The Liberal Day-dream

Ideal           -        Real
Global        -        Local

If you do a full lifecycle analysis of an average large EV, it's a worse option ecologically overall - and also culturally and socially because of the slave labor involved in the mining, refining and manufacturing - it's probably a worse option than a standard internal combustion vehicle.

And yet taxpayers are now being asked, in fact, to subsidize an option which is really engineered not to solve the climate, not to solve overshoot, but to keep the machine going - to maintain investment, to maintain jobs, to increase the span of the economy.

In other words, to maintain business as usual by alternative means. But it's business as usual that has got us into this situation.

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

The truth is that all human societies, even liberal democracies, have aristocrats.

Whether their aristocracies are formally acknowledged with ranks and titles and special badges, or whether they slum it with the rest of us, matters much less than you might imagine. Humans are hierarchical chimps and we recreate the same social structures over and over.

In fact, I think one of the greatest defects of modern liberal democracy, is its promotion of an informal elite – people who, for reasons of birth or social standing, wield significant power, but because of liberal democratic principles, are allowed (or compelled) to do so in underhanded, informal, less-than-legible ways.

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

According to the chivalric code, which had a decisive influence on the development of the notion of military honour in Europe, it is not honourable to attack an enemy without putting yourself at risk.

It is only honourable to attack the enemy on the battlefield. It is dishonourable, by contrast, to kill the enemy in an underhanded way - by poisoning, for instance. Symmetry and reciprocity must be ensured.

An enemy in a war is not a criminal who must be destroyed at any cost. Rather, he is an equal opponent, a competing player. Such an enemy is afforded equal rights.

With drone warfare, we reach the pinnacle of asymmetry. The degradation and transformation of the opponent into a criminal is the precondition of targeted killing, which resembles a kind of policing.

[Byung-Chul Han]
The Disappearance of Rituals, p.71, 73

And the computer we’re talking on, rather than being a two or three-thousand dollar Apple, might be a million dollar Apple. If you factor the real cost of what it takes for the supply chains to make this thing, then you’re like, “Okay, we would actually not even do manufacturing the same way.”

We only do manufacturing this way because we’ve been able to externalize all the costs to the environment. Now, we’re hitting planetary boundaries. We’re not going to be able to keep doing that.

And so nobody is thinking seriously enough about what does an economy that does not externalize costs look like and how do we retool our total global infrastructure in that way? And how do we do it in the time we have, factoring that we’re already in diminishing returns on hydrocarbons and everything is oriented towards growth, and you have to completely change the financial system?

[Daniel Schmachtenberger]
'Homegrown Human - Daniel Schmachtenberger - Existential Risk'

Modern liberalism suffers unresolved contradictions. It exalts individualism and freedom and, on its radical wing, condemns social orders as oppressive. On the other hand, it expects government to provide materially for all, a feat manageable only by an expansion of authority and a swollen bureaucracy. In other words, liberalism defines government as tyrant father but demands it behave as nurturant mother.

Feminism has inherited these contradictions. It sees every hierarchy as repressive, a social fiction; every negative about woman is a male lie designed to keep her in her place. Feminism has exceeded its proper mission of seeking political equality for women and has ended by rejecting contingency, that is, human limitation by nature or fate.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.2-3

Rousseauism’s Christianized psychology has led to the tendency of liberals toward glumness or depression in the face of the political tensions, wars, and atrocities that daily contradict their assumptions.

Perhaps the more we are sensitized by reading and education, the more we must repress the facts of chthonian nature.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.38

The peoples of the victorious nations had taken to heart their wartime propaganda about the rights of small nations, making the world safe for democracy, and putting an end both to power politics and to secret diplomacy.

These ideals had been given concrete form in Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Whether the defeated Powers felt the same enthusiasm for these high ideals is subject to dispute, but they had been promised, on November 5, 1918, that the peace settlements would be negotiated and would be based on the Fourteen Points.

