Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The Internet is to blame. We have forgotten how to socialise with real people. Our concentration spans are being destroyed. It used to be the cinema. Or the telly. Or anything new. But whatever it is, we're doomed.

A few years ago Kirkpatrick Sale wrote, presumably on a computer, that: "computers are steering the world toward social inequity and disintegration." John Michell has added, "To institutionalize the dark ages by giving authority to the metric system would be an act of folly inconceivable in any other age but our own." Yes, you read that right. The metric system. Apparently imperial measures are "sacred measures" that unify the "macrocosmic body of the universe and the human microcosm." A few more kilometres down the long road to hell.

Modern medicine is killing us. We need 'natural' remedies. Big pharma is enslaving and poisoning us. The obesity epidemic means that we're all going to die! (This is, of course, technically true, the big question is when).

Our populations are ageing, we are all living longer (er, what was that about big pharma and obesity again?), we have a pensions crisis, there are too many people in the world! Ah, Thomas Malthus, you have never been forgotten.

Life is suffused with arbitrary tragedies, but in general we are living longer and healthier lives. Yet, some misanthropists see this as unmitigated bad news. Industrialisation has brought real environmental dangers, but also the means to understand their mechanisms and to take action to mitigate them. (Though it has also produced lobbyists determined to stop us; life is never simple). And yes, population growth does have profound environmental consequences. So, how do we limit the pressures of population? Well, if this report is anything to go by, by living longer, more prosperous lives. And watching telly. And not only because it restricts the amount of time available for sex.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the transition to a low fertility regime, deemed necessary by almost all environmentalists, requires substantial modernization, particularly in the socio-cultural realm. Television depresses fertility because many of its offerings provide a model of middle class families successfully grappling with the transition from tradition to modernity, helped by the fact that they have few children to support. 
It appears that modernity offers the solution to the problems of modernity. We may not be doomed after all – unless the lobbyists win that is.

Hat tip - Paulie

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