Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Cost of Inequality: Davis 2019

This is a great video of some excellent speakers to listen to while you make dinner or, maybe, do your taxes. In a nutshell, governments need to stop taking out social programs since they cost so little of the GDP anyway, and they need to make sure the wealthy pay their taxes in full or maybe even raise their taxes, and we all need to get everyone involved to create a more loving and just world.

Rutger Bregman references William James's essay, "The Moral Equivalence of War" in a slightly different context from James in that Bregman thinks we need a war, for our survival, against climate change.

James establishes that wars continue as a necessary means to bring forth valour. But, he clarified, "War is not the only stimulus known for awakening the higher ranges of men's spiritual energy." He proposes that the youth of the day (back in 1906) be trained to be strong and vital by being sent, not to wars, but to build infrastructure and factories, to fight a war against Nature itself. His essay doesn't hold up today in the specific way he hopes to establish peace worldwide, but the idea behind it is still viable. One flaw, even at the time, is that if we train the youth in compulsory hard work, they're missing the potential benefit war brings to a few of the youth: coming back home a hero.

So, instead of proposing a war against Nature, I propose something along the lines of what Bregman is getting at, but a little more concrete: a war against tragedies. Train them in the work of enriching lives and saving people from disease and suffering by clearing areas destroyed by hurricanes and floods, by rebuilding homes and schools in safer areas complete with solar panels and rain collection systems, and by helping people transport their lives as necessary. Instead of a war against nature, it can be a war against soil erosion, deforestation, and plastic bits everywhere. Now we need to fight in defense of nature.


The Mound of Sound said...

Marie, have we not been at war "against nature itself" for the past four decades? Have we not worked to subjugate nature to our wants, to grow our global civilization far beyond its finite limits, to treat it as inconsequential to our policy, our planning and our progress? Are we not just now realizing that, what we imagined were great victories proving our ultimate prowess, even our goodness, were in fact devastating failures?

Earth is a biosphere, a spaceship hurtling through a solar system that is itself hurtling through a galaxy that is likewise hurtling through the universe. But now, through conjuring tricks, sleight of hand, we have grown too rapacious, too numerous to exist sustainably within this spaceship Earth. Many, perhaps most, of us now exist in an ecological state of life support - ever greater quantities of soil exhausting fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides; deforestation and desertification; the rapid collapsing of global fisheries; the emptying of vital aquifers, the growing contamination of our surface water, our lakes and rivers; and, of course, the degradation of our atmosphere whether it's life-threatening concentrations of fine particulate matter pollution in our urban centres or the steadily worsening contamination of our stratosphere.

We're like a shuttle crew where half the team must survive outside in space suits. We need to get everyone back inside but something, a lot of somethings, will have to go to make room.

Marie Snyder said...

Yes, we have definitely been at war with nature. We followed James's advice back then. And now we need a war to defend nature - from us. George Monbiot also talks about our next steps in the context of war. He says it's only within the context of a war that we'll be willing to make our own victory gardens or be resourceful and willing to do with less. I'd like to believe we can do without the analogy and just be a more forward-thinking and compassionate lot, but I'm seeing too much evidence that it's not possible without arousing that us or them response. Except now it's us or us.