Category Archives: How the world cooks itself

Let’s hope it gets better

There is something about the “new year” that I am constantly at odds with.

You see we get the media message, like “what are your new year’s resolutions” or whatever and how these hopes somehow conveniently wash away any doubts that last year we didn’t actually manage to tick off one of the previous resolutions but what the hell we might do it this year…

Actually there isn’t anything wrong with that idea since our eyes are always looking forward, if we want to see where we’ve been we need to stop and turn around and boom, there goes our forward momentum. Onward, upward hip hip hooray.

So I’m not surprised that my fifteen year old doesn’t want to watch this historical documentary but what can we do? I mean getting fooled once is bad enough but getting fooled repeatedly, that seems to be a recipe for something else. Maybe it’s cynical but really it seems that we don’t really want the right thing or the best, we just don’t want to have to think about it.

That’s why hope is so important in managing the human condition. Hope is the close sibling of anything’s possible, you too can be one of the 1% if you work hard and get lucky. Maybe, after all it is not IMpossible.

But why then do the really rich corporations in the world spend so much time measuring and counting and calculating? They are protecting their profits and they don’t do that by “hoping” things will get better or maybe some vague new year’s resolutions. They do it by focussing on facts, like how much does it cost to fight a war and how can they make a profit from it?

We used to think the cigarette companies were the bad guys, but really they are just the apprentices. I saw a figure of $4 trillion mentioned for the Iraq war which seems ludicrous but let’s just ask what did we get for that tidy little sum.

Oh look just yesterday January 1, New Years Day. 66 killed adding to 206,000 civilian deaths.

Or perhaps, there’s the Lancet study which puts the figure at over 500,000 or another estimate at over a million. We will never know.

What we do know is Iraq has a lot of oil and Haliburton is perhaps the biggest oil company in the world. And the connections between the Bush family and Haliburton are too much to even think about. It seems astonishing that Obama didn’t string the lot of them up, but I guess he wasn’t really change, just more of the same hope.

I think we seriously need to stop mainlining the hope junk and start using the intelligence we have been gifted with to count and to calculate, to measure and decide based on the facts. Companies do it to make money, we could give it a try too. But we will probably stick our heads in the sand and hope the tide doesn’t come in.

iraq war

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Anti-Politics fails to define

A popular term these days is anti-politics. Ask left wing blogger and psychiatrist Dr Tad who, along with the mega personality Russell Brand seem to profess some special insight into what this term is all about. It’s supposed to be an expression that conveys the sense of public disaffection with politics or the professional political class, our political institutions and so on. But is our retreat from politics ultimately self defeating? It seems more likely that a massive public disengagement from the “political system” leaves a vacuum which will attract charismatic personalities perhaps reminiscent of Plato’s five regimes where tyranny is the offspring of democracy.

For argument’s sake, I’m inclined to agree certain mainstream political institutions seem to be problematic and people may well be tempted to say the political system has failed but such superficialities only beg greater questions such as what is the political system or even more deep, what is politics?

One big problem with representative politics such democracy is the failure of our representatives to actually represent us. Too often they seem to only represent the views of the vocal or most numerous. We see an almost endless procession of “professional” politicians who gifted with the latest political theories and populist charm can attach themselves to one of two dominant political machines and be “elected” as our representatives. But how does one individual represent the diverse views and wishes of fifty or one hundred thousand voters? And on what subjects? The notion clearly rests on some sort of idea that we collectively have certain common concerns, but the what if these concerns don’t easily fit into the theoretical framework or mindset of our elected representatives? Simply put, they are too easily ignored. At best, representative politics represents a tiny fraction of our personal preferences and is far from representative of us as whole. Just look at how the sex ratio of our elected politicians for starters.

Representative democracies are one example but there are others where people are supposed to represent the views of a large number, trade unions for example. Success seems to come not because a particular point of view they are supposed to represent is overwhelmingly dominant within a certain community but rather they posses a certain charismatic charm or are perhaps “well connected”. The machine or process looks after itself by ensuring the winning candidates are products of a professional class of political agents something that seems to ensure a natural conservatism in the product of such a process. Ultimately the process itself seems to be more important than the ideal of representing various and diverse points of view. Little wonder our houses of representative debate degenerate into personal attacks and political stunts rather than places where ideas are debated and our future options are examined.

