Thursday, 12 May 2016

Techism (and you thought totalitarianism was scary): part 4

"Let them eat cake" (attributed to Marie Antoinette
 when told that the people had no bread to eat).
The wonderful thing about totalitarianism is that it most often presents a very clear target when things become intolerable. When democracy is absent or it fails and when the choice of political rule is either the rock or the hard place, revolution is nature's way of evening things up. You might call it an example of extreme evolutionary adaptation. One adapts to the situation by removing the situation; when the herd has eaten all of the grass, the herd moves elsewhere. With a single dictator it is sometimes enough just to drag him from his bed in the night.

Of course, when things get to that point it is also an indication that everyone had been doing a pretty bad job of adapting to things for a very long time: The chain of events that led to Saddam Hussein being dragged from the hole where he was hiding started in the First World War. In fact, the very existence of his rule was just one phase in Iraq trying to ensure that it had a deep-water port from which to ship its oil to the world. It does not sound like an unreasonable request, does it?   Which do you prefer? friendly competition resulting in lower prices and less inflation, or monopolies resulting in high prices, inflation, war and death? A little early adaptation could have averted much. The democracy of the early Greek city states was more than just electing people to do everything, it was actual rule by the people and the rich and the poor lived not that far away from each other and there were plenty of people occupying social positions at every point between the two. Some ancient slaves had a much better life than many of today's working poor. In ancient Celtic societies every level of society had effective representation from Druid judges who were not that much better off than those who they represented.

But nothing exists in isolation: lots of cheap oil can contribute to man-made global warming because you have to burn an awful  lot of fuel to ship things from distant monopolistic producers to local markets. Car-pooling might feel virtuous but it is not solving the real problem is it? I have been watching glaciers shrink, visibly, for fifty years. I can even remember small glaciers that do not exist any more and the winter snows I remember at the age of sixteen I have not seen the like for many years. On Tuesday morning, The Fort McMurray fire to the north-east of me had joined another wild fire  and was 229,000 hectares in size. That is almost the size of London, Madrid and Washington DC combined. But that was two fires that had joined. There are 25 wildfires currently burning across Alberta. Calgary seems to have had about 5 mm of rain today, 5-10 mm was forecast. We might get another 1mm over the next two weeks. But even today's rain is just fairly local, it is dry to the north of us.

With bad habits brought about by our mutual love affair with techism the enemy is ourselves; we cannot drag a dictator from his hole or start a revolution to overthrow those who are to blame for our problems. Always, we feel that each of us is not really the person to blame, others are doing much worse than we are. We sometimes take the bus; eat less; use lower wattage light bulbs; recycle.

Happily, nature is on top of all that, too. I will talk of nature's solutions tomorrow.

John's Coydog Community page

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