When it became clear that the settlements were to be imposed rather than negotiated, that the Fourteen Points had been lost in the confusion, and that the terms of the settlements had been reached by a process of secret negotiations from which the small nations had been excluded and in which power politics played a much larger role than the safety of democracy, there was a revulsion of feeling against the treaties.

Certainly there were grounds for criticism, and, equally certainly, the terms of the peace settlements were far from perfect; but criticism should have been directed rather at the hypocrisy and lack of realism in the ideals of the wartime propaganda and at the lack of honesty of the chief negotiators in carrying on the pretense that these ideals were still in effect while they violated them daily, and necessarily violated them.

The settlements were clearly made by secret negotiations, by the Great Powers exclusively, and by power politics. They had to be. No settlements could ever have been made on any other bases.

The failure of the chief negotiators (at least the Anglo-Americans) to admit this is regrettable, but behind their reluctance to admit it is the even more regrettable fact that the lack of political experience and political education of the American and English electorates made it dangerous for the negotiators to admit the facts of life in international political relationships.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, p.169

Again and again, the dream has been a world where kings and aristocrats were things of the past, where every man and woman is free to attain a better standard of living based on their own merits, but the reality has been a world of tribal groups vying for power using universal ideals to hide their sectional interests.

However, these facts have never diminished the dream. It is the dream of Jordan Peterson; it is the dream of Elon Musk; it is the dream of Chris Rufo; and it remains the dream of most Americans who have not already been won over by the allures of resentment.

‘Identity politics’ is the enemy of the dream, because ‘identity politics’ brings reality front and centre. Reality is always the enemy of the dream.

[Academic Agent]
'The Rufo Reich and Mecha-Bentham', The Forbidden Texts

Related posts:


Representational     -    Non-representational
Conscious               -    Unconscious
Symbolic                 -    Pre-symbolic
Formal                     -    Dynamic
Explicit                    -    Implicit
Narrow                    -    Wide
Focused                   -    Distributed
Spectator                 -    Participant

Connectionist networks cannot represent '... higher order relations. This representational poverty leads to an incapacity for generalisation to higher order relations since a network can only learn what it can represent.’

The first objection merely states a commitment to a strong theory of representation. It is true that networks do not 'represent higher order relations', but that is only a problem if representation is insisted upon.

This commitment is made explicitly by Chandrasekaran et al. (1988). For them there is an abstract level of 'information-processing' which is higher than any specific realisation thereof, whether that realisation be symbolic or connectionist. It is at this abstract level that the 'explanatory power' resides.

Like Fodor and Pylyshyn (1988) and Lloyd (1989), they claim that connectionists remain committed to representation, and the fact that this representation is 'distributed' makes no difference to anything. I will argue in detail […] that distributed representation makes all the difference; that, in fact, it undermines the whole concept of representation. The fact that connectionist networks 'cannot represent' becomes a distinct advantage.

The second objection reflects the urge of symbolic modellers to reduce the domain to be modelled to a finite number of explicit principles using logical inference. We have already argued that, when dealing with true complexity, this is often not possible. Connectionist models can implement aspects of complexity without performing this reduction. That is their strength.

One cannot make use of a priori domain knowledge because one often does not know which aspects of the domain are relevant. This also largely answers the third objection, i.e. that the connectionist model is too general and does not reflect the 'structure' of the problem. The structure cannot be reflected, precisely because it cannot be made explicit in symbolic terms. The fact that the same network can be taught to perform 'very different' tasks is not a weakness, but rather an indication of the power of this approach.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.20

In a representational system, the representation and that which is being represented operate at different logical levels; they belong to different categories.

This is not the case with a neural network. There is no difference in kind between the sensory traces entering the network and the traces that interact inside the network. In a certain sense we have the outside repeated, or reiterated, on the inside, thereby deconstructing the distinction between outside and inside.

The gap between the two has collapsed.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.83

Models based on formal symbol systems have the classical theory of representation built in.