There are plenty of other representative systems that seem faulty but the problem with the anti-politics idea is it solves nothing, it isn’t a remedy or even a description of a problem. It seems to be akin to a bunch of people all gathered around a house fire watching it burn down and criticising the lack of a fire brigade, which doesn’t exist because they can’t agree on how it’s organised.

The critical problem with our political system is it is failing when we need it most. What we need are ways to help most of us deal with the problems heading our way, but for some these problems are a threat to a comfortable middle class existence. Climate change is one challenge we will need to deal with but I suspect a far greater challenge is how we will respond to the rise in machine workers. A chaotically warming world is one problem but a growing army of unemployed poor is something else entirely. Historically speaking, the failure of institutional politics suggests that our our peaceful options for solving or avoiding the ramifications of both of these challenges are virtually non-existent. We are left just hoping things work out or praying for a messiah.

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White Male Republicans take back what is rightfully theirs

So US midterm election results have given the Republicans the senate but I could not help but notice in the two fotos appearing in the age a certain commonality. The pointed raised finger it isn’t, nor the red ties. Rather I was rather taken by the fact that in both pictures you have a confident middle aged white male flanked by a gaggle of mostly young white women.

White Man #1White Man #2
This is traditional hetro family values written large but also quite obviously, white family values. The story says something about Obama’s lack of popularity but I’m getting the impression this result is a taste of the barely contained racial divide that seems to be such a feature of US politics.

And it’s worth noting, the Keystone XL pipeline is big on the Republican agenda.

Republicans capture control of Senate in US midterm elections.

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Two steps backward

Today Australia has a new government policy on carbon reduction, Direct Action.

You might think that’s a good thing, Direct Action is after all what is required to meet the greatest challenge we humans face in the foreseable future but before you get to excited the Direct Action policy legislated last night is anything but direct or action. Like most names politicians give things, it sounds good but is undoubtably far removed what you might think is meant by the terms “direct” and “action”.

The idea is this, funds will be set aside to pay individuals, groups or companies that can come with ways to reduce or capture carbon emmissions. Planting lots of trees for example, improving carbon capture by the soil, paying inefficient coal stations to modernise and presumably continue operating for another 25 years, the list of possibilities is almost endless. The government will kick in $3 billion over a few years to make this possible and expects to get a 5% reduction in carbon emmissions for the money. Paying polluters not to pollute or farmers to plant trees, yay!

Now depending on how worried you might be about global warming, this might seem quite reasonable and prudent or alternatively it might sound a little bit sus or even outrageously inadequate. Australia used to have a price on carbon, it’s now gone, presumably because it was bad for business. Now we have another plan which is presumably good for business because it removes a tax on their bottom line. Good for the planet, who cares? Let us not forget, Coal is Good for humanity.

Maybe the government listened to the scientists, oh I forgot this government doesn’t think we need a department for science. Maybe they don’t really believe the science anyway and there’s plenty of proof that denial lives large in parts of the Liberal National Party government.

Even one of their senior ministers once described Direct Action as a fig leaf. Pretty big fig leaf, one that hides the awful truth that this country is firmly in the pocket of the coal industry whose continued existence and growth is the very thing we should be working against. For our own sakes, because after the storms rage and the ice caps melt there will still be a planet but there might not be any humans.

Direct action would be to close the coal mines and the coal fired power stations, put in place a 100% commitment to renewable energy over the next decade and commit this country to getting off its lazy arse and doing something positive. I’m sure it would upset a few people like Gina and Clive but them’s the breaks folks, a few losers and lots of winners. I think most people understand that.

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Tipping points and chaos

Two thoughts, actually three but that might be too many, so let’s call it two and a premise. The premise is humans are social creatures. The thoughts are what are the conditions that favour human life and lead to prosperity?

But first a tiny bit of history. Briefly, think about the last couple of thousand years, basically the only time on this planet when there is a record of human society as a civilisation. This period starts with a few empires, the Egyptians built a few pyramids, there were organised civil societies in India, the Greeks created an empire built on war and trade, then the Romans followed suit. The Roman empire is often portrayed as some kind of golden age with order and prosperity backed up by a bloody big army who kept the barbarous hordes at bay while the civilised world could get on with life.

But of course it came crashing down, eventually.

Fast forward because history is so old hat. The movie, The Day After Tomorrow is loosely based on the idea of tipping points, that is, the world’s climate systems teetering on the edge of cataclysmic change suddenly tip over the edge and ecological chaos descends, bringing with it lots of human chaos. The speculation is based on an idea that rampant global warming paradoxically induces another Ice Age in the northern hemisphere.

