I am old. I have been around long enough to notice a backslide in our society over the last 2-3 decades. We have been losing ground everywhere I look. Socially, politically, intellectually, morally, even our sense of humor has declined.
The religious nuts have been gaining on us, critical thinking all but disappeared, science and rational thought is despised (just look at the selection of an average book store), attention span shortened drastically.
Watching news on TV is like looking inside a funny farm: both the reporters and the interviewed miss the glaringly obvious questions and treat worthless trivia with reverence.
My question is the following: Is this backslide likely to:
b./ slow down
c./ come to a halt, replaced by progress again
Please explain why you thought a./ or b./ or c./ will happen.
I am curious how earthlings see their future.
I have ten bucks on "bimodal distribution".
It depends on the next five years.
Without any cataclysmic events, a. Because the products of the dumbing-down effort of the past 30 years are now gaining positions of power at the level where pracitcal decisions are made. They are deeply programmed to capitalist ideas; cannot imagine an alternative - indeed, can imagine very little. (Exceptions exist, but did not make it to middle management.) At the same time, the frustration and anger of robbery victims (that is, most everybody) have been deliberately channeled into hatred of other-language, other-culture and other-religious groups; a large proportion of young people (particularly young males) has been desensitized by violent entertainments and games; the status of women has been eroded through gutting of the social programs that give women the ability to exercise their theoretical rights; the coherence of communities has been severely compromised by the closing of industries, hospitals and schools. People have little defence against further damage to their livelihoods and autonomy. And the harder life gets, the more we, humans, tend to revert to the jungle.
If there is sufficient backlash to the excesses of the religious right, b. People are maybe getting a bit fed up with these high-profile hypocrites posturing and blustering.... maybe.
In the presence of a major political and/or economic reneissance, c. If the capitalist machine breaks down in enough places in a short enough time to push people into change, but not so widely and so fast as to cause panic and despair, we may rediscover the adaptability that made us the dominant species on this planet in the first place. In that case, we will come up with the structures, the political, commercial and social organizations, that work for us in different conditions. Then we can - as the ubiquitous saying is this year - move forward.
If climate the superbug, superbomb or superstorm gets here first, the question is moot. Then, we're not talking acceleration, so much as precipitation. Instant stone age.
Some things will happen. Some things won't.
And you can quote me on that.
PS. The comment referred to absentia's post -- just in case anyone was wondering.
I think Europe and Eur-Asia will become the new global centre of what capitalists refer to as wealth creation in the next 15 to 20 years. There will be a new scientific renaissance emanating from discoveries made at CERN nr Geneva. New forces of nature will be discovered and hundreds of spinoff technologies will make that region of the world a guiding light for science and technology. China will build highspeed rail connecting Beijing with every other major city all the way to London. China and the BRIC countries will become economic superpowers.
Longer term after the oil runs out, Bolivia will become the Saudi Arabia of lithium production for advanced battery technology. Cities will be abandoned and new ones built along a globalizing railway. People will recycle like never before. Roads and highways will be left to disintegrate, and an explosion of wild life will occur. Oil from algae will become a new source of fuel for emergency and municipal maintenance vehicles and global transport.(the History channel).
I'd like to take a positive optimistic view, but given what we know about the powerful interests that control decision making and their ability to oppose democratic involvement by force, as well as ignore all rational forms of thinking, we are in for a rough ride.
Economic growth in places like china and india will further intensify the effects of climate change and environmental devastation. Resources will start to run out, clean water will become scarce along with arable land for growing food. the oceans are pretty much dying already and they will become useless as a food source, leading to mass starvation and food riots.
The west, unable to run it's society without cheap energy and with the resulting competition form new economic powers will use it's only tool--military force--to secure resources leading to massive global wars which kill hundreds of millions of people and result in western countries re-instituting the draft and suspending civil rights, workers rights, social services etc. slave labour is re-introduced.
then it's just a matter of time till mother earth finishes us off for good.
but who knows, it could go either way.
I predict the American empire will continue to disintegarate. 9/11 was a sign they were desperate for resources and credibility in general. At some point, 9/11 will be declared a travesty of international justice and false flag operation on the part of a few hawks in shadow government at the time.