The main problem with representation lies in the relationship between the symbols and their meaning. There are two ways of establishing this relationship. One can either claim that the relationship is 'natural', determined in some a priori fashion, or one has to settle for an external designer determining this relationship.

The first option is a strongly metaphysical one since it claims that meaning is determined by some kind of fundamental, all-embracing law. Such an approach has to be excluded here because the main thrust of my argument is that an understanding of complexity should be developed without recourse to metaphysical cornerstones.

The second option where the relationships are the result of the decisions made by a designer - is acceptable as long as an active, external agent can be assumed to be present. When a well-framed system is being modelled on a computer by a well-informed modeller, this could well be the case. However, when we deal with autonomous, self-organising systems with a high degree of complexity, the second option becomes metaphysical as well.

As soon as we drop the notion of representation, these metaphysical problems disappear.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.86

A last, and a most important, principle requires that the memory of the system be stored in a distributed fashion. The importance of memory has already been stated, and in neural networks the connection strengths, or weights, perform the function of storing information.

Specific weights cannot stand for specific bits of symbolic information since this would imply that the information should be interpretable at the level of that weight. Since each weight only has access to local levels of activity, it cannot perform the more complex function of standing for a concept. Complex concepts would involve a pattern of activity over several units.

Weights store information at a sub-symbolic level, as traces of memory.

The fact that information is distributed over many units not only increases the robustness of the system, but makes the association of different patterns an inherent characteristic of the system - they overlap in principle.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.95

I have already argued that a pairing off of words and objects in a direct fashion—classical mimetic representation—is not acceptable. It does not give enough credit to the fact that language is a complex system.

It assumes the existence of an objective, external viewpoint and begs the question as to the identity of the agent that performs this ‘pairing off’.

The relationship between language and the world is neither direct and transparent nor objectively controlled, but there is such a relationship—without it natural language would not exist. By understanding language as a self-organising system, we can start sketching a more sophisticated theory of this relationship.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.125

In an essay entitled The Ontological Status of Observables: In Praise of Superempirical Virtues’ (139–151) [Churchland] positions himself as a realist asserting ‘that global excellence of theory is the ultimate measure of truth and ontology at all levels of cognition, even at the observational level.’

His realism is more circumspect than may be deduced from this passage, but he remains committed to the idea that there is a world that exists independent of our ‘cognition’, and that we construct representations of this world.

Since different representations are possible, they have to be compared, and the best selected. The selection cannot be made on the basis of ‘empirical facts’, but ‘must be made on superempirical grounds such as relative coherence, simplicity, and explanatory unity.’

It should be clear that from this position he is not about to explore contingency, complexity and diversity.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.133

There's a contradiction between the Darwinian notion of reality and the Newtonian, or Cartesian, idea of reality because there's a reality that has something to do with this notion of ‘fit’ - of relationship between the subjective and the objective.

The Newtonian and the Cartesian are formal systems. Darwin's theory of evolution is the first significant and important dynamical systems theory within science, in which the self-organization of this system and its coupling to the world are constitutive of the kind of entity it is.

[Jordan B. Peterson]
‘A Conversation So Intense It Might Transcend Time and Space | John Vervaeke | EP 321, YouTube

Related posts:

Symmetry / Asymmetry

Symmetry     -    Asymmetry

An important secondary principle is symmetry-breaking.

If the initial state of the system is fully homogeneous, the evolving structure could be too symmetrical. This will inhibit the development of complex structure. Symmetry-breaking is usually achieved spontaneously by means of missing or incorrect connections (or other happenings of chance), as well as by the non-linearity of the system and the resulting sensitivity to small fluctuations.

The brain is pre-structured in a way that is general and non-specific, but with enough differentiation (i.e. enough asymmetry) to allow external influences a 'foothold'.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.95, 103

Non-linearity is a precondition for complexity, especially where self-organisation, dynamic adaptation and evolution are at stake. Closely related to the principle of non-linearity is the principle of asymmetry.

