The land of punditry is largely populated by those embedded in the past pawing through the rubble looking for precedents. Continuity with the past usually establishes the provenance of current events and endows them with meaning, unless the event is entirely new, such as the landing of a UFO on the White House lawn.
The Iraq War is like the war in Viet Nam, for example. A better comparison would be the Bush 41 assault on Panama, even though there is a huge difference in scale. The goals were similar - regime change. The motivation is the same - simple gangsterism. The Iraq War may seem to express the latter day US “manifest destiny” on a global stage, but comparisons are misleading. The imperial will has been implemented in the past without direct US military involvement until Bush/Reagan began using the stick in preference to the carrot in the 80's. Wilsonian idealism was the cover for surreptitious imperial aggression after the US reluctantly entered WW II and helped defeat fascism. We were once the good guys.
This invasion and occupation of Iraq is entirely new in US history and we should not deceive ourselves with a false sense of familiarity with military adventures of the past. It is an unnecessary war with no strategic value that could not have been achieved by other means. It is a war of choice, not necessity. It is war for the sake of war to inspire terror in the world. Shock and awe is its purpose and its message. It is a profound betrayal of American idealism, diplomacy, and simple common sense.
When Captain Cook happened onto Tahiti for the first time with his great sails billowing, the Tahitians, who’d never seen a tall masted ship before, searched their knowledge banks and initially believed what they were seeing was a new kind of sea faring cloud . They might have better dealt with this forerunner of imperial invasion if they had withheld their judgement and questioned their own understanding.
When I walk in the front door carrying a box or something unfamiliar, our dog, Fox Mulder, will bark at the object because it is a mysterious thing for which he has no precedent in his dog data banks. Unlike latter day pundits and the 18th Century Tahitians, Mulder, a youthful guest in our human world, is frequently confronted by the starkly unknown and he can’t fool himself with false associations. He knows that he doesn’t know and he will sound an alarm, then cautiously observe the strange thing before he bravely approaches to sniff it and render it familiar, or at least not harmful.
Commentators try to enlighten a befuddled public by saying: the Bush Administration is more corrupt than the administration of Warren G. Harding. The H5N1 avian flu virus has the potential to be like the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. The attack on the WTC was like the attack on Pearl Harbor. The War on Terror is a war like any other and the president should exercise full war time powers in contravention of Constitutional guarantees. And so on.
All of this is misleading, and what comfort it may provide is false hope. We are, like the Tahitians, making reasonable sounding associations with what is familiar when we should be barking loudly at the unknown.
Never before has there been a fair comparison for this moment in history. It is fashionable to hearken back to the1930's in Germany and the emergence of Hitler, especially given the fascist connections that exist in the Bush family tree, but we don’t step in the same river twice. There were reasons why Hitler and fascism appealed to the German people, the economic disaster of the Weimar Republic, and the onerous national burden and humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler and his National Socialism was a convenient tool the German people embraced to avoid becoming a failed state and reassert their national identity. No such conditions prevail in the US, the preeminent global economy and military power. Why does the most successful nation among nations abruptly abandon the strategies of its historical success and revert to the barbarism of unprovoked war?
We should see current events with a completely unprejudiced eye and acknowledge their stark novelty. We should be watching very cautiously. We should be sniffing very thoroughly. We should be modest.
A dog, in a certain sense, is smarter than we are. Any creature, vertebrate or not, is smarter than so-called homo sapiens in this same way because they are all hardwired to what is called natural instinct and they cannot make mistakes or suffer any confusion about their place in the world. They have no ambition to change themselves or the environment in which they exist. They live entirely within the great overarching integrated system of nature so that they can’t rock the boat. They are blissfully merged, so to speak, with the mind of Gaia that organizes all things great and small in a grand harmony. The human intellect labels this organizing principle “chaos theory”, a backhanded appreciation of a condition of anarchy that somehow manages to get the job done.
