The United States of Problems (2018Jul08)


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Sunday, July 08, 2018                                              3:36 PM

The United States of Problems   (2018Jul08)

T’would seem the poisons we use to kill the bad bugs and plants are sometimes killing the good bugs and plants—the necessary bugs and plants—just as the antibiotics we use to save ourselves from bad bacteria are sometimes killing the good bacteria—the bacteria necessary for digestion. Our desperate need to fight evil—to save ourselves and our livelihoods—becomes a driving force. And that Force whispers to us, “The collateral damage is an unavoidable cost. Eat it!”

Everyone recognizes this situation—the paradoxical prison of high-tech civilization. Everyone knows that Climate Disruption is driven by humanity’s energy consumption—and everyone knows that we would suffer and die without the energy consumption.

But mere facts are only the beginning. We each choose our personal perspectives on those facts. The lowest perspective is a popular one: denial, dishonesty, ‘bargaining’ with logic—only the slack-jawed fail to see the self-destructive nature of that approach. The middling perspective is more mature, but still rather conservative: let’s compromise, let’s be bi-partisan, let’s move forward together. Problem: both perspectives dominate the social discourse—and both perspectives lead to inexorable extinction.

The most intelligent perspective on humanity’s tech/survival crisis is to examine our culture and commerce with fresh eyes—to make lots of changes that would all be non-starters in present popular opinion. It is sad that intelligence has gone so out of favor with Americans today—because intelligence is all that’s needed to transform a social-media full of trash-talk and dick-pics into a social-media that coordinates efforts to help each other.

Other nations have found out how strong the web is, when people feel oppressed. Well, America isn’t anywhere near that level of savagery—but we don’t need to riot in the streets. Uber was a bloodless revolution, as was Amazon, AirBnB, Google, EBay, and Etsy—but all these early paradigm-shifts had one limiting factor. They made money—in fact, they mostly made one guy rich. And many of us would consider their cultural disruption to take a back-seat to that one important result: rich! Americans think the Internet is only good for making people rich—but that’s only a small part of it.

Intelligent organization via the web can give super-powers to any endeavor popular enough to support crowd-involvement. Money only limits the choices, in that paradigm. And since our ‘Democracy’ seems to be slightly hacked, right now, maybe this would be a good time for community-minded folks to start uniting into more powerful forces. It’s in our country’s name, y’all.

People talk about how united we were during the Second World War—everyone pulling together to win the war. Well, Congress (such as it is) is not going to declare war—but if you think we’re not presently in a war for survival, well, you haven’t been paying attention to the nuclear arms and the hurricanes and floods and habitat-loss and mass violence and floods of refugees. And you certainly haven’t noticed the soulless, greedy bastards who make money from delaying public awareness of the dangers we face, right now.

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