Sunday, June 13, 2010

Here's The Problem

...with respect to the catastrophic oil gusher(s) in The Gulf of Mexico, and with many, if not most of the other man made disasters of our time. We have all, the citizenry, government, and private industry, colluded to create the abominable state-namely, one of financial, economic, ecological, and soon, political collapse-we find ourselves in.

While I tend to attach the lion's share of responsibility to the most powerful actors in our society, government, corporations, and the main stream media, the fact is (or at least I think of it as fact) we citizens have largely ceded our potentially superior power to steer the ship of state. Equally, it can be argued, as I have in this blog, that collective action by a disparate group of citizens, spread over a land mass that is three thousand miles from east to west, has considerably more obstacles to harnessing its potential than do smaller, more cohesive, and integrated collectives, and yet, even as one acknowledges, if only in the abstract, our considerable handicaps, We The People, have failed miserably to act vigilantly against our nation's worst impulses and tendencies.

In the meantime, collapse, or what I like to call, "The Grand Wobble", a complex phenomenon with multiple tributaries, comprising many intersecting components, some of which are more spectacular, and, therefore, more manifest than others, gathers force. The U.S. (and now European financial debacle) has been, perhaps, the most visible breakdown in our decrepit and corrupt system over the last few years, and this has been followed, not surprisingly, given the perversely outsized stature of the financial system, by severe economic contraction. All this is set to be exacerbated to some unknown and unknowable degree by The Gulf of Mexico fiasco which is beginning, despite my comment about unknowability, to, if only dimly, take on the horrifying patina of an extinction level event.

Going forward, I'm undecided on whether to devote more time to simply cataloging and commenting on what I view as a very long term state of disintegration and peril for humanity, and all living things, broadly defined, or, simply, on methods by which we may anticipate and respond to the great challenges we face. I imagine I needn't spend too much time ruminating on the issue, as events, and my own natural tendencies, will likely decide for me.


DED said...

We The People, have failed miserably to act vigilantly against our nation's worst impulses and tendencies.

I think the people were too busy trying to make a living to maintain a sufficient level of vigilance. While it's not an excuse, it's one explanation.

And I know you're quite aware that politics have grown increasingly ugly such that the people of integrity who should be government no longer feel that it's worth it. It's thus been left to the power hungry and ego driven, saying nothing of the vast sums of money required to finance a campaign.

Going forward, I'm undecided on whether to devote more time to simply cataloging and commenting on what I view as a very long term state of disintegration and peril for humanity, and all living things, broadly defined, or, simply, on methods by which we may anticipate and respond to the great challenges we face.

In general, I've lost the desire to do it. It was so depressing that it was having an adverse impact on my mental health.

Edwardo said...

Yes, it is hard to get involved in public affairs when one is struggling to put bread on the table.

Thanks, for dropping by, Ded.

Debra said...

I think this is a great post, Edwardo, but you know I'm biased... ;-)
I don't know who DED is...
I'm not sure that ALL the people in the U.S are so busy trying to make a living.
There seems to be a lot of time available (this holds for me too....) to spend time on the Internet and in virtual activities (I am NOT saying this is bad, I AM saying that the time is there...).
You may find this shocking, Edwardo, but I think that our generations are considerably less used to hard work and activity than previous generations were.
I think that we have got used to less activity due to the machines, and that this FACT colors our perception of what work is and should be.
I think that... at no other time in our collective history has boredom reached the epidemic proportions that it has these days, through lack of.. meaningful work that involves DISCIPLINE.
I am NOT a drill sargeant, Edwardo.
But.. I spend over two hours a day practicing the piano WITH DISCIPLINE.
And I can tell from talking to them that THIS is what a lot of people are lacking. That doesn't mean that they are not putting in long hours. But.. at often meaningless, unskilled "work". That involves no discipline, and no chance to see that what they are doing makes a difference to them or anybody else.
Some advice : read Jacques Barzun's "From Dawn to Decadence, From 1500 to the Present, 500 years of Western Cultural History". Barzun is a writer, and historian of ideas. As a writer... you will appreciate him.
We CAN be doing simple things to DO something in our lives. And talking to others about how to do it.
Can't you tell... how Thai's death has influenced the Sudden Debt family... FOR THE BETTER, in certain ways ?
You too, have that power.
I do, too. (Because among other things... we are gifted with words. We love words, and we speak them to move men's hearts. And OUR hearts, at the same time, of course.)
Hell does.
And... that power is.. EXPONENTIAL, EDWARDO.
That is what is so.. GREAT ABOUT IT.
You know... humanity is ALWAYS hovering on the brink.
We are animals that hover on the brink.
We need to hover on the brink to feel alive.
I suggest too that you reread William.
Because... NO ONE has ever said it better than William, (in my opinion).
The beauty of William's words will make you melt.
And they will make you GLAD and HAPPY to be human again.
Take care.

Toby said...

I've shifted gear towards practical things I can do within my neighbourhood, and with my children, such as learning about soil and how to grow food sustainably. Besides that, I'm trying to get my book-writing to gain momentum, and have had recent success.

I believe there is a growing appetite to listen to new ideas. This is even becoming noticeable in the mainstream. For example, I heard Mervyn King (Bank of England head) has appointed someone (name escapes me, as does the position) who is for 100% reserve banking. Bernard Lietaer, who is also for deep monetary reform, is also gaining some traction. He is to be found on YouTube sharing a tidbit about a telephone conversation he had with Paul Krugman (they were at Havard together under the same professor). Krugman castigated Lietaer for questioning our doomed money-creation model, because one simply can't get mainstream recognition by doing so, not to mention a Nobel! That story says a lot. That Lietaer is now sharing it publicly says a lot too.

The receptivity to the new is growing, very very slowly, but it's growing. We are all obliged to introduce to as many people as possible the genuine alternatives that exist. Only by so doing does humanity have a chance post-collapse. Achieving consensus in the aftermath is going to be an almighty challenge, so we need to sow as many seeds in as many minds as possible.

Edwardo, please keep up the good work!

DED said...


This change didn't happen overnight. It's been growing for several decades. It is only within the last decade that people have had the luxury of cheap, high bandwidth internet access to whittle away their "boredom" or to take advantage of plentiful information and act on it.

And I daresay that living in France has colored your perception of free time.

The work week in France is one of the lowest in the developed world. Not only is there the 35-hour work week but the actual number of hours worked in a year is 1580 hours compared to 1900 in the US. Even in more prosperous times (say 2004), France has had one of the lowest employment rates in the 15-64 age range: 69%, compared to 77% in the US. Thus leading to the perception of more free time.

I'm not trying to let my fellow Americans off the hook, but after decades of working longer hours, I understand that they've been too tired to fight the power and just wanted to unwind after a long day in front of the TV.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean you're undecided on what to write about going forward, or whether to continue the blog at all?

Edwardo said...

I'm undecided what to write about.

Debra said...

Ded, I keep saying to many of the Americans who want to listen (because there seems to be a great number of misconceptions about how work is playing out in what Americans like to call the social "welfare states") that in many ways, French people are working just as hard, if not harder than Americans, even with that vacation time.
If you are a white collar worker you are expected to go WAY OVER that 35 hr work week, if you expect to be appreciated, and keep your job.
Conditions have been deteriorating for quite some time now. France is a very individualist country, in many respects. Not a lot of solidarity. There are complex reasons for this.
I also say that... the French have an uncanny knack for ignoring the great aspects of American culture, picking out its WORST, and then multiplying a BAD idea exponentially to make it a thousand times worse...
Like... jumping enthusiastically aboard the Titanic as it is sinking...