Reason and Order: Modern Environmentalism.

Reason and Order: Modern Environmentalism.

Postby Cannonshop on Mon Sep 09, 2002 7:27 pm

This is a rant. Figuring- Rightly, that nobody really reads this Forum, I'm going to use it to sort my thoughts. The best ones will end up in the "Rant" section at some point. Now to our topic: what is the Purpose of Technology, and how does this differ from a mystical view of the world?

Since our ancestors decided to stop hiding in the trees throwing feces at one another, Human beings have wanted to have some kind of explanation, some Order to the universe, some way of explaining, and/or influencing their environment. Early humans began with the assumption that the rest of the world was as much sentient as themselves-not a bad assumption, when you consider the level of understanding that had to prevail in that environment, after all, how much smarter is a monkey than the tiger that eats him? This assumption of sentience, of a direct will on the part of the universe, is the foundation of the Mystical view of existence. Mysticism is founded on the idea that everything around you has a will, or, spirit, that can be appeased, angered, or, seduced. Believe it or not, Mysticism is alive and well and probably living inside you right now- ask an Atheist why he curses his computer, yells at his car when it breaks down, or snarls at his tools when they don't function as advertised. Human beings want to believe in, if not a greater power, then, an outside power, an imaginary friend, if you will, that they can blame and/or praise. Now, as thinking animals, with relatively poor senses, thin skins, slow growth rates, and big brains, Humans had to find some way to eat, defend themselves, stay warm (or cool), and keep the rain off. Mystical rituals generally don't work for the majority of human beings (in spite of what some practicioners of certain religions tell us, Nature has no respect for human beings, and, never has had any, likely, it never will, either. We're on our own, just like all the other animals.) so, some clever folks figured out a few, basic, things: you can use a rock to club an animal (or, bothersome neighbor) over the head, which can either kill, or, at least, stun so you can kill, your quarry- a lot easier than waiting for a grass fire to sweep by at forty MPH, or, waiting for some other predator to bring it down for you. (imagine the old Tee-shirt showing the two buzzards, the one saying to the other, "Fuck this waiting shit, I'm gonna go kill something", that was probably your ancestors idea. Humans without weapons aren't real good for bringing down prey...) So, Humans figured out how to take control (at least partial control) of their environment- to take away for themselves the powers of the "Spirits", by killing their own prey. The Mystical practicioners soon figured out a way to cut in on this action- by "appeasing" the spirits of the prey, they claimed the ability to ensure good hunting. (Good hunting is a skill- doesn't take any special rituals, just good sense and a strong knowledge of your prey and conditions...) the Mystics still had the edge, then, because they had begun understanding something basic about a real force-of-nature: FIRE. Probably, the first time a Hunter carefully watched the village wise-ass handling the fire, this broke their monopoly. But, Mysticism has an advantage over reason: It's easier to believe in some sentient force that cares for/hates you than it is to believe that something is just a reaction, that your own skill or ignorance is really the important factor... and the stupidity of human beings in large groups is well-documented. So, for hundereds of thousands of years, the Mystics changed their tactics, and, the Reasoning men had to change theirs as well- it's decidedly unhealthy to go loggerheads against the pack shaman when he can count on your buddies to skewer you for heresy. this is important to remember, since it comes back 'round later...

What is the role of Technology? Technology is giving the tools of power to the common man- Joe average can start his car, drive 60 miles in two hours (in Western Washington Traffic), go to his job at the sawmill, where he chops up the pressed, glued-together remains of shredded tree, forming said remains into I-Beams, which are then used to build houses, so that he can have shelter, this activity generates another tool: Money. Money is a tool, it serves as a "Placeholder" of value, a representation of work done for the benefit (one hopes) of the Tribe (civilization) as a whole. Money, unlike bushels of barley, is portable, handy, and, comes in numbered (another tool of technology) denominations of value. This enables said man to 1) Improve his chances of mating successfully (or, depending on his, ehm, "orientation", just get laid...), i2)It aids him in getting actual food items (Shipped via another form of technology-transport, with refrigeration), so that he can fill his belly and not die of starvation in lean times, 3) it keeps a roof (sometimes made from his own efforts, sometimes those of another, who was also paid for his effort), over his head, in short, the advantages of a life built on sweat and effort, guided by reason. The man himself does not have to be anything special in the brains department, he doesn't have to be born with a special mark, or, be of a certain birth order- he merely has to work for it. Technology makes the Common man able to live his life in as much ignorance as he might wish, or, with as much enlightenment as he might be able to handle. Technology powers every aspect of the modern, advanced, western-humanitarian, civilization. We can afford to care, because when the chips are down, we rely on our thinking men, instead of our holy men, to solve our problems. That is the gift of Technological Order.

