RE: [greensUSA] Re: [***] Why We Must Support John Kerry
Your writing is well thought out and quite impassioned but I think you are missing the point Alan.
We do not need “crashes” to wake people up, but we will probably get them whether we like it or not. Through industrialization, we have cycled too far forward to prevent a destabilizing turn of events. Yet to me the relevant question is how do we gain a stronger sense of togetherness or solidarity among those who are aware? Many of us who are aware do not feel effectively linked to the resources to make the changes that we feel are in order. This is cause for much frustration manifesting in a variety of ways that are not always productive or consistent with our desires and dreams of a better world.
The critical mass convergence point that precipitates a climactic event in any complex system is subject to many factors so prediction is difficult and so the idea of making specific time and event predictions as many environmentalists have done. Such ways of thinking have actually been proven to be counterproductive to our efforts. The analogy here to the boy who cried wolf too many times and the wolf never came is obvious. And people in denial of what we are saying are looking for reasons to disregard us. This malady of the Cassandra’s and the Malthusians has done significant damage in discrediting the environmental movement.
The notion of a large crash happening earlier might make our efforts to create a peaceful shift more difficult and maybe impossible. It is useful to look at this in terms of understanding chaos and the impact of chaos theory on complex systems or more specifically catastrophe theory, because we are dealing with the potential of a human catastrophe that is unprecedented in human history. While humanity seems unique because it is a conscious system, it cannot be conscious because it is not in balance with itself or the world around it. Thus the key central tenet of modernism will probably be rejected, as modern civilization has not made us more conscious much to the contrary. The answer is not to reject modern civilization entirely but to modify it and to evolve it into another state—a paradigm shift if you will. A post-industrial non-western global order will probably emerge from ashes of modern western civilization. The question is will it be global and evolutionary or will be it fractionized and devolutionary? That depends on the efforts of people like us all over the world. The trend towards devolution is already firmly manifesting so a lot of energy will have to focused on reversing that trajectory for humanity.
The organizer of the SF based Planetwork conferences (www.planetwork.net), Jim Fournier uses the mathematical term point of inflection (http://www.metanature.org/inflection.html) as a way to describe the point of critical mass as the alternative paradigm replaces the existing one. All this is of course tied to all the trends of unsustainability and social dysfunction that have been listed to the point of repetitiveness by progressives of all stripes and colors.
Understanding the dynamics of systemic change—system theory—is not purely a math game. If humanity does not become conscious, nature will take care of the problem just as it would for other organisms that exceed the carrying capacity of the planet and its subsidiary ecosystems. The whole concept of die-off (for more on this see www.dieoff.org) is based on a particular species collectively exceeding the carrying capacity of a particular ecosystem or in the human context, the biosphere. Many of us feel this is not the best option for humanity.
The human will to be and the discovery of the will to power that is within each of us can have a great impact on the lives on those around us, and that should be the primary focus, because that is what is relevant to us as human beings and this has given rise to the term human scale. When we get beyond the micro-scale and enter upon the large scale human reality we begin to become overwhelmed, because it is not presented to us in the proper context. This is not to say we should not extend beyond the micro-scale or local scale, we have to, but I am saying that there is a process to this in terms of maximizing our effectiveness as change agents in the world. This underlies the importance of effective globally oriented ICT networks that are bound by a vision and committed to sustainable design as well as social justice and this is what Planetwork and the foundation I am working with the oneVillage Foundation (www.onevillagefoundation.org) represent.
Ultimately though there is little we can do about the events of the world until we mobilize ourselves more effectively as a global movement for change. I would go even further: we are talking about facilitating humanity to develop optimal response characteristics to challenging situations but not necessarily to prevent those situations from arising or even to worry about how bad they will be. Possibly this is the key problem in terms of how we see social decline as something bad rather than as something that a necessary and inevitable part of life.
Our ability to adapt to challenging situations and our continuing desire to evolve and learn is more important than whether or when the ecological and economic “Crashes” even come or even whether civilization “survives”. Ironically our transcendence of the doom and gloom paradigm that has until now defined the environmental movement may be necessary in order to survive such challenging times. In other words spending so much time talking about how bad things are or will be takes away from the time we need to unlearn old preconceived notions and become more spontaneous with the world. How do we learn to live in the moment while being fully conscious of the unfolding chaos in the world around us…accepting the possibility that despite all our collective efforts we may be unable to avert “the crash”? Could it be that such a process of radical honesty is necessary (as a counterpoint to the cognitive dissonance that infects current civilization and its subsidiary systems) in order that we become effective change agents in whatever scenario that may pass us by.