Now consider, was there a tipping point that brought the Roman Empire crashing down? Probably not although we can’t say definitely. It does seem unlikely that a butterfly flapped its wings in Rome one day and the empire collapsed the next week but dynamic systems can throw up chaotic outcomes. What does seem more likely is an analysis that says the Roman Empire, like those before it, and possibly those afterwards, was based on exploitation which eventually collapsed. Exploitation of the natural resources of other countries, exploitation of slavery and the exploitation of any sense of good will. These factors didn’t all fall like dominoes, rather they produced a yield that had a peak period and then the various components became slightly less productive in different ways or at different times. At a critical point, the yield from the system of exploitation dipped below what was required to sustain the model and the system suffered a shock or set back. Prolonged periods of below sustainance yield and the system broke down.

That could be crap but I’m putting it out there because I think it’s useful in our contemporary times.

Let’s say the global human civilisation is more or less unified, that we do indeed live in the time of Pax Americana. It has some interesting parallels with the Roman Empire which have been explored by others at length but what if we take the model above and shoehorn the situation into the same sort of analysis. Natural resources are straightforward, they are still the natural resources of a certain place or country. Exploitation by way of a financial system that is backed up by the rule of law which in turn is guaranteed by state enforced violence is exploitation. Still.

Slavery, although officially outlawed a few years ago, has been replaced by wage slavery. I’m really not going to bother to argue this point, suffice to say Marx was dead right about the economics of production and it seems pointless to argue otherwise unless you want to obscure the obvious fact, that is production of stuff is about making money for the rich. Sure there are a host of supplementary outcomes that make it look ok but the bottom line is easy to prove. Consider any company making or doing anything that sells, if they make losses rather than profits they go out of business. Since most people who work do so for a wage and their livelihoods are therefore dependent on a wage, working for a wage is a form of social control that frees the slave master from the actual work of looking after slaves while continuing to exploit the slave’s productive capacity. Of course social control becomes critical but that’s getting ahead of the argument.

Finally there is good will which I’m going to define as that which drives us as humans to do better, to try to make this a better place. We do so individually and collectively but sometimes we are thwarted by circumstances or those who would do harm. It’s optimism or hope for a better place and it seems to be with us and without. It is also easily exploited because unlike the facts of the world, good will has no tangible existence. Instead we build things that are supposed to represent this quality and in so doing easily lose sight of the what motivates or grounds us individually or collectively. We start to worship false gods and idols.

Now let’s pull this rambling together. Dr Michael, my friend, says we heading for economic collapse. He’s a philosopher so he knows a thing or two about economics. His argument is simple, and with a tip to Marx, I simply refer to a couple of possibly key indicators, rising levels of debt around the world and increasing inequality in terms of income distribution. The economic system as such rests on economic activity, that is, the ordered state we call a system is premised on the idea that exchanges of time and effort for goods and services can be represented by a symbol called money and this symbol is both ubiquitous and universal. One thing money isn’t and that is it is not without friends and it tends to collect in piles, the trick with money is being where it is likely to collect in piles so you can grab it. Suffice to say, some people are only to aware of this fact. But a collapse in the economic system is probably best summarised as when money becomes worthless. Suddenly. Bad news for the slaves. Not so bad for the rich, they have already prepared their private armies, built their sanctuaries, bought their self sustaining life support systems…

Then there’s state of the planet, sans humans. Have a read of this man’s story about crossing the Pacific Ocean. Think about the tankers that can now use the north passage to sail around continental America and all the other indicators of climate change. Consider the dependency of 8 billion human beings on the planet for food and water.

Finally, consider the idea of good will. Love thy neighbour, welcome the foreigner, peace.

We’ve had a good time up to now, those of us fortunate to live in Pax Americana but its an empire built on exploitation which is not sustainable. It could end abruptly, the world could be plunged into huge turmoil by the shooting of some president or prince but I’m thinking it is more likely that chaos will visit us less dramatically but with longer lasting effect. Slowly, on a human timescale. Crops will fail here, countries will starve in obscure places. Monetised systems will produce more inequality but the losers will remain hidden as unemployed or struggling or somewhere else. Riots will appear, randomly but increasingly as people lose hope. The system will start to disintegrate. The the killing machines, the spy systems will come into their own. Dis-topic? Perhaps but you don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.

