"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete"

Instead of protesting and demanding changes from our errant parents, we must initiate these changes ourselves. It is time for us to grow up. In doing so we step out from under those parents - the system that currently defines our relations for us -  and take control ourselves.

We all have skills to offer each other. We may, at the moment, only do this in the form of a professional relationship. In other words, we offer our skills and get paid for them. The professional relationship has its virtues, but also its limitations - limitations that are critical at this point in time.

A friendship-based contract (contact) is one that is free from these limitations. Instead of offering our services for a fee, we offer them for free.

Friendship-based relations could be a crucial way for us to transition away from the current system and towards something more healthy. Professional relationships have a certain tendency to them -  they take us in certain directions.  

They are infused with the logic of the current - dysfunctional - system, and so keep us within the old story.

The friendship-relationship is a space in which we are free to do what we want, in which we can redefine our relations and write a new story.

In concrete terms, we must find ways to offer our skills to each other for free. This will mean making sacrifices, something our generation must accept. These sacrifices may mean accepting a simpler lifestyle, a life without as many 'things' in it. It may mean foregoing certain luxuries, or novelties. Those generations that went before us were unwilling to make the sacrifices that were required of them, and so the baton is passed to us. Will we have the strength to do what they could not, or will we, once again, pass the burden downwards?

There is no way that we can transition to a more sustainable and healthy world without making sacrifices. Yet through sacrifice we grow as people... 

1. Get a skill. Choose something and specialise.

2. Establish yourself

3. Examine your lifestyle. Think about what your core necessities are and what can be sacrificed for the greater good.

4. Begin to offer your services for free. Devote a certain percentage of your professional time to community service. Offer your services on a non-professional friendship-oriented basis. Convert professional to non-professional: distance to friendship. Both parties are made aware of the arrangement.

5. Keep assessing your lifestyle. Continue to weigh up what you can sacrifice in order to convert more professional time to non-professional time.

6. Aim to pare things down to the minimum you need in order to sustain an acceptable lifestyle. As you make more changes to your lifestyle your idea of what is 'acceptable' will also change. Draw what you need from the system in order to support your lifestyle but otherwise aim to devote as much time and energy as possible to using your skills in a friendship-based gift-giving way.

The more each of us do this the more we - collectively - will move away from the system that separates us and the closer we will draw towards each other. In this way ties are reestablished, communities rebuilt.

Trust will resurface as a result of our non-professional relationships. From within the walls of professionalism, we can emerge into a new story.


Related posts:-
A Circle of Gifts 
Guiding Fiction
Lost Tribe
Community Service
Carry Each Other
Know your place 
Life Support 
Set it Free 
Open Source Approaches
Sell Out 

Concentrate / Decentrate

Concentrate                     -                      Decentrate
Hyper-                             -                      Hypo-
Life                                  -                      Death
Multiply                          -                      Divide
Limited                            -                      Unlimited
Real                                  -                      Ideal
Flawed                              -                      Perfect
Creation                            -                      Destruction

Within every living thing there is a tug of war, consisting of the the pull towards life, and the pull towards death. The life urge is conservative, the death urge expansive.

Life is defined by the process of limitation; a thing is only a thing because of all the things it is not; from a sea of infinite possibility certain characteristics are chosen, at the expense of others. Infinity is bounded.

Death is the return to infinity; the unbinding of what has been bound. If life is synonymous with 'limited', then death is synonymous with 'unlimited.'

As humans we have an urge towards expansiveness - the need to constantly explore new territory - that must be balanced by the imposition of limits. A lack of boundaries allows us to adventure to far flung places, full of mystery and novelty - but whenever we travel to extremes we also dance with death.

Concentrative thinking is centripetal. It focuses to a point. It borns gravity. It “charges” by multiplying low potential into high and cold into heat.

Decentrative thinking is centrifugal. It expands into space. It borns radiation. It “discharges” by dividing high potential into low and heat into cold.

The journey toward gravity simulates life and the opposite journey simulates death in the forever repeating cycles which, together in their continuity, simulate eternal life.

[Walter Russell]
A New Concept of the Universe, p. 14-16

One of the characteristic patterns of capitalism is of things getting concentrated into ever smaller spaces. Of things becoming more tightly packed. Of extremes.

Some examples:

- money and power is concentrated into fewer hands, producing extreme wealth/poverty.

- people are concentrated into smaller spaces, producing areas of extreme density (cities) and extreme sparsity (countryside).

- pixels are concentrated into smaller spaces producing extreme definition (HD).

Unchecked concentration leads to extremes.

For instance, the more you gather separate things together into one entity, and the tighter you pack them, the more mass you create; the more you concentrate flavours, the more exaggerated is the affect on the tastebuds; the more you focus talent into one area, the greater are the potential products of that talent; and by focusing wealth and power in fewer hands, the more extreme things can be done with this wealth and power.

Its akin to taking a long-slow wave - with shallow troughs and peaks - and packing it into a very small space. Its highs and lows are exaggerated - higher highs and lower lows - but its duration, its lifespan, is significantly shortened.

Imagine an athlete who trains so hard that they surpass all previous achievements in their field. They push their body to its limits, but in doing so wear it out in a very short space of time. They burn brightly - brighter than anything thus far - but their flame is extinguished unusually soon.

A high peak is always followed by a swift and steep descent. The brighter you burn, you shorter you shine: this is the eternal balance.

Through concentrating things we have made certain advances that would not have been possible otherwise. We have reached extremes that would have been unattainable if things were more evenly spread. These are the victories of capitalism.

Capitalism is, amongst other things, a pattern of runaway growth. It is unchecked linear progress, an infinite line moving into infinite space. In disregarding limits, it ends up going to extremes.

The longer it continues, the more tightly things will be packed, and the more extreme these things will become. It is turning a beach full of sand into a few boulders of sandstone.

If you want to make sandstone then it is 'good'. If you want a beach full of sand then it is 'bad'. Each have their downsides and upsides.  

As ever, the critical factor - the thing that determines 'bad' and 'good' - is context.

In light of the current problems that face us as a species, we cannot afford to keep wanting a few boulders of sandstone. We must begin to think in terms of sand, and beaches.

A supernormal stimulus or superstimulus is an exaggerated version of a stimulus to which there is an existing response tendency, or any stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which it evolved.

For example, when it comes to eggs, a bird can be made to prefer the artificial versions to their own, and humans can be similarly exploited by junk food. The idea is that the elicited behaviours evolved for the "normal" stimuli of the ancestor's natural environment, but the behaviours are now hijacked by the supernormal stimulus.

'Supernormal stimulus'

In semiotics and postmodernism, hyperreality is an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced postmodern societies.

Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. It allows the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality (VR) and human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI).

Individuals may find themselves, for different reasons, more in tune or involved with the hyperreal world and less with the physical real world.


Concentration leads to hyper-stimulation leads to addiction:

- Food                                        - extreme tastes
- Pornography                           - extreme bodies
- Drugs                                      - extreme highs
- Social media                           - extreme connectivity
- Films & video games                - extreme sights & sounds
- Music                                      - extreme sound

The point that nearly everyone in the debate is trying to evade is that the collection of extravagant energy-wasting habits that pass for a normal middle class lifestyle these days is, in James Howard Kunstler’s useful phrase, an arrangement without a future.

Those habits only became possible in the first place because our species broke into the planet’s supply of stored carbon and burnt through half a billion years of fossil sunlight in a wild three-century-long joyride. 

Now the needle on the gas gauge is moving inexorably toward that threatening letter E, and the joyride is over. It really is as simple as that.

[John Michael Greer]
'Renewables: The Next Fracking?' 

An enclosed social circle can quickly evolve political views, and the concentration of Britain's intelligentsia within small networks predominantly in west and north London helped to radically shift accepted ideas and prevent dissenting voices emerging.

As Cass Sunstein noted in Going to Extremes: 'Social networks can operate as polarisation machines because they help to confirm and thus amplify people's antecendent views.'

Interactivity between a group with political leanings of a certain bent acts as an echo chamber, progressively radicalising them even more.

[Ed West]
The Diversity Illusion, p. 62-3

I think that status is a hyper-normal stimuli […] what porn is to sex, sugar and salt and fat concentrated in a Frappuccino, or a McDonalds is to food - void of the actual nutrition […]

In an evolutionary environment we couldn’t necessarily have more than 150 people pay attention to us - now we can have a huge number of people pay attention to us and have it metricised with likes.

I think it is like sugar, a hyper-normal stimulus that is [unlikely] not to be bad for us, and we have to have a very mature relationship to it. Addiction of any kind - any hyper-normal stimulus that decreases normal stimulus - is going to end up being net bad for us.

I think one of the metrics for how healthy a society is, is inverse relationship to addictive dynamics. 

Addiction will give me a spike and then a crash, and then because of the crash I’m craving something that will spike me because I feel really shitty. But then I get in an erosion of baseline over time from the effects of that.

A healthier, more effective relationship to pleasure is anti-addictive. A healthy environment conditions people who are not prone to addiction, which means having more authenticity of choice. Addiction or compulsion writ large is less authenticity of choice.

If there is a healthy status relationship - in a tribal environment, where I can’t really lie and people are watching me, and know me - if I’m thought well of it’s because I’m actually doing well by everybody and I have authentic healthy relationships, as as opposed to [being able to] signal things that aren’t true, get more status though negative signalling about other people, and so on - that is the same kind of thing as the fast food, or the porn.

So I think we have a hypo-normal environment of the healthy stimulus which actually creates a baseline well being. Most people, when they go camping with their friends and they’re in nature in real authentic human relationships, they’re checking their phone for dopamine hits from email or Facebook less - because they’re actually having an authentic, meaningful, engaging interaction.