We must first start with ourselves and work to build action oriented networks that address world urgent issues, becoming more active in implementing these necessary changes in our everyday, immediate lives.
So I ask you all, how do we mobilize our networks to initialize this process of developing a posture of openness to change that is contagious to other?
From: aelewis@... [mailto:aelewis@...]
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 7:38 AM
To: foo@...; GreensUSA@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [greensUSA] Re: [***] Why We Must Support John Kerry
> From: "Jason Malfatto" <jmalfatto@c...>
> Date: Wed Jul 7, 2004 7:54 pm
> Subject: Re: [***] Why We Must Support John Kerry
> The main point is this: the Bush team will probably destroy
> alot in less time. What's more, they are more likely to
> destroy it more completely (e.g. with nuclear technology),
> thereby making human- ecological recovery more difficult, if
> not impossible in some areas.
What nuclear technology? Nuclear bombs, or nuclear power plants?
IMO, the risk of nuclear war would be roughly comparable under
either Bush or Kerry; maybe slightly higher risk under Bush.
The pressures that may culminate in nuclear war will not be
significantly altered by the election of any presidential
candidate that I know of.
The risk of building more nuclear power plants is certainly no
different under Bush versus Kerry. It is inevitable that that
(building more nuke plants) will become the policy, once the
electricity crunch hits. Whether there will be time to
actually execute that policy, I do not know, but there will be
no significant resistance to it. The few voices of protest
will be overwhelmed instantly, after a few major grid
shutdowns (days, weeks).
> Now, as I understood you, you want a crash to come sooner
> rather than later. Is that not the meaning of: "We desperately
> need partial crashes and breakdowns right now, this month,
> this year"?
Did you see the word "PARTIAL"? I also spoke of
"mini-crashes", etc. The point was, the coming collapse, if it
is to be managed in a way that avoids the most gruesome
(Hansonian die-off style) outcomes, must be a PROCESS rather
than a rapid, cataclysmic EVENT. PROCESS allows time for
adjustment, adaptation, building of rational responses, etc.
(This seems obvious, to me; do I really have to argue for it?)
If we hit the wall full speed, (such as if all discomfort is
postponed for another 10-15 years), there will be no time for
any creative response. Things will devolve into Road Warrior
or something like that. Or, at best, brutal Stalinistic
dictatorship, permanent martial law, etc.
> I want no crashes and no breakdowns in my lifetime whatsoever.
As a sensualist who enjoys his own comfort, I am with you: I
don't want any discomfort, either. But the sensualistic side of
me is not all of me. I have a social conscience, too.
> I want to spend as much "happy time" with my wife and small
> children as possible. Is that not common sense?
Absolutely! That is the common sense that will deny and avoid
until it really IS absolutely too late to do anything to avoid
> Of course it is, and that's why Jay Hanson is more right than
> wrong. There is no human-ecological "superorganism" for which
> a majority of humans are willing to sacrifice themselves.
> That's why the GreenAllianceUSA crowd is simultaneously both
> wrong and right -- they want the superorganism model to apply
> for humans, but they don't want to be the humans necessary to
> make it work (as it does in some other species). Neither do I.
> It's easier to gripe about a maldistributed cornucopia and
> point fingers at others.
I am willing to be a human necessary to make it work.
There are others.
The last cards have not been played yet.
But I take it that your view (like Hanson's) is that we really
are doomed to total ruin and die-off, and so you might as well
enjoy a few last years of "happy time" with your family, not
bothering with any attempt to forestall or mitigate what is
That IS one approach to this. And I imagine it will become a
popular one -- our age being the age of nihilism.
Also, if that is your view, I wish you would have said so;
i.e. "I support Kerry because he will give us the best shot at
having more comfortable years before the inevitable total
collapse. There is NOTHING that can be done to avoid that
total collapse, so we might as well have as much 'happy time'
beforehand as we can." Like having a cigarette before one's
encounter with the firing-squad.
> But, again, empirical reasoning implies that we do not inhabit
> a cornucopia, and that a crash will occur eventually, given
> present trends. I never claimed to know exactly when that
> would happen. I'm certainly worried about its imminence, but,
> as I suggested, I'm sure as hell in no rush for it!
> Those who are (you may or may not be one of them) are, IMO,
> perverse fanatics.
I am in a rush for people to get good information, as I said
in my last post. (That's what the "mini-crashes" ARE.
INFORMATION.) What they DO with good information, well...
that's not in my hands.
If it is "perverse" and "fanatical" to want people to know
what is coming, (which can only happen by way of the
crash-as-PROCESS that I described), and to hope for (and even
work a little toward) an outcome that is less than
catastrophic, then I plead guilty.