Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Antiquated mindset...

The title of this post is a bit ironic and I think you'll see why.

William Lloyd Garrison - White man extraordinaire
In 1832, a man named William Lloyd Garrsion wrote an article about slavery called "On the Constitution and the Union." I'll preface this post by saying I certainly would not have been exposed to this article without a required Political Science class but I'm glad that I have.

Garrison believed that, since slavery remains in place under documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, that the documents must be a problem. He saw major faults with the system in place and wanted it dismantled. He was a true abolishionist and he said this:

Be assured that slavery will very speedily destroy this Union, if it be let alone; but even if the Union can be preserved by treading upon the necks, spilling the blood, and destroying thesouls of millions of your race, we say it is not worth a price like this, and that it is in the highest degree criminal for you to continue the present compact. Let the pillars thereof fall - let the superstructure crumble into dust - if it must be upheld by robbery and oppression

Slavery was an antiquated mindset, even in 1832. Many, many people believed it should be completely abandoned while many others practiced cognitive dissonance by keeping human beings in bondage for their own profit and benefit, despite the obvious despicability.

Wanton overconsumption of natural resources and production of waste is, like slavery was and is, an antiquated mindset. It started during a time in our country's history when trees and water and space seemed positively infinite. The industry in the East combined with the expansion to the West combined to create a crescendo of environmental damage and resource hogging. We look back at the living conditions of the cities with disbelief, wondering how some could live in such utter dispair while others were experiencing wealth at an incredible level. Becoming a wasteful, careless citizen was something to look up to, something to work towards.

Come back to present time and you can see the industrial revolution everywhere you look. For one, the current wealth gap is very similar for the first time since that time (I'm sorry I don't have references on-hand [which is a funny thing to say in 2007 while you're typing on a computer hooked up to the internet - I kinda just told you I'm sure it's true because I read it but I simply don't have the interest to find it for you]). For another, production and efficiency is still a science, just like it was to Carnegie and Rockefeller.

Make stuff, sell it, ship it all over the place, make it cheaper somewhere else, find the absolute best production curve at all costs, legislate destruction, ignore nature, f*ck the other guy. The capitalism that made our country "great" is causing massive damage to everything besides the system itself. People are bent on consumables, durables, and disposables. Celebrities live their life showered in publicity while a war quietly grinds on in another country.

I might sound all over the map but this all relates. This isn't a blue thing or a red thing or an American thing or a Chinese thing, it's a fundamental breakdown in our own humanity and sense of community. People are ignoring their amazing frontal cortex and its ability to determine where actions lead. Destroying forests, wasting precious fresh water resources, decimating native plant and animal species, and ignoring alternative energy sources and irrational energy sinks is, plain and simple, sh*tting where you live - in the BEST case!

The system is the problem and the system must change. It will be slow but it won't be painful; human beings are amazing adapting machines. Even if we all ended up farming and irrigating in 1,000 years, we'll have the same chance at happiness and the same risk of sorrow.


... I mean, you know, if its required. Slavery was abolished without the need for a match and a new pad of paper.


Anonymous said...

i am so so with you on that- on how acceptable it is to be wasteful (i live in Bellevue, after all), the lack of community, etc etc. but how exactly are we to replace or tweak capitalism? so many people are unsatisfied, with our governemt, with our own personal lives. it's pretty clear an overhaul is in order. but where to begin?


Anonymous said...

btw i'm so glad you linked to inhabitat.com a while ago. that site is the coolest! (well, maybe the second coolest anyway)

Josh C said...

I offer no solution or alternative to capitalism... that's so far beyond my scope it makes me dizzy even thinking about it! I will say this:

Capitalism is a sociological system made possible mostly by the existence of human beings - the same can be said for big corporations. Sometimes we forget that, without people contributing, these systems would simply not exist. When we forget the influence that we have over these systems, we fall into a lazy mindset of following the tail in front of us and committing ourselves, wordlessly, to the status quo.

How do the pillars fall? How does the system change? People stop being so unabashedly concerned solely with themselves and start lifting a finger to help the community. A people without a cohesive, productive community is not only a bad thing but it's a dangerous thing.

...idle hands...