What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal. It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship. Perhaps because of the exhausting false debate about whether climate change is “real,” too many of us have developed a misleading impression that its effects are binary. But global warming is not “yes” or “no,” it is a function that gets worse over time as long as we continue to produce greenhouse gas. And so the experience of life in a climate transformed by human activity is not just a matter of stepping from one stable environment into another, somewhat worse one, no matter how degraded or destructive the transformed climate is. The effects will grow and build as the planet continues to warm: from one degree to one-point-five to almost certainly two degrees and beyond. The last few months of climate disasters may look like about as much as the planet can take. But things are only going to get worse.
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The world has indeed got richer, but any such shift in morals and values is hard to detect. Money and the value system around its acquisition are fully intact. Greed is still good.
The study of hunter-gatherers, who live for the day and do not accumulate surpluses, shows that humanity can live more or less as Keynes suggests. It’s just that we’re choosing not to. A key to that lost or forsworn ability, Suzman suggests, lies in the ferocious egalitarianism of hunter-gatherers. For example, the most valuable thing a hunter can do is come back with meat. Unlike gathered plants, whose proceeds are “not subject to any strict conventions on sharing,” hunted meat is very carefully distributed according to protocol, and the people who eat the meat that is given to them go to great trouble to be rude about it. This ritual is called “insulting the meat,” and it is designed to make sure the hunter doesn’t get above himself and start thinking that he’s better than anyone else. “When a young man kills much meat,” a Bushman told the anthropologist Richard B. Lee, “he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors. . . . We can’t accept this.” The insults are designed to “cool his heart and make him gentle.” For these hunter-gatherers, Suzman writes, “the sum of individual self-interest and the jealousy that policed it was a fiercely egalitarian society where profitable exchange, hierarchy, and significant material inequality were not tolerated.
”This egalitarian impulse, Suzman suggests, is central to the hunter-gatherer’s ability to live a life that is, on its own terms, affluent, but without abundance, without excess, and without competitive acquisition. The secret ingredient seems to be the positive harnessing of the general human impulse to envy. As he says, “If this kind of egalitarianism is a precondition for us to embrace a post-labor world, then I suspect it may prove a very hard nut to crack.” There’s a lot that we could learn from the oldest extant branch of humanity, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to put the knowledge into effect. A socially positive use of envy—now, that would be a technology almost as useful as fire.
The child’s mind arises from these explorations, we shall renew them in adulthood in ways unseen in human history, to ends better than we have thus far been able or willing to dream together.
Starbird says she’s concluded, provocatively, that we may be headed toward “the menace of unreality — which is that nobody believes anything anymore.” Alex Jones, she says, is “a kind of prophet. There really is an information war for your mind. And we’re losing it.”
Then in my lunch break I sat down to read further in my current literary indulgence, “The Old Sod: The life and inner work of William G Gray” and came across this quote…
“There seems to be a psychological urge in young men to make them deliberately risk their own lives for seemingly no reason, but I believe there is a deep-down instinct to do so in order that the Gods (or Goddess) will have the opportunity to select the best for breeding purposes. In other words, if the Fates spare their offered lives, the they are meant to go on living and are fit to breed. If their lives are taken then, then they were never meant to mate and carry on their race. Thus it is an atavistic impulse bred into our genes from the very dawn of our civilisation. After they become older and have probably started a family, the instinct alters into one of wanting to live so as to care for that family until it can look after itself. That was why the act of sacred self-sacrifice on the altars of any Temple had to be absolutely voluntary in order to be valid.” ~ William G Gray