool. As a consequence, the system is insensitive to theft or waste until it consumes most of the wealth it generates! It is very much the reverse problem that is seen with the obesity epidemic which is a complex, multi-factorial response to the heretofore unprecedented easy availability of almost unlimited quantities of highly addictive calorie dense foods, coupled with huge decreases in the need to take exercise - or indeed, in the need even to move about in the environment!
The theft and waste of the fantastic bounty of wealth generated by the scientific-technological-industrial revolution is, however, far, far more dangerous and deadly than obesity and sloth. Theft and waste on such a grand scale serve to corrupt and degrade the productivity and the pervert the moral direction of the civilization. Unarguably, it the perversion of civilization's moral direction that is the most damaging and deadly aspect of this phenomenon. There is a difference between a civilization preoccupied with understanding and exploring the universe, and one that is preoccupied with war, scandal, celebrity status and short-term hedonism. It is the difference between a civilization that is engaged in opening up the solar system to its peoples, whilst also granting them indefinitely longer lives, and one that is preoccupied with endless wars, religious madness, and Madonna and Lady Gaga.
Looking at Mike's wiki page he seems to have done considerably more than his share to get us into the future that technology can take us to.
However, so long as we don't establish a world government (which could suppress progress everywhere) I am not merely optimistic but confident thaty progressive societies will ultimately emerge and lead humanity. It is only my personal chauvinism that would prefer they be Scottish, British or Anglospheric.
Mike I think you will find Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor, Al Fin or Next Big Future also understand these issues since I owe much to them.
I also think that, because of the exchange of ideas the net has made possible and is displayed by such sites, for the first time in my lifetime we are seeing an enormous growth in popular understanding of the restraints government imposes on us. The rise of the Tea Party, Ron Paul and libertarianism generally would have been inconceivable even a decade ago. The rise of UKIP in Britain is more restrained because we and in particular our mainstream media are more controlled but even so it is rising fast.
The extenmt to which traditional socialism has been destroyed and replaced by the Luddite "new left" under the same flag is demonstrated by the fact that when Labour came to power, rather than re-open coal mines, the miners being a pillar of traditional socialism, they decided to put far greater subsidies than the mines ever needed, into windmills.
I tend to think that the traditional socialists are almost as much victims of the empire building government bureaucracies and their ecofascist scare stories as the rest of us.