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December 15th, 2009


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02:51 pm - The angry men
Jared Diamond may have gone a bit silly, sucking up to Walmart and Coca-Cola, but his book Collapse is probably my book of the decade, because it brought into focus where the world is going. This article by George Monbiot today expresses it very well.
humankind decides what it is and what it will become. It chooses whether to continue living as it has done, until it must make a wasteland of its home, or to stop and redefine itself...No longer may we live without restraint. No longer may we swing our fists regardless of whose nose might be in the way. In everything we do we must now be mindful of the lives of others, cautious, constrained, meticulous

That is what I got from Collapse. Not that societies can not survive the closing down of their resources, but that they survive by changing into something more formal, constrained and orderly. This happened for instance in China about the time of the Roman Empire. It's not what I want to happen - far from it - but I think it may be the only way to survive.
The angry men who seek to derail this agreement, and all such limits on their self-fulfilment, have understood this better than we have. A new movement, most visible in North America and Australia, but now apparent everywhere, demands to trample on the lives of others as if this were a human right. It will not be constrained by taxes, gun laws, regulations, health and safety, especially by environmental restraints....The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate.

I think this is true. The people who are angry bullies, making stupid arguments and wars, are wrong and reprehensible, but they Get It emotionally. Their anger is proof that deep down they understand that their style of life is passing away. The very comments on Monbiot's article include hundreds of exemplars.

William Blake said in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: 'Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained'. I think we have to face that. The angry men are at least people with strong feelings, and accurate instincts, even if they are also ignorant bulles.

For myself, I would like an orderly dismantling of capitalism. I would like to retain things like anaesthetics and books, and for that I am prepared to give up foreign travel and bottled water - ha ha as if you can make a bargain with fate.

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:gfk88
Date:December 15th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
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My guess is we won't get through the climate change crisis without a big crash of some kind, not because science won't come up with the tools but because we won't be able to organise ourselves in time on the scale required, and have the collective discipline to follow it through.

On the bright side, maybe the planet itself will be OK. Even if we get swept away because we can't evolve fast enough, at least some sort of equilibrium should reassert itself once we're no longer booting out all these bad emissions and stuff.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:December 15th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I doubt we can get ourselves sorted in time. This is one of the reasons I like old b+w war films, because they show people grumbling but giving it a fair crack. I was working from home yesterday (ahem) and I couldn't resist keeping an eye on Carol Reed's 'The Way Ahead' which is a brillant example of WW2 propaganda. perhaps we can follow that example.

I think the planet itself will be OK, and that's some consolation.
[User Picture]
From:gfk88
Date:December 15th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
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I that's the reason for some of the anger too. People don't want to accept that maybe we're Not That Important to the universe.
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From:watervole
Date:December 15th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
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"For myself, I would like an orderly dismantling of capitalism. I would like to retain things like anaesthetics and books, and for that I am prepared to give up foreign travel and bottled water - ha ha as if you can make a bargain with fate."

An approach that very much mirrors my own. We have to consume less, but we don't want to live in caves either. I've given up air travel and bottled water, kept my books and my love of the NHS, but am aware that fate may still shake the dice without consulting me.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:December 15th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
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I'd much rather be a wild woman than a careful one, but I'm starting to feel a bit last chance saloon these days.
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From:several_bees
Date:December 15th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
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I wonder whether the Diamond claim is a deliberate untruth: that if you say to people you're wrong, you're evil they go NO I'M NOT, but if you say you're clever, you already totally understand that you need to do this thing in order to survive, wow they are maybe more likely to go YEAH, SEE, WE ARE TOTALLY DOING THAT QUICK DO IT SOME MORE. If you were in Diamond's position and thought that big businesses were tbe best chance for bringing in more sustainable behaviour if only they would understand that, what would you say to win them over?
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:December 15th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
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Yes, good point, that could be his purpose. It works with kids, and corporations are a bit like children.

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