Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ernest Callenbach at 82

His novel "Ecotopia" was published in '72 and had an impact far beyond the borders of mere fiction writing. For a full description of its contents, click on the title above and see what has been posted on Wikipedia.

Recently, Callenback, now 82, sat down with Matt Sledge, a staff writer for Huffington Post and shared his present thinking on what has transpired over the last 41 years and what he believes is happening in our society. Here's a sampling: "Since I wrote Ecotopia, I have become less confident of humans' political ability to act on commonsense, shared values. Our era has become one of spectacular polarization, with folly multiplying on every hand. That is the way empires crumble: they are taken over by looter elites, who sooner or later cause collapse. But then new games become possible, and with luck Ecotopia might be among them."

Funny thing happens as one gets older: their ability to see clearly and to put it in context deepens, and I believe this is at the core of all actual WISDOM. In these times there are a host of posers, all pretending to have a handle on 'the truth' and self-anointing themselves as a source of what we should pay attention to. Most of these imposters--and there is a very long list of them with national audiences, the most glaring being Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, of course--are putting forward an agenda that is both self-serving and self-destructive were it to be applied to any great degree. When Callenbach uses the term, "looter elite", he is referring to all the pundits and their mentors who are loudly putting forward the philosophy that getting what you want is all that matters. This is the previously referred to view of Ayn Rand, et al. What really caught my attention, however, is Callenbach's almost casual mention--as if of course you already know this--of this being a definite cause of 'empires' crumbling.

If the aims and goals of the neo-conservative movement become the primary driving force in how this society conducts will be the beginning of a process of tearing itself apart at the seams. History has taught repeatedly that a society cannot become the vehicle and the means for a small ruling class to become fabulously wealthy and powerful, without also creating the means of its own destruction. Taking a look back at tsarist Russia, feudal Europe, earlier societies that depended on slavery and conquest...and on and on.....all gives us the exact same message. To allow the 'looter elite' who is currently gaining serious domination to simply pull the wool, even temporarily, over our eyes is to set the stage for 'The Great Crumbling", and God only knows what that will look like, but I am guessing that it will not be pleasant.

So, here we are at a crossroads, symbolized by the current deadlock in congress. The minions of the looters can have their way and dump off the pain of a contracting economy onto the backs of the middle-class and the working class....take away benefits earned and held as a sacred promise by those who really need them....protect the wealth of the upper crust, and the looter corporations who are seeing profitability on an unprecedented scale, and do all of this thinking that indeed, 'it sucks to be you'. And, we should not expect them to have the wisdom or insight born of greed that would allow them to know that they are working towards a calamity of unimaginable proportions.

Perhaps there is a broadly held intuitive sense that this is what we are doing. And, maybe this helps to explain the current fascination--indeed obsession--with the idea of an onrushing Armageddon, Gotterdamerung, Rapture, End Time, etc. A very large percentage of people I have spoken with, feel that a mega-disaster is coming. Some are almost counting on it to straighten up the mess we've created with the environment, the economy, class conflict, global conflict, religious insanity....just about every single aspect of life on planet earth in these times.

But, all of that not withstanding.....there is no time like the present to make a commitment in our own lives to hold onto our sense of moral rectitude, our compassion towards other less fortunate souls, and to act in ways that not only don't contribute, but fly in the face of all this.

As the old 'hippyism' said, "If not now, when? If not you, who?"

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