On Urgency

Hello,

it was quiet for a long time and I had written two articles about sustainability. When I was writing the articles, I only became aware of the urgency of other issues again.

You could do me a big favor and share this newsletter with your best friends. Will help me a lot.

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I describe my view that the paradigm of urgency, heroic effort, and struggle might itself be part of the problem; that it comes from the same place of scarcity and domination as the conquest of nature; that coming from that place we might blindly create more of the same. Instead, I often suggest, we might try to slow down, maybe even do nothing sometimes. Instead of holding ourselves to a high standard of revolutionary asceticism, we might approach life in a spirit of ease and play. Perhaps from this place, our creative energies can bring forth something truly new for civilization. This was also my thesis for the article Degrowth.

After reading some indigenous books, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that we are striving for this urgency. But perhaps don't need it. Most of the actions I see right now to solve the problems in the world are conceived out of effect. They are short-term actions that will not lead to long-term success.

Could it be that we have something crucial to learn from the indigenous people? Could it be that our only way out of this mess is to reclaim our own indigenous soul?

Again with the thought in mind that we are part of the whole and not a separate alien.

That is easier said than done. I am aware of that. If my house is on fire, I'm not going to sit in front of my Mac. The world is on fire! So why am I still sitting here? Because I don't have a fire extinguisher for the world and there is no global emergency number I can call.

Millions of people are starving, but I don't have enough food to give them all. And even if I did have it, you have to look at the economics of food aid or resource distribution and understand how it sometimes creates dependencies, fuels cronyism and warlordism, and destroys local food production, and the right response becomes less clear. A Marxist would say that alleviating hunger through food aid merely obscures the real cause of the problem and perpetuates the underlying injustice.

If we know the true cause of a problem and what to do about it, then everything society said is true. Then it is time to act, and perhaps to act urgently. But if we haven't gotten to the real cause, or if we don't know what to do about it, then it might be counterproductive to act immediately. Society´s words might actually apply to all of us: The appearance of frenetic action soothes the conscience and creates the illusion that one is part of the solution, but are these actions of any use at all.

Perhaps global warming is the asymptomatic fever of our hurrying.

Because why is global warming taking place? There are the immediate causes: the burning of fossil fuels and the assault on the forests and biodiversity that maintain climate homeostasis. And why is all this happening? It's all in the name of efficiency: labor efficiency (more labor per unit of labor) and economic efficiency (maximizing short-term return on capital). And efficiency is just another name for getting it done faster. Or the reason is that we no longer find meaning in this complex world. We have lost the ability to make sense.

You might think there's good haste (to save the planet) and bad haste (to use machines to get things done with less work), but perhaps the underlying mindset behind both types of haste is the problem.

There is a time to act and a time to wait, to listen, to observe. Then understanding and clarity can grow. From understanding comes action that is purposeful, decisive, and powerful.

There are so many battles, so many campaigns, so many calls to overcome the enemy with violence. No wonder we apply the same strategy to ourselves. It so happens that the internal devastation of the Western psyche corresponds exactly to the external devastation it has wrought on the planet. Wouldn't you like to be part of a different kind of revolution?

Malte

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Book of the Week:

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

What are you reading?