Linear, symmetrical relationships give rise to simple systems with transparent structures. In complex systems, mechanisms have to be found to break symmetry and to exploit the magnifying power of non-linearity. This is ensured by a rich level of interaction and by the competition for resources.

The social system is non-linear and asymmetrical as well. The same piece of information has different effects on different individuals, and small causes can have large effects. The competitive nature of social systems is often regulated by relations of power, ensuring an asymmetrical system of relationships. This, it must be emphasised strongly, is not an argument in favour of relations of domination or exploitation. The argument is merely one for the acknowledgement of complexity.

Non-linearity, asymmetry, power and competition are inevitable components of complex systems. It is what keeps them going, their engine. If there were a symmetrical relationship between infants and adults, infants would never survive. If there were a symmetrical relationship between teacher and student, the student would never learn anything new. If the state had no power, it would have no reason to exist. If women and men were all the same, our world would be infinitely less interesting.

These considerations have important implications for social theory. The fact that society is held together by asymmetrical relations of power does not mean that these relationships are never exploited. To the contrary, they are continuously exploited by parents, by lecturers, by the state and by men, but also by children, by students, by citizens and by women.

The point is that the solution to these forms of exploitation does not lie in some symmetrical space where power is distributed evenly. Such spaces cannot exist in complex systems that are driven by non-linearity. The hope that such spaces could be created in any enduring fashion is false.

To combat exploitation, there is only one option: you have to enter into the agonistics of the network. Since this approach does in no way guarantee success, there is very little moral high ground to be had, whether one rejects the abstract rules of modernist ethics or not.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.120

Related posts:

Nature / Nurture

Nature     -    Nurture

The 'general' structure is then modified through experience and behaviour in order to reflect the specific circumstances encountered in the history of the organism in question. The brain thus organises itself so as to cope with its environment.

Note that certain parts of the primary repertoire could be permanently 'hard-wired', and will therefore not be changed by experience. This enables the organism to transfer certain capabilities to its offspring genetically. Such capabilities would include the control of vital bodily functions necessary right from the start, as well as other capabilities the organism may need but does not have sufficient time to learn by itself.

The beauty of the model is that both the hard-wired and the adaptive components are implemented in exactly the same way (i.e. as groups of neurons), denying any real distinction between the two.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.103

A fantasy dogging feminist writing is that there was once a peaceable matriarchy overthrown by warmongering men, founders of patriarchal society. The idea began with Bachofen in the nineteenth century and was adopted by Jane Harrison, that great scholar’s one error.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.42

Related posts:


Malthus suggested that while technological advances could increase a society's supply of resources, such as food, and thereby improve the standard of living, the abundance of resources would enable population growth, which would eventually bring the supply of resources for each person back to its level prior to its original level.

Some economists contend that since the industrial revolution in the early 19th century, mankind has broken out of the trap.

Others argue that the continuation of extreme poverty indicates that the Malthusian trap continues to operate. Others further argue that due to lack of food availability coupled with excessive pollution, developing countries show more evidence of the trap as compared to developed countries.

‘Malthusianism’, Wikipedia

[...] creatures and plants live together in a combination of competition and mutual dependency, and it is that combination that is the important thing to consider.

Every species has a primary Malthusian capacity. Any species that does not, potentially, produce more young than the number of the population of the parental generation is out. They’re doomed. It is absolutely necessary for every species and for every such system that its components have a potential positive gain in the population curve.

But, if every species has potential gain, it is then quite a trick to achieve equilibrium. All sorts of interactive balances and dependencies come into play, and it is these processes that have the sort of circuit structure that I have mentioned.

The Malthusian curve is exponential. It is the curve of population growth and it is not inappropriate to call this the population explosion.

You may regret that organisms have this explosive characteristic, but you may as well settle for it. The creatures that don’t are out.

[Gregory Bateson]
'Conscious Purpose versus Nature', Steps to an Ecology of Mind, p.436

Given a source of variation and a selection procedure, systems always evolve in a manner that is easy to describe in general and impossible to predict in detail. The overview is that they take up every opportunity available to them: that’s the part that’s easy to describe.

