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« The Systemic Existence | Main | Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind »

August 20, 2009

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Eric

I like your blog. I like the way you're thinking. However dividing progressives into two camps seems like a generalization which requires some qualification. Perhaps it depends on what one's conception progress is. What is yours?

Matt

Eric- One book that I think does a good job of describing the problems with modern progress is Christopher Lasch's The True and Only Heaven. An earlier version of progress -- 100 years or so ago -- was that life was about developing man rather than natural resources exclusively.

From the Introduction to The True and Only Heaven [published in 1991]:

A sign of the times: both left and right, with equal vehemence, repudiate the charge of "pessimism." Neither side has any use for "doomsayers." Neither wants to admit that our society has taken a wrong turn, lost its way, and needs to recover a sense of purpose and direction. Neither addresses the overriding issue of limits, so threatening to those who wish to appear optimistic at all times. The fact remains: the earth's finite resources will not support an indefinite expansion of industrial civilization. The right proposes, in effect, to maintain our riotous standard of living, as it has been maintained in the past, at the expense of the rest of the world.... This program is self-defeating, not only because it will produce environmental effects from which even the rich cannot escape but because it will widen the gap between rich and poor nations, generate more and more violent movements of insurrection and terrorism against the West, and bring about a deterioration of the world's political climate as threatening as the deterioration of its physical climate.

But the historical program of the left has become equally self-defeating. The attempt to extend Western standards of living to the rest of the world will lead even more quickly to the exhaustion of nonrenewable resources, the irreversible pollution of the earth's atmosphere, and the destruction of the ecological system, in short, on which human life depends. [p.23]

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