If there were no human beings on the planet, the planet would experience no true disorder whatsoever. Nature is by definition orderly, defying our dim speculation on how it is done. It developed quite nicely without benefit of human intellect or science. It has always operated successfully according to Gaia’s mysterious algorithms. The earth has always been rambunctious with myriad varieties of life. It is a vast self-propagating incubator of life that would go on forever without us, so far as we know, with every living thing cruising along its natural vector to its natural end.
As creatures capable of altering the environment, we homo sapiens at some point along our evolutionary path sacrificed our natural instincts on the altar of intellect and no longer passively acquiesce in Gaia’s exuberant anarchy. We condescend to our aboriginal heritage from the great height of our evolutionary achievement. We imagine we have escaped from a brute Hobbesian condition of nature red in tooth and claw. We believe we’ve found a better way than the embedded state of natural man and have assumed a conscious and active role. We milk Gaia like a cow. We dissect her innards to see how she works. We reduce the behavior of natural systems to mere complex mechanistic interaction, and even view ourselves as clever bio machines. The existence of a natural creative intelligence is regarded as mystic delusion or romantic fantasy. We despise our aboriginal ancestors as little better than animals for being trapped without technology in the dumb chaos of nature. The planet and its exultant life is no more than a fortuitous accident of randomly interacting molecules.
This point of view is called extreme alienation. It rules.
When we rebelled against the Gaia mind merge to go our own way, what we call in our Christian religious myth the Fall and the exit from the Garden of Eden, the trade off was that we would no longer be guided by unruly, mindless instinct and would thereafter lack the total confidence of instinct that can’t makes mistakes or know regret. In spite of our ignorant assumption that the life of primitive man was merely nasty, brutish, and short, we know just the same that the pre-technological human from whom we have evolved was nonetheless privileged in some way in relation to us and that their embedded natural state was Edenic, a condition of childlike dependency, an animal condition in which Gaia provided all. The peaceful Orangutan contentedly stuffs his belly, and he neither reaps nor stores up into barns, yet Gaia feeds him, and the aboriginal humans round about think of him as a kind of human who is terminally lazy. They envy him in his Garden of Eden..How many thousands of years ago did we first open our eyes and begin to make conscious decisions based on our own reasonable assessments? At what point did we awaken from animal dreams and leave our Garden? That turning point was the time when we began to remember a past and establish precedents and guide ourselves in the present according to the theories we develop to explain past events and situations.
Unfortunately, the moment has arrived when our theoretical assumptions about the past no longer apply. How many such moments have there been in the story of human development? We know something of the collapse of civilizations, large and small, but do we know anything about the failure of the understandings of the world that accompanied those failed societies? We know that Adam and Eve had to go to work tilling the land when they awakened from their blissful hippie hunting and gathering existence, but what happened to the Sumarians, for example, when they looked out on the world and no longer understood why things didn’t go as expected or desired? Why did crops fail and enemies overwhelm their defenses? Why did disease lay them low and internecine struggles cripple their governments? The failure to adapt is the failure to understand, a condition of cognitive dissonance, a babble of conflicting ideas & opinions, mental static. Certainties are no longer certainties. Nervous breakdown. A way of life no longer works.
This is the condition we are in at present. Aside from the failure of our 18th Century political ideals represented by the emergence of the super powerful federal bureaucracy that overwhelms individual rights and prerogatives, we are experiencing the failure of our most fundamental assumptions about the nature of our life on the planet, which were largely incorrect to begin with. The “struggle for survival”, as an example, is a completely erroneous idea that obscure the true character of a natural existence, even though it is the fundamental recipe for life in a competitive market economy. If such a state of competition actually existed in nature, life would never have proliferated so abundantly and the human species would not have emerged. Cooperation is the context in which competitive interactions among species and within species takes place in the natural scheme of things. Males competing to mate with females do not kill each other. Competition for territory does not result in extermination of one species for the benefit of another. Nature is not a battle ground in which species confront each other in mortal combat. All creatures thrive within a vast cooperative regulatory scheme. It is the human species alone that engages in a destructive competition against itself and other species.