What’s impossible to predict is how and in what order they’ll do it. That’s true of cellular automata, and it’s also true of living things over time. Follow the evolutionary trajectory of any group of living things, from club moss to crocodiles to Galapagos finches to human beings, and you’ll see that same process at work.

Metaphorically, it’s as though you were inflating a big balloon inside a space too small to contain it: the balloon pushes outwards in all directions, now here, now there, until it runs up against the hard limits of walls and floor and ceiling.

Do evolutionary breakthroughs take place? Of course, and the process just outlined explains how and why those happen. Imagine for a moment that you’ve got a balloon made of some absurdly flexible substance, so that it can just keep stretching no matter how big it gets. You start inflating it inside your bedroom.  The door’s closed, the windows are closed, pretty soon the balloon’s outer surface is pushing hard against the walls, the floor, the ceiling, and the furniture—but there’s an inch-wide gap under the door you forgot about. Once the pressure gets high enough, the balloon pushes out through that gap, and all of a sudden it’s in the hallway and there’s a vast amount of previously inaccessible space for it to expand into.

Whoosh! Before long it’s filling up the living room and pushing against half a dozen other doors and windows. If one of those happens to be open a little, another evolutionary breakthrough follows. It’s not a linear process, and many different lines of evolutionary development can—and did—unfold at the same time.

That’s the story of life on Earth. The walls, floor, and ceiling are the laws of nature and the limits of environment, and the balloon represents the range of niches occupied by living things.

[John Michael Greer]
‘Against Enchantment I: Ken Wilber’, Ecosophia

For the first long, long period, human population growth was held in check by negative feedback because we were part of ecosystems. And disease, famines, resource shortages, those sorts of things kept human populations in check, just like every other species.

Humans are no different from other species in our population dynamics. We have a natural propensity to expand exponentially, but we're held in check by the natural negative feedbacks of the human ecosystem.

Along comes fossil fuel, particularly in the early part of the 19th century when we began to use it in great quantity, as well as an advance of public health measures. Fossil fuel provided the means by which humans could acquire all the food and other resources needed to grow the human enterprise, and public health improvements increased the longevity and health of the population.

So for the first time in human history in the last, about one tenth of 1% of human history, humans were able to realize our full potential for exponential population growth. Until then, it had been suppressed […] We have found ways to relieve the negative feedback, allowing the positive feedback to take off.

We took the cork off the bottle and we've had this enormous population and boom of the whole human enterprise in just the past 200 years. So what we take to be the norm […] is the single most abnormal period in human history. We are like any other species exposed to an abundance of resources that goes through a population boom - there will be a bust, there has to be a bust because the boom can't continue.

Any system that is primarily driven by positive feedback is self-destructive because it means that it will grow forever in a situation, in a context which is clearly not going to grow forever. And we're no different […] I'll put it bluntly, we are in the plague phase of a one-off human population boom bust cycle. We're nearing the top and we will come down because of the onset of negative feedback. Nature will restore balance between that positive and negative feedback and who knows what will come of that.

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

[…] K-selected species tend to always to press up against the available carrying capacity of their environments […] using whatever resources are available […] Our evolutionary success depends on high survival rates of infants and this constant pushing up against that carrying capacity.

By the way, that was Malthus's great insight. He realized that if more food was made available, human beings being K strategists would in effect always rise to the level of food availability.

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

[…] there's no inherent conflict between technology and ecological thinking. The conflict comes from assuming you can use the technology to overcome the biophysical reality within which we are embedded.

So if we decided as a species 200 years ago, that the carrying capacity of planet Earth indefinitely was say 2 billion people, we could have used technology at an appropriate scale to ensure the continued wellbeing of some 2 billion people ad infinitum.

But we didn't do that. The assumption was that technology can increase carrying capacity indefinitely […]

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

In many cases the relationships, the stable relationships that indigenous peoples have developed with their natural environments occur after they've obliterated the natural environment. They occur after they've hunted out all of the megafauna, the large easily caught species.