But in a world where there is a lot of isolation, [little] connection to nature and meaningfulness, that hypo-normal environment creates increased susceptibility to hyper-normal stimuli. 

Hyper-normal stimuli happen to be good for markets, because on the supply side addiction is good for the lifetime value of a customer, but is bad for society as a whole.

[Daniel Schmachtenberger]
'Daniel Schmachtenberger on The Portal (with host Eric Weinstein), Ep. #027 - On Avoiding Apocalypses' (3:11:40)

[…] globalisation creates interlocking fragility, while reducing volatility and giving the appearance of stability. In other words it creates devastating Black Swans. 

We have never lived before under the threat of a global collapse. Financial institutions have been merging into a smaller number of very large banks. Almost all banks are now interrelated. So the financial ecology is swelling into gigantic, incestuous, bureaucratic banks […] when one falls, they all fall. The increased concentration among banks seems to have the effect of making financial crises less likely, but when they happen they are more global in scale and hit us very hard.

We have moved from a diversified ecology of small banks, with varied lending policies, to a more homogenous framework of firms that all resemble on another. True, we now have fewer failures, but when they occur… I shiver at the thought. I rephrase here: we will have fewer but more severe crises.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 225-6

[Nathan] Myhrvold enlightened me about an additional way to interpret and prove how globalisation takes us into Extremistan: the notion of species density. 

[…] out of the sixty thousand main words in English, only a few hundred constitute the bulk of what is used in writings, and even fewer appear regularly in conversation. Likewise, the more people aggregate in a particular city, the more likely a stranger will be to pick that city as his destination. The big get bigger and the small stay small, or get relatively smaller.

Simply, larger environments are more scalable than smaller ones - allowing the biggest to get even bigger, at the expense of the smallest, through the mechanism of preferential attachment […]

We have evidence that small islands have many more species per square meter than larger ones, and, of course, than continents. As we travel more on this planet, epidemics will be more acute - we will have a germ population dominated by a few numbers, and the successful killer will spread vastly more effectively. Cultural life will be dominated by fewer persons: we have fewer books per reader in English than in Italian […] Companies will be more uneven in size. And fads will be more acute. So will runs on the banks, of course.

[…] I am not saying that we need to stop globalisation and prevent travel. We just need to be aware of the side effects, the trade-offs - and few people are. I see the risks of a very strange acute virus spreading throughout the planet.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 219, 317

But you may say: "Yes, but we have lived that way for a million years." Consciousness and purpose have been characteristic of man for at least a million years, and may have been with us a great deal longer than that. I am not prepared to say that dogs and cats are not conscious, still less that porpoises are not conscious.

So you may say: "Why worry about that?”

But what worries me is the addition of modern technology to the old system. Today the purposes of consciousness are implemented by more and more effective machinery, transportation systems, airplanes, weaponry, medicine, pesticides, and so forth. Conscious purpose is now empowered to upset the balances of the body, of society, and of the biological world around us. A pathology - a loss of balance - is threatened.

[Gregory Bateson]
Steps to an Ecology of Mind ('Conscious Purpose versus Nature'), p.440

With an unending stream of technological innovations, modern life was subject to an unprecedentedly disorienting rapidity of change. 

Gigantism and turmoil, excessive noise, speed, and complexity dominated the human environment. The world in which man lived was becoming as impersonal as the cosmos of his science. With the pervasive anonymity, hollowness, and materialism of modern life, man's capacity to retain his humanity in an environment determined by technology seemed increasingly in doubt. 

For many, the question of human freedom, of mankind's ability to maintain mastery over its own creation, had become acute.

[Richard Tarnas]
The Passion of the Western Mind, p. 362-3

[…] one does not have to be a believer in total equality, whatever that may mean, to be able to see that the existence of inordinately rich people in any society today is a very great evil. Some inequalities of wealth and income are no doubt ‘natural' and functionally justifiable, and there are few people who do not spontaneously recognise this. 

But here again, as in all human affairs, it is a matter of scale. 

Excessive wealth, like power, tends to corrupt. Even if the rich are not ‘idle rich', even when they work harder than anyone else, they work differently, apply different standards, and are set apart from common humanity. They corrupt themselves by practising greed, and they corrupt the rest of society by provoking envy. 

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 234

World-city and province - the two basic ideas of every civilization - bring up a wholly new form-problem of History, the very problem that we are living through to-day with hardly the remotest conception of its immensity. 

In place of a world, there is a city, a point, in which the whole life of broad regions is collecting while the rest dries up. 

In place of a type-true people, born of and grown on the soil, there is a new sort of nomad, cohering unstably in fluid masses, the parasitical city dweller, traditionless, utterly matter-of-fact, religionless, clever, unfruitful, deeply contemptuous of the countryman and especially that highest form of countryman, the country gentleman. 

[...] the stone city in which is housed a quite artificial living, that has become divorced from Mother Earth and is completely anti-natural - the city of footless thought, that draws the streams of life from the land and uses them up within itself. 

This is a very great stride towards the inorganic, towards the end - what does it signify? 

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 32 and Man and Technics, p. 62

The Pintupi data show that, as Peterson (1972) argues more generally for Aboriginal Australia, the emotional identification of persons with particular places leads older men to reside near their own primary sacred sites.

This pattern ensures that people will return to marginal areas, to exploit the entire region, and makes for increased efficiency in a regional system, potentially supporting a larger population.

[Fred R. Myers]
Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self, p.155

[…] the emergence of the new left […] would once again attempt to combine socialism with localism and “community” - with no more success, in the end, than the guild socialists had enjoyed in their own day.

Repeated failures of this sort indicate that it is the basic premise of progressive thought - the assumption that economic abundance comes before everything else, which leads unavoidably to an acceptance of centralised production and administration as the only way to achieve it - that needs to be rejected.

Until it is, “community” will remain an empty slogan.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.328

Congress passed the most important financial legislation since the Great Depression in 1999 - the Financial Services Act. This law paves the way for banks, insurance companies, and investment firms to merge into colossal megacorporations.

The act repeals the 1933 Glass-Steagall law that was designed to protect bank depositors and insurance buyers from high-risk manipulation of their funds by banks and insurance companies. Glass-Steagall prevented the various types of financial institutions from intermingling funds and services.

But after years of interelite squabbles between banks, insurance companies, and investment firms, and after tens of millions of dollars spent on congressional lobbying, Congress opened the door to the creation of all-purpose giant financial mega-firms.

Overall, the U.S. economy has performed very well in recent years under the policies initiated by the global elite. But the benefits of that performance have been very unevenly distributed.

The global economy has produced growth and profit for America's largest corporations, and it has raised the aggregate income of the nation. But at the same time, it has contributed to a decline in average earnings of American workers and an increase in inequality in America.

[Thomas R. Dye]
Top Down Policymaking, p.20, 25

Could it be the development of the very civilisation that brought about these technological advances has also been responsible for the introduction and spread of some of the world’s most terrible epidemics of disease?

My suggestion is that the West's desire for progress, growth, and increase has brought about the very diseases that have become its scourge. Take a simple example: Every farmer and market gardener knows that the more he or she attempts to increase yields per acre by farming intensively, the greater the chance is that a crop will be totally wiped out by disease or natural disaster.

In order to increase yields, monocultures are developed that can be planted ever closer together and cultivated and harvested in the most concentrated ways possible. This requires the use of fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides. The end result is a system in which variety and flexibility have been reduced to such an extent that when a disease strikes it can spread through the whole crop and destroy it.

Add to this the increasing ease of travel to and from distant parts by ship and caravan, and suddenly it becomes possible to transfer new diseases from across the world into a population with absolutely no resistance.

It could be argued that the history of the West is not so much that of kings, princes, and popes; of wars and treaties; of scientists, engineers, and philosophers; of arts and literature; but rather of the creation, rise, and triumph of infectious diseases like plague, typhoid, cholera, and tuberculosis.

In a very real sense, human beings create the conditions for their own illness, out of their dreams, beliefs, values, social structures, and thought.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.111-2, 115

Starting in the late 18th century, and increasingly in the 19th, Britain became the champion of free trade; but it was in its interests to do so. Indeed, by then, Britain had become the first shipping nation in the world, the leading industrial economy, the supreme naval power and the largest colonial country.

In effect, the advocacy of free trade by Britain was little more than a disguised request for free commercial access to the whole world, including, of course, its rivals' colonies. Some of the weaker colonial powers, such as Belgium, had no option but to accept the ‘opening’ of its colonies to free trade, but most resisted strenuously.

The fostering of economic dependence of the colony on the metropole meant principally the prevention of self-sufficiency. This could be achieved negatively by discouraging the development in the colonies of industries that would compete with home industries. In the 19th century, for example, Britain, despite her advocacy of free trade for other countries, was concerned with Indian competition for the British textile industry, trying everything to stifle it.

Positively, economic dependency of the colony was fostered through highly specialized development of a few products for export. In the aggregate, the colonial world produced a wide range of goods, but the monoculture of cash crops often prevailed in individual colonies: sugar and its by-products in the Caribbean, cocoa in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), groundnuts in Senegal, sisal in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), and so on.

Monoculture meant extreme dependence since the crop in question was rarely a basic subsistence crop and was scarcely ever consumed locally in significant amounts. The French, for example, produced wine in Algeria, a Muslim country where religion forbids alcoholic beverages. After nearly a quarter century of ‘independence’, Ghana, the world’s leading producer of cocoa, still imports most of the little chocolate it consumes from Britain!

Not only were colonial cash crops not consumed locally, but they also took away much land from subsistence agriculture, thereby leading oftentimes to a decline in the native standard of living and a deterioration in the quality of the diet. High-yield, low-quality root crops such as manioc and yams, for instance, were substituted for more varied and protein-richer cereal and bean crops. In extreme cases, such as in the West Indies, food had to be massively imported because nearly all available arable land was in sugar cane.

