Misanthropic pessimism, or simply enough courage to face reality?


#1

Continuing the discussion from How the TPP will gut environmental protection:

The context there was the TPP. Only one of the most egregious examples of vile international neofascism currently sweeping the world; in which government legislation will be subject to legal challenge by corporations only temporarily frustrated in their insatiable pillage.

So you can spend your whole life spreading love for Gaia, even get entire governments onside (hah, like to see it) in the quest to save the future from this institutionalised banditry, and all for nought; with the stroke of a pen they can undo your life’s work.

All I’m saying, is open your eyes to the depths of evil going on around you. You can’t possibly begin to make a real difference until you have a clue what you’re up against. I can’t see how that makes me a pessimistic misanthrope when my proposed solution, the only way I see out of this mess, relies on a definition of humanity which holds that nobody is entitled to authority over anyone. In other words, each of us is entitled and obliged to participate with genuine agency in a direct democracy.

I’m saying people are fundamentally OK, and it’s just the system we find ourselves in that’s utterly fucked.

But don’t kid yourself: we’re completely fucked if we don’t realise just how fucked we are, and seize back our destiny from the lunatic fringe running the show.


#2

…Anything short of some sort of end-run around the existing hierarchy is futile; they crush us at every turn.

Fortunately, much of that hierarchy is based on something completely imaginary: money.

Furthermore, I’m inclined to think the question of whether a given individual is likely to turn out malignant or magnificent is mostly down to the predominate culture s/he finds themselves in. Lots of folks would call me an optimist for that.


#3

Tbh, I thought you were some sort of performance artist. You went from “we should listen to Bucky Fuller” to “we should overthrow our corporate oppressors” in the same day.

Allow me to make a couple of ham-fisted analogies.

Imagine playing checkers with a 500 lb gorilla who cheats. You can:

a. try to slap some sense into him
b. walk away

Nothing about option a is appealing. Even if you succeed you’ll be too worried about his cheating to enjoy the game. Besides, it’s checkers. Is that worth dying for?

It’s option b that’s the correct one. It’s also the one Bucky Fuller would propose. 'You win Mr. Gorilla. I’m gonna go build a fort with my non-cheating friends now. See ya."

The solution is in the problem. And here’s your optimism… It’s already happening.

America right now is like the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene. On one side you have people choosing to do more with less and on the other you have people having to do more with less. Eventually those two dogs are gonna kiss but there’s still quite a bit of noodle to get through.

What happens when consumers don’t consume?

Boingers don’t need to be woken up. Maybe some of us mistake comfortable for happy but this is a site that serves both sides of the spaghetti.

Sorry for calling you a misanthrope. I guess I was projecting based on your scattershot responses. I’m sure we’re on the same team.

And no slapping the gorilla, please.


#4

It’s the one demographic I’d hope would be amenable to organising some sort of escape plan from scumbag armageddon, but I don’t see too many takers : (


#5

You don’t want that. Movements become symbols and symbols are too easy to undermine. All that’s needed is a Kardashian to tweet she’s a card carrying member of your “movement” and it’s the pool scene from “Caddyshack”

Start with yourself. Figure out what’s important and get rid of the rest. Encourage friends and family to do the same. Celebrate creativity. Ignore consumerism. Slowly but surely…


#6

Too little, too late.

Without some kind of magic bullet to even the score we’re fucked. Pissing in the wind.

We need a way to help serious numbers of people take the red pill and jump ship - we need to build another boat; we can make the Nebuchadnezzar from some of the better bits of the Titanic.

But time’s running out - please let’s not piss about with deckchairs.

Some movements are borne of an idea too fundamentally opposed to the status quo to be diluted.


#7

I take it back. You’re not a pessimistic misanthrope. You’re an alarmist pessimistic misanthrope.

You storm the Bastille you’re gonna take us all down with you but, hey, may you live in interesting times, right?

The solution is already happening you impatient nutter.


#8

Hmm. I think Kimmo is right but, other than being the change that I want to see (even though even that can be subverted–my recyclables may just be bulk container-shipped off to be dumped in China for all I know,) I don’t see me being an agent for any sort of change. If any candidates put fighting TPP, mass surveillance, sustainable ecology, copyright reform and etc on their platform, I’d vote/volunteer for them, but none of them do. I’m hopeful that change will flow as a matter of course as pour_la_tete suggests, and I think he makes valid points, but I’m also fearful that he greatly underestimates the corruption we’re up against. Having the rights and education he has to enable him to formulate and express his ideas didn’t happen because humanity just sort of made choices and naturally flowed into an ideal, there was political and physical fighting to get us here. Even in so-called free societies, the state is always willing to support money over citizenship and constitutional or human rights. For example:


#9

Or to succeed in gaining allies, if it refuses to accept partial solutions along the way to the goal.

Revolution ain’t gonna happen. Perfection ain’t gonna happen. Look for an evolutionary path that leads in the right direction and is capable of recognizing and correcting its mistakes along the way.

And frankly, no, BoingBoing isn’t the community you’re looking for in any case. [*] It’s more diverse that you’re assuming, and the activist types are mostly already working on their own selected sub-issues; consensus and unification behind any single vision or set of priorities just ain’t gonna happen.

And y’know, that seems to be the mood of the times. The “occupy” surge worked as well as it did only because it DIDN’T insist that everyone agree on priorities, or even that everyone be pulling in the same direction; it started with the explicit assumption that consensus, if ever reached, would take a long time to emerge and that the immediately important thing was to get the communities talking to each other and simply staying out of each others’ way as much as possible…

[* “You don’t need to see our papers. These are not the gnurds you’re looking for. We can go about our business. Move along…”]


#10

I’m not convinced you’ve taken any steps to ensure you’re not just attacking a strawman. The click counter on the link up there labelled ‘proposed solution’ hasn’t begun to tick over yet.

