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viddaloo

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Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« on: November 22, 2014, 07:56:46 PM »
I hand to you the decade old Annual Report from the Club of Rome — almost forgotten already — in history's sweet irony:

«Limits to Ignorance»

— or, as it was rebranded when that was too provocative —

«Hostages of the Horizon»

— The twin challenge of ignorance and indifference —

Many — if not all — of you will remember the breakthrough report for Club of Rome: The Limits to Growth. An important cornerstone in the ecological bookshelf, although this «new» 2004 report is maybe even more telling of our complex predicament?

I'll give you a few excerpts, and then I'll shut up until maybe some of you've browsed it, or otherwise caught interest and started writing comments. I'm sure I don't have to say it out loud, explicitly, but a certain contemporary tendency to deny climate change even in the midst of a vast ocean of information about its dangers and challenges comes to mind. As we shall see.

**

Quote from: Club of Rome
Regardless of an enormous increase in the volumes of information flows, re-search and education both in the industrialized and developing countries, humankind’s broadly recognized, major long-term challenges still play second fiddle. This unfortunate situation prevails both in global activities and traditional decision-making, as well as in the thinking of a majority of individuals, inferior in importance to the principles of short-sighted competition.

Quote from: Club of Rome
Will the ever-increasing information overflow and the tidal wave of media produce nothing but a deeply rooted moral indifference within the minds of ordinary people regarding other people and nature?

Quote from: Club of Rome
The challenge of the ’Limits to Ignorance’ has been a prominent part of ethics since Plato. It is known as the dilemma of acrasia: why do people act (at least occasionally) against their best knowledge of what is good? Despite this incoherence we constantly face, our behaviour as individuals is based on the fundamental assumption that both we ourselves and our fellow humans will behave more responsibly the better we know the possible consequences of our actions. Knowledge is presumed to create responsibility.

Quote from: Club of Rome
While the material standard of living has risen, people have, in many ways, become more privatized and have drifted away from caring about common problems. At first this happened in a relative sense. Privatization neither increased nor decreased the opportunities of other people. But at the turn of the new millennium, this development has reached the level of absolute changes in the Western countries.

Quote from: Club of Rome
This point was made by Mona Makram-Ebeid in her presentation: ”Real politics postpone resolving the core problems; therefore we need moral politics, [which could create] moral principles for a dialogue of cultures.”

Quote from: Club of Rome
Professor Markku Wilenius warned that the enormous volumes of scientific and other information available are not being fully utilized. We simply lack the means to evaluate and select what is essential in the great flood of unstructured information. As a result, we are unable to address the great problems of humanity and gradually turn indifferent and unwilling to deal with social and political challenges.

Quote from: Club of Rome
Citing once again HRH, “we need critical questions and counter-visions to ensure that IT is not transformed into weapons of mass distraction, deception and destruction...[instead] the challenge of informed humanity is to make certain that IT is safeguarded as a weapon of mass instruction, education and reconstruction.”

Quote from: Club of Rome
According to the most critical voices addressed in the Limits to Ignorance-conference, the current education system and media dominantly support the programming of people into obedient and dutiful experts. Programmed people serve as components of the production and consumption powers of the global system. In all other matters they just mind their own business – their job, livelihood, material consumption, as in entertaining themselves.

Quote from: Club of Rome
Professor Markku Wilenius listed them in his address in the following way: “It is reflected in social development, the general decline in voting activity, the tightening grip that mindless television entertainment has on the popular imagination, and the advancing of self-centred and individualistic culture. In short, at present, we are heading towards a manipulated world, where infotainment is too often the content and where politicians are too seldom courageous enough to press their agenda over the media’s power.”

Quote from: Club of Rome
“There is much talk these days that we are drowning in information, but where are the voices telling us that we are drowning in ignorance and indifference? The main dilemma of humanity today is not a lack of information, but that we care far too little about what is happening around us.”, as Markku Wilenius concluded his welcome address.

Quote from: Club of Rome
Besides the illiteracy and lack of basic education there are numerous other forms of ignorance. Many of them hamper the educated no less than they do uneducated people. It is education for life, critical independent thinking that is needed and not just the programming of professionals into obedient and passive producers and consumers. If this requirement has been overlooked, it seems evident that democracy won’t function well.

Quote from: Club of Rome
The great challenge that the new emergence of a civil society could facilitate is the broader awareness of the world problématique. As a result, people would start practicing resolutique in their everyday life instead of just passively receiving news on a worsening state of the world.

Quote from: Club of Rome
Ignorance and decision making: The current reality, full of uncertainty both on a personal and social level, leaves us constantly going through decision making processes with potentially far-reaching long-term effects. Yet, it is harder than ever to separate fact from fiction in our decisions and analytic views from emotions. Thus, the critical questions are: How to help decision-makers to increase their knowledge and care about future possibilities, threats and the long-term consequences of their decisions in the constant inflow of information? How to improve decision-making processes to combine the available facts with peoples’ genuine needs to produce sustainable actions in different scales?