Broken Oceans

Weath distribution

Post-shutdown America is on the verge of outright civil conflict

Spying

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Nick Feik | Green movement has been an abject failure

Nick’s question: “why (has) a political and social movement failed to convert scientific consensus into action” seems to attribute failure to the green movement yet the rhetorical question ending his article does have a rather straightforward answer.

Let’s reassess Nick’s question. Firstly it is premised on the belief that a scientific consensus should be sufficient for rational action. While this is a reasonable assumption, an apparent lack of consensus could easily persuade some not to act. Furthermore if you have an interest in others not acting in a certain way, then your interests are served by any apparent lack of consensus. The conclusion we should draw is that even if there is no smoking gun that connects vested interests with the anti-consensus brigade, it is still quite likely that those vested interests had an important influence on the outcome, ie, a perception that there was no consensus legitimised effective political inaction.

Even if we grant Nick’s basic argument, that the green movement has somehow failed to arrest catastrophic climate change, it seems equally obvious that alternative strategies do need to be employed, one’s that recognise the extent of the problem. One problem here is every time climate change is discussed as an issue, it immediately becomes a “green” issue. As soon as it is tainted “green” then people can distance themselves from it citing the degree to which they believe in certain things. It is almost as though the “green movement” was created as a divisive instrument, an artificial “other” that we could reject in favour of the comfort of our materialistic souls.

What was and still is needed is not just scientific consensus, rather we need effective political consensus and concrete action. The nature of the problem is not the science, the nature of the problem is revealed in the extent of vested interests in the status quo and our subjective distance from ideas that threaten our material comfort. Worse still, these things seem to key features of western civilisation which despairingly leads to the conclusion that our selfish greed will undoubtedly be our doom.

My answer to Nick’s question: the green movement was created in the public’s mind as some sort of bad guy who threatened to take away everyone’s cars and tv’s which shifted debate about global warming away from what was happening to the climate to what affected people’s relative comfort. This is not a green issue, this is really a straightforward survival issue for the entire human race. As someone once said, there is enough for everyone’s needs but not enough for everyone’s greed.

Nick Feik | Green movement has been an abject failure.

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Climate change study forces sceptical scientists to change minds

Prof Richard Muller, a physicist and climate change sceptic who founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (Best) project, said he was surprised by the findings. “We were not expecting this, but as scientists, it is our duty to let the evidence change our minds.”

Muller goes on to add

“While this doesn’t prove that global warming is caused by human greenhouse gases, it is currently the best explanation we have found, and sets the bar for alternative explanations.”


Evidence based science.

A few years ago a man called Copernicus caused a small ruckus when he decided that the available evidence was explained better by a theory that didn’t place the Earth at the centre of the known universe. Instead Copernicus suggested that the Earth and other planets orbited the sun, a theory which ran foul of the prevailing religious orthodoxy.

In the 21st century we have replaced religion with economics. Economics defines problems and dictates solutions, everything has a price. Unfortunately for the human race and the other species of life that inhabit this planet, the economic system seems to ignore the real world consequences that come with capitalistic production.

Climate change study forces sceptical scientists to change minds | Environment | The Guardian.

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Canberra Times conjures up a miracle

I don’t have a Canberra Times subscription, partly because the paper version is a faint shadow of what it was but mostly because I refuse to pay good money for someone else’s information bias after all, the “Grimes” is establishment mainstream media.

Which might explain why it can declare, complete with heartwarming picture that the ACT’s land drought is almost a thing of the past!

Really? This rather stupid headline (page 1) suggests that at sometime during the middle of the night of 27 April, the Canberra Times or parties friendly to it bestowed upon the world an enlarged ACT, it created more land! Clever people over at the Canberra Times…

Of course evoking the drought was a masterstroke since we all know that real estate comes from the sky, when it pisses down there are properties springing up like mushrooms after after a thunderstorm.

But I’m inclined to suspect a little bit of self service here. Apparently there are 180 pages in the saturday edition of the Canberra Times although mysteriously I could only count 64 actual pages in the “newspaper” which includes the vanishing classified section (a mere 14 pages). The mystery is solved however if you add the “bonus” Panorama magazine thingy and the rather spectacular Domain real estate guide. In fact, a third of the claimed content of the saturday edition of the Canberra Times consists in the Domain!


If Australia as a whole is utterly dependent on the building activity to keep an army of people employed in meaningful work, Canberra is no different. Actually Canberra is a lot different, because unlike elsewhere in Oz, construction work is critical to the vitality of Canberra. A lot is made of its public service base but it’s what those public servants do with real estate and how that is leveraged that makes Canberra really jump.