So I’m pretty sure you’re just trotting out a generic response; certainly you have no specific criticisms of the idea, and what you are forking out by way of rebuttal misses the mark.

The only priorities I’m interested in getting everyone to agree on make for a pretty short list:

  • Freedom is good; corruption is bad, therefore authority should be minimised. We’re ready to crowdsource government.
  • Prejudice has no business trumping hard-won, empirical information. We seen quite enough of that, thanks.
  • Um, that’s about it. The rest pretty much flows from those two, particularly the latter.

The vast majority of stupid, wasteful, cruel, vicious, thoughtless bastardry is a direct result of the explosion of perverse incentives inherent to society operating on the basis of an extrinsic motivator, multiplied by the degree of complexity and opacity of the possible machinations, eg the financial services sector. The only way we’re going to turn all this around in time is to develop and switch to a system based on intrinsic motivations, and fucking ASAP.

It’s not that I’m particularly impatient (I suppose I am, but that’s irrelevant); it’s that there’s a handful or more of very, very fucking serious looming existential crises upon us (in case you haven’t noticed), which aren’t going to politely wait for us to blindly stumble across something approaching a quasi-optimal solution in a century or two. And even that seems like optimism when you consider just how severely the elite have been stripping investment from education, feeding us ever more idiotic drivel via the mass media, and basically promoting stupidity… in an age when we desperately need the services of every genius we can muster.

Someone has to take this delusional, addicted, co-dependent, sociopathic species by the scruff of the fucking neck and stop us drowning in our own shit, and it’s certainly not going to be the elite. Nor the man in the street, that’s for damn sure. So if not us, who?

You think maybe aliens might come save us?


#11

With the vast majority of the last few decades’ productivity gains basically invisible to us, we feel kind of divorced from the power of our current generation and it’s hard to imagine what we’re really capable of.

But consider this: surely there exists today software that rivals entire economies in complexity. Software that’s written, managed and debugged by a relatively small group of people, who arguably do a much better job than the even smaller group of people whose job it is to write and debug the code of society… let’s give a brief moment’s silence for all those learned research committee members’ recommendations as we try and wash away the oily taste of disingenous used-car-salesman conflict of interest with our soporific of choice.

…Maybe you can start to see my angle here. It should be apparent that I’m basically an optimist, but I’m too interested in the nature of reality to enjoy my ground state while alert.


#12

Are humans, on balance*, loathsome? Some may see it as a tough call, but then I for one have some respect for the other complex entities in the biosphere so I’d say this one doesn’t too good for us.

And which way is the wind blowing? Does finding ourselves sustainably flourishing involve bucking a trend or two, or somehow - not?

* You can take credit for the joy we bring ourselves, which can be deep and complex, but there’s an awful lot of destruction and misery on the other side of the scale… and don’t consider an average individual, and say ‘s/he’s alright; we’re alright’ - that’s bogus. What counts is our collective behaviour.


#13

Again with the fear. What are you so afraid of?

If the global trend is interdependence through centralized control then just do the opposite.

And people don’t suck. Our education of people sucks.


#14

I’m afraid of impending harm of possibly great scope to our civilisation and biosphere. Aren’t you? Like, haven’t you noticed it escalating already, FFS?

And people don’t suck. Our education of people sucks.

Um, that was one of my points* attempting to rebut your dogged assertion of my misanthropy.

Geez, can we please get on the same page here, or are you just trolling me?

Either I’m misanthropic and people are on balance not loathsome, or my appraisal is accurate.

Choose one, and attempt to justify if you may.

* Except that if you educate people to be arseholes, you can be pretty successful.

[quote]If the global trend is interdependence through centralized control then just do the opposite.
[/quote]

But I don’t think you’re being serious… this is just trite. Thanks for the news flash.

I suppose we’re going to manage this decentralised independence ad hoc in the face of ever tighter lockdown?

Face it - we’re in deep shit and people need their hands held.

The intellectual class is radicalising, and we need an agenda.


#15

There is no consensus on your general conclusion that authority is a problem or that crowdsourcing govenrment is possible or desirable. (In particular, there is no consensus here on BoingBoing. It sounds like you’re looking for a libertarian community; ours tends to straddle the lines were libertarians and liberals find some common ground, but those two mindsets disagree on as much as they agree upon.)

There may or may not be consensus on very specific cases thereof. If you actually want to achieve something, I strongly suggest you go after those first and work your way outward from there.

In other words, I stand by my statement. I know it isn’t what you want to hear. Sorry, but that’s how I see it.

Song cue: Revolution, The Beatles.


#16

Type “DIY” or “Artisan” or “Handmade” or “Hack” or “Local” into the Boing Boing search and go nuts.


#17

As I said, BB’s generally more interested in evolution than revolution. (Remember the slogan? “Happy mutants.”) Hence my suggestions that Kimmo either adapt to that or find a community elsewhere that’s a better fit to his ideas of what’s wrong and how to fix it.

(I’m presuming Kimmo is male, from writing style. Apologies if I’m wrong.)

FWIW: People, on balance, are NOT loathsome. Specific individuals or institutions may be, but there are relatively few which rise (or fall) to that level. If you disagree with this statement, then yeah, “misanthropic” is an appropriate summary.


#18

Like anything, it depends on your assessment criteria. Me, I happen to think wanton cruelty and pointless destruction on an industrial scale isn’t so easily dismissed.

And if you click on my name you can see I’m an anarcho-socialist, not a libertarian. Crucial difference - respect for collective needs and endeavours.

But yeah, it certainly does seem apparent my words are falling on deaf ears…


Newly minted Nobel laureates speak out against excesses of scientific publishing
#19

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