Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Argument

This blog is focussed on the task of challenging and critiquing those writers who choose to predict and announce disaster, as well as on and their writings. The primary argument I present against these writings is that they aim to promote change by raising fear, and fear is the least motivating of all our emotions, the least useful as a source of empowerment. Most people stay frozen by their fears, most of their lives. It is not fear that drives us forward, it is desire, and need, and action, and identity, it can be greed, and love, and anger, but almost never, fear!

A second argument against doomsaying is that it is usually an argument that predicts chaos and announced the need to re-establish order. And with order comes orthodoxy, and doctrine, and ways of coralling people to "behave". The doomsayer argument is an argument for increasing control, it is an argument that predicts the ills when control is lost and argues in favor of a re-establishment of control. But the world is not structured in terms of control, but rather in terms of complex interlocking and interacting systems. Any attempt to take control of this structure is not only doomed to failure, it will become the source of the failure of the system as a whole, it is how we have gotten into trouble with the planet in the first place.

However, the systems that make up the world are larger than are the systems that can be controlled, and eventually, compensatory mechanisms come into play, bringing the global system back to a level of functionality. These checks and balances are, ultimately, what prevents the doomsayers from being right. Not that the world and its life forms cannot suffer enormously from unwise activities on the part of humans, but rather that it will eventually find new grounds for re-establishing some form of harmony.

The same can be said of individual human beings - we are larger than our control systems (those under conscious control are, fortunately, only a tiny fraction of the whole system), and we have checks and balances in our own makeup that prevent, most of the time, our own self destruction. And it can be said of human societies. All this does not suggest that disaster is not possible, only that a viewpoint that sees disaster as the result of lack of control is of low utility.

If one understands the way a system operates, especially a very large one that operates at least in part outside of any control networks that can be put into place, one does not seek to change the operation of the system by promoting a doomsday message... instead, one seeks to become cognizant of the different and contradictory parts of the system and their interaction, and one uses this knowledge to change elements of one self and one's interaction with the world, for all changes propagate from such individual actions (see my blog on orthodoxy and paradoxy).

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