Which is why the Canberra Times continues to sell the dream. Housing forever for all the deserving new families…

One could be forgiven for thinking the Canberra Times is unaware of the how logic works or merely chooses to ignore its implications since it also reported the findings of the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment earlier in the year.

Standing out from this report is the rather depressing news that

Canberrans used 14 times the land area of the ACT to support our lifestyles, and if everyone in the world lived in the same way as the average Canberran, we would need 5 Earths to give us enough land (and surface water) to provide our resources and absorb our wastes.

However clearly the Canberra Times has a solution…it simply says the problem is “almost a thing of the past”.

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Queensland and the politics of change


As I listen to Love40percents latest announcement in Canberra, I’m reflecting on the ALP wipeout in Queensland’s recent state elections and the ramifications for the so-called party of the left currently in power nationally under Prime Minister Gillard.

Briefly, the ALP in Queensland have lost about 45 seats and the remaining 6 or 7 members do not even qualify as the official opposition which is supposed to number at least 10 members. The incoming LNP government will have a clear mandate to do whatever they want and is likely, given the vote and a history of voting intentions, to remain in government for some time. While much of this can be dismissed as an electoral mood for change, the question remains what changes do the voters want?

If voters wanted a green change it wasn’t reflected in the outcome for the Green party which actually declined. Judging from the percentage swing to the right, voters instead opted for the more conservative values which in Queensland equates to development or growth in gross economic terms. Social and environmental issues come second.

What does that have to do with Love40’s announcement?

It seems to me the electoral demise of traditional left leaning parties in Australian politics is a consequence arising from their collective failure to enact genuine change when in government. By change I mean radical systemic changes, similar to what Gough Whitlam’s Labor government ushered in. But a tangible tension remains, that is, arguably no radical social change can be brought about by the democratic system since parties are in power at the discretion of the majority of voters.

But simultaneous to this feature of democratic government is a very pressing need to change society, or more specifically, to change the nature of our economies which are entrenched in our social structure, for I argue that the threat posed to humanity by climate change is not a technological problem but rather it is one grounded in our economic systems.

The parties of the right deny this and those of the centre left, such as the ALP try to minimise the extent of change but Love40’s platform is useful because it highlights the problems a green future has in the short term.

Number one culprit in the rising level of CO2 in the world’s atmosphere is burning stuff for energy, coal for electricity and oil for transport. Now there are alternatives to these but, and this is the big but, the large scale deployment of these alternatives would radically disrupt the current social and economic order.

For example, Australia could harness the abundant solar energy it receives and do away with coal powered electricity generators but it would wipeout the coal “industry” which in real terms means lots of people out of work and more widely, related businesses would suffer. Yes there would be “new” jobs elsewhere but these easy words bandied about by well intentioned folk disguise the extent of disruption that such a switch entails. It seems people are ok with the idea of progress if progress means more money or more toys or a new house but progress that involves dislocation and disruption, such as declining business or unemployment, is undesirable.

So the left-centre governments try to appease existing stakeholders by minimising disruption but at the same time such appeasement hinders the speed of adoption and permits a wider view that such changes are not really that necessary. Softly softly approaches might have worked twenty years ago but the environmental clock is ticking louder now.

If the coal question is problematic then the oil question is equally difficult, perhaps more so because the social disruption is arguably greater. At present discrete vehicular transport is the human norm, be it cars for personal transport or trucks for freight. Less viable is a quick switch to some alternative such as hydrogen power since the technology requires considerable development which hinders its widespread adoption. Systemic changes such as electrified mass transport in the form of light rail or even a massive expansion of existing train technologies do not fit particularly well with existing urban structures that are predicated on car based transport nor do they fit easily within social expectations that are implicit in individual car ownership.

The appeal of left wing parties aspiring to hold government has in the past been rooted in a desire for structural change to the economic forces that condemn large sections of society to economic disadvantage, an argument based along lines of property ownership and wealth. This motive is now compounded by a pressing need to change some given fundamentals that underpin the way we live in 21st century urbanised cities. On both counts, the existing party of the left, the ALP is failing to act decisively. Instead, at local levels it is mired in concerns for continuing to provide stable governance of existing structures while trying to adopt face saving ideas that might bring incremental change but which are equally restricted by monetary concerns and on the national level, the same issues of maintaining the status quo while appearing to do something progressive are relentlessly attacked in the public sphere by opponents to any ideas that threaten the existing economic powers. It seems trivial to observe that the public sphere is dominated by vested interests aligned with the existing order just as it seems trivial to note that it is easy to promise that life will be easier if we keep doing more of the same.

