Monday, May 4, 2009

What's at Stake

One starts off fighting for some relatively small thing – to establish a pedestrian-oriented town square, to protect a watershed, to head off yet another sprawling subdivision and strip mall. Gradually one realizes that one is fighting battle after battle against politically-connected elites who have the money and time to press their agendas until they get what they want; fighting against an omnipotent, rabidly-defended belief in the Growth Economy; indeed, fighting a war against the main trajectory of one's society.

It may be useful to ask what animates the opposition. I would say that at root is the primary – if seldom acknowledged – end-product of the Growth Economy: fear of being useless, without purpose, bound and fettered to a Leviathan that remorselessly destroys our needs for one-another no less effectively than it dismantles self-reliance.

Let us remember that Development is not the final aim of the planners and architects and contractors – they want something meaningful and creative to do with their lives. Nor is Development the end goal of the carpenters and drywallers and plumbers – they want be needed by others so they can earn a living. Development is not even the ultimate objective of those who develop to amass great wealth – they are merely hell-bent on gaining respect in a society that has made virtues of the Seven Deadly Sins.

I am coming to the conclusion that we will inevitably loose on the small things if we do not win the war. Given the stranglehold of Growth-fed media on the public consciousness, however, chances are slim that advocates for a sustainable way of life will be widely heard above the stupefying clamor of Commerce. If humankind is lucky, the limits of energy, natural resources, and/or debt will – in relatively short order – collapse the Growth Economy without widespread suffering and loss of life. But will Man learn from the experience that we are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to our disposition to put moral chains upon our own appetites?

4 comments:

vegan_satori said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vegan_satori said...

First we must have a clear definition, a clear vision of what, exactly, sustainability is. Are these very means of communication, our cherished computers and the Internet - sustainable? As we deplete the exotic and rare finite ores required to manufacture our laptops and cellphones? How about feeding 6.8 billion human beings - is that sustainable, with diminishing fossil fuels? How about fresh water, sewage processing, medical care, essential transportation and roadways, fire stations, police, post offices, schools, libraries, wallmarts... our precious, comfortable, 'safe' homes -- are these sustainable as we careen down Hubbert's curves on oil, phosphorus and other mineral resources... while the Catastrophic Climate Changes from burning all those tons of naturally sequestered carbon are only just beginning? What portion of our global presence is sustainable? Is any of it?

Caryl said...

Hi Hans, I have really enjoyed reading your posts. You really have a sense for the moral dimension of energy as well as the physical aspects. You might enjoy my novel, "After the Crash" - it's kin to a lot of the kinds of reflections on this blog. Best wishes. for your interest, see:
http://afterthecrash-community.blogspot.com/

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