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The Last Op-Ed

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/19/last-op-ed

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An excellent article.

I’m hoping the good aliens will show up soon to save us, because at the moment the bad aliens are definitely in control of the government in Washington and Europe.


One of the best columns in Common Dreams recently. What we still do not know is how our evolutionary legacies, which seem to be biased toward survivalism, tribalism, and faith-based thinking, interfere with our efforts to cooperate, empathize and keep open minds.


Absolutely a GREAT piece written, this subject is one of those rarely brought up, but…really important! Great job, CD, putting this up.


I agree with the comments above by TulsiFan, CriticalThinker, and RRR.

An important article here on Common Dreams, amidst a plethora of self-absorbed articles.

The water crisis in Chennai, India is in the news now, and it struck me that our world is indeed coming apart at the seams - everywhere at once - in every way possible.

But in Chennai - the yearly monsoon has been delayed, and India’s sixth largest city is in immediate crisis - some four million people - just in Chennai.

Runaway suburban growth - essentially a make work and wealth project of the modern world, is claiming victims now, and many more will follow, and not just in India.

The lack of foresight amongst the political class worldwide is nothing short of astounding - it defies all common sense, which, as this article points out, has never been needed more.

The media is next to hopeless, the emphasis being on ‘next’.

If one does due diligence, it is possible to find reasons why all this is happening. Thus several articles about Chennai, and a long historical perspective, are required to assess the situation in a meaningful way.

Yes, the monsoon may soon return, and partially fill those reservoirs, but that does not mean anything more than a temporary dodge of this year’s bullet.

It will get worse and worse, as time slides by.

At thirty-five degrees wet bulb temperature, the healthy and strong die, and that is where large and populous sections of India are heading.

I post two links for those interested:

Chennai water: How India’s sixth biggest city is coping with shortages

Deadly heat waves projected in the densely populated agricultural regions of South Asia

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From the article:

“But while civic intelligence is often perilously low it’s never zero. And there’s no maximum: there can always be more.”


I’ve returned to this out of the way article because it struck a chord.

Are most people, say the half who never vote, like deer at night, paralyzed by a car’s headlights ?

Or are they abnormally prescient - know the game is fixed - and then opted out ?

Or simply ignorant of what is going on worldwide and its implications for all of us, even here in the so-called first world ?

Some combination of the above ?

And what about those who vote ?

I think all the above apply - are the voters merely self-serving ?

Certainly with the internet, for the first time I think, a truly planetary civic intelligence is at least possible, and plausible.

Perhaps the situation does have to get even more dire, and affect more people, before the consensus to ACT emerges ?

Is Greta Thundberg the key to action ?

Greta Thundberg is young, unlike the crowd of current politicians, who increasingly seem like throwbacks from another time.

What has to be realized is that many, maybe most people in the U.S. believe that their current lifestyles can be maintained at some level or other and that life will mostly go on as before. To overcome the current climate crisis a huge leap in consciousness has to be taken. Enlightenment isn’t a mystical thing that just happens it is a deliberate set of actions taken that will ultimately benefit life on this planet.

Earning lots of money, driving really cool cars, and living in huge energy consuming buildings while dressing in the best clothes isn’t enlightenment; it is a statement of class privilege. And as long as the current bourgeois system, with all of its contradictions and subsequent crisis is allowed to rule the planet then this is as good as it gets.

And it will not get better. It will continue down the darkening, spiraling tunnel of evil until death rules and life has fled the whole world. This is not a time for reform. It is a time for revolution. Time to replace this diseased bourgeois democracy and its total disregard for what is human and its embrace of money, power, and private property with a socialist system that guarantees democracy and the sanity that comes with true freedom. Enough is enough.

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My wife and I were just discussing this very thing - a change in thinking must precede real changes in behavior.

Geoge Monbiot has such a vision, and I post a link to his current article in The Guardian below.

It involves cars, and is very much in keeping with James Kunstler’s vision of twenty five years ago, in his article in The Atlantic,

“Home from Nowhere”,

in which a discussion of zoning laws and the suburban sprawl which has been to this day the default position of every city in North America. The car rules - that and their parking lots.

Unaffordable houses - investments in actuality, totally dependent on the exact system which is destroying us- endless cheap credit - in effect a Ponzi scheme.

Where is the civic intelligence these last many decades?

Two world wars - then Vietnam, then more volunteer only wars - really just an industry - totally self-absorbed - and destructive of the very reason for any military’s existence - the protection of the people, the tribe, the country, the Earth System…

As for socialism - I prevaricate.

People, I believe, want most to be free.

Can socialism hold itself in check any better than communism or the corprotocracy that exists at this moment?

Is the very idea of democracy real - has the experiment failed.

If - as Tocqueville said, 'In a democracy you get the government you deserve’

Then the results are in, at least in the interim.

Better to stand still than speed off at a hundred miles an hour in the exact wrong direction.

Biden is a bad joke - Sanders and Warren - professional politicians - words - and more words.

Greta Thundberg - different !

Carmageddon: it’s killing urban life. We must reclaim our cities before it’s too late

Perhaps only an existential crisis will unite planet Earth’s peoples ?

Perhaps that crisis is at hand.

Doug, I like your idea about Civil intelligence.
I dont like bringing David and Goliath into the picture. The Philistines and the Israelites were at war. No mention of why and no peace talks.
David and Goliath hurled insults at each other. Gee they spoke the same language. But no peace talks. War was won through violence. And for this David gets to be king.
Reference and approval of these kinds of stories help to support our war machine, just the opposite of what i think you are trying to do.

I agree with you in family size, way unreal in many places. Why?
1)Religions and countries are still trying to overpopulate the Other.
2)It hasnt become an issue anywhere almost in the world. Recall, China was damned for getting is population under control.
I spent a winter in Chennai 1990-1991. There were thousands of people around Chennai who live in houses they build on land that floods half the year. Poor houses are mud sides with palm frond roofs, dirt floors. I was in the countryside near such a lake and my children played with some of their kids. The government had a rule, that if a woman gave birth in a hospital without paying, she would be given a hysterectomy as well. For decades, India had had a campaign, “two will do”. Some of these poor kids had no money for school clothes and books and thus did not attend. During the rainy season and for as long as their homes were flooded, the neighborhoods nearby granted them the right to build shacks on the sides of the roads.

Interesting - you were actually there !

I checked yesterday, June 21, and the monsoon appears to have returned to Chennai - so they have dodged the proverbial bullet for now.

I was just looking at an Oxford Short Introduction “Modern India”, and wondering if I should dive in?

Your first hand description is from almost thirty years ago - and I believe much has changed since then, but perhaps not in a good way? I am unconvinced increasing GDP is in any way a measure of success.

I would suggest this other thread I am on here on Common Dreams:


I have a little bit to say there, one in reply to stardustIBID

Perhaps you could join in ?

Somewhat belatedly I wanted to thank you for your thoughts on the subject. The jury is out on how whether self-governance works out, or even the human race for that matter. My feeling is that it is likely not be one magic bullet that saves us but a lot of individual efforts. And these must be conscious and dedicated — and ideally they’d grow.

Let me first say WELCOME !

Often I wonder if posting here on Common Dreams is useful. I have on a few occasions stopped posting for some time - but so far, I always come back (over ten years now at least).

I note that since this article first made its appearance here, Greta Thundberg has in fact set sail for America from Plymouth England. Who would have thought this young woman would be carrying the torch for all of us ? It is indeed a strange world.

Hope to see you again on a more current thread Doug ~