Dependency thus generally meant impoverishment as well. Paradoxically, the more ‘developed’ a colony was in terms of export productivity, the worse the diet of its population. Black South Africans, for instance, have one of the highest incidences of kwashiokor - a nutritional disease caused by a starchy diet - even though their country is by far the most highly developed industrial power on the African continent, with one of the continent's highest per capita income.

An additional source of dependence of colonial economies was that the few commodities, whether mineral or agricultural, in which they specialized were highly susceptible to extraordinary price fluctuations on the world market or, alternatively, were produced under conditions where the colonial power artificially imposed by force a very low price.

[Pierre L. van den Berghe]
The Ethnic Phenomenon, p. 102

The British Empire was at its very best a civilising force and at its very worst a ruthlessly efficient exploitation engine, but at no point did it seek to fundamentally annihilate the cultures and traditions of the people it subjugated. The GAE does.

[…] The GAE […] confers absolutely no benefits to either coloniser or colonised. The rewards, instead, go the obscenely rich financiers such as Larry Fink, or else mascot avatars of GAE ideology such as the obscenely fat Lizzo.

The GAE is a uniquely evil force in history totally unlike previous colonial empires. The GAE seeks total transformation of a culture in its own image using mass psychological warfare – as it did in Germany after World War II – on its subject populations and even on its own. It is a sick anti-civilisation cancer, a kind of all-consuming, all-destroying vortex that will not stop until everyone in the world has lost their history.

We face a totally evil enemy. The GAE has no redeeming features. It cannot be defended from the point of view of anyone who cares about humanity. It is anti-humanity and will destroy all you love.

[Academic Agent]
What is the Global American Empire (GAE)?, The Forbidden Texts, Substack


The GAE asset strips the whole world for the benefit of a small minority. Total extraction.

The industrial processes that turned government into this sprawling bureaucratised mess, have also done something very strange to our elites.

Mass society, human mobility and technology have untethered them from the local environments that used to give them meaning. We now have a class of globalising, extra-national super-elites, who identify primarily with each other, and who have lost contact with their native populations.

They have furthermore developed a peculiar agenda, one which reflects their own anxieties and aspirations. In implementing this agenda, they have the same problems as everyone else: They have to manipulate the bureaucratic monolith in all of its heavy, bewildering complexity.

In fact, elite withdrawal from specific national contexts and commitment to a bland, unpalatable universalising agenda means their task is even harder.

‘Stupid and Evil in Equal Measure: II - Mass containment as conspiracy and as emergent phenomenon’, eugyppius: a plague chronicle


The problem is less that we have elites, than that we have particularly bad ones, who have turned on the populations that sustain them.

This is not without historical precedent. Some elite factions during the rise of European feudalism, for example, developed a similar hostility and rapaciousness towards their peoples.

But, this is very far from the normal way of things. In healthy human societies, elites share a basic cultural outlook and an ethnic identity with their societies. Like everyone else, elites will strive to enrich themselves and further their own advantage, but ideally they and the people beneath them will share mutual interests sufficiently, to keep their rapaciousness in check and to ensure some degree of mutual regard.

‘Liberalism, Progressivism, Leftism’, eugyppius: a plague chronicle

Overshoot means you've exceeded your carrying capacity.

Any farmer who has a bunch of cattle knows that if you put too many cows out in the pasture, they'll eat the grass until there's nothing but mud and then they die. Now, if you import a lot of grass from other farmers, you can keep your cattle going. That's what humans have been doing.

We talk about urban ecology - that's nonsense. The city is not a complete ecosystem. The city is the human equivalent of a livestock feed lot because you have all of these consumer organisms jammed into one area. Geographers and urban economists often say, "Well, cities are no problem, and are only 2-3% of the surface area of the Earth." But that's from their narrow, reductionist, simplistic perspective.

If we look at human beings from an ecological point of view, then each city occupies on Earth an area anywhere between a 100 and a 1,000 times more land than is within the political or built-up area of the city. So the human urban ecosystem now is larger than the entire planet because cities have become parasitic on their environments because of globalization.

I did an early study of Tokyo. Tokyo is 38 million people, the whole population of Canada […] Tokyo uses more bio-capacity than the entire nation of Japan, about twice as much as a matter of fact. So the ecological footprint of Tokyo is larger than the entire country of Japan, and it's only something like a quarter or a third of the Japanese population. So Japan has exceeded its carrying capacity because of globalization, the capacity to bring in the resources needed to sustain its overpopulation.

And because we can do that, we become blinded to the reality of our overshoot.

As long as you can import from elsewhere, you are blind to the fact that you've exceeded your local carrying capacity. But what you're doing in the meantime is drawing down the available productive capacity in other places. And every country in Europe is in that circumstance.

Japan is in that circumstance where they're living on imported carrying capacity or the assimilative capacity of the rest of the planet to absorb their carbon and other waste. We don't actually measure the other waste.

[William Rees]
‘William E. Rees: "The Fundamental Issue - Overshoot" | The Great Simplification #53’, Nate Hagens, YouTube

Related posts:-

Short term / Long term

Short term       -       Long term

One of the most exciting things about adolescent boys and girls can be said to be their idealism. They have not yet settled down into disillusionment, and the corollary of this is that they are free to formulate ideal plans.

It is not for the adolescent to take a long-term view, which may come more naturally to those who have lived through many decades and begun to grow old.

[D.W. Winnicott]
Home Is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychoanalyst, p. 165

"Let's save the planet for future generations, for our children, and their children."
These appeals are all but useless in the current cultural climate.

The more we swing toward a short-term pragmatist/materialist mentality the less we value long-term considerations. Thus, the voice that urges us to think in the long term - that warns of future dangers - is a weak one. 'The future' is little more than an abstraction; we do not care about 'the future' because it does not exist here, now.

We can see this on an individual level. Many of us may have an addiction that we know is harming us in the long term, and that may have catastrophic effects on us in the future. Yet, because we can continue to indulge in the present without any immediate ill effects - because judgement day has not yet arrived - concern for our future has little affect on our present actions. The short-term outweighs the long-term. This kind of thinking is encouraged and reinforced by the wider culture. It urges us to indulge. 'Fuck it'.

If we do not care about our own future as individuals, then what hope have we of caring about our future as a species?

Who is going to be willing to fight the enormous battle against their addictions - a battle waged in the palpable here-and-now - for an abstract concept like 'future generations'?

Appeals that attempt to make us change our immediate actions by gesturing towards future danger - "the icecaps will melt", "your liver will give up" - are more or less redundant. Calamity must strike - we must hit rock bottom - before we are willing to change anything. Faced with such calamity, many would choose to continue along their dysfunctional path (keep their addiction) rather than change. They would, in some cases, choose annihilation.

Such is the power of the short-term in these times.

Sometimes in order to fight something we must take an indirect - and often counter-intuitive - route. Perhaps, then, to prevent the icecaps from melting, we must promote a long-term mentality. The pendulum must begin to swing in the opposite direction.  

The most critical battlefield in this regard may be culture.

We must stop transmitting messages that urge us to think short-term. We need people of influence (celebrities) who endorse long-term thinking. The voice of wisdom - the voice of the elder - must return to guide us, rather than the voice of the reckless youth.

Not only is there respect for the aged, but authority is vested in the old people. This arrangement naturally lends itself to control of life by the aged.

Preservation of the religious ideals and mores is thereby ensured, and the younger people who are inclined to introduce change can be held in check.

A strong consciousness of kinship is peculiarly favourable to gerontocracy, or social control by the older members of society. This control is informal rather than formal, but is, nevertheless, "closer ti us than breathing, nearer than hands or feet."

The part that old people have "in drawing forth and molding the character and life-policy of every younger person in the kinship group makes the necessity for direct control much less frequent in an isolated culture than in more accessible communities."

The relatively integrated community is asscoaited with effective rules imposed by the aged, be they parents or church leaders. Thus deference to age pervades not only familial realtionships but also the religious leadership of the group.

Furthermore, the counsel of the older bishop or minister carries more authority than that of younger ones.

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 16-8

In economics, hyperbolic discounting is a time-inconsistent model of delay discounting.

The standard experiment used to reveal a test subject's hyperbolic discounting curve is to compare short-term preferences with long-term preferences. For instance: "Would you prefer a dollar today or three dollars tomorrow?" or "Would you prefer a dollar in one year or three dollars in one year and one day?"

It has been claimed that a significant fraction of subjects will take the lesser amount today, but will gladly wait one extra day in a year in order to receive the higher amount instead. Individuals with such preferences are described as "present-biased".

The most important consequence of hyperbolic discounting is that it creates temporary preferences for small rewards that occur sooner over larger, later ones. 

Individuals using hyperbolic discounting reveal a strong tendency to make choices that are inconsistent over time – they make choices today that their future self would prefer not to have made, despite knowing the same information. This dynamic inconsistency happens because hyperbolas distort the relative value of options with a fixed difference in delays in proportion to how far the choice-maker is from those options.

Hyperbolic discounting has also been found to relate to real-world examples of self-control. Indeed, a variety of studies have used measures of hyperbolic discounting to find that drug-dependent individuals discount delayed consequences more than matched nondependent controls, suggesting that extreme delay discounting is a fundamental behavioral process in drug dependence. Some evidence suggests pathological gamblers also discount delayed outcomes at higher rates than matched controls.

Whether high rates of hyperbolic discounting precede addictions or vice versa is currently unknown, although some studies have reported that high-rate discounters are more likely to consume alcohol and cocaine than lower-rate discounters. Likewise, some have suggested that high-rate hyperbolic discounting makes unpredictable (gambling) outcomes more satisfying.

