Friday, November 20, 2009

Our transition meeting

We had our third meeting last night, and we used the Shires "Zing" computer system which allows a large group to get through a lot of business quickly, without being dominated by the loudest voices. There were a few technical problems but they didn't really make any difference. The virtue of the exercise was a credit to Christine Hamilton, one of the Shire's employees, who did a great job of keeping us all moving and shutting the obsessive talkers up.

I'm now waiting for the Shire to email us the results. I've got a reasonable idea of what they are, having read through the whole thing last night while we were doing it, and I think it's fair to say that the results are a reflection of both the wisdom and the folly of the educated and socially concerned citizens in our little neck of the woods. The wisdom comes from recognition of the inexorable grinding power of change, the folly from timidity and a desire to hang on to the known and a lingering belief in a Millennial notion of Progress, where a just and virtuous class of scientifically trained experts will usher in a Golden Age. This belief is really the last bit of social glue that can hold a complex society together and motivate middle-class people, binding them to the necessary life of self-sacrifice demanded by the gods of technocracy. It is a belief that will die hard and cause a lot of pain before it does.

What do I mean by this? Well, it is the idea that lies behind a lot of the rhetoric of both the Left and the Right, which thinks suffering is Someone's or Something's fault, and some fiddling with the social fabric or the silencing, re-education or execution of undesirables will lead us to endless happiness. Or perhaps it's just a matter of replacing all the V-8s with electric vehicles and having solar panels on every roof. Whatever. Perhaps you get my drift, or perhaps not.

Let me lay my cards on the table. Life goes on, according to what Nature allows, which may or may not be in accord with our wishes. During the rise of our technocratic civilisation over the past several hundred years we "won" more often than we "lost", which is why there are now so many of us. During the next several hundred years it will be the other way round. Whatever we do now can't alter that overall fate. Our task is to learn to accept whatever the moment can bring us (because in any case, that's all we have) and do the best we can, without false beliefs in our exceptionalism and other types of pseudo-religious nuttiness that infect our oh-so-secular age. Maybe solar panels will be of some use, but I'm not wasting time on peripheral issues like that. Food, shelter and community are the main requirement. Place is the most important single factor. The rest is up to the Brownian motion of fate, or the will of the gods if you like.

1 comment:

Samantha in Oz said...

Hi Lloyd. I found your blog via one of your comments on the Archdruid Report, and I've been enjoying reading through your archive.

I find the last paragraph in this post to be so very well expressed that I've come back to re-read it more than once. Really nicely put.