16 June 2019


People in general cannot stand an uncertain future.

If you have no power, you invent rituals and do what you can to create a belief that it will all work out somehow.

If you have power, you use that power to create the closest approximation of a certain future you can get.  This is where the organization of society around making wealth generationally persistent comes from; wealth is the tool to produce a status quo and through that status quo a predictable future.

Today, no certain future is possible.  We don't know what the climate is going to do; any honest person is going to tell you that it depends a lot on what we do for the next year, the next five years, the next ten, but also that we're in a future of large error bars somewhere between the Eocene Thermal Maximum and the End Permian.  (That's between "a third of ocean life" and "ninety-odd percent of ocean life" going extinct.)

This is intolerable; people deal with it generally by insisting it isn't happening.  But it obviously is happening, and the conflict between what is endurable and what is factual is destroying the mechanisms of government.

The fix is to create belief in a plausible reliable future.  There is a plausible reliable future, if we can manage to both remove the tiny number of extremely rich people blocking access to it in favour of the doomed status quo and to all work hard to enact it.

The first critical step is to require elected representatives to publicly agree that they will indeed destroy the status quo in favour of the reliable future.


Zeborah said...

You... want a democracy to vote for a revolution.

It's an appealing idea. Logistically challenging, though, in that it goes against the very nature of the kind of person who has achieved political power: it feels like it would be hard to motivate them unless they were faced with a more grassroots revolution.

Graydon said...

+Zeborah Not only has it happened before (though one will inevitably get arguments about when!), it's claimed as one of the major reasons to prefer democratic systems; you can have the electoral revolution, rather than the bloody one.

I agree about the motivation but the prospect (in the northern hemisphere) of a generally terrible crop year looms. I don't think the grassroots revolution is going to be the hard part.

The other thing is that getting it right is a way to be immensely politically successful. It's just (from a politics perspective) insanely high-risk. So someone with a clear sense of what the new status quo should look like doesn't need all that much prodding to go for it. The difficulty is that the best-funded ones are white supremacists.