'Hyperbolic discounting'

Wal-Mart's lengthy struggle to open in New York City has hit fresh problems -- a controversial report that said America's biggest discounter does not just sell cheap, it makes neighborhoods poorer.

"The overwhelming weight of the independent research on the impact of Wal-Mart stores ... shows that Wal-Mart depresses area wages and labor benefits ... pushes out more retail jobs than it creates, and results in more retail vacancies," [...]

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio calls a possible Wal-Mart store in New York "a Trojan horse."

"It looks appealing to a lot of families who are hurting but it turns into a big problem in the long term because of the net elimination of jobs," de Blasio said.

"Wal-Mart draws ire even in poor parts of Brooklyn"

If both positive and negative consequences of an action fell on its author, our learning would be fast.

But often an action’s positive consequences benefit only its author, since they are visible, while the negative consequences, being invisible, apply to others, with net cost to society.

Consider job-protection measures: you notice those whose jobs are made safe and ascribe social benefits to such protections. You do not notice the effect on those who cannot find a job as a result, since the measure will reduce job openings. In some cases […] the positive consequences of an action will immediately benefit the politicians and phony humanitarians, while the negative ones take a long time to appear - they may never become noticeable.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 129

[…] iatrogenics, being a cost-benefit situation, usually results from the treacherous condition in which the benefits are small, and visible - and the costs very large, delayed, and hidden.

And of course, the potential costs are much worse than the cumulative gains.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
Antifragile, p. 340

The future is an unknown country, and those who live in a present arrayed in hostility to the past must acquire indifference toward, and a simple faith in, a better if unknowable future.

Those whose view of time is guided by such belief implicitly understand that their "achievements” are destined for the dustbin of history, given that the future will regard us as backward and necessarily superseded.

Every generation must live for itself. 

Liberalism makes humanity into mayflies, and unsurprisingly, its culmination has led each generation to accumulate scandalous levels of debt to be left for its children, while rapacious exploitation of resources continues in the progressive belief that future generations will devise a way to deal with the depletions.

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.74

Sorel believed that the bourgeoisie, having derived its moral ideas from eighteenth-century absolutism and from the decadent aristocracy fostered by absolutism, was now attempting to instill this ethic of irresponsibility into the workers, seducing them with the promise of endless leisure and abundance.

He argued, in effect, that the aristocracy of the old regime, with its cultivation of the "art of living,” had anticipated the modern cult of consumption. Aristocrats had traded their power for the brilliant, feverish delights of the Sun King's court. Without civic functions, they determined at least “to enjoy their wealth with relish"; they "no longer wanted to hear of the prudence long imposed on their fathers." The assumption that improvement had become automatic and irresistible relieved them of the need to provide for times to come. “Why worry about the fate of new generations, which are destined to have a fate that is automatically superior to ours?”

Aristocrats tried to avoid their obligations not only to the future but to the poor; this escape from responsibility, according to Sorel, was the dominant theme in eighteenth-century aristocratic culture. 

“At the dawn of modern times, anyone who held any authority aspired to liberate himself from the responsibilities that archaic conventions, customs, and Christian morality had, until then, imposed on the masters for the benefit of the weak.”

The idea of progress furnished the theoretical justification for the abrogation of reciprocal obligations, the foundation of aristocratic morality in its heroic phase, before enlightened aristocrats were corrupted by easy living.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.307

I believe that human beings and our cognitive capacities have become obsolete in the world in which we live.

If you think about the evolution of humans, we grew up in relatively simple circumstances. We were in small groups living in home ranges that weren't all that extensive, and lived and died within a few dozens of kilometers of each other. So there was no real pressures on the human mind to think beyond simple cause effect relationships.

The bottom line is that our cognitive capacities tend to be limited in most people to rather simplistic reductionist perspectives on reality.

Climate change is a perfect illustration, because there are hundreds of things happening but we fixate on climate change. The focus gets shifted a little bit when something like a pandemic comes along. But then, it's all about the pandemic we forget about climate change. Then there's the war in Ukraine, and we talk about that for a while, and now we're back to climate change.

And nobody bothers to connect all of those dots because human beings are not inherently intrinsically capable of thinking systemically. When's the last time you had a dinner conversation about lags and thresholds, chaotic behavior, collapse syndrome, systems theory and so on. It just doesn't happen.

Climate change is our fixation because there are obvious symptoms that many people can relate to, but it's only one. We could spend the whole day talking about plunging biodiversity, ocean acidification, soil and land erosion, on and on and on. Every single so-called environmental problem is a symptom of the same issue, which is overshoot. Overshoot is the fundamental issue and is the cause of all of these other problems.

Overshoot means that human beings are using resources, the products of ecosystems, much faster than they can regenerate. And we're dumping wastes far in excess of the natural assimilative capacity of ecosystems of the ecosphere. We're drawing down all of our natural capital - fish stocks are collapsing, soils are eroding at 10 to 40 times the rate of restoration - and we're polluting far beyond the capacity of the systems to assimilate.

[William Rees]
‘William E. Rees: "The Fundamental Issue - Overshoot" | The Great Simplification #53’, Nate Hagens, YouTube

Related posts:-

Dependency Culture


Child                           -                     Parent


Increasingly we [live in a] 'dependency culture.'

We depend on the consumer machine to provide for us - to give us what we want, when we want it. This is our 'right.' The Thing has dehumanised us, and we are all incresingly dependent on it for succour. We expect. We demand. We are like children. Everything must be instant and, if it isn't, somebody must pay.

[Paul Kingsnorth]
Real England, p. 272


In order to transition to a new paradigm we must be prepared to lessen our reliance on the current culture and the things that it gives us to consume: films, sport, art, music, television. Inasmuch as  these things - in both a direct and indirect way -  prop up the current state of affairs, we must be prepared to move away from them.

One of the overriding affects of current popular culture is to reinforce the world as it is.

It allows us to go on thinking everything is okay, because culture is okay. 

And yet, in many ways, culture - this world that we lose ourselves within -  serves to keep us distracted from other things that are happening, outside of its borders.

Inasmuch as we are addicted to our cultural consumables, we must wean ourselves off them. When the addict is intoxicated they disappear into their own world; turned off, tuned out. The outside world, with its problems and worries, disappears, if only momentarily.

One of the biggest imperatives of our time - in light of the challenges that currently face us as a species - is for us all to overcome our addictions.  

This includes our addiction to culture.


Related posts:-
Addiction: the Short and Long of it
A Circle of Gifts 
Do Not Disturb 
Status Quo
Masters of the Universe

Fear Visions


Negative                             -                      Positive
Deflation                            -                       Inflation
Earth                                   -                      Sky


Our culture is drowning us in negativity.

Take Eastenders (a.k.a. 'Arguments in London'). In showing us a near-constant stream of arguments and conflict it makes us more likely to interact with each other in this way. Whilst we may consciously recognise that these are only fictional characters - and extreme characters at that - we cannot control the unconscious affect that these characters are having upon us.

So whilst we may watch it in an ironic or detached way, we are not able to fully immunize ourselves from its effects. It is like ironically swallowing a glassful of poison. We can be as detached as we like from the action, but it will still have its way with us regardless. By watching we are putting ourselves into a toxic environment. The fact that we are aware of its toxicity does nothing to lessen its effects.

We often create things as 'critiques' so that we can examine the pathology (hold the wound up to the light), but it may be that in creating these visions we are actually - in an indirect way - breathing life into them.

It is entirely possible - and likely - that critiques and parodies - these things that serve up our fears in a palatable manner - are actually making the realisation of these fears more likely.

We will come to see that the ways in which we tell stories - through film, and TV - affect us in ways in which we currently do not recognise.

The visions that we create, create the reality that we live in. In this way, we mould our own reality. In constantly immersing ourselves in our fears, we lend power to them. They become self-fulfilling prophesies. What we focus on, we draw nearer to.

What do we want to focus on?


A living philosophy must be based upon unity - oneness - inseparability and interdependence. It must have love as its motive instead of fear. It must see the good in man and not look upon him as sinful and evil.

The world becomes what the world thinks. It thinks of man as sinful and evil and he has become what his own thoughts have made him. He has made a world of hate and fear, and where hate is love cannot be.

[Lao Russell]
God Will Work With You But Not For You, p. 213-14


Related posts:-
Guiding Fiction
Imagine something better 
Re-write It
Hell in a basket
Projecting a Shadow
Giving and Receiving
Negative Space
Positive Space

(Scottish) Independence

"I'm in an abusive relationship".

There, you've said it. Its taken so long for you to get to this point, but here you are. You've said it.

Its taken you so long because the abuse isn't painted in bold strokes. It is not physical. There are no cuts or bruises, let alone broken arms.

No, this isn't a physical thing. He just chips away at you. Nothing major, just little comments here and there. But they all add up. You have no self-belief. Your ambition is curbed. When you do well he feels inadequate. That sort of thing. You are in your place; under his control; at the mercy of his insecurities.

Leaving him is unimaginable. Sometimes the thought flits across your mind, but you push it away just as quickly. After all, you're married. You have kids together, and a house. You are a part of his family, and he's a part of yours. Not ever having believed in yourself, you are dependent upon him; emotionally, financially.

All of this bears down on you, makes a way out seem impossible. You could never cause such an upset, such an upheaval.

But there is a part of you -  something deep down, something youthful and full of hope - that is gasping for breath. Every now and then it screams in frustration and anguish. 'Let me out! I have work to do, places to go, people to see; dreams to fulfill. Let me out!'

One day it all gets too much. You begin to allow the thought into your head. Leaving him. How about it?

