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Ye are many, they are few - The Ex-Communicator

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December 23rd, 2010


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09:51 am - Ye are many, they are few
And I suppose what I feel is that in a more practical immediate sense, things like the NHS and functioning schools are not a benevolence which those more powerful than us graciously bestow. They aren't a luxury that 'they' can't afford to pay for any more. In fact the people are powerful, and we consent to this system because it is better than the alternatives. And that's something they have to work to sustain, or bear the consequences. That's the job of leaders. You can't take the goodies and not do the hard work.

And if the rich have a foolish model which tells them that they need to shake us up with a bit of 'chaos' to make us take responsibility then I think they will be in for a shock. Because if you lay down the reins you use to steer a process, if managing it is too expensive or tiresome for you, then you no longer have any direction over where it goes.

I was thinking about the Maya cities in Yucatan. When the Spanish arrived there were maybe a million Maya living in the jungle, but none in the cities, which had fallen into disrepair. For some reason a couple of hundred years earlier they had just decided to stop working there, and all moved out to live a different way.

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From:zornhau
Date:December 23rd, 2010 09:59 am (UTC)

Like the Jaquerie

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If the ruling class won't bloody rule, then what are they good for?
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From:communicator
Date:December 23rd, 2010 10:32 am (UTC)

Re: Like the Jaquerie

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Yes. I think there's a big misunderstasnding about what it is to be an alpha. An alpha doesn't strut about like a wanker, getting stuff off other people. He (or she) accepts responsibility for their well-being - that's what Alpha means.

I suppose in the middle-ages the aristocracy did that by being prepared to fight to the death, regularly, and to be fair that was a big thing. But what do they do now?
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From:watervole
Date:December 23rd, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
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I believe it was soil exhaustion that lead to the Maya cities being abandoned. It's killed quite a few civilisations over time, especially on certain types of soil.
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From:communicator
Date:December 23rd, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
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That is the argument which has been made, also the depletion of the water table. But that assumes that people basically want to maintain their civilisation, at all costs, until it just won't work any more. But you could argue (some people do argue) that this is biased by our Western perspective, that cities must be better than the alternative.

I think it is interesting to revisit collapse as not necessarily failure, but just a change
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From:watervole
Date:December 23rd, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
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I think you'd need some evidence to support that theory.

I can't think of a single collapsed civilisation where there is any evidence to support a voluntary movement away from cities. (Cities, love them or hate them, facilitate a higher standard of living)
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From:communicator
Date:December 23rd, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
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I don't personally, I know it is a big controversy in archaeology at the moment. mraltariel is probably more informed about it than I am.
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From:spiritualmonkey
Date:December 23rd, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC)
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Have you seen the movie Collapse?



This presenter defines a complex civilization as "One that has a high degree of differentiation/specialization AND a high degree of organization" (you can can one or the other and still not be complex).

The collapse of a complex society, he defines it, is when said complex society goes through a rapid process of simplification and localization.

I'm not unconvinced that collapse of complex societies isn't a natural part of the process. As far as what America could look like after a collapse, World Made By Hand is, I think, a hopeful look at what our post-petroleum future could look like.
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From:communicator
Date:December 23rd, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
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I've read it but I didn't know there was a film of it. Oh, no, I see that's not a film of the book - It looks like a documentary? Very interesting, I'd never heard of it.

I am coming round to feel that it might be a natural process. I have been thinking a lot about the collapse of the concentrated paleolithic culture into small local mesolithic subsistence groups - did it feel like a catastrophe, or a liberation? What did the collapse of the Bronze Age feel like? Again, it might have been a liberation.
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From:iainjcoleman
Date:December 25th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
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And I think that if our rulers sped years and years and years spending more money than the country takes in, then at some point everything's going to go to shit and some adults are going to have to step in with a plan for the country to spend less than it takes in.

And some of those people will be utter cunts who would always want to cut spending no matter what. But the best way to stop those people getting into power would have been to spend responsibly in the first place.

I have known several administrations - Lib Dem majority or Lib Dems in coalition - who have taken over from Labour in local government. The story is always the same: a period of austerity in order to recover from the appalling financial state left behind by Labour. We've had some really bad winters in Edinburgh. Thankfully, the Lib Dem / SNP administration did enough to repair the city's finances that we can cope with these emergencies. If we had been in the same financial situation that we inherited from Labour, our city would have been completely fucked. I've seen the figures. They were shocking.

And now we have the same situation in the UK government. Labour has fucked our economy. Specifically, Gordon Brown's personality problems have fucked our economy. And now we have to deal with that bitter inheritance.

I'm no Tory. I don't believe in shrinking the state for its own sake. I believe that state action can create a fairer, more just society. But at the same time, I believe that sound finance is crucial to delivering any political priorities. That's a core Liberal belief. And it's the fundamental reason why the Lib Dems are part of the coalition government. If Labour shared that core belief, then the country would be a lot less fucked than it in fact is.
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From:communicator
Date:December 27th, 2010 06:46 am (UTC)
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Your argument seems to me to be wrong on many levels. Firstly the premise that the global financial crisis is due to Gordon Brown seems impossible to support. But if you meant that the UK's mildly left-wing economic policies have produced a worse outcome within that global context than the right wing policies of - say - Ireland - this seems against all evidence. In fact we were starting to bounce back, and process which has now halted.

But this is not the sole counter-argument, because regardless of the cause of the problem, the method chosen to combat it is quackery. Individual intelligent people generate thousands of times the money invested in employing them. That is the basis of every enterprise on earth. For example This deal with Microsoft was the work of people employed at tens of thousands and saved £47m. Saving tens of thousands by sacking people who generate millions is like refusing to plant your seeds because you are short of wheat.

But, the arguments are multi-level, and if you actually believe that a wide range of middle class people need to be sacked and this will produce economic recovery, there is no moral requirement to hurt poor people - the old, women, disabled etc. There is freedom even within the mistaken straitjacket which I have described. It could be done differently and better, and what is being done is not forced but preferred.

But finally, even if everything I have said above is false, the force of my argument still applies. If the Tories and the shrinking number of Lib Dems who support them are mere puppets in the hands of history, with no moral choices left - nevertheless the actions they are taking will have effects.

If the last Roman Governor had impeccable reasons for not maintaining the aqueducts, nevertheless once the water stopped flowing, the cities became insupportable. If it is actually the case that our civilisation must be dismantled, yet once that action is completed it will be in pieces.

Edited at 2010-12-27 06:47 am (UTC)

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