[Previously on What’s In Their Water?: I have heard everything there is to hear about how the world is much better off than it was decades ago . . . how everyone should remain positive and trust in the power of the markets, democracy and freedom . . .]
The truth is far more sobering than that, and far more challenging. The world is in crisis, much of which is systemic, brought on by actions on both the individual and organizational level. Saying that things are not as bad as they look doesn’t make them so. Claiming that our problems are not grave, that they’re fixable and reversible, focusing only on the positives, ignoring the negatives, all the blatant writing on the wall, pretending it’s not there, well, it’s not going to make life better. It won’t prevent conflict, or forestall a crisis, or improve the situation on the ground. It won’t protect anyone from further downturn.
It merely adds to the problem, perpetuating the crises, galvanizing the impression that the miscalculations and denial and hubris responsible for these grave issues, the ones that led to this mess in the first place, are alive and well.
The aristocracy and all the privileged among us, the world’s invested and paranoid Haves, are again blind to the signs. Pathologically incurable, in love with their quirks and faults, they sing the age-old mantra of complacency and overconfidence. They believe in the system. It’s what keeps the world going, right? No one’s going to let it collapse.
So they give themselves license to do as they’ve always done, and not worry about it. They have a right to be imperfect, they say. They deserve what they have, and can do with it as they like, use it, hoard it, squander it, even flush it down the drain if they want to, even if it blocks up the pipes and drowns out the entire building, the entire town. Chock full of themselves, they’re unwilling to accept that they screwed up, that their echelons are once again suffering from severe misconduct, manned by people who take things for granted and the world for a ride. The entitled manner in which they deal with their networks and assets, with privilege in particular, and the world’s resources in general, is something they fail to grasp.
The destitute on the other hand, and all the indignant Have-nots, refuse to understand that wealth needs to be managed — that it can’t be turned into a free-for-all. This isn’t a fairytale or film where things magically work out. They don’t understand that without an economy, or checks and balances, and rules and rewards based on performance and incentive, the world will turn into a frat party. Pouf! No more resources left, ever. Or maybe plenty of resources, but no real progress. Just us and the sky, and the apes, and the sheep, frolicking around each other, making merry in parochial Eden like a species in retirement.
About the frat party scenario. If you thought that business as usual was bad, think twice-as-bad if we ditch the system for a no-barriers, merry-go-round handaway. There will be nothing left AND we’ll suffer a never-ending hangover.
For those who’re thinking socialism, ha, that’s rich! Socialism, the great joke! The feast to end all feasts, the squelcher of drive and spirit. A dungeon for the soul, inside which one is supposed to be grateful. Not only that, it devours resources all the same, via the tragedy of the commons. If no one’s responsible, things become a free-for-all, and that leads to abuse and depletion.
And note this: business as usual is failing because it operates on a kind of free-for-all scheme, a perverse tragedy of the commons where the players involved assume ownership of XYZ only to abuse it to the detriment of the supporting environment, for which no one is responsible. Think about that for a moment, how the nasty end of capitalism is rooted in reckless commonism.
And so it goes. The Entitled on both sides of the argument insist on protecting their entitlements, to each their own, the world overflowing with ideologs unwilling to budge, desperate to cling on to the warm fallacy that everything will be ok if we wish it deep and hard and bravely enough. If we keep doing what we do, they claim, trusting in the market, in democracy, in enterprise, in God. If we raze the system to the ground and put our trust in social justice, in humanism, in our supreme leader, or whoever the hell one cherishes above reason itself.
If we do the above, they claim, to each their own, we’ll be fine.
And back in the loop we go.
See, the deadliest enemy of progress is the lack of common sense, which can be found (lacking) in every facet of life, among the uneducated and privileged alike, left, right, and center.
Watch this space for Part 3