Quote from: Club of Rome
“Ladies and gentlemen, the organisers of this meeting claim that ignorance in the world has reached a limit where it has to end. What logically follows from this claim is a question; who is being ignorant and in respect to what? And if we are able to identify these ignorant people, we need to ask what is the reason for their – or maybe our – ignorance. And more; what are the things needed to change this ignorance?”
– President Martti Ahtisaari

Quote from: Club of Rome
The Art of Programming
Education has unproportionally served the interests of the ruling class and the prevailing sys- tem to “program” citizens throughout history. The goal has been to make them obedient and direct their frustrations and critique somewhere outside of the foundations of the system.

Quote from: Club of Rome
In order to learn and to know things, you need motivation. If it is acceptable to not bother with some issues, then you probably don’t feel any pressure to learn more about them, neither to understand their deeper nature. And, as it was noted in one intervention during the first panel discussion of the conference, current education systems are still controlled by national interests and real politics, not by moral politics and global governance.

Quote from: Club of Rome
There is nothing wrong in repeating the high ideals, which still apply in the minds of many of us as goals that we all should strive for and lay our hopes upon. Yet, we are all very aware of the structural barriers that constantly cause our failures and turn ideals into nothing but – ideals. These iron cages seem to be inherent in all societies, keeping short-term benefits ahead of the long-term ones, encouraging the choice of one’s own interest over the common one and letting us remain indifferent instead of pursuing wisdom.

Quote from: Club of Rome
The Next Level of Limits
“The Limits to Growth did not change the world, but it was a crucial piece in the process whereby humanity became conscious of the physical limits of its own actions. What we need now is to turn our focus on the mental limits of humanity, those boundaries that prevent us from caring and understanding.”
– Professor Markku Wilenius

Quote from: Club of Rome
Thirdly, we are not only ignorant of other people, but also of other living beings and our entire biological environment. Industrial society has very much detached us from the natural processes of our surroundings. It is even harder to become truly aware of the effects that we as entire societies and humanity have on a global level. Although the world problématique has been on the agenda for decades, it is not only a matter of indifference: this kind of impact is hard to grasp fully.
[]

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Re: Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2014, 09:06:08 PM »
Reads like a pretty potent argument against democracy.

viddaloo

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Re: Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2014, 09:23:11 PM »
Reads like a pretty potent argument against democracy.

Or perhaps against capitalism? Browsing it again today, it struck me this was as far as the CoR could go without explicitly calling for a different base system than capitalism.
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Bruce Steele

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Re: Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2014, 11:28:47 PM »
I like the stanza that begins " Freedom is poor and laborious ;
 
Shine, Republic
The quality of these trees, green height; of the sky, shining, of
water, a clear flow; of the rock, hardness
And reticence: each is noble in its quality. The love of freedom
has been the quality of Western man.

There is a stubborn torch that flames from Marathon to Concord,
its dangerous beauty binding three ages
Into one time; the waves of barbarism and civilization have
eclipsed but have never quenched it.

For the Greeks the love of beauty, for Rome of ruling; for the
present age the passionate love of discovery;
But in one noble passion we are one; and Washington, Luther,
Tacitus, Aeschylus, one kind of man.

And you, America, that passion made you. You were not born
to prosperity, you were born to love freedom.
You did not say 'en masse,' you said 'independence.' But we
cannot have all the luxuries and freedom also.

Freedom is poor and laborious; that torch is not safe but hungry,
and often requires blood for its fuel.
You will tame it against it burn too clearly, you will hood it
like a kept hawk, you will perch it on the wrist of Caesar.

But keep the tradition, conserve the forms, the observances, keep
the spot sore. Be great, carve deep your heel-marks.
The states of the next age will no doubt remember you, and edge
their love of freedom with contempt of luxury.

Robinson Jeffers


I wanted to send this in exploration of is it us or our handlers ?  I would argue the former. As we most certainly labor beneath control structures aren't we, most of us, content ? There has to be some desire or pressure to resist both the influences of money or any  democracy for sale as a result. I used to tell my crew on tough days " you gotta want it "




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Re: Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2014, 05:34:48 PM »
I wanted to send this in exploration of is it us or our handlers ?  I would argue the former. As we most certainly labor beneath control structures aren't we, most of us, content ? There has to be some desire or pressure to resist both the influences of money or any  democracy for sale as a result. I used to tell my crew on tough days " you gotta want it "

Well, us - given the masses provide both the superiority of force through weight of numbers, and are in fact the near totality of the society that the socioeconomic elites control anyway... they can be cut off (and replaced, if one looks at history), but the bulk of the population itself cannot.