And just as the financial centre of the world in Holland once picked up and left all the way to London at the end of cheap labour in Europe, so, too, will money pick up and leave Wall Street and High Street for greener pastures. Just as the Roman elite picked up and abandoned the crumbling empire, so will US elites abondon America sooner than risk WW III. US Governments will run out of money to fund the military as rich and developing countries alike shift away from financing US Military buildups around them as well as US trade deficits and the most unsustainable economies in world history.
Progress keeps happening. Little by little.
I am optimistic because I take the long view. Where we were 50 years ago is better than where we were 500 years ago. This, in turn was better than we were 5000 years ago.
But it is two steps forward and one step back, so it feels like we never get anywhere.
We do. We just have to look a little farther back than normal to see how far we have gone. But it is so inpsiring that it is easier to keep moving forward after that..
big fish eat little fish - managed deterioration and here continued digestion in the belly of the beast..
I've seen the future, baby; it is murder.
What if within the next decade, you could grow all of your vegetables in [url=http://www.kurzweilai.net/future-food-for-cities] a box barely larger than your refrigerator?.[/url]
Go away [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGQVETVVGf0]DEATH![/url] Get the hell away from our door!
Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,  And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
I think you have to put a little more positive spin on your message if you really want to get it across.
Anyone concerned about the future should visit the Red Deer River area around Brooks and Drumheller. Your anxieties ought to be put into perspective.
I was at a wedding half-way between Brooks and Hanna this summer. I know what you mean - nothing but pronghorn. Though if you went a bit north of there you probably saw the giant coal strip-mining operation with diggers the size of apartment blocks, and the Sheerness Power Plant.
Still, there are plenty of places like that in the prairies. I remember the first time I went planting trees in southern Ontario, around Owen Sound. Beautiful country, but rural Ontario between there and Toronto looked more like Europe to me than any countryside I know.
Let's just hope the Republicans aren't in charge of meteor watch then. NASA would warn them every year for 28 years in a row, and they'dl still try to capitalize on a "surprise" extinction event. God help us.
The reason I like Gwynne Dyer is that he is a historian. He has no ax to grind. He is neither an optimist, nor a pessimist. He just says it the way he sees it and makes predictions only with qualifying probability estimates.
Yes, it is possible that we are making progress and will overcome our current predicament. It is also possible that we will destroy ourselves and a good part of the planet. And anything in between.
How probable is each scenario?
Was Hitler probable? Inevitable? Many people said at the time that he just makes a lot of noise and will never do those things. Many people died of their unwarranted optimism.
Nobody likes to contemplate bad things happening in our future. So what is better: sugar-coated denial, apocalyptic pessimism or rational, intelligent, pragmatic appraisal of the situation, in view of all the scientific, psychological and historical facts?
It is possible to elevate a debate to a level of intellectual sophistication where the participants make a real effort to think it through from all possible angles, maybe even research the relevant facts and considerations and hear each other as well as talk on.
Actually, he is pretty much an appologist for the military industrial complex, who tries to come off as an ubiased historical observer.
The future will pass.
That will be $5
The antelope are cool (I worked for a few months on a drilling rig in a dry lake bed east of Brooks - the pronghorns used to come right up to the lease), but that's not the topographical feature I had in mind. Go to the river valley and look at the geology. In Dinosaur Park you can see exposed fossils right at your feet. All our concerns are a thin layer of dust in relation to that place.
Here's a song
Of course..... I guess the coal is just more of the same, but in fact your actual point went right over my head. THanks.
Alien, we're just trying to avoid mentioning the real probability we could be entering a new dark age. Tell Gort not to destroy us yet?
And hey, was this [url=http://www.ufocasebook.com/2010/buenosaires122609.html]you in a hurry?[/url].
I give up...this horse will never learn to sing. :-(
I can’t help responding to this with a joke.
This guy has a rare sexual disease. He goes to the doctor and the doctor says: “yes, it is the rare tropical disease called himbi-himbi – we will have to cut it off”.
He doesn’t like the answer so he goes to another doctor.
Same answer: “himbi-himbi, have to cut it off”.
Finally he goes to an African witch-doctor.
He says: "yes, it is himbi-himbi all right!"
The guy shouts with joy: “you did not say that you will have to cut it off!”
The witch-doctor says:
“That’s right, it will fall off by itself”
PS. edited out image because cueball kindly duplicated it for me below. His photo is a fake -- I never visited Babble in person!
