The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."
Showing posts with label Erikson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Erikson. Show all posts

Friday, April 28, 2023

America, the Collapsed. Why Mommy Knows Best


I am still reading paper books. I think they favor concentration in a way that on-screen books cannot provide. Books are also one of the few places left in the memesphere where you can say what you think without being aggressed by a band of zombies or censored by brain-drained idiots. So, during the past few years, I have been reading a series of books, most of which, I think, deserve a comment. And I'll see to publish a few; not really book reviews, but just ideas derived from the books I read. 

Why do people do things that harm themselves? It is a good question that nobody seems to know how to answer -- yet, it happens all the time. Scott Erikson tackles the question in his book, "Mommy, Why did America Collapse?" A nice addition to the catastrophist's bookshelf. 

Erikson writes in a light mood; his analyses do not pretend to be quantitative models of the collapse of complex systems, but he tells a fascinating tale in the form of a bedtime dialog between a mother and her daughter. The fascination is not in the story itself: for those of us who are hard-core catastrophists, there is not much that we didn't know before (mommy is one of us!). For those who are not catastrophists, the book will probably fail to appear convincing.

Yet, the problem is there, and many past stories show how exactly people can and do harm themselves by doing things that may appear intelligent in the short term but lethal in the long term. Throwing oneself naked into a thornbush to collect berries is a paradigmatic example, but, in a more pedantic kind of analysis, Ilaria Perissi and I noted how the fishing industry has consistently destroyed the fish stocks that made them live in our book "The Empty Sea." How could it happen? We cite several examples of how people simply trade long-term survival for short-term gains. It is the way the human mind works. We need just one word to describe it: "greed."

That's exactly the point that Erikson makes over and over in his book. It is not so much an analysis of the reasons why America did (will) collapse but how a profound failure in communication caused the collapse. More than a problem of communication, it is a problem of trust. A mother can say things at bedtime that her daughter has no reason to mistrust (unless mommy wants to sell the munchkin to the bad witch for cooking in a cauldron).  

But, apart for bedtime stories, we are always dealing with people who are trying to sell us to the canned meat industry -- often figuratively, sometimes perhaps even for real. So, if there is no trust, there is no truth. And if there is no truth, there is nothing at all. Only noise. And who has the time for bedtime stories, anyway?

No wonder America Collapsed.