Nov 2009

"how urgent?" wondered the Colonel

… and it all comes back to the same fundamental question. “How urgent is this?” No, I’m serious here. What do you really feel is going to happen? Not some abstract theory about possible consequences, what you actually believe. Because if you really believe — truly, deep down, like you believe the sun’s going to rise tomorrow — if you really believe the consequences of resource depletion are as dire as you’re telling me. And if you really believe that the only way to avoid a complete catastrophe is the implementation of some kind of global social re-engineering project that radically changes almost every aspect of society, then the only remaining issue to resolve is… how much time do we need to find an isolated rural home and learn to grow potatoes?

Because there’s just no way the changes you’re suggesting will ever happen. No way the world, humanity as a whole, is capable of the kind of changes you’re talking about. It. Will. Not. Happen.

If the options are, and I’m going out on a limb here and granting for the sake of argument that they are, “planned global change to sustainability per your definition” or “self-destruction via over-consumption” then we may as well get loaded and enjoy the ride, because we live in a society pre-programmed to choose the latter. It’s not even up for discussion. Every decision we’ve made since deciding that fire and the wheel were good ideas has been about choosing the latter option, and it’s just ridiculous to suggest that an “appeal to reason” could possibly alter that programming.

Now, I’m yet to be convinced that resource depletion is the problem you say it is. Though I don’t deny that you make a very convincing case. Of course, you’d probably be even more convincing if you dropped all that philosophical guff about collective psyches and… what was that phrase you kept using…? “ecology of mind”? Ninety percent of people simply have no idea what those words mean, and they won’t take the time to find out. So you lose them. They think you’re talking down to them, or trying to make them feel stupid. And ain’t nobody going to sign your petitions or adopt your manifesto or join your party… not if you make them feel stupid.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re not stupid and you aren’t completely right, but the best way to convince people to act in a certain way is to make them believe it was their idea to act that way in the first place. And you won’t do that with the alienating language of academia…

(leastways that’s roughly what Colonel Gaddafi said to me in my dream the other night. In an American accent)

UPDATE 16:47: It’s probably worth pointing out that the dream concluded with me chasing Danny DeVito through a furniture store. We were on skateboards. So I’m not sure how much I should read into it.

Posted in: Announcements