Hubris


I have to apologise for not having posted for a while. I’ve been too involved with the hockey playoffs to care about much else, but the perilous state of the world has finally roused me to keyboard.

I often rag on North American, individualist, capitalist culture because I’m convinced that the planet cannot survive it unless something drastic happens to mitigate our approach to life.

Two more signs of the apocalypse under the general heading of Hubris that make me despair for our futures even more. If you don’t know what hubris means, check it out on Wikipedia and come back when you’re done.

Sign number one: Everyone is following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As of the latest newscast, ‘Top Kill’, which I understand is an attempt to cap the well by injecting junk into the hole – rocks, old tires, DVDs of seasons 3 and 4 of Heroes, whatever crap no ones needs that could be used to bung up the well . . . but I digress, which is the whole point of this exercise as far as I’m concerned . . . but I digress. Anywho, Chevron, I think it is (sorry if I’ve got it wrong and call off the legal team) is planning to drill a well A MILE DEEPER than the one in the Gulf, in the North Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Should this well go south (no Gulf pun intended) it would take 11 days to move a rig from the Gulf of Mexico to drill a relief well . . . and if drilling a relief well would solve the problem, why hasn’t one been drilled in the Gulf, where the rig that would drill the relief well in the North Atlantic would come from. And after 11 days to simply drag the thing over, while thousands and thousands of barrels of crude seep into the ocean, it’s unknown how long it would then take to dig that well, AND, it’s also unknown whether it would work. SO, as we watch the Gulf spill overtake the Exxon Valdez as the largest disaster in petro history, should we learn a lesson about HUBRIS and decide to forgo that well in the North Atlantic, just in case sh*t happens, as it is wont to do? I doubt it. After all, what are the odds of ANOTHER huge, unmitigated, devastating event . . . pretty small, eh?

Sign number two: Scientists in California have created life by replacing some poor shnook bacterium’s DNA with DNA, not previously found in nature, that they cooked up on a bunsen burner next to the microwave in the lunchroom. So, let’s see . . . man-made DNA, not previously found in nature, used to turbo charge a bacterium with a hole in its heart and a yen for revenge. What could possibly go wrong in this scenario?

But our scientific-rationalist model just can’t leave well enough alone. After all, homo sapien is the pinnacle of creation and we can do no wrong. Imagine the economic potential in home-made life forms! Not to mention the thrill of playing Gods. If it’s possible, some idiot will do it.

Not much has changed since the Greeks invented Hubris, and Pandora’s box, and Oedipus, and Cassandra and all those other cautionary tales meant to protect us from ourselves – at least not here in the West where I live (in trepidation).

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  1. The Destructionist
    29 May 2010 at 4:25 pm

    THE EVOLUTION OF CAPITALISM

    Capitalism was founded upon basic principles: production, supply and demand, and capital accumulation. It is a social theory whereby prices are determined by profit and loss, as well as market interest and fluctuations.

    Although I understand the need for a free market enterprise, such a theory should not imply that we are willing to disregard our environment, or sacrifice the needs and comforts of our humanity in an attempt to realize higher profits (a.k.a., BP, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, etc).

    Capitalism may be wonderful, but like anything else, it is still a flawed system. It’s a work in progress. It needs to be tweaked here and there in order to perfect its balance and to soothe the inordinate swings that occur day-to-day in our financial markets. If left unchecked, however, such a system will prove to be our economic downfall.

    How so?

    Well, for one thing, there is only so much profit a business can make from a product before it is left to cut costs in both quality and workmanship. In order to continually sustain a profit, businesses have to create those same products with lower quality ingredients and cheaper labor: which means that they must pull up stakes and move to other countries like China, Taiwan, or Mexico in order to survive. What does this eventually mean for people like you and me? It means that the very financial theory that promoted our country to super power status has turned on us. It means that the American workforce is now expected to work harder, longer, cheaper, and faster if we are to compete with the global economy now breathing down our necks.

    Where do we go from here?

    George Orwell had it right, to some extent, when he wrote his book1984. Many years from now, money will become worthless and the global populace will be employed and subject to hundreds (if not thousands) of individualized corporations that managed to survive attrition through merger aquisitions. It will be a feudalistic society: every corporation out for blood and vying for global dominance and absolute power. Our children and grandchildren will be there too: housed, clothed and fed by these various corporate entities; all the while being sent out on occasion, like brainless automatons, to errands of war, in an effort to absorb the weakest corporations into the fold. After all the dust settles, and everything is said and done, the remaining corporations will finally merge into a one-world government.

    Science fiction, you say?

    (…I’m left wondering.)

    • 31 May 2010 at 9:36 pm

      I’ve mulled it over for a day or so, but can’t figure out how your treatise on capitalism relates at all to my post. OK, I did mention capitalism as one of the forces driving our hubris, but still, how was your comment a ‘comment’ on the posting. Or wasn’t that the point?

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