In this system, the people have no real choice at all. George Carlin correctly pointed out that there is a carefully crafted illusion of choice, but there is no genuine choice in much of anything available to anyone.
In civilized societies, humans are weaned from the breast much earlier than in evolutionary societies. This is not trivial.
Once a political boundary is established, people on both sides of the line tend to go a little nuts.
Essentially, civilization is a gigantic swindle.
Health and (non-monetary) success come about when there is diversity. Diversity in and of cultures and ecosystems: diversity of flora and fauna, diversity in the ways these are connected; diversity of viable memes, diversity of artistic output, preservation of the languages, arts, and ways of all cultures, not just the dominant ones. Diversity in and of thought. Diversity in ways to live. Some of these categories I have mentioned may seem strange, especially, perhaps, when I suggest that there can and ought to be more than one way to live -- i.e., not just this one. The moral is that diversity is one of the few things on Earth that can wisely be treated as sacred, and I feel the need to point to it because we are destroying every last vestige of it in our quest for total domination of everyone and everything. The world is quickly becoming a monoculture. Certainly in the United States, across Europe, in China, and soon everywhere we will have KFC and Starbucks on every street corner, and there is no word to describe how crass, evil, and horrifying this is. Diversity is the key, at almost every single level of the biosphere, to the sound and harmonious operation of the constituent parts in an elegant whole. Our civilization was bred to slaughter that diversity, and it is doing it -- and it is, in relative terms, almost done.
One could move Heaven and Earth and not pull humanity out of the hole it is in. Civilization is what one might call inert.
Humanity is a chimpanzee species. In order to have been successful (which we haven't been), we would have needed to be a bonobo species.
The only phenomenon one can control is oneself, and even there the picture is quite muddy. Notions of 'saving the world' are only hubris, and will come to very little.
Chomsky defines class as: "Who gives the orders, and who follows them?"
One thing we surely have a lot of in America is rich assholes who are morally bankrupt and don't have anything constructive to offer the world except their money. And these, apparently, are the public's role models.
On issues that do not affect the pocketbooks of the "masters of mankind," the system can function as a democracy -- when it will. On issues that do impact the pocketbooks of the oligarchs, it cannot and does not function as a democracy, and the majority of politicians tend to fall into lockstep. What this means, among other things, is that policy and popular opinion often diverge radically. And that no one can do anything about it, most of the time.
I reckon that if a government (with the obvious candidates being the U.S. and China) ever established a permanent base on the moon, it would militarize very quickly. I don't believe either power would keep nukes out of the equation, either stockpiled on the moon or aimed there at an adversary. Being on the moon would be a strategic bonanza for any nation. So it's hard to imagine the enterprise being a peaceful mission for all mankind. So much for all that.
Given that there is a natural order of rank, would it not make sense to acknowledge and assert it? Instead of having chaos?
The safety to be found in modern civilization is one of its best features.
If anarchy were ever established, all that would happen is that certain parties would take the available power and abuse it.
The global population was too large at a billion. Now we're at almost eight, and on the way to about ten billion by 2050. It's a dramatically unhealthy number of humans, and one can see that we're wiping out and displacing the animal kingdom rapidly. We are in the midst of a great extinction, and humans are the cause. We have more than three billion people (almost half the world's population) below the poverty line, and the eight richest people on Earth have more combined money and control more resources than the 3.6 billion poorest. One can argue that it's a matter of availability of resources, and that we can support this many people at a reasonable standard of living. My question is: when?! How much longer will it take to get over three billion people to a reasonable standard of living? And we can't expect this standard of living to be as high for everyone as it is in the West. Statistically, if everyone on Earth were to live at an American standard of living, 4.1 Earths would be required at maximum efficiency to support that level of consumption. So -- when exactly are the resources going to be available? Very many of our problems stem from the burgeoning population. Virtually all of our environmental problems do. It's not deleterious for some people to live the way Westerners do. It is totally deleterious for everyone to live that way. So, do we work to reduce the population, or do we settle for an extremely sparse standard of living for ten billion people, and say fuck the environment? I also advocate limiting the number of offspring, and I would say one child (or none) would be optimal, and that there should be some incentive for people not to have children at all. We need to get serious. Way too many humans.
