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Monday, April 11, 2005

Techno hubris and organizational hubris 

Wolcott points to this terrific site: Clusterfuck Nation by James Howard Kunstler who writes about our society's mindless and baseless optimism and the coming dark age:
I notice lately that there are two kinds of hubris operating among the 'forward-thinking' classes in America (which is to say, those who are thinking at all). One I call techno-hubris. It represents the idea that there are really no limits to our powers of innovation and it is obviously the product of our experience in the past century, especially of our victory in World War Two and of the 1969 moon landing. The other kind is organizational hubris, the certainty that we can organize our way around the oil bottleneck, global warming, and population overshoot. What both modes of thinking have in common is that neither recognizes the probability that we are moving into a period of discontinuity, turbulence and hardship. Both modes of thinking assume that we can negotiate a smooth transition from where we are now to a new-and-improved human condition.
There is a remarkable consistency in the delusional thinking at every level of American life these days. When Americans think about the future at all, they seem to think it will be pretty much the way we live now. The buyers of 4000 square foot McHouses think that they will be able to continue heating them with cheap natural gas, not to mention commuting seventy miles a day. The stadium builders assume that major league sports will continue just as it is today, with chartered jet planes conveying zillionaire athletes incessently back and forth across the continent. The highway engineers and the municipal planners are focused like lasers on providing more roads and more parking spaces for evermore cars. The architects are designing more skyscrapers, despite the decrepit condition of the electric grid and the frightful situation with our depleting natural gas supply. We're so confident, so sure of ourselves.
When you combine the seven deadly sins with high technology, you get some some really serious problems. You get turbo-sins. It's dreadful to imagine what goeth after turbo-pride.

Great stuff, what? He is one of those writers who says what I realized I was thinking when I read what he wrote.
And here's more:
Herbert Hoover was vilified for doing nothing about the depression that followed the stock market crash. When we look back on the years of George W. Bush we will marvel at his failure to lead, especially his failure to inform the public that our habits of daily life would have to change, that we could not continue to burn twenty million barrels of oil a day, and spend money we hadn't earned; that we desperately had to reform our suburban land development habits, that the WalMarts and other predatory corporations had to be restrained in their systematic destruction of local economies, that our railroads needed to be rebuilt, that our borders needed to be defended, that our local small farmers needed to be supported, that our industries needed to be re-scaled and retained here, that corporate chiseling had to be policed, that finance had to be qualitatively different than a craps game in some casino.
The Hooverization of George W. Bush has begun. Only it will go much worse for Bush. His fall could be so hard, swift and awful that he may not be allowed to finish his second term. That's how stunned the public and even their entrenched oligarchical elites will be as the economy tanks and our national life begins to unravel. The Republican majority will go down with him, including such arrant villians as Tom Delay and the hosts of corporate CEO chiselers who sold out their workers and their country. They can pray all the want. It won't help.

So what can we all do to protect ourselves in the coming dark age? Well, I don't think I'll be moving to the country to live off the land -- my dad was a farmer, and living off the land is just too hard. But it sounds like we should do whatever we can to get out of debt and mortgages, to simplify our lives, and live off the grid as much as we can.
And hoard stuff -- like pepper, yeah, pepper is good . . .

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