Yesterday my husband threatened to drown himself in the shower, if I didn’t stop ranting about the stupid things people believe about history. It’s not that he disagreed, mind you, but that he thought it was too much to endure a graduate-level lecture with side-excursions into various examples he’d never heard about before even getting his pants on in the morning.
I sympathize. It’s been a long time since I became aware that when that darn, mobile soap box finds me and gets under my feet, I get really really fast-talking and sometimes drop details.
Weirdly, this fit wasn’t prompted by the commenter who came back to an old post yesterday to lecture us about how stupid it is to expect dem poo’ peoplez to be able to retool and find new jobs, once technology dispossesses them of the old ones. Weirdly, it started because he was telling me about a TV show and something said in the TV show. (Beginning of digression. I watch second hand TV. Whenever you guys see a reference or a quote to popular culture, I acquired it by listening to Dan talk about it. At least most of the time. No, I don’t know why I don’t watch TV. What’s worse, I find most of the people who say “Oh, I don’t watch TV” are the sort of prigs who are bragging of their moral superiority. I’m not morally superior, and my inability to sit still in front of a television, unless I am ill or engaged in some complex project that involves most of my head and hands, is almost as my dad thought a “handicap”. It isolates me from the culture. But it is also true. I think it’s because I never “got used” to watching TV, like some people don’t get used to reading for pleasure. Most of the time I was growing up, Portugal had two channels, and one only operated on the weekends and evenings. End of digression.) Dan, as he puts it, watches TV so I don’t have to.
Anyway, he was telling me about how terrible conditions were after WWI, and I started pointing out they weren’t. Not really. Sure, some people (a lot of domestic servants) were displaced. Sure, immediately after, a lot of men came back and found their jobs were gone. Veterans went around the country side, selling booklets and stuff. You see this in Agatha Christie.
Unspoken is the fact that a lot of these Veterans were actually not quite right in the head, not that you can blame them after the trench war. BUT even in Britain, which did itself no favors by prolonging the same kind of rationing, etc, it had had during the war, the economy recovered.
Again, if you read Christie, who was unaware of writing history, since she wrote these books contemporary to the events, you see a lot of new houses being built, of factories being started. Sure, the old families and the old houses never quite recovered. But that wasn’t because of the economy. It was because of punitive taxation. If you had a death in the family, the estate would be lost.
“But Sarah,” you’ll say. “That’s why the economy recovered and they were able to live better.”
Really? You’re going to go with that?
I know that was the theory back then, and we really can’t hold it against them, I think, but no, the state doesn’t “invest” in the economy. Or “ease transition.”
Mostly what the state does is create more and more bureaucracy. Of course to the extent that that pays a salary to some people it does SOMETHING (I found out, and was shocked at the racism of it, that this is part of the reason democrats support the endless growth of the state. They think there are a number of people — specifically black people — who cannot adapt to new tech, and therefore must be employed by the state, ad infinitum, in a sort of work fare program.) I suspect though, having seen the make-work and endless nonsense of bureaucracy in three countries, what it does do is retard the growth of the economy by removing capital from useful purposes. Oh, and retarding the prosperity of the employees, not to mention their mental health, by keeping them chained to ultimately meaningless work they know it’s meaningless. A lot of those people are in the position of soviet citizens. They pretend to work and we pretend to pay them.
Without the galumphing bureaucracy, these people would have shifted and adapted.
How do I know that? Because they’re human and I’m human. Yeah, okay, there are differences in IQ range, but you know what they are not that pronounced amid the whole species. Oh, sure, our dumber friends annoy us, but they’re still smarter than any other thing this planet has ever seen.
And our species thrives on change and strife. Our species are cunning apes, who keep finding new ways of doing things. Which drive progress, which shatters the status quo, which in turn causes people who were forced to change to look for more cunning ways of doing things, which…
Yeah, I saw the arguments of our visiting Luddite. I have also read people who say we were much better before the invention of agriculture. But what I know is that before the invention of agriculture we lived as individuals maybe 30 years, and as a species occupied certain zones of the globe, and lived in family groups of maybe 15. There was a total number of us of maybe a million. Maybe. Now we cover the face of the earth and as individuals we’re healthier and more longer lived than we’ve ever been.
And while I sympathize with my fellow libertarians who think agriculture brought in a tiered society, I’d like to say poppycock. With raspberries on top. It’s not that you don’t get history (archeology is uncertain, and confused at that level. Agriculture brought greater prosperity, and that made some tombs much less equal than others. Also, the tombs we tend to find form the nomadic period are all chieftains or their equivalent) what you don’t get is human nature. You’re engaging in the same form of fallacy the leftists engage in “Humans were perfect, and then an event–” Bullshit. I’m human, they were human. I know exactly their degree of perfection. And as for thinking some kind of egalitarianism prevailed pre agriculture, those of you who think family-bands are egalitarian have never lived in a family with a tyrannical matriarch (or patriarch.) It can be (not my family, we were never that organized) like a miniature totalitarian regime but even closer and more in your face.
Yeah, yeah, paleolithic diet and people were so much healthier and stuffs. (Rolls eyes.) While some of our metabolisms don’t seem to have caught up with agriculture (almost everyone I know who has issues with carbs has a relatively near ancestor from a nomad/hunting culture. Say no more than six generations off.) and while I myself eat very low carb for health reasons, the whole idea that people became LESS healthy with agriculture is a little mad.
Sure, and if you looked at graves from the village, from the time mom was a kid and my time, you’d find modern medicine, vaccinations and antibiotics had wreaked devastation on a healthy population. This is because people died younger/less battered in her time. Also infants tend to sort of vanish into the soil, so you wouldn’t get the great culling that happened before 3 years of age. Only the strong survived. In my generation, OTOH almost everyone survived, including the halting, the lame and those with chronic conditions.
Yeah, okay, so no progress comes without a cost. Sure, some things will get worse, if only for a little while. Yes, I read Christie (as I said. One of the amazing things about mysteries, because grounded in the quotidian, is that they are a good record of how life really was, not how historians interpret it) and I read a lot about “pre war” (first) quality. And it’s true there was a quality never again encountered except now, at high end craftsman created threads and clothes and furniture.
But the industry of the time would never have supplied the masses of humanity that progress allowed to live and thrive.
So, technological progress causes some losses, sometimes for a while.
What it causes, mostly, is disruption. And the older you get the more you feel all disruption is for the worst, and the world is coming apart. And if the progress happens too fast (say the first 50 years) people have trouble adjusting their MENTAL PICTURE of the world and some depart reality altogether and when this happens, (the last time I can think of is the industrial revolution, which more or less opened with the blood of the French revolution and closed with WWI. If it has closed) it ends in blood.
Yeah, it’s scary out there, and things are shaking loose. But a lot of the things that are shaking loose are undoing the mass-industrial-entertainment-news complex, and the idea that one size fits all. Some of what is shaking lose is the inability for any of us to reach a mass audience without intermediary “gate keepers” who have long been taken over by the long march of Marxists (speaking of people who have left reality far behind.)
Technological progress — or even change — hurts. But so does iodine. It still allows us to live better and longer than our ancestors.
And the one thing you can count on is that we, cunning apes that we are, will continue engaging in it, and adapting to it, and fighting over it.
Those people who are all concerned about you losing your way in this heartless society? Those who try to cushion you and put you in a safe space?
They’re not your friends. They’re afraid of what you do if you and your creativity were fully unleashed. They have achieved a certain domination over their society but are afraid if anything more happens they’ll lose it.
It’s not you, but them, they seek to help.
Ignore them and build. Build under, build over, build around. Anticipate technology. Build technology. And ignore them. It’s the only way to deal with them.