June 20, 2012

Growth = Life. Being "Sensible" = Death

Gian posted a quote here, and this post grew out of one of my replies...

"Western civilization has made its peace with the Devil, in return for which it has been granted hitherto unimaginable resources of knowledge, power, and pleasure. This is, of course, the grand theme of the Faust legend, immortalized by Goethe."

"Opposition to the growth juggernaut has gathered pace in recent years. Growth, say critics, is not only failing to make us happier; it is also environmentally disastrous. Both claims may well be true, but they fail to capture our deeper objection to endless growth, which is that it is senseless."

By Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky,
The Chronicle of Higher Education

"they fail to capture our deeper objection to endless growth, which is that it is senseless"

Growth is life. It is equivalent to youth and vitality in a person. And the different flowerings of life are not separable. You can't say, "Let's stop economic growth, but still have vigor in other areas of life." That doesn't work.

The real problem is that these guys are like adults who only want children around if they are subdued and quiet and orderly. That's really saying they don't want children around, period. Youth is both creative and self-destructive. It is noisy, messy, dangerous....and tons of fun for everyone who is still "alive."

Youth is, precisely, "senseless."

Saying you don't want economic growth is like a couple getting married and planning on having one child. Or like drinking half a bottle of champagne, and putting the rest in the refrigerator! Unreal. Prissy.

It's the attitude I see all around me, in "liberal" San Francisco. Which is like a bunch of old people who are comfortable in their little homes, and never change anything, and want most of all to be safe and secure. They are really already dead.

Life is change. Which means turmoil and upheaval and danger and risk. Life isn't supposed to "make you happy." Life is life, you just do it. You just live, whether happy or unhappy. And when you start to look at it like a critical outsider, then you are effectively dead.

I know nothing about these Skidelsky people, but I'd be willing to bet they sniff in disapproval at big families, space colonies (except maybe safe government ones), hot-gospel religion, military action, guns, Tea Partiers, free enterprise, and, of course, America and Israel.

NOTE: if Faust had been 17 years old, then his bargain would not have been a "Faustian" one. Still wrong, of course, but basically the sort of stupid thing teenage boys do.

Posted by John Weidner at June 20, 2012 10:14 AM
Weblog by John Weidner