“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” – by Prometheus, in the Masque of Pandora (1875) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
April 2015 – CIVILIZATION – The enormous cognitive dissonance between our growing awareness of our civilization’s accelerating collapse, and the ‘news’ in the media and the subjects of most public discourse, continues to baffle me. Though I suspect it shouldn’t. We are all slow learners, preoccupied with the needs of the moment, with a preference for reassurance over truth. I often find myself, these days, at social and other events, at a loss for words, not saying anything, as a result. It’s as if I speak an utterly different language from the people I meet in my day-to-day life, so what’s the point of saying anything? Perhaps this is Gaia’s way of teaching me patience. I continue to vacillate back and forth all the way from the humanist worldview (F. on the ‘map’ above’) to the near-term extinctionist worldview (L.), depending on what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with, or what I’m reading (Charles Eisenstein seems to best represent worldview F. and Guy McPherson best articulates worldview L., and I greatly admire them both). I’m happy with company anywhere along that continuum — they both speak my newly-acquired language, though with very different dialects. It’s sad to me that most people find collapse too terrifying to contemplate. I find it liberating.
I guess that stems from what we each are invested in, and what we have divested. Fellow existentialist (J. on the map, if you’re following along) and Taoist Paul Chefurka has been reading about the nature of the human species, and seems to be shifting, a bit, toward the voluntary extinctionist (K.) camp. There’s an interesting tension between the two worldviews. Dark Mountain, I think, exemplifies the existentialist view and John Gray [thanks to Richard Saunders for the link] exemplifies the voluntary extinctionist view. Both views acknowledge, I think, the inevitable collapse of our civilization in this century and the futility of acting to mitigate its timing or severity, and both accept that humans are likely to survive, though in much smaller numbers and in a much more marginal role in the surviving web of life. Where they differ is in their fundamentally different (positive for J. and negative for K.) views of the essential nature of the human animal. Paul is finding, it seems, some comfort and solace in the negative view — that if we are an inherently violent and destructive species perhaps the world will be much better off without us, painful as the collapse process will be for all.
I continue to find more comfort and solace in the positive view — that we are an inherently caring and peaceful species that is simply suffering from the profound emotional ills of a deeply ‘dis-eased’ and stressful culture, and that the demise of that culture will usher in a new era in which, like Robert Sapolsky’s Keekorok baboons, the human survivors will live in a much more joyful, healthy and sustainable way. –How to Save the World
Civilization is headed for collapse: If we stay on the course we’re on – we’re in deep trouble. The wheels will come off this human model. The rigid structures and outdated ideologies of the world’s most sacrosanct and cherished institutions have not kept pace with changing times. Worst; the push for reforms to prevent systemic meltdowns are altogether ignored or evaded. Problems are becoming numerous and solutions, scarce. We are on the footsteps of a new global crisis. The Middle East is primed to explode. Civilization is facing grave challenges to its continual survival in the face of planetary transformation that is being hastened by the rapid pace of urbanization, shrinking arable land, the rising cost of energy, an exploding global population, ethnic and religious conflicts, geological shifts in the planet, deteriorating ecology, widening economic disparity among social classes, the entropy of national debt, increasing tensions between nations over earth’s dwindling natural resources, and of course climate change. Any one of these factors could be enough to sink us. It just so happens at this critical juncture in human history, we’re facing them all. –Utopia the Collapse by Alvin Conway, pp. 201-202 (c) 2014.
U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden warns world is coming apart at the seams
Folks, “all’s changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty has been born.” Those are the words written by an Irish poet William Butler Yeats about the Easter Rising in 1916 in Ireland. They were meant to describe the status of the circumstance in Ireland at that time. But I would argue that in recent years, they better describe the world as we see it today because all has changed. The world has changed. There’s been an incredible diffusion of power within states and among states that has led to greater instability. Emerging economies like India and China have grown stronger, and they seek a great force in the global order and global affairs.
Other powers like Russia are using new asymmetrical forms of coercion to seek advantage like corruption and “little green men,” foreign agents, soldiers with a mission but no official uniform. New barriers and practices are challenging the principles of an open, fair, economic competition. And in a globalized world, threats as diverse as terrorism and pandemic disease cross borders at blinding speeds. The sheer rapidity and magnitude, the interconnectedness of the major global challenges demand a response — a different response, a global response involving more players, more diverse players than ever before.
This has all led to a number of immediate crises that demand our attention from ISIL to Ebola to Ukraine — just to name a few that are on our front door — as someone said to me earlier this week, the wolves closest to the door. Each one in its own way is symptomatic of the fundamental changes that are taking place in the world. These changes have also led to larger challenges. The international order that we painstakingly built after World War II and defended over the past several decades is literally fraying at the seams right now. –U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, October 3, 2014