Monday, June 28, 2010

Civilization is not a genetic disease

Mother culture provides several cleverly crafted ways of deflecting questions directed at the validity of her narratives.  Deep questioning of the status quo is a form of insanity.  Those who would question the legitimacy of civilization are clearly in need of psychiatric attention.  Those who would write a blog echoing the suggestion that we need to end civilization intentionally before it crashes on top of us are insane but harmless: the caricature of the lunatic marching in the street with the sign reading “the end is near.”  It’s important that anyone who suggests dismantling the status quo is made to appear crazy and at the same time irrelevant.  Any attempts to engage in rational discourse with civilization’s apologists are met with knee-jerk retorts that assume the form of rational rejoinder: “We need civilization” or “Civilization does more good than harm.”  And from those who acknowledge that civilization has generated some serious problems, we often hear variations on: “With the right changes, we can make the system work” or “Our technology will eventually solve our problems.” Lurking behind all of these is the assumption that civilization is part of what it means to be human, that it is inevitable and thus the problems it creates are unavoidable.

Civilization is not coded in our DNA!   

The fact that industrial civilization exists means that it is compatible with our evolved capacities (at least in the short term); but compatible does not mean inevitable.  Civilization depends on our evolved mnemonic and linguistic faculties and our ability to represent the world symbolically, along with our willingness to engage an artificial world of abstract reified entities.  But that does not make civilization obligatory any more than Nike corporation is a natural outgrowth of bipedal locomotion. 

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