I think that there will be life extending drugs within the next 20 years. Medical science is on the verge of scientific enlightenment as far as understanding the human body is concerned. One human aging researcher described the difference between the old story of medical science as being like an investigator rummaging around one corner of a factory with all the lights switched off and looking at parts of the human factory with only a penlight. Today all of the factory's lights are switched on, and scientists are able to look at the human body in terms of DNA sequences of healthy and diseased machines operating within our cells. Medical science is becoming information based where computers sift through multitudes of letter combinations of proteins and enzymes for something amiss in our bodies. Another researcher says it should be possible to double or even triple human lifespans as they are able to do now with fruit flies and similarly with mice. The last century was spent discovering chemistry of the body and DNA itself. This next century will focus on manipulating molecules and even atoms. Scientists will learn to master the world of the very small and cure diseases rather than merely treating symptoms of disease.
Watch for CERN lab discoveries of the next 10 to 15 years. Will they understand all there is to know about gravity? Will we someday be able to tap into mysterious gravitational forces similar to the way electrical current is available at any wall receptacle? The future is racing toward us.
Has anyone read Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time ?
That sounds like a really interesting novel.
[url=http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/25807/?p1=Blogs]Time Likely To End Within Earth's Lifespan, Say Physicists[/url]
Personally I don't buy it. I think future humanoids will discover a way to escape to a parallel universe some time before then. The end of time that is.
Is this backslide likely to:
b./ slow down
c./ come to a halt, replaced by progress again
IF the premise is true [backsliding, which I also see lots of evidence of] then I opine that it will continue until it implodes, as in choice "a". Nature tends to be like that, and the human brain does too.
I am glad you mentioned religion as an example of backsliding and lack of critical thinking. Those folks are a lot like AGW deniers, so willing to ignore what is evident such as evolution. They are "gonna stick with it" to the end.
As for the postive thought, there is some hope that the small minority of critical thinkers will be able to inject some sanity into this world when things start falling apart to the point where millions of people are dying and things are crumbling all around us. It won't happen before things start falling apart though.
Things have started falling apart, though. Some places are feeling it more acutely than others. In the places most affected, are you hearing a call for more critical thinkers?
The religionists are all in church for so many hours a month. That's time not spent screwing up the world. Who takes charge of screwing up the world while religionists are preoccupied with church and other religious activities? Or is there no one in control for those few hours a month? Who spells off the designated screw ups when church is in?
Everything is Fine. Enjoy your Life.
Travel here in Ontario. Canada is Beautiful. We are all very very lucky.
Tell this to the guy I recently saw begging, sitting on the sidewalk, covered with filthy blankets, in front of the World's Biggest Bookstore, with the crowd literally stepping over his legs. I am sure he will be reassured. Your compassion for your fellow human beings overwhelms me.
Did you give him some change ? As you stepped over him I mean....
I gave him $20 -- that's all I had in my wallet. Not much, but he knew I cared.
I think you got to "offgrid" with your reply. He now understands he's in alien territory. :)
But speaking of the future. Margaret Wente appears in the weekend Globe, having followed the Teaparty phenom in rallies from Iowa to Sarah's hometown in Alaska. She found Teapartiers who didn't think Martha was presidential grade, but most tellingly, perhaps a majority who were most worried about the debt that their children were inheriting.
I would say that from this point, we will not be able to run on assumptions from our political past ...ever again. And that means coming to some understanding of how we wound up in this pickle, if we want to retain any sort of decency/humanity across socio-economic lines, or even a vague idea of what "progress" can mean in the future.
With the bill coming due for the last 200 years of energy profligacy, our future lives will seem remarkably like that of the average peasant farmer in China today.
All this blather about technomessianicism misses the obvious; that for most of the world, Better Living Through Science missed them completely. They live as their ancestors did. It's only the overfed, over commodified westerner who believes that all shall be made well by robots and DNA splicing. A few more drops in the test tube, and we shall all live forever! Well, those with the cash to do so, anyway. The desire, hope, wish or faith that technology will save us all reflects a stunning hubris and ignorance of the arcs of history.
There won't be human/machine hybrids. We won't get pills to make us live forever, and we won't solve anything by throwing up a few more solar panels.
In the future, there will be much bloodshed, and much pain for your offspring. Starvation, slavery, and despair are the only logical outcome of our doomed culture. We are in for a massive reset of everything we thought was immutable.