The age of this kind of understanding, this bastardized vision of instinct and the state of nature is over. Everything is changing. We have entered into what might be called an historical discontinuity when the false assumptions about the past will collapse and the thread that connects us will break. The past can no longer be reasonably extrapolated from our traditional understandings into a recognizable future. We have left the pavement. There are no road signs, no maps, no GPS signal, no evidence of previous travelers. It is a time when fanatical ideology steps into the breach to hasten the final breakdown.
Never before have there been 6.9 billion people on the planet. This is entirely new. An earth with 7 billion humans is unlike any earth that we are familiar with and yet we blandly project an earth with 9 billion or so in a few decades as though our 7 billion had no special significance in itself, even though its effects are obvious in the growing dysfunctionality of our political organizations and life support systems that typically fail under stress. Political stress, such as 911, stress from natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, and the inevitable stress that will result from imminent great earthquakes do not merely destroy lives, they destroy the organizational frameworks that have been developed to protect those lives. The administration of the lives of 7 billion people is not possible within a so-called democratic framework.
It is true that human population numbers have expanded throughout history, with explosive growth in recent centuries. The first billion in 1850. 120 years later in 1970, four billions. 35 years after that, 7 billions. The graph line shoots up almost vertically in the 20th Century, in spite of the unrelenting slaughter, occasional pandemics, and famine. Most every new generation in the past could say that because human numbers were greater than ever before, their situation was also unprecedented. Past generations could not say, however, that human locality had become simultaneously global and that all races together shared the same technologically driven slash and burn consumerism.
Humans with shovels and picks, black powder, and steam driven engines did not engage in mountain top removal in their quest for coal in the past. The 19th Century ability to alter and damage the planet was impressive, but limited. We, the triumphant billions, have so amplified this capability that we dream of terra forming a planet like Mars to inhabit and exploit when the resources of our own planet no longer satisfy our demand for unending growth. We communicate our delusions through our media instantly and globally. Tahitians drink Coke and dream of SUV’s.. Ecuadorian rain forest tribes barter their oil resources for soccer balls and referee’s whistles as they watch their world of nature crumble under assault from the human technological world. Shock and awe.
Never before has the human presence on the earth been so capable of driving every other species into extinction and disrupting the entire planetary eco-system itself. We cannot, as Jared Diamond attempts to do in Collapse, find precedents in which human society faced similar peril. All crisis in history has been local, not global. The collapse of the Roman Empire was a local event that had little immediate consequence for other civilizations on an unintegrated planet. We’re in a new ball game. Any precedent for contemporary global human crisis lies outside history in stories of Atlantis and other mythical lost civilizations, the disappearance of which constituted a global event.
Never before has humankind possessed the capability to destroy itself and all vertebrate life forms through the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Genocide is not new, but the capacity for the destruction of our own species has not existed before. “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” Robert Oppenheimer mused in July, 1945, while observing the explosion of the first puny fission bomb. So have we all.
Never before has human kind had the capability to leave the planet.
Never before have humans been able to alter and manipulate planetary natural processes, such as weather, or establish military domination of the planet from space.
Never before has it been possible to alter and manipulate life at a genetic level.
Because of unrestrained population growth and technical development we have outrun all precedent and find ourselves divorced from our ancestors, their banal problems, and short-sighted solutions.
It is both exhilarating and terrifying to be so disconnected from the always and everywhere of life on the planet. It is lonely in a world of never before. We no longer know Gaia. We imagine that we have displaced her, that we have become masters of the natural domain. People everywhere experience a bone deep sense of insecurity, from the commanding heights of an office tower, to the humid and shadowy depths of a rain forest. This universal sense of insecurity creates terrorism, not the other way around.