You ask friends. The majority take the pragmatic approach. Yes, he might not be the best guy in the world; and sure, things sound like they can be bad. But let's face it, you have too much to lose. You need his money. How will you survive without him? And the kids. It will upset them too much. Its all too risky. Best thing is to maybe try to talk to him, tell him your concerns. Come to a compromise. He's not so bad, really. Be strong. Its all okay, maybe its just a phase you're going through. After all, you've been together this long. Why throw it all away?

They have a point, you think. What would I do? How would I support myself? There would be so much to think about, so many things that could go wrong. Your self-belief begins to buckle, as it always has.

But one of your friends - your oldest friend, that special one - says something different.

Go for it.

I've never liked him. I've seen the effect he's had on you. I've seen you wilt. Its killed me. I've been waiting for you to pluck up the courage to ask me this. Please, be brave. Leave him. Do it because your heart knows its the right thing to do. Don't think of the consequences. Don't let fear rule your life any longer. Its not too late for you. You are so special and have so much potential. For too many years I've seen it trampled all over. And you'll never know that potential until you truly test yourself. I want to see you flower again.

Things will sort themselves out. But please god, leave him. I'll be here for you. I know it all seems impossible - so much to sort out, so much to go through - but I'll be here. All you have to do is decide. Make that decision. Tick that box. Once you've made it then things will fall into place.

It won't be easy. There will be extremely hard times. But I promise, you won't regret it. Be brave.

You're so confused. Do I follow my heart or my head?

Which will it be?

Democratic / Autocratic

Democracy               -                       Autocracy
Poly                          -                       Mono
Equal                        -                       Unequal
Horizontal                -                       Vertical
Dynamic                   -                       Static

The task before parliamentary socialism is that of articulating and advocating its policies to an ill-educated electorate in a society where there is freedom to choose one's representatives;

in short, where there is always the danger that the electorate will choose self rather than society.

[John Fowles]
The Aristos, p.120

You are stranded on a desert island with ten other people. Every one of them is under ten years old, apart from one who is an elderly gentleman. You must begin to make collective decisions in order to survive on the island. You decide upon a democratic system in order to make your decisions.

These under tens are a particularly headstrong group, and have a number of their own ideas as to how best to spend your time on the island. Every view is heard and each is put to the vote. Majority rules.

How long will you survive?

The main requisite for a functioning democracy is maturity. 

This can be defined as the ability to not only know and understand the self - and thus to know what is best for the self - but to also know and understand the whole (i.e. society) - and to know what is best for the whole.

Look around at society and ask:

1. How many have the ability to work out what is best for themselves?
2. How many have the ability to work out what is best for their families?
3. How many have the ability to work out what is best for their community?
4. How many have the ability to work out what is best for their society?

A democracy takes for granted that those within it have all four of these abilities. Not only that, it also assumes that they can put aside the first three in favour of the last, number 4. Because it may be that what is best for you, your family or your immediate community is not best for the majority of people.

Again; look around at you and ask: are we capable of democracy?

Every time you see a piece of litter left in the street, or dog-mess left on the pavement, you are seeing a demonstration of why democracy does not work. Or to be more precise, why we are currently incapable of democracy.

When someone litters or leaves dog-mess, they are showing you that they do not think communally. These are selfish acts, committed by people who do not think of the wider affect that their actions will have.

When it comes to voting, do you think these people will be weighing up the options in light of what is best for the greater good? Or will they cast their vote in light of their own self-interest? 

Molly Dineen: But do you not think its important to be democratic?

Earl of Romney: Well, its a sort of excuse isn't it?

MD: For what?

ER: For consulting everybody and doing what nobody wants.

MD: Do you believe in democracy?

ER: No, I don't.

MD: What do you believe in?

ER: A benevolent government of the well informed [...] The way democracy works, its so irresponsible

MD: Irresponsible?

ER: Yes, people say, 'what's he done for me' or 'I don't like the look of his face, I wouldn't trust that fellow' - haven't you heard people say that?

MD: Yes

ER: Well is that the way to use your vote?

Dialogue from documentary 'The Lords' Tale' by Molly Dineen

If the situation calls for authoritarianism, then it is proper to be an authoritarian; and if the situation calls for democracy, one should be democratic. 'Good authority' that sets necessary limits is a lost art in many families and schools, having been confused with punitiveness, regimentation, and rigidity.

At the same time, 'democracy' has almost been deified as the definitive, universal end-state model for decision-making, whether the active MEMEs in a group can handle it or not.

[Don Edward Beck & Christopher C. Cowan]
Spiral Dynamics, p.279

Molly Dineen
: Why do you feel so strongly?

Baroness Miller: I'll tell you why I do. If they decided to reform the House of Lords - which is fine - I still say its the finest rising chamber in the world - but if they felt that the hereditary peers' [...] time has come and they want to revise it, reform it, do whatever they will, then do it for all of us.

[...] At the end of the day, why am I in the Lords, Molly, I ask myself. I'm there because a Prime Minister sent me - its modern day patronage. And when you saw the glee of all those noble Lords on the other side, that, finally, they'd somehow got rid of the hereditary peers, and they're so thrilled. But have they ever stopped to think, why are they there? Tony Blair sent a whole reef of them in lately.

[...] Will we be better at scrutinising legislation because its modern day patronage?

MD: They would argue because you personally earned it, and not your father

BM: Well maybe they would argue that, but I would say that I'd rather have patronage of several hundred years ago, when the noble lords, who have served this country well, can look at it dispassionately, and they do not owe their position here to this Prime Minister, or the one before.

Dialogue from 'The Lords' Tale', a documentary by Molly Dineen

Debates about which leadership form is 'the best,' whether in the General Assembly of the United Nations or in a university management seminar, miss the point.

The argument should turn on what are the prevailing Life Conditions and which MEMEs will awaken. Once the color(s) are identified, the appropriate leadership follows naturally.

[Don Beck & Christopher Cowan]
Spiral Dynamics, p. 126

The history of societies shows a constant tendency toward the formation of a nobility as the apex and crown of any given society.

It would seem that all efforts at socialization have as their ideal some kind of aristocracy, of rule of the best, even though this goal may not be admitted.

The holders of power, whether they have been kings or an anonymous group, have always been willing to further the rise of a nobility by protection and the granting of privileges. This has been so no matter what the nature of the nobility: political, by birth, by selection and education.

The favoured nobility has always basked in the sunlight; but from a certain stage of development on, its place in the sun, its privileged state, has always constituted a temptation and led to its corruption.

[Hermann Hesse]
The Glass Bead Game, p.348

If a number of individuals were to undergo (psychoanalysis) separately, and - provided their motive was strong enough - were to experience a change of attitude, they could subsequently form a group, a leading minority, which might become the nucleus of a larger body of people. 

Their numbers could be increased

a. by individual treatment
b. by suggestion through authority

The great mass of people is led by its suggestibility. It cannot be changed in its attitude, only in its behaviour. The latter depends on the authority of leaders whose attitude has been really changed.

A nation consists of the sum of its individuals, and its character corresponds to the moral average. Nobody is immune to a nationwide evil unless he is unshakably convinced of the danger of his own character being tainted by the same evil.

But the immunity of the nation depends entirely upon the existence of a leading minority immune to the evil and capable of combatting the powerful suggestive effect of seemingly possible wish-fulfilments.

[C. J. Jung]
'Techniques of attitude change conductive to world peace (Memorandum to UNESCO)', Civilization in Transition, p. 609-10, 612

It is just conceivable that Brexit will eventually turn out to be a good thing. I gravely doubt it, but I’m not qualified to judge. And that is the point. I wasn’t qualified to vote in the referendum. Nor were you, unless you have a PhD in economics or are an expert in a relevant field such as history.

Am I being elitist? Of course. What’s wrong with that?

We want elite surgeons who know their anatomy, elite pilots who know how to fly, elite engineers to build safe bridges, elite athletes to win at the Olympics for Team GB, elite architects to design beautiful buildings, elite teachers and professors to educate the next generation and help them join the elite.

In the same way, to decide the affairs of state, as we live in a representative democracy, we can at least hope to elect elite parliamentarians, guided and advised by elite, highly educated civil servants. Not politicians who abdicate their democratic responsibility and hand important decisions over to people like me.

[Richard Dawkins]
'Richard Dawkins: We need a new party - the European Party'

The essential thing in a good and healthy aristocracy is, however, that it does not feel itself to be a function (of the monarchy or of the commonwealth) but as their meaning and supreme justification - that it therefore accepts with a good conscience the sacrifice of innumerable men who for its sake have to be suppressed and reduced to imperfect men, to slaves and instruments. 

Its fundamental faith must be that society should not exist for the sake of society but only as foundation and scaffolding upon which a select species of being is able to raise itself to its higher task and in general to a higher existence: like those sun-seeking climbing plants of Java - they are named sipo matador - which clasp an oak-tree with their tendrils so long and often that at last, high above it but supported by it, they can unfold their crowns in the open light and display their happiness. 

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 25

“The mass will never rule except in abstracto. Consequently the question ... is not whether ideal democracy is realizable, but rather to what point and in what degree democracy is desirable, possible, and realizable at a given moment."

Oligarchy will always remain; but it may be possible to put some limit and restraint on the absoluteness of oligarchy. This cannot be effectively done by a utopian and sentimental idealism concerning the possibilities of democracy.

“Nothing but a serene and frank examination of the oligarchical dangers of a democracy will enable us to minimize these dangers, even though they can never be entirely avoided.”

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p.151

Envy is not simply a resentment of others for having more than oneself. It also has a moral element, because democratic morality makes all inequalities seem wrong and unfair.

In aristocracy, the experience of hierarchy and privilege is softened by the principles that provided a rationale for inequality. Democracy provides no such rationale. Thus, “the least superiority held by one member of society over another appears as an unjustifiable privilege.”

