“Command and Control” is based on Eric Schlosser’s book about our nuclear arsenal.
When one looks back over previous societal extinctions and collapses it was due to one of the base elements I described above (air, water, soil) become depleted, corrupted, or polluted among other issues and problems: desalinization, oceanic disturbances, asteroids, deforestation, land overuse, etc. – the list is endless, with variations of the theme over and over. But one thing they had in common is that for the most part the collapses of society in the past were for the most part localized to a specific region and civilization. In our time it is global and planetary wide. So that we cannot like those ancients pick up and move to other climes: there is not place else to go – this is it.
One of those fascinating aspects of reading Ligotti was his forthrightness. He points out the human animals propensity for deception and self-deception. Our civilizations are constructed out of deceptions, lies, illusions, artificial systems that all seek to defend the human from the raw and bloody truth of the natural world. We all want to live. We all think life is worthy of effort. We all think life is alright. Some even think we are God’s little angel, his favorite – an exception in the great animal kingdom, and that he’ll save us from any massive world collapse. While the pessimist and sceptic in us says horseshit, nothing’s going to save your sorry ass this time bud – this is the end, caput. Comprende?
As another author, Roy Scranton tells us, global warming is what is called a “wicked problem”: it doesn’t offer any clear solutions, only better and worse responses.4 One of the most difficult aspects to deal with is that it is a collective-action problem of the highest order. One city, one country, even one continent cannot solve it alone. Any politician who honestly and frankly worked to detach her nation’s economy from oil and coal would not survive in any kind of democratic or oligarchic government, because the rigorous austerity necessary to such an effort would mean either economic depression and poverty for most of her constituency, a massive redistribution of wealth, or both. Moreover, any leader who forced her country to accept the austerity and redistribution necessary to end its dependence on cheap carbon would also be forcing her country into a weak and isolated position politically, economically, and militarily. The entire world has to work together to solve global warming, yet carbon powers the world’s political machinery and shapes our current form of collective life. It’s coal and oil that we have to thank for connecting the many nations of the world into one tight, integrated economy. Without the information, energy, and transportation infrastructures built and sustained with carbon, there wouldn’t be any global civilization to try to save. (LDA, KL 552)
How big can you think?
A panel from Munnu: A Boy From Kashmir (Fourth Estate, 2015). Courtesy Malik Sajad
Idleness, as we know, has a bad rap in Western culture, but it can be a philosophical experience in its own right. Bertrand Russell wrote a long essay in praise of it, and Oscar Wilde thought that “to do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world” as well as the most intellectual. The great, consummate idlers of literature (Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov or Melville’s Bartleby) are figures of metaphysical quest: They exemplify ways of being human with unusual complexity.
Idleness, then, reveals an experience of nothingness. While nothingness tends to occupy a central position in Eastern traditions like Buddhism and Taoism, we in the West typically shun it; after all, one of the most characteristic branches of Western philosophy is ontology, the study of that which exists.
Yet, even if we do not choose to embrace nothingness, nothingness itself may choose to embrace us. It may not be that we don’t have anything to do, or that we’re bored, or that we would rather do it later, but just that we don’t see the point of it all. In our idleness we intuit a cosmic meaninglessness, which comes along with the realization that, with every action, we get only more entangled in the universal farce.
How to change this perception? One solution would be for God to admit that He did it all from Tuesday to Thursday, but only claimed it took six days to avoid making it seem too easy. Failing this, the human solution would be to look further back in history. There is a tendency to believe that the five-day convention was an improvement on all previous working hours, but it was an improvement only on the shockingly long hours worked in the aberrant nineteenth century. In pre-industrial Europe peasants often worked for as little as half the year. Harvard economist Juliet Schor has estimated recently that in fourteenth-century England, the average peasant work-year was a mere 150 days, a figure to make any contemporary wage slave envious and any American corporate lawyer suicidal.
The Middle Ages took the pragmatic view that work was a tedious necessity to be given as little time as possible, but in the course of the Industrial Revolution work became more of a duty, even a calling. One explanation of how this came about is Max Weber’s famous essay The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. For Weber, the change was brought about by the peculiar nature of Reformation Protestantism, which encouraged a view of worldly success as the mark of the saved and worldly failure as the mark of the damned. I find Weber’s thesis entirely plausible, though it has been hotly disputed, especially by Protestants and capitalists.
What seems incontestable is that, for whatever reason, work has become for many a sort of substitute religion, a source of the religious reassurances of meaning, purpose and identity.
Source: Why We Work Too Much » IAI TV