Statements like these are difficult to impossible to verify. I possesses no special authority or expertise. I have disturbing dreams. I know what everyone knows.
We are strangers, filled with angst in a strange land we have ourselves built and we behave more irrationally than ever. Millions embrace fantasy Christian theology of the “End Times” as truth. Paralyzed with fear and ignorance they hearken back to a past of more childish understandings when a Global Overseer judged human behavior with punishments or rewards. The Overseer created the universe and continues to monitor every least infraction in a sort of cosmic surveillance of total information awareness. We have little in common with other creatures, they say, because we were created separately and this world is not our true home. Other creatures and the planet itself are relatively worthless in relation to our own separate destiny in our conspiratorial love fest with our wrathful Overseer. To love the earth too much is to betray the true heavenly home. This fundamentalist reaction to contemporary life is common in all world religions. It is a reactionary, frightened, neurotic response, and a profound refusal to face the unprecedented situation we are in.
Terrified by visions of global pandemonium US leaders embrace delusions of total social control and global domination and have resolved to rule the world by force. In the most cynical way they orchestrate the fears of the people to build a foundation for this control. They, too, live in the past, in the burned out megalomania of dead would-be dictators. They remain deaf to the message of military historians who tell us that war as an instrument of policy is obsolete in a world of weapons of mass destruction. Instead they embark on the development of new generations of nukes, stimulating a new global arms race. Rather than acknowledge the obsolescence of “diplomacy by other means” we continue to support the military as the only guarantor of our salvation, when, in fact, it is the chief engine of our destruction.
The proclivity to war cannot be shrugged off as a lamentable human foible as has always been the case in the past. Nuclear bombs cannot be “domesticated” for “limited warfare”, nor can biological or chemical weapons. We cannot continue to muddle through.
In the past, powerful elites trod upon the weak with impunity and imposed their law and order, the Pax Romanum. In a technological world of nearly seven billion, this cannot be. The ancient game is over. The weak, by virtue of communication technology and vast numbers, become strong. They constitute the second global super power, according to Noam Chomsky. They must now be placated, seduced, bamboozled, baited and switched. Propaganda has been developed into a science of mass mind control. Military psychological operations become a routine procedure for enforcing political stability and setting agendas. But no computerized Stalinist police state can ultimately cope with the unruly billions. The elites must preach “democracy” as they desperately struggle to engineer the consent of the masses for a subjugation they will find acceptable.
The Pentagon military masters, never before equaled in history in the ways and means of violence, manipulation, and control, prove themselves incapable of pacifying Iraq, a small nation of 23 million people. Nor are they capable of controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction they have themselves created. A military assault against Iranian nuclear facilities will only serve to strengthen the black market for nuclear technology, which is already well-established. The father of the Pakistani nuclear capability is regarded as a hero for his role in defying the non-proliferation regime of the dominant nuclear powers. The global super gangster finally drops the hypocritical promise of disarmament and brazenly attempts to organize an exclusive nuclear club to guarantee its own dominance while denying every other nation access to this power.
A mere handful of terrorists have backed the super power into a corner, or so it would seem, evoking a national psychosis that guarantees the US will exhaust itself in its mindless war on terror and risk igniting a firestorm of global conflict. Though terrorists have always practiced their black arts, they have never before had potential access to weapons of mass destruction. Even with so-called conventional weapons, acts of terror evoke hugely disproportionate effects in these insecure times.
The commander in chief and all his zealous minions trample the values and the hope of our 18th Century Revolution they are pledged to protect in the conviction that those values are obsolete. They risk evoking the wrath of an armed and aroused American citizenry which no amount of surveillance or psychological operations can ultimately subdue. They cannot fool all of the people all of the time. They sow the dragon’s teeth, but ultimately lack the magical powers needed to defeat the enemies they create. They are fanatically devoted to developing these powers, however, as they refine the police state apparatus, the legal framework, the systems of detention and incarceration, and so on. Their faith in their delusional system is complete. The war on terror, a Trojan horse concealing a strategy to impose total social control and eliminate the obsolete 18th Century framework, cannot abide dissent in a society where dissent has been sacrosanct for over 200 years. For us or against us means organized and effective dissent must be suppressed.
The bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City was not an act of true domestic terrorism. It was theater of the macabre. It was perpetrated by government in order to suppress the development of native terrorism. It was a social inoculation, a taste of the disease to prevent the disease, a military psychological strategy designed to destroy the public appeal of anti-government, patriot militias. The brutal suppression of the separatist Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, was a psychological operation of a similar kind to send the clear message that organized and armed dissent will not be successful or tolerated.
You can write what you please, reader, and say what you please, but if you hang out with others of a similar persuasion, you are likely to be monitored by secret police. And if you develop broad political appeal and travel to distant speaking engagements, you may find yourself on a no-fly list. Don’t voice your silent dissent on a t-shirt at the commander in chief’s State of the Union speech and don’t criticize your commander in chief before your students in your classroom. And should you speak of the Declaration of Independence and the duty to alter or abolish a government that usurps the unalienable rights of the people, then be aware that you may come under suspicion of terrorism through the provisions of the Patriot Act. The founders of this republic were terrorists.
If you deny that your government sponsors acts of terror to promote its own political agenda, the onus is on you to prove that it does not. If you could account for all the money, you could rule out the misuse of your tax dollars in government funding for black operations. But you could not give such an accounting. It is quite impossible for anyone, even a member of Congress, to know where the millions and billions actually go. Congress abdicated its oversight role long ago.
A few years back a new building began to rise in the heart of the nation’s capital, a sleek, modern building. A reporter became curious about the who and why. No one in Congress knew, though the Capitol is only a few blocks away. With some investigation the reporter eventually discovered it was an NSA facility, but only because no denial was possible. No reporter, no member of Congress, nor any other branch of government, will ever be permitted to know the complete contents of that building. It is the “Trust Me” building. The secret government is hidden in plain sight. Its funding is untraceable and its activities unaccountable.
But no matter what resources elite social engineers have to play with, or how clever they may be, they dare not attempt too much overt suppression. Their facilities remain vulnerable from within and without. They understand the result will be the development of true domestic terror, because terrorism is the inevitable perversion of suppressed dissent. The would-be fuhrers of the new corporate world order tremble before the specter of chaos. Their attempts to impose social control are restrained by their fear of exposure and the loss of all control. That is why they are so scrupulous in maintaining a righteous public image. No whistle blower will be permitted to besmirch that image in a significant way and live to be a guest on Larry King Live.
Seven billion people is both a curse and blessing.
This administration cannot be compared to the miscreants of the American political past. Behind the cloak of secrecy mere political corruption has morphed into a profound moral pathology that recognizes no limitation except the loss of political control. There is a large difference between the casual sinner and the psychopath. No moral restraint is the definition of an insanity that speaks cooly and reasonably and waves a flag.
Ruling elites of the past have always used convenient acts of terror to further their goals. It is the dirty secret of realpolitik. When the elites roused the people to the Spanish American War with shouts of “Remember the Maine!”, or when the US entered WW I because of the calculated sinking of the Lusitania, or WW II because of the provoked bombing of Pearl Harbor, or the Viet Nam War because of the bogus incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, this was business as usual, the usual lying and dirty tricks of thousands of years.
The use of 911 as a means of motivating the people for war is a different order of business, aside from the fact that it was the heinous slaughter of citizens through the secret agency of their own government, which is nothing new in itself. The consequence is new, however. American leaders now speak in ersatz rational terms of a war that lasts indefinitely, one that is conducted all over the globe against an elusive and often invisible enemy. Pentagon lunatics salivate as they plan 20 year strategies of “asymmetrical warfare”.
