I want to end this series on the paranoid elites trying to hunker down in a missile silo on a happier note. It is not all doom.
In the 60s and 70s Stewart Brand, now a Silicon Valley sage, owned the “Whole Earth Catalog.” It attracted a large and loyal cult following as it blended hippie-dippy advice with the technical. I loved their motto: “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.”. Brand experimented with survivalism but abandoned it. Ultimately, he found it did not make sense. Things based on unreasonable fears seldom make sense. Evan Osnos described him in his current situation this way,
“At seventy-seven, living on a tugboat in Sausalito, Brand is less impressed by signs of fragility than by examples of resilience. In the past decade, the world survived, without violence, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression; Ebola, without cataclysm; and, in Japan, a tsunami and nuclear meltdown, after which the country has persevered. He sees risks in escapism. As Americans withdraw into smaller circles of experience, we jeopardize the “larger circle of empathy,” he said, the search for solutions to shared problems. “The easy question is, how do I protect me and mine? The more interesting question is, What if civilization actually manages continuity as well as it has managed it for the past few centuries? What do we do if it just keeps on chugging?”
As it has so often in the past, America is being pushed and pulled at the same time particularly by the extremes of left and right. On the one hand there are people like survivalists, neo-liberals, and their political puppets who have shredded all of their fellow feeling in order to fill their bags with as much money as possible. On the other hand, are some genuine whackos on the left as well. Yet there are the kinder gentler souls who see a better way, but seem to be increasingly crushed by the more vocal and bellicose camps. I don’t know who will win this battle, but I care. I hope that America (and with Canada dragging along behind) comes to its senses and abandons this philosophy of fear. Fear is all right but it must be managed. Don’t let it get unreasonable. When it gives way to panic we have to realize that smart decisions will no longer be made. We must abandon panic; we must embrace critical thinking and fellow feeling. If we can do that then we will survive. If we are unable to do that, we will sink into the mire, or worse. And we will deserve it.
We must remember: there is a better way. We may need to meander to find it, but its there.