The conclusion that must be drawn from the steady decline by the centre left in Australian government is not the counter, that a return to right wing politics is desired by all but rather it is that governments of the left have failed to deliver on their mandates for structural change, leaving the voters disillusioned and despairing.

When Kevin Rudd led the ALP out of the electoral wilderness in 2007 his campaign resonated with concerns about the importance of acting on climate change. Five years later nothing significant has emerged but for a future date on the price for carbon, one which if the government changes next year will never see the light of day. While the idea of a price of carbon is great starting point for achieving a perceptual shift in how we do things over time, radical transformations such as the widespread and rapid deployment of alternative technologies are much more likely to capture the public’s imagination as they translate environmental concerns into meaningful action.

Arguing against such actions on the basis of economic costs is a red herring. It shifts the focus of the problem away from the environmental outcomes (which it can be argued affect all humanity, all life on this planet) and places the problem back in the domain of the prevailing status quo. A similar argument about forcing people to change on a societal level compounds the problem by invoking libertarian concerns yet as Mill observed three hundred years ago, democracy as the expressed will of the people “practically mean the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people” and once a majority position is established leads to a democracy that is in fact the tyranny of the majority, albeit one subject to constitutional and legal impediments. In the matter at hand, an urgent need to act on the human factors contributing to climate change, we can clearly see that both a majority of the people, informed as they are by the voices of the right and the most active part of the people, the ones who can afford to express themselves in the public domain and have the means to do so, this majority is condemning us to a high risk future where the consequences of climate change are not neatly contained in impersonal terms like drought or floods but rather such consequences have widespread socially disruptive effects as they destabilise existing geopolitical regions.

Queensland may take some comfort in electing a government headed by a former army officer and mayor, yet the signal it sends to the rest of Australia is parochial at best. The ALP federally is now confronted with an especially difficult choice, it is likely to try more appeasement of vested interests especially in Queensland in order to shore up votes or it could (to use a vernacular) go for broke and decide to act more decisively in favour of green left values. Unfortunately the die is largely cast for the Gillard government and we can expect little if any action that would clearly signal a determination to address the structural problems underlying the existing status quo. We are thus condemned to the government we deserve.

update 27 March
In case the political divide on carbon as usual wasn’t clear enough, today the Age website is reporting that the right wing Liberal government in Victoria is scrapping its carbon target following the election result in Queensland.

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Critical Theory

Andrew Feenberg asks “What is the Philosophy of Technology?” a question Popper concerned himself with a few years ago and one that came up in my studies the other day.

According to Popper, who wrote in 1965 (Three Views Concerning Human Knowledge) science has abandoned philosophy and instead concerned itself only with with “the mastery of the mathematical formalism (ie the instrument) and its application”. In philosophical jargon the instrumentalist view advocated by Osiander in his preface to Copernicus’ work in 1543 (Copernicus was the guy who wrote that the Earth orbited the sun) has become hegemonic in science. In this view, scientific theory is useful for calculating results or predicting things, like when the stars appear but doesn’t actually tell us anything concrete about reality.

Given the the way scientific theories evolve as descriptions of observable facts and the way they explain things in relative terms, this view is hardly surprising but Feenberg espouses Critical Theory as an alternative to blind faith in the liberal notion of infinite scientific progress. Such progress is understood to eventually lead us to know everything, sort of like God who is also omniscient but still embodied in our human form.

It may well be that having abandoned belief in God leads us inexorably to this point but it does seem strange that for a culture that has “progressed” beyond a belief system based on religious faith we seem to have replaced it with another belief system based on yet another ideal, that is, infinite scientific progress.

This is itself perhaps not so strange given the prevailing belief in other ideas such as infinite economic growth, a belief that will eventually lead everyone to nirvana but one that coincidentally results in structural inequality in our societies.

Basically Critical Theory as I understand Feenberg consists in humans making choices about systems of means and ends. For example if the outcome we desire is a relatively stable weather system which is less destructive to agriculture and vulnerable population centres, then perhaps we should consider sharply reducing our contribution of CO2 in the atmosphere, especially given the existing weight of scientific theories about climate change.

The idea has application everywhere, from the small to the very big. Think about it 🙂

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