In the end, it is probably various extremes which do empires in. Inequality of wealth and power; overreach domestically and abroad (including militarily); debt; decadence; decay; stupidity, etc., etc. and the concomitance of and reinforcement between factors. Certainly, a process so complex must remain somewhat mysterious, but it seems constructive to point out the factors and manifestations we know about.
If guilt were to be assigned, then everyone would be guilty, not just those at the top.
Sometimes revolution is necessary, as the founders and especially Jefferson believed. However, history seems to show us that what replaces the toppled regime is very often worse than that which got toppled. The Middle East over the last twenty years proves that point. Generally speaking, it seems to me that today's revolutionary is tomorrow's despot nine times in ten.
In a capitalist society, people figure that the smartest people must also be the richest. It is important to realize that this is not the case.
What's most sociologically distressing is that so many who are at the top shouldn't be there, while so many with no access to it at all should. This is a repeating historical phenomenon. It takes a particular type of person to "make it," and this is not a pleasant truth. Most societies, despite their claims, are not true meritocracies.
Civilizations turn to decadence and decay, and more often than not fall by the wayside, when the very factors which made them fresh, dynamic and invigorating evolve and transform into a reversing trend. Liberal democracy and capitalism worked extremely well for us in the beginning and for some time after, and now the very same institutions we started out with are causing a blockage to the flow of dynamism that is leading to a rotting of the sociocultural fabric, and real dysfunction. It is a vicious, and seemingly unavoidable, cycle.
I think "unnatural" is the wrong word to describe how Berman feels about Sacred Authority and its attendant structures. Berman accepts that civilization exists, he merely posits that it is not evolutionary. It's artificial, in essence. And perhaps in large part because of this, it is not really working well as a means to provide a decent living for most of the world's people. At least not without undue hardship. Berman fully accepts verticality as a reality, and argues that our job is not to dismantle civilization, but to find a way to make it work.
The human species, by and large, seems only able to plan effectively over the short term. Given that we currently face numerous long term threats, this is a serious problem. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why civilizations have a tendency to get top-heavy and collapse. In any case, the inability of humanity to strategize effectively about long-term solutions is itself a threat to our existence over the long term. We seem unable to cope effectively with the complexity we have created; we know how to get into trouble, but aren't very good at getting out.
When it comes to the topic of the conquest of the continent, many point out, to those who sympathize with the natives, that they were bloodthirsty, devilish and brutal. This is certainly true. Thing is, it was their land.
What we are witnessing now in America is the death throes of a civilization. Whether we will suffer cataclysm or be transformed, we will just have to wait and see.
Some people feel that a high standard of living equates to a high quality of living -- happiness -- and that the human condition is the best it's ever been, through technology. I don't see that as an accurate picture, but call me cynical. After all, what about the more than three billion people (almost half the global population) who live on less than $2.50 per day? I think it's clear that we still don't have our shit together as a species (on multiple levels), when you look at the whole species, or even when you take a random sampling of any part of it.
Some people think the solution to the dysfunction of terrestrial affairs is to make the leap into space. I frankly would regard that as a pollution of space.
Space migration = same shit, different planet.
If one measures our "progress" by how happy and spiritually healthy we are, we're doing pitifully poorly. Most people aren't even aware of their predicament. It's awful.
Caste systems may seem like a pretty good idea. Unfortunately, we see that historically they have never actually worked as intended, and generally turn out time after time only to be oppressive. I'm afraid the attempts to organize society in a sensible way usually fail, especially in the long run.
There are no living humans who are not enslaved in one way or another.
Is the genocide of the Western hemisphere justified by our i-phones?