Never before, even against the threat of international communism that was a mere preparation for this time, has there existed such a conception of war, except in the fevered imaginations of religious fanatics who fantasize an eternal cosmic conflict between good and evil. War, formerly the bloody but rational arbiter of national disputes over resources, boundaries, or political control, has become a raison d’etre, an Orwellian nightmare in which the boundary between war and peace, madness and sanity, dissolves. This is the final destination of unrestrained militarism.
When analogies are drawn between the emergent flu virus, H5N1, and the pandemic of 1918, the ancient assumption is that we are once again called upon to engage in defensive war against the primordial adversary, nature. Nature, a mere tool in the hand of the angry Global Overseer, occasionally punishes us for our sins. Nature, like a fickle goddess, is unpredictable, hysterical, and often vindictive. Can’t live with her, can’t live without her. Nature, an accidental assemblage of interactive components, is randomly both creative and destructive.
None of these glib assessments give useful insight. Nature was never an adversary of humanity and we are not separate from nature no matter how alien our behavior. If nature were an adversary, we would never have known a Garden of Eden, much less emerged from it. We may no longer know Gaia, we may imagine that she is no more than a door mat to wipe our feet as we pursue our separate destiny. That does not imply that Gaia does not know us or that she may no longer accommodate our delusions of a separate destiny. We will learn that Gaia’s fate and our own are not separate. We are Gaia’s creatures. The omnipotent Global Overseer is no more than a fantasy of what we wanted to be once we grew up. We are now grown up and should put away childish things.
By virtue of our medical science we are better equipped to cope with disease today and ward off the latest assault from nature, our putative antagonist. We have outmaneuvered one of Gaia’s favorite population control strategies. We have defeated her small pox, he malaria, yellow fever, polio and so on. But also by virtue of our science, we can no longer be certain of the origin of offending pathogens, old familiar ones or new ones. Is it real or is it a bioweapon? Does it matter? In either case, despite our best efforts, we end up serving nature’s purpose. She has the last word. The comedian, George Carlin, once speculated that nature created humans so that humans would create plastic, which didn’t occur naturally. Though we shed our natural instincts and went out from the Garden of Eden, and though we have left the planet itself, we haven’t on that account actually left the natural bounds of earthly creatures. We remain human creatures, even though we may stand on Mars and plant a flag. The only true escape from creaturehood is death.
Observation of natural systems has long established that a balance among animal populations in a living space is always maintained. Any species that overproduces its own numbers places itself in peril of having its numbers reduced through predation, starvation, disease, or madness. This latter mechanism is an internal response to stress that stimulates inappropriate and self-destructive behavior. Whom Gaia would destroy, she first drives mad. The invention of weapons of mass destruction is the most inappropriate and self-destructive behavior imaginable.
When a small mouse-like creature called the lemming overpopulates its arctic territory and depletes the carrying capacity of its local environment, the natural system attempts to restore balance in two ways. Biologically, fertility is diminished and reproductive ability crashes, and behaviorally, the lemmings will begin a migration to a new territory which may or may not exist for them. The migration can become a heedless stampede for survival. They may wade into the sea, swim desperately, and drown before reaching land again. Predators take advantage of their vulnerability. Some may die of exhaustion, and so on. The result of this mania is the reduction of excess population. Mission accomplished.
In latter day human creatures among the manifestations of this internal control is the fear of terrorism. This is a collective mania in which masses of human creatures stampede into a “war on terrorism”. In this instance, the fear is created and manipulated by leaders who are themselves following a lunatic agenda of global domination, but the herd is restless and easily spooked in any case because at the instinctive level of creaturely existence there is a profound survival anxiety. Most everyone these days hears the hoof beats of the apocalyptic horsemen. The pandemic of drug abuse, legal and not, and new mass pathologies such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disturbances, “erectile dysfunction”, etc, point to a fundamental social dis-ease. We all know something’s happening, but we don’t know what it is, so we call it terrorism, for now, and a windfall for the pharmaceutical trade.