The belief in equality sharpens the experience of relative hardship, then, by adding a sense of injustice to it.

Tocqueville […] explains that the nature of industrial enterprises threatens to trap low-level workers in jobs and situations that do not admit of change. For those workers, the hopes kindled by the new egalitarian politics are more illusion than reality.

[Dana Jalbert Stauffer]
‘“The Most Common Sickness of Our Time”: Tocqueville on Democratic Restlessness’, The Review of Politics 80 (2018), p.451

Aristocrats enjoy a tranquil sense of superiority.

But in a democracy, “since each person is surrounded by a million others who possess quite similar or analogous advantages, pride becomes exigent and jealous; it fastens on trifles and defends them stubbornly.”

The men of democracies are eager to show off any advantages they acquire, because they are uncertain of their superiority. They feel the need to confirm it both to themselves and to others.

[Dana Jalbert Stauffer]
‘“The Most Common Sickness of Our Time”: Tocqueville on Democratic Restlessness’, The Review of Politics 80 (2018), p.452

Democracy is [...] an acceptable legitimating tool only as long as its practices exist within, and are broadly supportive of, liberal assumptions.

When democratic majorities reject aspects of liberalism - as electorates throughout western Europe and America have done in recent years - a growing chorus of leading voices denounce democracy and the unwisdom of the masses.

American elites have periodically assayed the possibility of severely limiting democracy, believing that democracy will undermine policies preferred by experts. In particular, those favoring the expansion of liberalism beyond the nationstate, and thus policies that increase economic integration and the effective erasure of borders, have increasingly become proponents of further constraining democracy.

One such authority is Jason Brennan of Georgetown University, who has argued in a book entitled Against Democracy that voters are consistently ill-informed and even ignorant, and that democratic government thus will ultimately reflect the deficiencies of the electorate. Other libertarian-leaning liberals such as Bryan Caplan, Jeffrey Friedman, and Damon Root believe that when democracy threatens the substantive commitments of liberalism - which they maintain will be unavoidably the case, since uneducated and uninformed voters are illiberal - it might be better simply to consider ways to jettison democracy.

Brennan has instead called for rule by an "epistocracy," a governing elite with tested and proven knowledge to efficiently and effectively govern a modern liberal and capitalist state and social order.

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.157

Limited / Limitless

Limited                            -                      Limitless
Circular                           -                      Linear 
Conserve                          -                      Progress  
Completion                      -                      Perfection
Earth                                -                      Heaven 
Sacred                              -                      Profane 
Wisdom                           -                      Cleverness 

Religion is a sophisticated system of limitations. It gives us reasons to draw boundaries and designate no-go-zones. Without an encompassing and binding narrative like religion, we are at the mercy of our expansive urges.

Sacredness implies limits - "only at this time", "only by these people." 

Nietzsche suggests that the development of a culture must happen at a certain pace, a careful pace.
This, then, is the job of the conservative - to slow the pace to an andante and to prevent it from progressing too quickly.

It is the prudent imposition of boundaries - of knowing how and where to stop - that is the keynote of traditional wisdom.

But Spengler suggests that modern man - Faustian man - is driven by a 'deep necessity' to transcend all limits, including the limits that our bodies present us with. 

The traditional home of infinitude is the transcendent realm, the realm of Being, but because it is shut off from us we end up looking for mundane solutions. Instead of the transcendent realm we turn to its surrogate, the virtual realm - a world without limits, which offers the possibility of being, and having, everything, and which promises a sort of heaven on earth.

Perhaps the question is not, "Can The Matrix ever become a reality?" 

Rather, "What will stop The Matrix from becoming a reality?"

In other words, is technology inevitably taking us toward this destination? If so, when do we put the brakes on?

Another way to look at it is to ask, "If we had the appropriate technology now, would it happen?"

It may already be happening, bit by bit, one advance after another.

We look at The Matrix and are horrified, and yet we covet and praise the contemporary 'advances' that may lead us toward it.

[…] the technological imperative: ‘If an experiment can be done, it will be done; if the knowledge is available, it will be applied.’

[James Goldsmith]
The Trap, p.179

The trouble about valuing means above ends – which as confirmed by Keynes, is the attitude of modern economics - is that it destroys man's freedom and power to choose the ends he really favours; the development of means, as it were, dictates the choice of ends. 

Obvious examples are the pursuit of supersonic transport speeds and the immense efforts made to land men on the moon. The conception of these aims was not the result of insight into real human needs and aspirations, which technology is meant to serve, but solely of the fact that the necessary technical means appeared to be available.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p.42-3

The rule in biological evolution is plain: The immediate individual bodily effects of functioning shall never be allowed to impinge upon the individual genetic coding.

The gene pool of the population is however subject to change under a natural selection which will recognize differences, especially differences in ability to achieve more adaptive functioning. The barrier which prohibits 'Lamarckian' inheritance precisely protects the gene system from too rapid change under possibly capricious environmental demands.

But in cultures and social system [...] there is no equivalent barrier.

Innovations become irreversibly adopted into the on-going system without being tested for long-time viability; and necessary changes are resisted by the core of conservative individuals without any assurance that these particular changes are the ones to resist.

Individual comfort and discomfort become the only criteria for choice of social change and the basic contrast of logical typing between member and the category is forgotten until new discomforts are (inevitably) created by the new state of affairs.

Fear of individual death and grief propose that it would be 'good' to eliminate epidemic disease and only after 100 years of preventive medicine do we discover that the population is overgrown. And so on.

[Gregory Bateson]
Mind and Nature, p. 238

The machine metaphor, stressing bigger and more efficient operations in wordly society, stands in sharp contrast to Amish thinking about the use of tools.

The logic of expanded technology points toward infinite industrial growth and infinite energy consumption. The energy crisis is for the Amish a crisis not of supply but of use, not of technology but of morality.

By carefully restricting the use of machine-developed energy, the Amish "have become the only true masters of technology."

The Amish have problems, but with respect to energy and the balancing of human life with machines, they have mastered one of the contradictions so puzzling to modern society.

By holding technology at a distance, by exercising restraint and moderations, and by accepting limitations and living within then, the Amish have maintained the integrity of their family and community life.

They have escaped many of the noxious side effects of ambitious technology - haste, aimlessness, distraction, violence, waste, and disintegration.

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 383-4

Bostrom calls this the Technological Completion Conjecture:

If scientific- and technological-development efforts do not effectively cease, then all impor­t­­­ant basic capabilities that could be obtained through some possible technology will be obtained.

In light of this, he suspects that the farther into the future one looks the less likely it seems that life will continue as it is. He favors the far ends of possibility: humanity becomes transcendent or it perishes.

The Doomsday Invention: Will artificial intelligence bring us utopia or destruction?


The Amish are inutitively aware of the danger of large-scale enterprises [...] Limitless technology is, for them, greed and a denial of wisdom.

Amish economic thinking is subjected to a traditional wisdom requiring the restraint of selfishness, greed, leisure, and expansionist thinking.

The future of the Amish will be determined not solely by technology, or the means to life, but by the definition they themselves give to life.

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 396

Many argue that posthuman space will be more virtual than real.

Individuals may consist of uploaded minds living as data patterns on supercomputers or users engaged in completely immersive virtual realities.

Postgenderists contend that these types of existences are not gender-specific thus allowing individuals to morph their virtual appearances and sexuality at will.


The body, that inconvenient reminder of mortality, is plucked, pierced, etched, pummelled, pumped up, shrunk and remoulded [...] What seems a celebration of the body, then, may also cloak a virulent anti-materialism - a desire to gather this raw, perishable stuff into the less corruptible forms of art or discourse.

The resurrection of the body returns as the tattoo parlour and the cosmetic surgeon's consulting-room. To reduce this obstreperous stuff to so much clay in our hands is a fantasy of mastering the unmasterable.

It is a disavowal of death, a refusal of the limit which is ourselves.

For all its love affair with matter, in the shape of Tuscan villas and double brandies, capitalist society harbours a secret hatred of the stuff. It is a culture shot through with fantasy, idealist to its core, powered by a disembodied will which dreams of pounding Nature to pieces. It makes an idol out of matter, but cannot stomach the resistance it offers to its grandiose schemes.

Taming the Mississippi and piercing your navel are just earlier and later versions of the same ideology. Having moulded the landscape to our own image and likeness, we have now begun to recraft ourselves. Civil engineering has been joined by cosmetic surgery.

'Personalizing' the body may be a way of denying its essential impersonality. Its impersonality lies in the fact that it belongs to the species before it belongs to me; and there are some aspects of the species-body - death, vulnerability, sickness and the like - that we may well prefer to thrust into oblivion.

[Terry Eagleton]
After Theory, p.164-6

Religion has invisible purposes beyond what the literal-minded scientistic-scientifiers identify - one of which is to protect us from scientism, that is, them.

We can see in the corpus of inscriptions (on graves) accounts of people erecting fountains or even temples to their favourite gods after these succeeded where doctors failed. Indeed we rarely look at religion’s benefits in limiting the intervention bias and its iatrogenics: in a large set of circumstances (marginal disease), anything that takes you away from the doctor and allows you to do nothing (hence gives nature a chance to do its work) will be beneficial.

I believe in the heuristics of religion and blindly accommodate its rules (as an Orthodox Christian, I can cheat once in a while, as it is part of the game). Among other things the role of religion is to tame the iatrogenics of abundance - fasting makes you lose your sense of entitlement.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
Antifragile, p. 364-5

Much has been gained when the feeling has at last been instilled into the masses (into the shallow-pates and greedyguts of every sort) that there are things they must not touch; that there are holy experiences before which they have to take off their shoes and keep their unclean hands away - it is almost their highest advance towards humanity. 

