Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What about all those lofty ideals!? I hear you cry

About an hour after writing about how we should read stuff that conflicts with our views I started reading a paper with "A complexity approach to sustainability" in the title and wham! On the first page

There is abundant evidence of an increasing conflict between humankind's instinct for expansion for its own sake and the capacity of eco-system Earth to sustain such expansion...


The shift in political powers as a result of the globalisation of the market economy has divided influence between ever more complex social and political systems, and whatever the good intentions of individuals, what we witness are increases in poverty and conflict, and apparently reduced choices in social, economical and ecological policies.


And the wind was knocked right out of me. I didn't quote it but there several papers are cited, so what the hell is my problem? "Humankind's instinct for expansion for its own sake..." WTF? Why not note that humankind has been expanding? That'd do it surely? I have no idea how one would go about arguing that humankind wants to expand for its own sake so just assuming your reader agrees with it immediately puts me on the defensive. Increased poverty? I don't have the energy to go trawling now, but I could find several sources arguing that the recent past has seen the most dramatic poverty reduction in human history. Increased conflict? The source quoted is dated 1998, and it's easy to think of terrible, high profile conflicts from around that time, but the trend during the 90's was towards democracy and fewer wars. This trend reversed after 9/11 so is more plausible now, but are we really blaming this on globalisation? As for reduced social economic and ecological policy choices I have no idea, so I could go along with it.


So I couldn't carry on with an unbiased mind, I'll try again later today.


Swart Donkey said...

No one said reading things you disagree with would be easy.

My first attempt is `The Secret' which lots of people have been raving about.

The idea/`secret' is not a new one... it is just the power of positive thinking.

But the first 20 pages have been fairly painful and repetitive, and yes `daar was n bietjie kots in my mond'

Forge on!

mutt said...

this piece clearly violates at least one of my "rules" (assumptions one). but it's clearly unreasonable to expect people to broadly abide by them.

Of course attention is a scarce resource, if we're gonna read stuff we disagree with, which stuff? its an ocean and we're using a bucket.