“There is a level to which one can descend when trying to find common ground for communication that is just too far.”
This is true when discussing religious arguments against science and especially arguments ‘against’ evolution. This is true when considering human impact on the earth’s ecosystems. And it is true when growth based economic behaviors are represented as our only options for our future. There are other examples, but these have the most far-reaching consequences.
• An argument against evolution could only be an empirical one: ‘Dr. Xyz has demonstrated, in peer reviewed and replicated studies, that genes don’t actually produce the proteins that are the basis for the form and function of the organism; furthermore, genetic material is not passed on from one generation to the next dependent on the success of an organism to function adaptively in an ecosystem.’
To say that “Evolution is just a theory!” is simply a misunderstanding of how ideas function to form increasingly veridical concepts. Descending the argument to a level of ‘the meeting of minds’ infantilizes and trivializes the argument to a point of absurdity. A baseball fan would not even consider talking to someone who, in an equivalent way, was so tragically ignorant of baseball.
And yet we are supposed to give such failures of education, comprehension and curiosity the standing of a fully developed and worthy system of thought. It is quite simply ridiculous: it is foolish to listen to the opinion of someone who doesn’t know where the shortstop should position for a left-handed hitter who routinely pulls toward right field or who would put a player 3rd in the batting rotation who has a 250 average. My uncle would have just said it, “Shut up! You don’t know your ass from second base.”
• Human impact on the earth’s biosphere includes, but is not limited to: salinization of millions of acres, cutting of millions of acres of forest, creating large regions of ‘artificial climate’ in and around cities, industrial areas and agricultural areas, putting chemical industrial products and wastes into every cubic inch of the earth’s air, water and soil, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from about 200 ppm to over 350 ppm in the last 200 years, using nearly half of the total photosynthetic product of the earth and increasing population (and consumption) exponentially by more than a hundred thousand percent over what is but a brief moment in geological/evolutionary time. These are not the actions of a species that is so limited in power that we need not even consider its impact.
Rather than the baseball metaphor, this is more a matter of straight up, outright denial. No one sitting in traffic on a six lane city loop-road with nothing but the tops of buildings for miles in all directions can fail to recognize human impact unless they are just batshit crazy; and many many of us are. Anyone who drinks bottled water because they are afraid of pollution or germs can’t say that humans are not impacting a world where streams were once safe to drink from; but they do. It is impossible to read the data on human use of the earth’s productive capacity without realizing our impact; but it is possible to not read the data.
• The dominate economic design, in function and in law, requires an increase in the use of materials and energy, and then distributes the wealth created by the increase to those who are said, in law, to ‘own’ the materials and energy.
Here is what is obvious:
It is obvious that every living thing has as much ‘right’ to a place to be and the sustenance to prosper as any other living thing. ‘Ownership” is a function of force, not some abstract right.
It is obvious that the proper role of law, as a counter to raw force, is to effectively distribute the excess accumulations of material wealth, beyond what is required by the members of the community, based on the simple assumption that it is the community that creates the wealth by its education, cultural history and support of the individuals who, acting as agents of the community, perform the greatest acts of accumulation.
It is also obvious that without compensating the taking of material and energy from the environment in such a way that the environment is sustained, that all life in a given space would be endangered.
And lastly it is obvious that the most common experience, once a community is broken into those with wealth and those without wealth, is that those with wealth use it to control community law and power dominating the rest with force and fear – and today with propaganda as a thin layer over force.
While all of these things are obvious if given a moment’s thought, it is also clear that the idea of private property has become the central madness of our economic system and that this madness drives growth economics so powerfully that no other idea is even allowed. How to comport the kinds of economic growth considered essential with the biophysical realities of zero-growth exchanges (compensations) and the absolute limits that are put on uncompensated takings by the evolutionary functioning of ecosystems is so far from inclusion in deliberation that those in power find such suggestions ludicrous.
But what is, however, beyond all credulity is that so many could have gotten so disconnected from the biological basis that allows the living state to exist; that those who are seemingly directing the human enterprise see essential reality in geopolitics, economics, weapons, money and power, electronic media, and not in biophysical cycles of water, nitrogen, carbon, oxygen; not in biodiversity’s essential role in environmental ‘free services’, the dangers of perturbing natural stabilities and so much more.
So why do we encourage these uninformed and ridiculous opinions by listening to them, even trivializing sound thought and learning to try and communicate with these levels of misinformation? There are three basic reasons: (1) the fabrications and distortions are the basis of political and economic power, (2) elite power actively perpetuates the ignorance of the Many and (3) vast numbers of people are consequently very poorly informed.
But, you can bet (and win) that the children of the economic elite are not going to schools that reject the teaching of the very best science and math available. You can also be sure that these elites are making practical preparations for climate change and other dramatic effects of human impact. And they also are acutely aware of the consequences of growth economics, the opportunities to redistribute the tiny bits of wealth held in billions of hands using governmental taxing powers (or simple corruption) as the last great entrepreneurial act before closing down growth for the Many as the last and only means to retain a livable environment for themselves.1
What is truly unthinkable is that the Many should become thoughtfully aware of the desperate position that we are in. And yet, reasonably accurate opinions keep bubbling up from the fetid pool of media propaganda.
I, for one, am tired of trying to find common ground with the uniformed, the ignorant and the societally insane. Those who have been poisoned by the information cyanide cannot be allowed to take our time. The elites may or may not have adopted the strategy with intention, but like wounding soldiers depletes the ranks more than killing outright, the confused are more demanding than those fully demented.
We need to speak out forcefully, with the full strength of the message. ‘Fixing’ the language to the form and presumed understanding of the confused only confuses more, allows misinterpretation and provides open ground for counter attack.2
My message: institutional religions are the centers of societal insanity, human action is leading to a major extinction event and the most basic assumptions of our economic behaviors, private property and growth, are the greatest possible crimes against human life and the living earth. There are people who are ready to hear these things, ready to be told the truth. The fully demented are KIA, the confused have to be left for now. It is time to tell the truth and gather the informed.
- US hegemony, in the form of the G8 and G20, has now made it official; the economic and power elites have committed to the support and survival of the economic behaviors destined to conflict with biophysical reality. They have, in the simplest terms, chosen their team. It is as though the New York Yankees had decided not to play on the league schedule or by the game’s rules, but rather to arm themselves with automatic weapons and take on the other teams in one grand finale.
The elites have made their calculations and seem to have decided that it is time to gather up the wealth, both abstract and substantial; that their best chance is to call and play their hand with as much devastation as is required to maintain their superior position. The goal of cutting global deficits in half is code for removing the titular middle class. A significantly large educated class with goals that include controlling and inhibiting the power of an elite has been an obstacle to elite dominance for 200 years. It would appear that the economic elite believes that obstacle can now be overcome. [↩]
- I am using violent imagery for the simple reason that we must understand that we are entering a period of violence; done to us, and soon enough, done by us. [↩]