The problem is that almost all people are motivated through simple short term self interest regardless of their position within the hierarchy. Make enough of them comfortable enough (and you get to manage their expectations as part of that process), and you can take away the freedom - and the desire to fight for it. It doesn't hurt if you can divide them against each other and persuade them they are their own enemy as that prevents formation of critical mass to challenge status quo.

Personally what I think we really need is perhaps a non elected elite that truly do consider the best interests of their species. As to how one could do that - I can only imagine you would need it to operate on a virtually religious basis, to dogmatically enforce those ideals against self interest (religion is the one force I can bring to mind capable of making people eschew the short term luxuries, and not always successfully at that).

As to how you keep them on track, tricky. I mean - you could establish a body who watches them, and another to watch them, and so on... but always quis ipsos custodiet custodes in the end, and the more factions you have that wield real power - surely the bigger the risks of one of them going rogue and attempting to take over?

In the long run who can be trusted with such things? Statistically there is probably no human system I can think of yet that isn't going to run a risk (and ultimately a statistical near certainty) of deviating from it's path over the multi generational long term - which is what we have to consider.

Depending what one means by capitalism, that may or may not be somewhat of a red herring. According to the dictionary definition I just looked up, capitalism per se is not necessarily a bad thing. What is bad is the inability to value future things - people or resources. The propensity for reckless and inappropriate consumption and to harm each other and the future. The expectation of magical infinite growth that somehow fixes all problems. Those are features of our current implementation perhaps but not strictly part of a dictionary definition of capitalism.

Arguably though it is a bad thing to fail to constrain capitalistic operation to the point where some come to dominate the system excessively. That's bad because such distortion of the system basically destroys the arguably good features of capitalism, in fact ultimately moving you back towards feudalism in effect. Were I to make one single change - it would be to destroy the notion of inheritance. Why not expect a dead person return their wealth to the wider society that facilitated the process of them building it up? Their descendents did nothing to earn or deserve it.

viddaloo

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Re: Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2014, 06:25:31 PM »
Personally what I think we really need is perhaps a non elected elite that truly do consider the best interests of their species. As to how one could do that - I can only imagine you would need it to operate on a virtually religious basis, to dogmatically enforce those ideals against self interest (religion is the one force I can bring to mind capable of making people eschew the short term luxuries, and not always successfully at that).
Religion will be hard to instill in people in 2014, though. But maybe you think of something like ideology? No comparison, but communism in a couple nations was an all–changing and one–directional revolution (at first). I'm not a fan.

If you had a 'climatist' or 'survivalist' revolution able to actually save what's left of the biosphere through the next 100 years, it would have to be total, in that all laws, tax systems etc would have to be changed thoroughly to reflect the new 'good and bad' of this popular ideology.

I would suggest to appoint top intellectuals to be the guardians of the new rulers, and a law–based transparency making it illegal for rulers (or media) to censor the reviews of a body of or individual intellectuals in this guardian council. Some sort of guaranteed income (housing, basic goods & food) would be required to avoid the age–old problem of corruption, especially amongst the guardians.

The main reason the perverted version of 'democracy' we have today has to go, is that it is so incredibly easy to abuse, divert, deceive and direct in the interest of the rich & powerful. Plus it has absolutely proven to be totally unable to solve (or even begin to solve) the huge problems related to the climate crisis.

I believe you could construct a fool–proof, waterproof and corruption–proof management system built around a limited set of ecological and economic principles, if you really wanted to. On paper. Your problems would start when suggesting this system through our capitalist & plutocratic mass media and in the face of today's rich & powerful. They'd call it nazi, communist, alarmist, hippy etc etc.

So IMO not even worth trying! :)
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Bruce Steele

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Re: Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2014, 06:09:52 AM »
Ccg and Vid, Time seems a huge impediment to structural changes ( whether religion or governance )on a scale that might make a serious dent in our carbon predicament. At the risk of seeming silly maybe we should figure out a way to make carbon the new gold standard, have taxes paid more like the old "tally of grain" except paid in shell. Shell monies have been used in the past so not such a huge stretch of the imagination. Now of the shell( carbon ) tally a certain percentage would need to be buried and in volumes that mimic the long term carbon sinks we are currently compromising. The only 100,000 + year carbon sinks are the carbonate carbon sinks in the ocean continental margins and bottoms less than the aragonite saturation horizon or the calcite saturation horizons.. These sinks take in only
.2 Gt carbon per year so it might be physically possible for human efforts to mimic. I realize the short term carbon pools we are feeding to the tune of 9-10 Gt annually will spit carbon back in the near term 1000 year horizon but conquering a way to mimic the long term sinks seems somewhere to begin. A reduction in the contributions of carbon to the short term sinks might change once we began to try to accumulate the 200,000 million tons of carbon we would annually  need to bury to match the oceans carbonate sinks. 