If you just think of New Zealand, which has been settled since 800 years ago or so, 12 species of gigantic birds went extinct as a result of the deprivations of the indigenous people that now occupy New Zealand. The decimation of populations of large mammals […] in Australia just follows the progression of the occupation of that subcontinent by aboriginals in the last 50,000 years.

So yes, we can develop a harmonious relationship with our ecosystems, but often only after we've inserted ourselves into those ecosystems and appropriated the habitats and food chains of many of the mammals […]

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

Any species capable of exponential growth will respond to a period of resource abundance. And many species in nature go through cycles. It's a boom bust cycle: things get good, we expand, then negative feedback kicks in, we crash, then we get good and expand.

Humans have never done that, not globally. We've done it locally.

But now for the first time we've managed to, in effect, colonize the entire planet. We've grown by liquidating our capital [but] you cannot continue to grow by liquidating the natural capital basis of your own existence. And so we get to the point where we become so large, there's simply insufficiency there to maintain even the maintenance activities, let alone further growth.

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

We can't avoid the reality that humans are biophysical entities, that we are ecological species that have evolved as components of nature and that we require a certain energy flow just to breathe.

Historically, that energy flow has always been solar energy through our food supply. We broke from that, oh, just about 200 years ago. And with this exosomatic or outside the body source of energy called fossil fuel, we vastly increased our capacity to exploit and destroy the planet.

And so we see everywhere measurements of the decline in forest fertility. North America has lost 50% to 70% of the organic nutrients that took 11,000 or 12,000 years in the Postglacial period to accumulate. So in less than 200 years of deep tillage agriculture, half of that's gone or 70% is gone. And the only way we maintain the productivity of the Great Plains is through the massive applications of fertilizers and pesticides and increasing irrigation.

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

William Rees: The biophysical reality is that human beings in the growth of the human system have displaced other species from their eco-niches. It's a concept I call competitive displacement.

Human unsustainability is a natural phenomenon. We are unsustainable by nature because all we're doing is following our natural propensity to expand and to fill all available habitat, but we do it better than any other species.

So if you go back 10,000 years, humans were fewer than, or less than 1% of the biomass of mammals on planet Earth. Then with agriculture and just more recently in the last couple of 100 years with fossil energy and the massive expansion of the human enterprise, humans have become 36% or 34% of the biomass of mammals.

And by the way, the biomass itself has gone up. But our domestic animals are another 62-63%. So that when you add all of that together, it means that wild mammals on planet Earth today are about 3%-4% of the total biomass of mammals. So all those great herds you see in Africa are a trivial appendage on the biomass of mammals, which has absolutely been commandeered by both humans and our domestic animals.

So there's been an enormous displacement of non-human species, and the remaining populations in the last 50 years have been reduced by 65-70%.

Nate Hagens: It's actually worse than that because it’s all mammals, including ocean mammals. So if it's only land mammals, it's 98%.

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

Archaic societies do not make a sharp distinction between life and death. Death is an aspect of life, and life is only possible in symbolic exchange with death.

Rituals of initiation and sacrifice are symbolic acts which regulate numerous transitions from life to death. Initiation is a second birth, following upon death, that is, the end of a phase of life.

The relationship between life and death is characterized by reciprocity. Festivals as expenditure imply a symbolic exchange with death: 'Symbolic death, which has not undergone the imaginary disjunction of life and death which is at the origin of the reality of death, is exchanged in a social ritual of feasting."

The age of production is accordingly a time without festival. It is dominated by an irreversibility, that of endless growth.

[Byung-Chul Han]
The Disappearance of Rituals, p.51

The price we pay for our enslavement to matter, to the negative devouring Becky, is great.

Gathering food for a devouring mother who cannot get enough becomes a metaphor for a fully automated society in which human efficiency must aspire to the performance of an automaton.

