Re: important critiques of K. Armstrong article


Richard Moore

1/17/2002, Paul Isaacs wrote:
  > We are not "modern" in any sense of the term. We have been
  aware of the need for sustainability for at least 25 years
  now but we continue to wantonly consume the planet's future.
  We are primitive barbarians. Vandals. Vikings pillaging
  tomorrow's necessities from today's children.
  > There is no condemnation of "us" that is too harsh. It is
  a truth that we can not seem to bring ourselves to either
  admit or learn.

Dear Paul,

Thanks for a much needed critique of the Armstrong ideas.  I
appreciated both your comments and Jan's.  I agree that 'us'
as a ~society~ deserves condemnation, especially on behalf of
future generations, assuming humanity survives the crises
'we' are creating.

On the other hand, if 'us' refers to us ordinary people,
then we need to avoid the trap of blaming the victim.  Yes,
many of us could recycle more, or seek to live in
self-sufficient communities, or bicycle to work, or
whatever.  But this isn't possible for most people who are
simply struggling to survive.  We are in fact victims of a
system that we did not create.  A system designed to entice
and compel us to participate and consume.  A system which is
not democratic, not even close.

To blame ourselves is disempowering.  Anger, in this case,
is more productive than guilt.  Our culpability is our
failure to kick the bastards out of power.  We owe it to 
ourselves, our children, and the people of the world.  
'They' will never change the system.  They are convinced
it is the only possible future, and they perceive that they
are benefiting from it.  The job is up to us.  We may not 
succeed, but if we don't try we deserve condemnation.


From: "Teresa Hawkes" <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: RE: rn:K. Armstrong: the roots of terrorism
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 11:15:42 -0600

This is a very sane posting. I am tired of posts that sound,
quite frankly, like a over-reactive spy novel in which a few
sinister agents of evil manipulate the populations of the
world like puppets. Quite frankly, chaos theory alone should
show us all why this is in no way possible, which is not to
say that there aren't people who are greedy and evil in
positions to instigate actions incurring harm to many.
Armstrong's assessment is balanced. It shows us how all of
us have contributed to the current state of affairs!


Dear Teresa,

I'm intrigued by your comment about chaos theory.  What
evidence leads you to believe that world affairs are
chaotic?  Certainly, if you look at tiny details, there's a
lot of randomness.  But as you look at things on a bigger
scale, there is a lot more order, a lot more predictability,
and a lot more opportunity for conscious control.  Let's
look at an example...

In the US after WW II there was a major increase in
automobile usage, and a decline in rail and other public
transport.  If you want to know exactly how may cars would
be bought on a single day, then you're dealing with a
chaotic situation.  But that doesn't mean there weren't
conscious actions molding and guiding that chaos in an
effective way.  In fact, General Motors and Firestone formed
a conspiratorial joint venture - they bought up urban rail
systems all across the nation, scrapped them, and replaced
them with bus lines.  People were thus forced into
internal-combustion transport, significantly increasing
profits for oil companies, auto manufacturers, and tire
companies.  This is not a theory, it is documented history. 
And the project was guided not by chaos but by conscious
planning and execution.

Were the people of LA to blame for flocking to cars in the
face of unreliable and uncomfortable bus transport?  To some
extent perhaps they were, but you can't put their
culpability in the same category as that of GM and
Firestone.  Most of us must struggle along as best we can,
trying to hold down a job, etc.  Those with money and power
have a lot more to say about what happens to society, and
what choices the rest of us are left with.  And those at 
the very top have a great deal of control.

Render unto chaos that which is chaotic, and recognize elite
planning when that is what's going on.