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Re: Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2014, 12:13:41 AM »
I believe you could construct a fool–proof, waterproof and corruption–proof management system built around a limited set of ecological and economic principles, if you really wanted to. On paper. Your problems would start when suggesting this system through our capitalist & plutocratic mass media and in the face of today's rich & powerful. They'd call it nazi, communist, alarmist, hippy etc etc.

So IMO not even worth trying! :)

It's very worth trying. So the existing system and the socioeconomic elites running it wouldn't contemplate such a thing?

Fine. Wait until after collapse. Whole new world.

Collapse of civilisation is not the end, by any stretch of the imagination (and I don't buy into the near time human extinction line in thinking, as nobody I have asked has ever been able to convincingly demonstrate scientifically that extinction of our species is a certain outcome).

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Re: Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2014, 12:20:55 AM »
Ccg and Vid, Time seems a huge impediment to structural changes ( whether religion or governance )on a scale that might make a serious dent in our carbon predicament. At the risk of seeming silly maybe we should figure out a way to make carbon the new gold standard, have taxes paid more like the old "tally of grain" except paid in shell. Shell monies have been used in the past so not such a huge stretch of the imagination. Now of the shell( carbon ) tally a certain percentage would need to be buried and in volumes that mimic the long term carbon sinks we are currently compromising. The only 100,000 + year carbon sinks are the carbonate carbon sinks in the ocean continental margins and bottoms less than the aragonite saturation horizon or the calcite saturation horizons.. These sinks take in only
.2 Gt carbon per year so it might be physically possible for human efforts to mimic. I realize the short term carbon pools we are feeding to the tune of 9-10 Gt annually will spit carbon back in the near term 1000 year horizon but conquering a way to mimic the long term sinks seems somewhere to begin. A reduction in the contributions of carbon to the short term sinks might change once we began to try to accumulate the 200,000 million tons of carbon we would annually  need to bury to match the oceans carbonate sinks.

I'm not sure I entirely grasp what you're saying - are you saying one could in principle rebase the economy around units of sequestered carbon, as opposed to whatever source of value fiat money really has? (I can't say it has any real value, it's value is a shared belief in it, nothing more).

In principle one could see things yielding promise regardless if only the policies gained traction. Even if the ultimate outcome is still collapse, in principle, every bit less carbon emitted should help - at least a little (obviously some of the impending changes are non linear and essentially irreversible without moving to cooler conditions than we've experienced in the Holocene). Some outcomes (species extinctions especially) are entirely irreversible of course.

I do not regard time as such an impediment for the simple reason all my thinking is predicated on a post collapse world (even if the ultimate objectives remain the same with or without collapse in the middle). I take the view that the probability of collapse (potentially catastrophic) is sufficiently high that it is rational for at least some portion of our species to plan and prepare to attempt to sail through that storm and draw their battlelines beyond it.

I choose to be in that portion - and am not yet aware of anyone else who I regard as really doing so (and I'm not just talking basic survival, that is mandatory but insufficient for progression).

Bruce Steele

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Re: Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2014, 02:38:36 AM »
Ccg, Thanks for the response. The idea is to convert money from an representative value to a physical one , Carbon. Like the old gold standard. Then some portion of the Carbon would be buried in a form and place where it won't reenter short term carbon pools. I know this isn't that well fleshed out and smacks of economics( not a personal strong suit ) but it is very radical and something radically different is what we need. Even if the carbon economy wasn't supported by the ruling elite it might be a way for a shadow economy to develop. Money circulation in it's physical form ( Carbon )might become a bit of a carbon sink depending on how much of it could be used in circulation in addition to the buried portion. In an ideal situation the carbon itself might be pulled back out of the current carbon waste stream or biologically sequestered.
 I agree with you that collapse seems a likely consequence of continuing to do the same old thing and expecting some different results than the ones we are currently experiencing  ( arctic melt, acidification and rising atmospheric Co2 ) Some of those won't be quite as cataclysmic if we avoid dumping the full 5000 gT carbon we have in fossil fuel reserves.  I would settle for several potential ways out of this situation although none of them seem like outcomes people would vote for.
Carbon we have in fuel reserves.   

GeoffBeacon

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Re: Managed Ignorance And Its Consequences
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2014, 07:18:00 AM »
ccg
Quote
Reads like a pretty potent argument against democracy.
Surely you mean "murdochracy".

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/29/australia-murdochracy-rupert-part-problem

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/tony-abbott-and-our-new-murdochracy

His media now control us in Australia, UK and USA but apparently

 - He is a charming man
 - He is a Christian
 - His mother was a philanthropist
 - His daughter-in-law works for the Clinton Climate Initiative

Why is he doing what he is doing to us and the world?
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