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Thread: Is society on the verge of collapse

  1. #31
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    Re: Is society on the verge of collapse

    You're talking about two things:

    1. It's wishful thinking to believe that industrial society won't collapse. The industrial/capitalist paradigm of solving all economic problems by growing production and consumption is not sustainable. We are rapidly consuming the thermodynamic base of our society. Shifting to a combination of alternative energies will help ease the problem but there's no silver bullet replacement for fossil fuels even when we combine them. Couple that with the fact that we are simultaneously destroying the ecological base of our society and the picture looks worse. Will society collapse suddenly and abruptly? Probably not. Nevertheless industrial society will likely decline and decomplexify slowly over the next 150 years as the reproduction of human life becomes more and more difficult. The financial collapse and resource wars of the last decade are just the beginning. All of this is to say that civilization is about to go through the most radical transition in history.

    2. The effect of industrial capitalism on human being is to alienate human beings from nature, from others and, finally from themselves. Marx (estrangement), Thoreau (quiet desperation), Marcuse (one-dimensional man) all problematized alienation (don't worry it is an ethical/ontological issue, not a political issue). Their concern was essentially correct, that a capitalist order structured by class struggle (between those that own the means of production, i.e. capitalists, and those that labor on behalf of capitalists) inevitably shapes man into a vicious producer/consumer who, at the end of day, values the accumulation of property more than nature, living well, other human beings or even their own happiness. Since human beings in industrial capitalist orders are necessarily conditioned to respond to economic directives, the economy becomes their cosmology, their fundamental reality. Hence it is impossible for them to critically engage industrial capitalism, to consider the hypothesis that it is neither sustainable (ecologically and thermodynamically) nor desirable (ethically and democratically). The end result is wishful thinking, the belief that it is in fact both sustainable and desirable (i.e. "what else would we do?").

    Ironically enough, I am writing this as my students take an exam in an institution that is supposed to be educating them. But the truth is that this is not about educating (i.e. developing the human being to their highest intellectual and moral potential) so much as it is about instructing (i.e. developing their capacity to integrate into the economy as successful producers/consumers). What is even more ironic is that we are preparing them for an economy that will likely not exist in 20 or 30 years while giving them no capacity to critically transform their social, economic or political realities.

  2. #32
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    Re: Is society on the verge of collapse

    Not necessarily collapse but:

    1. I am worried that we will get stuck in the malthusian trap again. (Where new technology just results in more people, not better quality of life.)

    2. I am also worried that we will see an economic collapse. Just because an economy is extremely damaged, it doesn't mean the society falls apart. (Example: Zimbabwe)

    3. And of course theres the standard stuff like nuclear war to think about.
    Life is an extraordinarily long concatenation of luck and coincidence.

  3. #33
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    Re: Is society on the verge of collapse

    "Society" is not made of glass... it doesn't brake... it stretches like rubber... I think.


  4. #34
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    Re: Is society on the verge of collapse

    @drawkcab I think tension and alienation are natural states for humankind. I don't think that there is any way away from this. (also i think that this thread is veering dangerously close to the electric fence of politics).

    @thewhilstlingwind i agree, also your username suggest you have no problem appreciating the wonders of nature.

  5. #35
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    Re: Is society on the verge of collapse

    Quote Originally Posted by F.G. View Post
    @drawkcab I think tension and alienation are natural states for humankind. I don't think that there is any way away from this. (also i think that this thread is veering dangerously close to the electric fence of politics).
    The difference is that, at other times, economic values faced genuine opposition from other countervailing, alternative values. In medieval europe, for example, economic forces were in tension with the values of Christianity. Individuals were given a choice (albeit a false dilemma perhaps) of choosing between the pursuit of their material well-being or their spiritual well-being. Nowadays, however, capitalism has subsumed Christianity the extent that we have consumer Christianity--i.e. just shop around for the church that best affirms what you already do/believe. In other words, religion no longer operates as a countervailing force or alternative to economics. It no longer really challenges us to become more than bourgeois, self-satisfied producer/consumers. Religion has become an ideological lynchpin that actually enables and supports the prevalence of economic values. The weekly hour or so of communal guilt alleviation which preceeds football watching allows us to return to our economically defined roles with the assurance that, since the world is already fallen and human beings exiled, God affirms and even rewards our alienation.

  6. #36
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    Thumbs down Re: Is society on the verge of collapse

    It's becoming like a Sociology 101 in here today... surprised no-one's said "John Locke" yet
    Code:
    cd /fridge/beer | drink && fallover

  7. #37
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    Re: Is society on the verge of collapse

    If society doesn't collapse I've spent all this money zombie-proofing my house for nothing.

  8. #38
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    Re: Is society on the verge of collapse


  9. #39
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    Re: Is society on the verge of collapse

    Quote Originally Posted by ric_nyc View Post
    lol!!

  10. #40
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    Re: Is society on the verge of collapse

    Quote Originally Posted by satanselbow View Post
    It's becoming like a Sociology 101 in here today... surprised no-one's said "John Locke" yet
    I was about to but that'd take like 5 pages to explain.

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