Psychic automatons are addicted personalities, governed by mysterious, irrational fetishes. To wean them from their addictions - to food, to alcohol, to sex, to drugs, to work - is to wean Becko from Becky. It is not easy. To wean Becko from Becky it is also necessary to wean Becky from herself. She is literally eating herself to death. Like her, our society grows on what it devours. It is destroying itself on what it manufactures. Economists call that self-destructive phenomenon "economic growth," and economic growth has become the chief measure of society's health.

Anyone who weighs 300 pounds and is gaining 10 "pounds" a month on the stock market must sense that society's way of measuring its health is both perverse and crazy.

A society that is devouring its natural resources is not becoming more healthy and more realistic. It is dying as surely as a patient who has gone from 300 to 400 pounds is dying. America at the moment is 200 billion dollars overweight. Many economists predict it will be 300 billion by the end of the century.

The Becky I have in mind, i.e. our global negative mother, weighs in the neighbourhood of £300 trillion - roughly the price we are now budgeting worldwide for armaments. The Beckos of the world are feeding a ravenously destructive appetite and it is bound to explode unless Becko can be stopped, which is to say, unless Becky can be stopped.

Becky's compulsive behavior must be redeemed if we are to survive. She not only controls with machine-like efficiency our waking "conscious" hours, but our sleeping, unconscious hours as well. She works both above ground and underground. Underground, she is worshipped, served, propitiated in fetishes, addictions, ravaging diseases, marital break- downs, premature deaths.

Nothing can satisfy her hunger, which is unconscious, insatiable and autonomous. Her appetite feeds on its own power, endlessly giving birth to more and more and more, endlessly feeding on what is feeding on her.

[Marion Woodman]
‘The Emergence of the Feminine’, Betwixt and Between, p.204-5

The modern industrial system has a built-in tendency to grow; it cannot really work unless it is growing. The word ‘stability’ has been struck from its dictionary and replaced by ‘stagnation’.

Its continuous growth pursues no particular aims or objectives, it is growth for the sake of growing. No one, even inquires after its final shape. There is none, there is no ‘saturation point’.

Who, it may be asked, calls the tune? Fundamentally, the technologist. Whatever becomes technologically possible - within certain economic limits - must be done. Society must adapt itself to it. The question whether or not it does any good is ruled out on the specious argument that no one knows anyhow what is good or evil, wholesome or unwholesome, worthy of man or unworthy.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Good Work, p. 30

Once agriculture-generated surplus created private ownership and a system of differential and competitive advantage, the game theory shoot was greased and the continual evolution of power dynamics was set.

No, we could not go back to a previous stage in the system. No, it couldn’t have stayed at a previous phase. No, we can’t prevent continued exponential growth within this framework. No, we can’t bind the dynamics with law, given that economics is more fundamental to the power stack than law is.

[Daniel Schmachtenberger]
'New Economics Series: Part 4', Explorations on the Future of Civilisation

An economic system does not have to be expansive—that is, constantly increasing its production of wealth—and it might well be possible for people to be completely happy in a non-expansive economic system if they were accustomed to it.

In the twentieth century, however, the people of our culture have been living under expansive conditions for generations. Their minds are psychologically adjusted to expansion, and they feel deeply frustrated unless they are better off each year than they were the preceding year.

The economic system itself has become organized for expansion, and if it does not expand it tends to collapse.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, p.313

The past history of weapons over thousands of years shows that the reason political units have grown larger in certain periods has been because of the increased power of the offensive in the dominant weapons systems, and that periods in which defensive weapons became dominant have been those in which political units remained small in area or even became smaller.

The growing power of castles in the period about 1100 B.C. or about A.D. 900 made political power so decentralized and made power units so small that all power became private power, and the state disappeared as a common form of political organization. Thus arose the so-called “Dark Ages” about 1000 B.C. or A.D. 1000.

We do not expect any such extreme growth of defensive power in the future, but any increase in defensive weapon power would stop the growth in size of power areas and would, in time, reverse this tendency.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, ‘The Future in Perspective,’ p.765-6

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