Conversely, there is perhaps nothing about the so-called cultured, the believers in 'modern ideas', that arouses so much disgust as their lack of shame, the self-satisfied insolence of eye and hand with which they touch, lick and fumble with everything; and it is possible that more relative nobility of taste and reverential tact is to be discovered today among the people, among the lower orders and especially among peasants, than among the newspaper-reading demi-monde of the spirit, the cultured.

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 263

The historical sense […] to which we Europeans lay claim as our speciality, has come to us in the wake of the mad and fascinating semi-barbarism into which Europe has been plunged through the democratic mingling of classes and races […]

The past of every form and mode of life, of cultures that formerly lay close beside or on top of one another, streams into us 'modern souls' thanks to this mingling, our instincts now run back in all directions, we ourselves are a kind of chaos [...]

Through our semi-barbarism in body and desires we have secret access everywhere such as a noble age never had, above all the access to the labyrinth of unfinished cultures and to every semi-barbarism which has ever existed on earth; and, in so far as the most considerable part of human culture hitherto has been semi-barbarism, "historical sense' means virtually the sense and instinct for everything, the taste and tongue for everything: which at once proves it to be an ignoble sense. 

We enjoy Homer again, for instance: perhaps it is our happiest advance that we know how to appreciate Homer, whom the men of a noble culture […] cannot and could not assimilate so easily - whom they hardly permitted themselves to enjoy. The very definite Yes and No of their palate, their easily aroused disgust, their hesitant reserve with regard to everything strange, their horror of the tastelessness even of a lively curiosity, and in general that unwillingness of a noble and self-sufficient culture to admit to a new desire, a dissatisfaction with one's own culture, an admiration for what is foreign: all this disposes them unfavourably towards even the best things in the world which are not their property and could not become their prey - and no sense is so unintelligible to such men as the historical sense and its obsequious plebeian curiosity. 

That as men of the 'historical sense’ we have our virtues is not to be denied - we are unpretentious, selfless, modest, brave, full of self-restraint, full of devotion, very grateful, very patient, very accommodating - with all that, we are perhaps not very 'tasteful'. 

Let us finally confess it to ourselves: that which we men of the "historical sense' find hardest to grasp, to feel, taste, love, that which at bottom finds us prejudiced and almost hostile, is just what is complete and wholly mature in every art and culture, that which constitutes actual nobility in works and in men, their moment of smooth sea and halcyon self-sufficiency, the goldness and coldness displayed by all things which have become perfect. 

Perhaps our great virtue of the historical sense necessarily stands opposed to good taste, or to the very best taste at any rate [...]

Measure is alien to us, let us admit it to ourselves; what we itch for is the infinite, the unmeasured. Like a rider on a charging steed we let fall the reins before the infinite, we modern men, like semi-barbarians - and attain our state of bliss only when we are most – in danger.

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 224

This prime feeling of a loosing, Erlösung, solution, of the Soul in the Infinite, of a liberation from all material heaviness which the highest moments of our music always awaken, sets free also the energy of depth that is in the Faustian soul: 

whereas the effect of Classical art-work is to bind and to bound, and the body-feeling secures, brings back the eye from distance to a Near and Still that is saturated with beauty.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 177-8

It is preeminently in the generations and castes that conserve a people that we encounter such recrudescences of old instincts, while such atavisms are improbable wherever races, habits, and valuations change too rapidly. 

For tempo is as significant for the development of peoples as it is in music: in our case, an andante of development is altogether necessary as the andante of a passionate and slow spirit; and that is after all the value of the spirit of conservative generations.

The Jews [...] are beyond all doubt the strongest, toughest and purest race at present living in Europe; they know how to prevail even under the worst conditions (better even than under favourable ones), by means of virtues which one would like to stamp as vices -- thanks above all to a resolute faith which does not need to be ashamed before 'modern ideas'; 

they change, when they change, only in the way in which the Russian Empire makes its conquests - an empire that has time and is not of yesterday - : namely, according to the principle as slowly as possible’! 

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
The Gay Science, 10 and Beyond Good and Evil, 251

If the nature of change is such that nothing is left for the fathers to teach their sons, or for the sons to accept from their fathers, family life collapses. 

The life, work, and happiness of all societies depend on certain ‘psychological structures' which are infinitely precious and highly vulnerable. Social cohesion, co-operation, mutual respect, and above all self-respect, courage in the face of adversity, and the ability to bear hardship – all this and much else disintegrates and disappears when these ‘psychological structures' are gravely damaged. A man is destroyed by the inner conviction of uselessness. 

No amount of economic growth can compensate for such losses - though this may be an idle reflection, since economic growth is normally inhibited by them. None of these awesome problems figure noticeably in the cosy theories of most of our development economists.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p.161

Everything happens slowly. 

In my indigenous culture, everything takes time, and long consideration, and many sleepings on it. It might even be generations before we go, ‘Yeah, alright, we’ll bring that in.’

[Tyson Yunkaporta]
'Talking Indigenous Thinking | Tyson Yunkaporta' (YouTube)

Should the pursuit of science be constrained?

Obviously, scientific experimentation must be carried out in accordance with society's view of ethical behaviour. Science must not travel independently from the social needs of communities. 

Science does not have great wisdom. Rather it accumulates and cleverly analyzes particular information which supplies it with skills. It does not have an overall view based on general understanding. Science is massively powerful, potentially useful and, of course, can be beneficial. But as it solves problems, so it creates others. 

Scientific achievement produces both expected and unexpected results and the latter, quite often, can do more damage in the long term than the former do good.

[...] technology, industry, the economy and science must all serve the true needs of society. Stability and contentment should not be sacrificed so as to further the development of our tools.

Modernists do not accept that each generation has a duty to commit to a contract between the past, the present and the future. They do not see themselves as guardians of continuity but rather as agents of constantly accelerating change. And they think only fleetingly of its potential consequences. 

[James Goldsmith]
The Trap, p. 180, 183-4

In short, we can say today that man is far too clever to be able to survive without wisdom. 

The exclusion of wisdom from economics, science, and technology was something which we could perhaps get away with for a little while, as long as we were relatively unsuccessful; but now that we have become very successful, the problem of spiritual and moral truth moves into the central position.

From an economic point of view, the central concept of wisdom is permanence. 

We must study the economics of permanence. Nothing makes economic sense unless its continuance for a long time can be projected without running into absurdities. There can be 'growth' towards a limited objective, but there cannot be unlimited, generalised growth. It is more than likely, as Gandhi said, that 'Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not for every man's greed'. Permanence is incompatible with a predatory attitude which rejoices in the fact that 'what were luxuries for our fathers have become necessities for us'.

The cultivation and expansion of needs is the antithesis of wisdom.

The economics of permanence implies a profound reorientation of science and technology, which have to open their doors to wisdom and, in fact, have to incorporate wisdom into their very structure. Scientific or technological 'solutions’ which poison the environment or degrade the social structure and man himself are of no benefit, no matter how brilliantly conceived or how great their superficial attraction. 

Ever bigger machines, entailing ever bigger concentrations of economic power and exerting ever greater violence against the environment, do not represent progress: they are a denial of wisdom. Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful.

The neglect, indeed the rejection, of wisdom has gone so far that most of our intellectuals have not even the faintest idea what the term could mean. As a result, they always tend to try and cure a disease by intensifying its causes. The disease having been caused by allowing cleverness to displace wisdom, no amount of clever research is likely to produce a cure. 

[The insights of wisdom] enable us to see the hollowness and fundamental unsatisfactoriness of a life devoted primarily to the pursuit of material ends, to the neglect of the spiritual. Such a life necessarily sets man against man and nation against nation, because man's needs are infinite and infinitude can be achieved only in the spiritual realm, never in the material. 

Man assuredly needs to rise above this humdrum 'world'; wisdom shows him the way to do it; without wisdom, he is driven to build up a monster economy, which destroys the world, and to seek fantastic satisfactions, like landing a man on the moon. Instead of overcoming the 'world' by moving towards saintliness, he tries to overcome it by gaining preeminence in wealth, power, science, or indeed any imaginable 'sport'.

How could we even begin to disarm greed and envy? Perhaps by being much less greedy and envious ourselves; perhaps by resisting the temptation of letting our luxuries become needs; and perhaps by even scrutinising our needs to see if they cannot be simplified and reduced. 

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 26, 30-1

We are less interested in breaking through certain limits, with or without cause, than in putting in doubt the right to posit such limits in the first place. In a word, we do not believe that there exists, in all rigor, a ... text, closed upon itself, complete with its inside and outside.

[Jacques Derrida]
Dissemination, p. 130

And yet, to live we must impose limits, arbitrary as they may be. 

For primitive societies the natural world (which usually changes only slowly) provided a stable framework and therefore a sense of security. 

In the modern world it is human society that dominates nature rather than the other way around, and modern society changes very rapidly owing to technological change. Thus there is no stable framework.

The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.

[Ted Kaczynski]
Industrial Society and its Future, 49, 50

Whereas formerly the limits of human endurance have imposed limits on the development of societies, industrial-technological society will be able to pass those limits by modifying human beings, whether by psychological methods or biological methods or both. 

In the future, social systems will not be adjusted to suit the needs of human beings. Instead, human being will be adjusted to suit the needs of the system. 

The Industrial Revolution has radically altered man’s environment and way of life, and it is only to be expected that as technology is increasingly applied to the human body and mind, man himself will be altered as radically as his environment and way of life have been.

[Ted Kaczynski]
Industrial Society and its Future, 151, 160

I have come to see that all of the questions raised in these essays - the questions raised in my lifetime of non-fiction writing, and maybe my fiction too - could be said to come back to one word: limits.

Modernity is a machine for destroying limits. 