Exactly. It's why the struggle for democracy now and in the future is as imortant as ever before.
I think fighting to maintain socialized medicine will be more important than ever before. We don't want to return to a time when only rich people can afford to see a doctor. Except that in the future, we'll be fighting for the right for our people to be able to access actual cures for diseases. We'll have to decide whether only the rich are able to have genetically enhanced children who could be immune or a lot less susceptible to dying of deadly diseases still with us today. Will only the sons and daughters of wealthy people have extended life spans of 130, 140, or 150 years? What if someday medical science finds a way to turn on or splice into our DNA the Methuselah gene? Which of us will be chosen to live to 969 and look and feel like a 25 or 30 year-old for most of them? Okay that's far out, but I think it's possible according to researchers like Aubrey De Grey.
Marx said we have to win the battle of democracy if we want a socio-economic system with human/environmental needs at the center of purpose. Any future without democracy will look pretty bleak either way.
No kidding. My parents grew up in unelectrified farmhouses lit by coal-oil lamps, and my Dad knew how to hitch a team of horses to either take him to town or plough a field.
The last 60-70 years of human history will probably be a period that future historians will look back upon and giggle.
Democracy? Future generations will be lucky to have feudalism.
Mine too. My dad had to hitch the team to take him and my Aunt to school when he was 8. There are a lot of basic living skills that have disappeared in the last two or three generations, and they won't be easy to get back.
I can understand the pessimism. I don't think it's time to give up on democratizing the wild west though. The oligarchy would love for everyone to accept feudalism without a struggle. They would love to bring back little red schoolhouse conservatism. It would make things so much easier for them and so much more difficult for everyone else under their collective thumb.
Jingles speaks for the twenty-somethings who can't be bothered to vote. It's all futile. Nothing matters except living for the moment.
Wonderfully bracing philosophy.
I haven't been twentysomething in quite some time, but voting is futile. Those who don't see that are either naive, willfully blind, ignorant, or breathtakingly stupid. Sane appraisal of any "democracy" irrefutably demonstrates the fact that voting is designed to divert and blunt popular action against the ruling class, and channel dissent into easily manipulated channels.
Elections are like drilling rig's BOP, the dangerous pressures and gaseous excretions are safely diverted and burned off before the whole thing blows out and burns the rig to the ground.
BTW, since we are embracing wonders, are they gonna give Obama the One Term Wonder another Peace Prize this year?
Yeah that's definitely Galling with the peace prize thing and Obama. In fact, it's been one disturbing chain of events throughout my relatively short life. I'm 46 but still like to think that things will get better. If I look on the bright side, no one has launched a nuke at another country since 1945. We could go on and on listing the pluses. My father grew up in hard times when capitalism was all there was. There was no welfare to speak of in the 1930s. There was no EI. There was no global measure of economic competitiveness or UN to embarrass the bastards into investing in people.
What is amazing is the rollback of too many of those social gains made by our fathers and mothers and their parents since turn of the last century. Those gains were made since before WW I at a time when full voting rights wasn't the way in Canada. Millions were martyred by two western world depressions and two world wars. Governments were told they had to start treating our parents and grandparents etc like human beings and not cattle.
The electoral system is obsolete, yes it is. But we've lost social ground in the face of near full voting rights! This generation doesn't seem too interested in what they've lost during their time in the sun. I hope it doesn't continue. I think that us mature types need to pass the torch to younger people and talk with them every now and again. Some don't give a rats patooty, it's true. But every once in a while there's a kid who asks me what I think about things, and he listens intently. A lot of these kids today are very opinionated and much wiser in their few years than I was at the same age. And I think that's hopeful. Hope is a dangerous thing. A glimmer of Hope is more powerful than 100 fascists in opposition to Hope, and they know it.
quote: "The electoral system is obsolete, yes it is. But we've lost social ground in the face of near full voting rights! This generation doesn't seem too interested in what they've lost during their time in the sun."
If you don't turn out to vote, even though you know damned well that social gains made possible by "martyrs" are being lost, you're like all those who have "given up" . They - those who KNOW it's all hopeless - are not going to be suckered by golly. Too smart for that. Yes sirree!
Yes, I tell everyone that if they don't vote, then it's the same as letting someone else vote for them. It's never a good idea to allow a complete stranger speak for you on the one day every four years that counts for anything and regardless of whether the electoral system is dated or not.
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