Thus, I trace the demise of political parties as disparate entities to Reagan’s election in 1980. With the 1980 election, the United States embraced a single ideology: economic growth. Political party no longer mattered because the ideology crossed party lines. And this dangerous ideology absolutely required imperialism.
Yesterday I delivered a presentation to a room full of Honors College students, peppered with a few faculty and administrators. The response was overwhelmingly disappointing. Seems nearly everybody in the room — and in the country, for that matter — wants to keep the current game going, no matter the costs. They don’t view civilization as a problem at all, evidence notwithstanding, and they think the solution to our fossil-fuel dilemma is to drive less and bicycle more.
I admit I’m a doomer. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. To be a doomer is to recognize the tragedy of the human experience.
The increasing urgency of this topic demands frank conversation, but the human ego is stunningly fragile. As a general strategy, I would not recommend starting the conversation about relocating with a group larger than half-a-dozen people, primarily because you’ll need to create and maintain an emotionally, psychologically, and physically functional group of people, on short notice, to do things you cannot imagine doing. The future is funny that way: We don’t even know what needs to be done.
I underestimated the impact of high gasoline prices on our behavior. I thought $5 gas would be necessary to produce the type of impact we’re seeing at only $4. Demand destruction is so severe it’s overwhelming events in the former Soviet Union, where chess-master Putin is spoiling U.S. attempts to extract oil by going around Russia. Along the way, Putin has demonstrated exactly how impotent the U.S. has become on the world stage.
Civilization represents a grave threat to the existence of myriad cultures and species, including our own species. And we can do better.
I still struggle every day to find meaning in a universe without meaning. Who shall I serve? For now, I can serve students and society by teaching and acting as if a single life can make a difference in a world gone awry. For now, I can demonstrate the value and importance of relationships, relative to accomplishments. For now, I can be kind to individuals while forcing institutions to do right, even if it means being unkind to individuals who represent institutions. For now, I can serve people by criticizing society.