- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on December 22, 1999 at 18:59:16:

In Reply to: You really know how to spoil a bad mood, Sam. posted by MDG on December 22, 1999 at 10:09:52:

: : SDF: Our main hindrance appears to be that we don't have a mechanism for changing society.

: All these deep thinkers past and present and we STILL don't have the proper mechanism?

SDF: Neither deep thinkers, nor thinkers looking for the perfect cult, will create social change all by themselves. The place to start is with the democratic life of the people -- which, as I have said many times before, is more than voting, it's actually a cultural form.

: Will dialectics bring us that fine mechanism as yet unrealized, or will it take a catastrophe to create one? Given my foul mood today, I cynically place my money on the latter inspiration.

SDF: I believe that I've already explained why there will be no "natural" trend of social change.

: : : Technology will only be constructive, not destructive. Sustainability and durability will replace short-term avarice and rapaciousness.

: : SDF: "Avarice" is a SYMPTOM -- we have to end the social systems that require it (capitalism, militarism, nationalism etc.).

: You may be right. One way to find out, of course...

: : : Blah. What's to stop the powerless of today, once they overthrow the powerful, from becoming oppressors themselves?

: : SDF: What's to empower the powerless of today to overthrow anything?

: Objection! Question answered with another question. Continuing along...

SDF: My question was an objection to yours...

: :At any rate, once the New World Order is put out of power,

: "Once?" How about "if"

SDF: The draining of the Saudi oil fields should put an end to the New World Order, when it happens... regardless of all this press coverage about the Caspian Sea oil fields, and regardless of right-wing efforts to wait for the technology messiah to save the day, the Saudi oil fields are the last big bulwark of the New World Order. After that, there's the shale oil in Utah and Wyoming, lots of oil there, requiring lots of oil to extract the oil, polluting the air and making the world even more like Venus than it already is. And, of course, there's Iraq, possessor of 20% of the world's oil, oil which is hardly being exploited because of the embargo...

: : there will be some urgent tasks at hand -- converting industries to non-fossil-fuel sources of power, educating people for democracy, restoring the ecology, putting people in charge of their lives, etc.

: That's for damn sure. Unless, as you and Farinata point out, we've been caught in an Easter Island trap where's it's TOO LATE to convert.
: If that's the case, you won't evolve into full democracy, you'll devolve into the world of Mad Max.

SDF: Easter Island wasn't even THAT interesting. Human civilization will simply die with a whimper.

: : : Isn't it possible that the traits of lust for power, selfishness, greed, and indifference to the suffering of others when faced with one's own desires are INTRINSIC to human beings?

: : SDF: No, the anthropological record shows that human societies come in such diversity that these traits cannot be said to be intrinsic to human beings. See for instance Robert Knox Denian's The Semai: A Nonviolent People of Malaya.

: Were these people isolated by geography? Are they still with us?

SDF: Their existence stands as a prima facie refutation of simplistic armchair notions of "human nature". I'm serious, the more one reads about the anthropological record, the more one is convinced that there is no simple description of "human nature". Start with Colin Turnbull, The Forest People and The Mountain People.

: I'm not disputing the implications of the book's title (I'll seek it out); after all, even though chimpanzees are violent, warring, carnivorous SOB's like us, their Bonobo cousins are peaceful vegetarians who make love, not war, so maybe these Malaya are the exception (which proves the rule?). If so, can we, I mean, are we willing, to learn from them?
: Is Rush Limbaugh a vegetarian liberal?

SDF: Now you're thinking about enculturation, the main problem from the beginning for humankind.

: : : Aren't we the dominant speices because we're the most vicious, the most willing to obliterate anything and everything that gets in our way, including members of other human tribes?

: : SDF: No, human beings are the dominant large mammals at present because of our versatility, of our ability to adapt to a wide variety of niches. Other animals have had to give birth to specific physical forms in order to adapt to ecological niches -- human beings, OTOH, can use their brains, their opposable thumbs, and their social organization in order to survive almost anywhere.

: Agreed, but don't discount ferocity as a major factor in evolutionary
: success.

SDF: With humanity, it can be discounted. People don't have claws, nor fangs, this wasn't an accident. Besides, groups such as the Eskimo that eat lots of meat also die early. You can't call that an evolutionary advantage...

: Also, in human relations, reasoned discussion is effective, but threatening to beat the shit out of your opponent is too.

SDF: Doesn't work on the internet.

: : Too much has been made of the "nature red in tooth and claw" version of Darwinian population biology popularized by T.H. Huxley. The Origin of Species is primarily a book about niche theory, about how animals and plants find places where they can survive.

: I'll take your word for it, but nature is indeed RIT&C

SDF: No it's not. Competition is not all-out, otherwise Earth would have no rainforests, no coral reefs.

: : : Are the Frenchys and Doc Cruels of this world mere aberrations, or banal examples of the human race? Given mankind's history -- one of unrelenting violence and cruelty -- why the sense of optimism here?

: : SDF: Frenchy and DrWhatever are examples of ideologically-motivated wilful ignorance.

: Yes...

: :They became that way through hard work and practice, not "by dint of natural talent".

: *Snark.* I'll let them respond to that one.

: : : Perhaps our self-destruction is inevitable.

: : SDF: No, it's just likely unless change occurs fairly soon.

: That's more like it!

SDF: My point is that humanity is experiencing a systemic crisis, one which will deepen as the years of the 3rd millenium march drearily onward... if we are to get to the real business of social change, the bad systems must go.

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