Mysticism. You would think, in a civilization that relies on Technological Order, that Mysticism would be a waning force. There's an unfortunate side effect to our relative comfort- comfort given by our use of machines and reason. Unreason spreads in comfort. Just as there were Priests who sought to maintain a monopoly of power in the past- through the use of fear and scare tactics, mad appeals to unreason and hidden fears of spiritual and ephemeral presences, so to, in our technological society, there are those who seek a path that would blend unreason into our lives, not for any great benefit to the Tribe of Civilization, but, merely to create their own fame and power. Some of them are obvious about it, and, to an extent, at least honest about what they are doing, if not why. Then, there is the Cult of Psuedo-Science. Psuedo-Science does not seek to win the argument through reason and evidence, but, rather, to baffle the masses with bullshit that sounds good. Example: in the 1950's, some "Climatologists" were claiming that the world would plunge into an Ice-age if Industrial manufacturing was not scaled down. I'm serious, you can find it pretty easily- look up old issues of Popular science from that time-period through the 1970's. Guess what? It didn't happen. Remember Y2K was going to terminate electronic commerce, and plunge the world into a dark age? Hmm... nope. didn't happen. Now, we have "Global Warming". The problem with debunking Psuedo-Science on this level, is that it has an amazing number of vested interests attatched at many levels within our Civilization. The other big problem, is that it relies on ignoring results that don't support the Hypothesis. Example: The Pinatoubo explosion in the Phillipines released more CFC's than the entire industrial revolution to then-present (1987), it did so in less than 10 minutes. We still have an Ozone layer, and the "Expanding Hole" hasn't swallowed the sky yet. (it was due to do so, according to the loudest predictions, by 2002...) similarly, Global Warming alarmists seem to be completely oblivious to a couple of publicly stated facts that,so far, have been true for a while now- The sun is G2 Variable star. "Variable" refers to intensity of activity. You know why your radio's fuzzy? the Sun's been running hot for quite a while now- hotter than it has for decades beforehand. We're also getting more geological activity than we have in quite a while... gee. The widely circulated "Global Warming" theories don't even look at the two biggest factors in our environment- the sun, which provides both the luminant heat, and, gravitational kneading of the core, is in a very active cycle right now... and, we've been having more volcanoes than previously recorded. But, somehow, industrialized, technological man is to blame for a two-degree shift to the positive in our climate... (this is the core hypothesis of most Mystics- that somehow, man has sinned and is being punished for it. Hogwash.) The most insidious of Modern Mystics aren't the "Freaks" at Dennys at 2 A.M., with their Pentacles, nose-rings, and, Playing-at-Nature-Religions, it's the ones that wear a tie, or a nice, tweed jacket, who publish manifestoes in the form of scientific papers in prominent Journals, who hold chairs at our universities, and, advise airheaded "Television charismatic" congresspeople. It's the so-Called "Scientist" on CNN, who uses jargon and hyperbole as a substitute for actual observations, claiming that the antarctic ice-cap is going to melt and flood the earth. (It won't, if you melted both ice-caps, you'd end up flooding lowland plains areas like Washington D.C. and New York City- to a depth of maybe, 200 feet, a catastrophe, but, survivable- nothing's really made there anyway...) Herr Goebbels said that if you tell a lie often, and, loudly, enough, the public will believe it over the truth. He was right. It helps, of course, if there is no counter-criticism, if people of reason and sense don't examine each supposed "Fact" that is handed to them, and ask what the motives behind it may be. The environmental movement of the late 1960's had a point, the Ohio River caught fire, you know. Nobody wants to go back to that.
But, it's gone from being about controlling pollution, to being about controlling People. It's gone from the realm of Reason, to the realm of Mysticism. As with the Mystical Preisthoods of old, questioning the modern Shamans of Environmentalism is tantamount to Heresy, with attendant shunnings and the academic equivalent of witchburnings.

What's this got to do with LGW?
Well, In the comic, I'm basically facing off the forces for Reason and Order against the forces of Unreason. My heroes want to live their lives, such as they are, yet, they cannot, because, in the LGW universe, the Mystics were right. Or, at least, they are on top, which is why Humanity is getting its ass kicked.
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