Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Resolution: Job's Folly's Theory of the Human Condition

This began as a Canadian politics blog because that's what I used to blog about at Sixth Estate, but to be honest, I tire of the meaningless pap.  Plus, there is no longer a dictatorship to oppose, which makes the whole subject rather boring.  I can already predict what will happen over the next four years.  Most importantly, I can predict what will happen on the only political policy front that matters: electoral reform.  There will be no such reform, no meaningful reform anyways.  We will have First Past the Post next election, and the one after that too.

Why?  Nobody can come up with a good argument in defence of FPTP.  Most of us love to criticize its clear distortion of results.  The present government consists of both politicians and supporters who, for the most part, won election fully convinced of the importance of doing away with FPTP and plainly have the constitutional prerogative to achieve that end.  So the Trudeau government will fail to achieve an objective that most voters endorse, or have endorsed at some point in time anyways, even though it has the power to achieve that objective and even though if it did so it would virtually assure the successful election of Liberal majority governments for the foreseeable future.

At Sixth Estate, one of my big themes was that money shaped public discourse and that part of the reason the country was veering so sharply right-wing was because monetary interests who supported the witch's brew of free market economic policy and authoritarian-style governance exercised vast influence and sometimes even direct control over the media. That isn't entirely false -- or put more simply, it's true that most of the major media outlets in this country are overtly Conservative and wish to see the election of Conservative governments in the future.

But increasingly my thoughts have turned to a more basic sociological and even biological level, and that's what I'm going to be pondering over the next year.  I no longer see any point in the sort of blogging I once did because I am increasingly persuaded by the research evidence that there is simply no point trying to convince adults to change their thinking.  Not, anyways, unless you have massive resources to commit to the project, boundless patience, and a willingness to accept unforeseen results, because society is chaotic. I'm always up for the third, but not so much the first or second. If I'm going to preach to the choir, I might as well grump about the end of civilization rather than beat about the bushes.

I'm hardly the first to move in this direction, and it won't disappoint me in the least if I'm not the first to be proven wrong for doing so, either.

In Africa, cape buffalo have a problem: they are sometimes killed and eaten by lions.  There is no particular reason for this.  The cape buffalo are large and aggressive.  They should get together and kill all the lions. They should ally with the hippopotamuses and destroy all the crocodiles too, just to be extra safe. The rational basis for such a strategy is obvious.

In every part of the world where humans reside, we also have a problem: we are, collectively, unable to take action against a slough of existential problems that will certainly destroy our present way of life within the next 200 years, including climate change and the end of antibiotics. The rational basis for taking such action is obvious, and at least some of the possible courses of action which could certainly achieve the necessary results are equally obvious.

The reasons why crocodiles, lions, climate change, and antibiotic resistance persist are probably more similar than any of us would care to admit.


  1. " I can already predict what will happen over the next four years. "

    And won't it be very interesting when what you predict doesn't all happen ;)

    Convincing a collective of adults with a blog is largely impossible, but convincing individuals sometimes happens. Sometimes a blog reaches someone within the influence machinery that convinces the masses. Usually that's only for weight loss tricks, and not electoral reform, but I'm still happy trying.

  2. Thanks for your faithful readership.

    If that comes, I will happily step forward to take my lumps, and you can deliver them with as much gusto as you desire.

    I admire your resolve and my principles haven't changed, and probably won't. However, it's just that at the moment, I find I'm more interested in thinking about the causes and possible futures of right-wing authoritarianism. One has to write about one's interests. It's not like we're being paid to do these gigs.