These horsemen are quaint representations of a single, universally dreadful situation - total system malfunction! Global crisis! There are trees and there is a forest. We are good at seeing the trees, but painfully shy when it comes to thinking about the forest. We say that is a job for experts, for PhD’s, priests, politicians, and savage, salivating Bible thumpers, and we refuse to think about it
Regardless of how scientists or religionists may view the human race, it remains one species among many. This unassailable fact has been completely denied and forgotten. Gaia regulates the lives of creatures to achieve optimal conditions for all. This programming has not been over ridden or displaced. We may have created our own separate technological environment and become conscious manipulators of the natural world, but consciousness remains tied to the instinctive creature level of existence and cannot be delinked. We are bound up with all other species. We don’t understand this linkage. We suffer profound internal conflict because we are working against the natural system that is alive within us, but we don’t understand it as such. The fact is that we are all “environmentalists” or “ecologists” at a deep and barely conscious level. We are intimately connected to the deepest core of the world system. It is unfortunate that we have chosen a condition of extreme alienation and have forgotten how to think about this dimension of our experience, our most fundamental creaturely experience.
We wonder at animals that seem to know when an earthquake is going to strike, and yet there are humans still capable of this sort of connection with the world system and able to use the knowledge that it gives them. A small tribe of aboriginal Indians, numbering 250 individuals, called the Jarawa on Anadaman Island off the southern coast of India had an early warning of the earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 6,000 inhabitants of that island in the last days of December 2004. They fled inland to higher ground and all were safe. In a rare interview with outsiders, they refused to discuss how they knew when to escape. Ashu, speaking for the tribe in broken Hindi said:”My world is in the forest. Your world is outside. We don’t like people from outside.”
We are all outsiders in our own world even though we live within this natural system as surely as the Jarawa do. We are an expression of it, as George Carlin put it. Nature created us so that we could create plastic! And nuclear weapons. And cloned sheep. And terminator seeds. It’s all natural, even if it’s total insanity. We have so successfully bucked the system and kept the horsemen at bay for so many generations that we may now be forcing an irreversible malfunction of the global system itself. This is the great fear of James Lovelock, the scientist who has attempted to make the concept of Gaia respectable in a world so bereft of intuitive understanding.
The point may be debatable. A total eco-system malfunction does not require expert permission, nor like an earthquake can it be predicted by any means we are familiar with, though to animals and aboriginals still tuned into Gaia’s web, it may be as simple as listening to the birds sing. We have no precedent to console us in any case. We know nothing of the thoughts of the good citizens of Atlantis as they faced their predicament.
But we can be sure of one thing in this world of Never Before. If it seems that we have overcome natural threats to our presence on the planet and outwitted the horsemen, it is we ourselves who will blindly carry out nature’s ancient prerogatives. Gaia wants our population reduced so that every other species may enjoy a quality of life and we will obligingly commit Hari Kari, though that may not be our intention. One way or another, the implacable intelligence of the natural system of which we are a part will roll over us like a great tsunami unless we can acknowledge our ancient creaturehood and bring ourselves into compliance with the system that has always sustained us. We must begin a grand diplomatic initiative with Gaia to negotiate a balanced relationship between our technological world and the natural world. To imagine that we can over ride the natural system is madness.
The tragic element in this is that we could make peace with Gaia and build a new Eden if we could acknowledge our mistakes and let go of the past. However, it seems we prefer to stand on the roaring heath and shout defiance into the wind, like crazy King Lear. We stumble on blindly into the discontinuity, looking backwards, with larger and larger military budgets to defend our ignorance while simultaneously becoming ever more vulnerable as the hoof beats grow ever closer. We proclaim our faith in fantasies. We hope that some agency will step in and put things right, some deus ex machina, somehow. Jesus. Benevolent aliens.
It won’t happen that way.
©2006 Joseph Danison