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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sustainable Schadenfreude

I am sometimes amused at the thought that when the petro-bubble that has for so long been mistaken for the Triumphal Ascendancy Unto Infinity of Western Civilization finally does burst it will be organic farmers and hippy artisans and eco-villagers and other such folks long derided as fools and throwbacks by the gas-guzzling go-getter bully narcissists of Randoidal neoliberalism who alone will have all the skills without which neither flourishing nor even survival is possible.

Of course, the least contemplation of the scale of human catastrophe that would necessarily precede anything like the arrival of that state of affairs fizzles that amusement pretty quickly. Indeed, the trauma of surviving such a transition might make any notion of flourishing moot whatever vital skills one had shepherded through our own catastrophic know-nothing ego-everything era.


Chad Lott said...

You know, I dig what you're saying, but judging by the number of farmers and farmers market vendors that I've met that are Ayn Rand fans and Second Amendment fanatics I think we'll be stuck with Randoids/droids after the eco-pocalypse.

There's this whole "Rainbow Redneck" movement that combines a lot of the anti-government sentiment of the Libertarians with Deep Ecology thought and warm & fuzzy Capitalism (I made this cool thing, you buy it, we're all happy).

It's sort of like the real space where the debate between Dave Foreman and Murray Bookchin lives.

There certainly are a lot of old school treehuggers out there, but the real success stories seem to be from the Concious Capitalism movement (John Mackey, Joel Salatin.

A surprisingly sharp tension between the people who bust their knuckles growing food and the city kids that want to redistribute "what's leftover at the end of the day" has developed as well. I don't know if this represents a shifting away from the traditional, communal story of organic farming and a move to something different. It's just something I've noticed.

My hope is that the whole "End of History" thing is dead wrong and this intersection births something cooler than what is even conceivable right now.

I hope we're left with something like "do more with less, work hard get more, but do it with style and try not to step on people."

Dale Carrico said...

I should have guessed. If I've learned anything over the uears it's that everything is always even worse than I thought.

Chad Lott said...

On the plus side, the rate of attraction of young farmers is definitely on the rise.

All you've got to do is shape them minds before they graduate.

That Green Rhetoric class pretty much derailed my law school plans and now I've got the best job I could've hoped for.

I don't even own any guns anymore.

See, it works!

Dale Carrico said...

Professor Dale Carrico... destroying budding bourgeois careers since 1995!

jollyspaniard said...

People don't actually need any skills to start. One of the characteristics of the organic farming revolution in Cuba was that the vast majority of the participants didn't have any experience when they started. However after a year of colloborative effort they got adept. If you've got enthusiasm, spare time and are willing to work and cooperate with others you can quickly acquire the skills.

As to Randian farmers who cares? Organic farmers are organic farmers irrespective of their bullshit ideology. Spanish farming communities have a simple and elegant solution to ideological differences, never talk about big picture politics with family and neighbors. These are people whose cooperation is vital to your livelihood and you don't want nasty partisan politics fouling that dynamic. Spain had some nasty partisan politics when my parents were growing up and keeping your mouth shut has some practical advantages sometimes.

jimf said...

> I am sometimes amused at the thought that when the
> petro-bubble that has for so long been mistaken for
> the Triumphal Ascendancy Unto Infinity of Western
> Civilization finally does burst. . .

Well, of course, the idea is that the Triumphal Ascendancy Unto
Infinity of Western Civilization will ultimately be powered
(directly, rather than at 500 million years' remove)
by a star.

Petro is just a ladder, that will be kicked away when the time

You know, first we'll be able to utilize the tiny fraction of
the sun's energy that hits the earth, and then we'll construct
a Dyson Sphere, and then. . .

The **timing** of all this is a bit tricky, of course. ;->

Dale Carrico said...

Yes, the problem as usual for the futurological fraudsters is that they confidently assume the arrival of indispensable but unavailable inventions while dismissing the incontrovertible evidence of catastrophe actually at hand.

Alan2102 said...

"If I've learned anything over the years it's that everything is always even worse than I thought."

This is the beginning of wisdom, Dale. It happens to most intelligent people, somewhere along the line. Begin applying it to the Democratic Party, and you will have taken an enormous step toward maturity.

That said, it is important at the same time NOT to err in the direction of cynicism or fatalism (errors of which I have myself been guilty, often; what can I say? I'm in recovery). Yes, everything is worse than you thought -- which means that the positive possibilities are *different*, not diminished. The first impulse of the unwise (like me, very often) is to think that because things are worse, therefore the positive potentials are diminished. False.

Alan2102 said...

btw, regarding the bursting of the petro-bubble and associated bursting of the Presumed-Triumphal-Ascendancy-Unto-Infinity-of-Western-Civilization bubble, here's a blogger who often comes up with high-quality commentary: Charles Hugh Smith.

A few representative recent posts:
The Status Quo's Fundamental Paradigms Are Broken
(November 15, 2010)
Productivity, Baumol's Disease and the Cliff Just Ahead
(December 8, 2010)
Why America Is Slouching Toward Third World Status
(November 11, 2010)
The Banality of (Financial) Evil (November 9, 2010)

indexes of last few months: