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Pyramid schemes

14/03/2011

In case you’re wondering why we aren’t doing more to save the world from going down the tubes, the answer is at least partly due to the extreme, and obscene, division of wealth. It would take some sort of concerted effort to save the world, and some people would rather keep things the way they are.

“Civilization is an experiment, a very recent way of life in the human career, and it has a habit of walking into what I am calling progress traps. A small village on good land beside a river is a good idea; but when the village grows into a city and paves over the good land, it becomes a bad idea. While prevention might have been easy, a cure may be impossible: a city isn’t easily moved. This human inability to foresee — or to watch out for — long-range consequences may be inherent to our kind, shaped by the millions of years when we lived from hand to mouth by hunting and gathering. It may also be little more than a mix of inertia, greed, and foolishness encouraged by the shape of the social pyramid. The concentration of power at the top of large-scale societies gives the elite a vested interest in the status quo; they continue to prosper in darkening times long after the environment and general populace begin to suffer.”

Although even the people at the “top” of the social pyramid should beware, since…

“The most compelling reason for reforming our system is that the system is in no one’s interest. It is a suicide machine.”

(Both quotes are from Ronald Wright’s book “A Short History of Progress.”)

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