Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A moment of clarity

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, David P. Barash says We Are All Madoffs:
Make no mistake: Our current relationship to the world ecosystem is nothing less than a pyramid scheme, of a magnitude that dwarfs anything ever contemplated by Charles Ponzi, who, before Madoff, was the best-known practitioner of that dark art. Modern civilization's exploitation of the natural environment is not unlike the way Madoff exploited his investors, predicated on the illusion that it will always be possible to make future payments owing to yet more exploitation down the road: more suckers, more growth, more GNP, based—as all Ponzi schemes are—on the fraud of "more and more," with no foreseeable reckoning, and thus, the promise of no comeuppance, neither legal nor economic nor ecologic. At least in the short run.

Read the whole article. If you think he's wrong, try to be able to explain why you think he's wrong. I think the only flaw is that he's long on criticism, short on solutions; he offers no pointers on how we can escape eventual collapse.

And it struck me, in a moment of clarity, that if there's one idea that needs to be the basis of all my political views, it's this: I don't want the world's economy or the Earth's ecosystem to collapse in my lifetime. I don't want it to collapse, ever. I don't want the human race to be thrown back to pre-industrial conditions. I don't want the people of the 22nd century to be screwed over by decisions made in the 20th century.

I want civilizational collapse to be put off indefinitely. Maybe we can do it by achieving truly sustainable industrial practices, or maybe we'll only be able to do it through some currently-undreamed-of technological singularity. And in the process of getting there, I want to see as little human misery as possible.

That's what I want to see. That's my mental long-term goal for the future of this planet. Everything else is details. Wish I had some clue as to what the details should look like.

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