The ideology of the Machine - the liberation of individual desire - sees our world as a blank slate to be written on afresh when the old limits of nature and culture are washed away. 

This is our faith: that breaking boundaries leads to happiness, that boundaries are barriers rather than opportunities. We strain against all limits. It is who we are.

[Paul Kingsnorth]
'Want is the Acid'

Both socialism and capitalism are products of the European Enlightenment and are thus modernizing and anti-traditional forces. In contrast, distributism seeks to subordinate economic activity to human life as a whole, to our spiritual life, our intellectual life, our family life.

[Thomas Storck]
'Capitalism and Distributism: two systems at war', Beyond Capitalism & Socialism, p. 75

So long as that moral tradition is alive, so long as stealing other people’s wives is reprobated or being faithful to a spouse is admired, there are limits to the extent to which the wildest profligate in Balham can disturb the balances of the sexes.

So any land-grabber would very rapidly find that there were limits to the extent to which he could buy up land in an Irish or Spanish or Serbian village […] In an atmosphere of capitalism the man who lays field to field is flattered; but in an atmosphere of property he is promptly jeered at or possible stoned. 

The result is that the village has not sunk into plutocracy or the suburb into polygamy. 

[G. K. Chesterton]
The Outline of Sanity, p. 35

[…] a people who had really found out what fun it is to make things would never want to make most of them with a machine. Sculptors do not want to turn a statue out with a lathe or painters to print off a picture as a pattern, and a craftsman who was really capable of making pots or pans would be no readier to condescend to what is called manufacturing them. 

But, anyhow, a world in which there were many independent men would probably be a world in which there were more individual craftsmen. When we have created anything like such a world, we may trust it to feel more than the modern world does the danger of machinery deadening creation, and the value of what it deadens. 

And I suggested that such a world might very well make special provision about machines, as we all do about weapons; admitting them for particular purposes, but keeping watch on them in particular ways.

[G. K. Chesterton]
The Outline of Sanity, p. 179

Any night, the starry heavens give us at the same moment impressions that 3,700 years apart in time, for that is the distance in light-years from the extreme outer limit to the earth […]

This aspect - an image, I repeat, and not a matter of experimental knowledge - is for the Faustian a high and noble aspect, but for the Apollinian it would have been woeful and terrible, an annihilation of the most profound conditions of his being. And he would have felt it as sheer salvation when after all a limit, however remote, had been found. 

But we, driven by the deep necessity that is in us, must simply ask ourselves the new question: Is there anything outside this system? Are there aggregates of such systems, at such distances that even the dimensions established by our astronomy are small by comparison? 

As far as sense-observations are concerned, it seems that an absolute limit has been reached; neither light nor gravitation can give a sign of existence through this outer space, void of mass. But for us it is a simple necessity of thought

Our spiritual passion, our unresting need to actualize our existence-idea in symbols, suffers under this limitation of our sense-perceptions.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, p.332

[…] Jaspers, like Heidegger, speaks of man's impulse to embrace being, not as this or that particular being, but as pure and total being.

This impulse is destined to fail in all its positive forms. Pure being may present itself outside us through a “ciphered language,” by means of symbols, but in its essence it is “transcendent” in the negative sense, thus impossible to be attained in any way.

The cutting of all bonds, the intolerance of all limits, the pure and incoercible impulse to overcome without any determined goal, to always move on beyond any given state, experience, or idea, and naturally and even more beyond any human attachment to a given person, fearing neither contradictions nor destructions, thus pure movement, with all that that implies of dissolution—“advancing with a devouring fire that leaves nothing behind itself,” to use an expression from an ancient wisdom tradition, though it applies to a very different context—these essential characteristics that some have already recognized in Nietzsche can be explained precisely as so many forms in which the transcendent acts and manifests

But the fact that this is not recognized and admitted as such, the fact, therefore, that this energy remains in the closed circle of immanence and of “life," generates a higher voltage than the circuit can sustain. This fact, moreover, may be the true and deeper cause of the final / collapse of Nietzsche the man. 

It is clear, even in this particular respect, how important Nietzsche is as a symbolic figure for our entire investigation. His case illustrates in precise terms what can, and indeed must, occur in a human type in which transcendence has awakened, yes, but who is uncentered with regard to it. 

“It is decisive how man lives defeat (or failure or foundering - Scheitern): whether it remains hidden in order to crush him in the end, or whether it appears unveiled, placing itself in front of the inescapable limits of his own Dasein; either he seeks solutions and palliatives that are inconsistent and fantastic, or else he frankly keeps silence on account of the presence of the inexplicable.”

At that point, nothing is left but faith.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 51-2, 98-9

Contemporary circumstances have only accelerated the demise of the liberal arts […] While few of today's professors of the humanities are able to articulate grounds for protest, I would think the humanities of old would be able to muster a powerful argument against this tendency. Its warning would be simple, recalling its oldest lessons: at the end of the path of liberation lies enslavement.

Such liberation from all obstacles is finally illusory, for two simple reasons: human appetite is insatiable and the world is limited. For both of these reasons, we cannot be truly free in the modern sense. We can never attain satiation, and will be eternally driven by our desires rather than satisfied by their attainment. And in our pursuit of the satisfaction of our limitless desires, we will very quickly exhaust the planet.

Our destiny, should we enter fully down this path toward our complete liberation, is one in which we will be more governed by necessity than ever before. We will be governed not by our own capacity for self-rule but rather by circumstance, particularly the circumstances resulting from scarcity, devastation, and chaos.

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.125-6

Even if we ignore the unattractive features of “critical discourse” and consider it in the most genial light, we cannot escape the mounting evidence that calls its underlying premise - the limitless possibilities generated by modern science and modern production - into question. The promise of universal abundance has always contained egalitarian implications without which it would have carried very little moral authority.

Those implications were open to conflicting interpretations. Some people argued that it was enough to increase the general pool of goods and services, in the expectation that everyone's standard of living would rise as a result. Others demanded more radical measures designed not merely to increase the total wealth but to distribute it more equitably.

But no one who believed in progress conceived of a limit on productive capacity as a whole. No one envisioned a return to a more frugal existence; such views fell outside the progressive consensus.

The belated discovery that the earth's ecology will no longer sustain an indefinite expansion of productive forces deals the final blow to the belief in progress. A more equitable distribution of wealth, it is now clear, requires at the same time a drastic reduction in the standard of living enjoyed by the rich nations and the privileged classes.

Western nations can no longer hold up their standard of living and the enlightened, critical, and progressive culture that is entangled with it as an example for the rest of the world. Nor can the privileged classes within the West - and these include the professional class as well as the very rich - except to solve the problem of poverty by taking everyone into their own ranks. Even if this were a morally desirable solution, it is no longer feasible, since the resources required to sustain a new-class style of life, hitherto imagined to be inexhaustible, are already approaching their outer limit.

Under these conditions, the universalistic pretensions of the new class cannot be taken seriously. Indeed they are deeply offensive, not only because they embody a very narrow ideal of the good life but because the material prerequisites for this particular form of the good life cannot be made universally available.

The need for a more equitable distribution of wealth ought to be obvious, both on moral and economic grounds, and it ought to be equally obvious that economic equality cannot be achieved under an advanced system of capitalist production.

What is not so obvious is that equality now implies a more modest standard of living for all, not an extension of the lavish standards enjoyed by the favoured classes in the industrial nations to the rest of the world. 

In the twenty-first century, equality implies a recognition of limits, both moral and material, that finds little support in the progressive tradition.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.529, 532

William Rees: […] here I was encountering economic thought for the first time and being told that everything I had learned in ecology was irrelevant.

“Why should we be limited in this region to [a] population estimate?” he said, “[…] The population is 10 times greater than you said the carrying capacity was. That's because we can import from other places. And if we did run up against any constraints, technology will take care of it."

He said, “[…] economists have long shown that there are no limits to growth and carrying capacity is an irrelevant idea."

Nate Hagens: The way that I have presented it in public talks is to show an image of the tortoise and the hare - the hare is the economist and the tortoise is the ecologist. Because if that person who was a tenured economics professor in 1970 or whenever - he's probably no longer alive or retired or something - but during his lifetime it appeared that he was correct.

Meanwhile, our actual carrying capacity has been declining at a pace that entire time, and the carrying capacity for other organisms and creatures we share this blue Earth with. So it's almost one of those things that the truth will be back loaded and not really recognized until it's too late to really do something about.

William Rees: Economists believe in something called the substitution factor: We do use natural resources, but it doesn't matter because through technology, any product of nature is infinitely substitutable by something that humans can come up with.

There was a management science professor at the University of Maryland called Julian Simon, and he’s famous for this kind of statement: “We have now in our hands the technology to feed, clothe and provide energy for an ever-growing population for the next seven billion years."

Now, when you again disconnect humans from biophysical reality and you believe in ingenuity […] then everything we've been talking about becomes irrelevant. And so you have that mindset, that social construct - which is a very attractive one, keep in mind, because it does show no limits - that's what the world has bought into.

[William Rees & Nate Hagens]
‘William E. Rees: "The Fundamental Issue - Overshoot" | The Great Simplification #53’, Nate Hagens, YouTube

The western idea of history as a propulsive movement into the future, a progressive or Providential design climaxing in the revelation of a Second Coming, is a male formulation. No woman, I submit, could have coined such an idea, since it is a strategy of evasion of woman’s own cyclic nature, in which man dreads being caught. Evolutionary or apocalyptic history is a male wish list with a happy ending, a phallic peak.

The Greek pattern of free will to hybris to tragedy is a male drama, since woman has never been deluded (until recently) by the mirage of free will. She knows there is no free will, since she is not free. She has no choice but acceptance. Whether she desires motherhood or not, nature yokes her into the brute inflexible rhythm of procreative law.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.9-10

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