Globalization Problem Quotes

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[Prison] relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism.
Angela Y. Davis (Are Prisons Obsolete?)
The prison therefore functions ideologically as an abstract site into which undesirables are deposited, relieving us of the responsibility of thinking about the real issues afflicting those communities from which prisoners are drawn in such disproportionate numbers. This is the ideological work that the prison performs—it relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism.
Angela Y. Davis (Are Prisons Obsolete? (Open Media Series))
The Earth should not be cut up into hundreds of different sections, each inhabited by a self-defined segment of humanity that considers its own welfare and its own "national security" to be paramount above all other consideration. I am all for cultural diversity and would be willing to see each recognizable group value its cultural heritage. I am a New York patriot, for instance, and if I lived in Los Angeles, I would love to get together with other New York expatriates and sing "Give My Regards to Broadway." This sort of thing, however, should remain cultural and benign. I'm against it if it means that each group despises others and lusts to wipe them out. I'm against arming each little self-defined group with weapons with which to enforce its own prides and prejudices. The Earth faces environmental problems right now that threaten the imminent destruction of civilization and the end of the planet as a livable world. Humanity cannot afford to waste its financial and emotional resources on endless, meaningless quarrels between each group and all others. there must be a sense of globalism in which the world unites to solve the real problems that face all groups alike. Can that be done? The question is equivalent to: Can humanity survive? I am not a Zionist, then, because I don't believe in nations, and because Zionism merely sets up one more nation to trouble the world. It sets up one more nation to have "rights" and "demands" and "national security" and to feel it must guard itself against its neighbors. There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don't come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity.
Isaac Asimov (I. Asimov: A Memoir)
The role of the United Nations is to set the mental clocks of the world leaders from past problems to the present opportunities and from local power mindset to global welfare mindset.
Amit Ray (Nuclear Weapons Free World - Peace on the Earth)
The whole bloody world's got a commitment problem. It's the three-minute culture. It's a global attention-span deficit.
Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones’s Diary (Bridget Jones, #1))
We are the world. The world is you and me, the world is not separate from you and me. We have created this world - the world of violence, the world of wars, the world of religious divisions, sex, anxieties, the utter lack of communication with each other, with no sense of compassion, consideration for another. Wherever one goes in any country throughout the world, human beings, that is, you and another, suffer; we are anxious, we are uncertain, we don’t know what is going to happen. Everything has become uncertain. Right through the world as human beings we are in sorrow, fear, anxiety, violence, uncertain of everything, insecure. There is a common relationship between us all. We are the world essentially, basically, fundamentally. The world is you, and you are the world. Realizing that fundamentally, deeply, not romantically, not intellectually but actually, then we see that our problem is a global problem. It is not my problem or your particular problem, it is a human problem.
J. Krishnamurti
One common problem with AI is it will lack in common sense and creative thinking. These two fields are not nearly on the table if we are speaking about AGI. This is why I personally think that humans and AI need to handle together the global decision-making process.
Zoltan Andrejkovics (Together: AI and Human. On The Same Side.)
The global industrial economy is the engine for massive environmental degradation and massive human (and nonhuman) impoverishment.
Derrick Jensen (Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization)
The point is simple: talking about the problems of the world without talking about some accessible solutions is the way to paralysis rather than progress.
Abhijit V. Banerjee (Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty)
Most politicians cannot be theorists. First, because they are rarely thinkers; second, because the frenetic lifestyle they impose on themselves leaves no time for big ideas. But most of all because to be a theorist you have to admit the possibility of being wrong – the provisionality of knowledge – and you know you cannot spin your way out of a theoretical problem.
Yanis Varoufakis (The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy (Economic Controversies))
Climate change is not just a problem for the future. It is impacting us every day, everywhere.
Vandana Shiva (Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis)
I have a rule for working out if the root problem of something is, in fact, sexism. And it is this: asking 'Are the boys doing it? Are the boys having to worry about this stuff? Are the boys the centre of a gigantic global debate on this subject?
Caitlin Moran (Moranthology)
Another problem with the official definitions of terror is that it follows from them that the US is a leading terrorist state.
Noam Chomsky (Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance)
Awareness of our problems thus does not necessarily mean that they get solved. It may just mean that we are able to perfectly anticipate where we will fail.
Abhijit V. Banerjee (Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty)
Technology causes problems as well as solves problems. Nobody has figured out a way to ensure that, as of tomorrow, technology won't create problems. Technology simply means increased power, which is why we have the global problems we face today." (Interview, Sierra Magazine, May/June 2005)
Jared Diamond
All of society’s problems which could be solved by money, were caused by money.
Heather Marsh (Binding Chaos: Mass Collaboration on a Global Scale)
Instead of saying that everyone – i.e. every one – is responsible for climate change, we all have to do our bit, it would be better to say that no-one is, and that’s the very problem. The cause of eco-catastrophe is an impersonal structure which, even though it is capable of producing all manner of effects, is precisely not a subject capable of exercising responsibility. The required subject – a collective subject - does not exist, yet the crisis, like all the other global crises we’re now facing, demands that it be constructed.
Mark Fisher (Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?)
So it may be that going to the hospital slightly increases your odds of surviving if you’ve got a serious problem but increases your odds of dying if you don’t. Such are the vagaries of life.
Steven D. Levitt (SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance)
As we encounter each other, we see our diversity — of background, race, ethnicity, belief – and how we handle that diversity will have much to say about whether we will in the end be able to rise successfully to the great challenges we face today.
Dan Smith (The State of the World Atlas)
If we want truth and justice to rule our global village, there must be no hypocrisy. If there is no truth, then there will be no equality. No equality, no justice. No justice, no peace. No peace, no love. No love, only darkness.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
That's the problem with this whole country. Fucking vast prosperity. No one has any real problems anymore. Ninety percent of the damn politicians in this town either think there's no war on terror, or if we'd just be nice to these zealots they'll leave us alone. Well, that ain't going to fucking happen. The Huns are circling, and we're sitting around arguing about gay rights and prayer and guns and global warming and all kinds of bullshit. These idiots will eventually wake up to the threat, but by then it might be too late. (Stan Hurley)
Vince Flynn (Extreme Measures (Mitch Rapp, #11))
The world has a very serious problem, my friend' Shiva went on. 'Poor children still die by their millions. Westerners and the global rich -- like me -- live in post-scarcity society, while a billion people struggle to get enough to eat. And we're pushing the planet towards a tipping point, where the corals die and the forests burn and life becomes much, much harder. We have the resources to solve those problems, even now, but politics and economics and nationalism all get in the way. If we could access all those minds, though...
Ramez Naam (Crux (Nexus, #2))
Raising interest rates is voo-doo. You can't deal with a global system problem by trying to solve it with this.
Stafford Beer
The whole bloody world's got a commitment problem. It's the three-minute culture. It's a global attention-span deficit. It's typical of men to annex a global trend and turn it into a male device to reject women to make themselves feel clever and us feel stupid. It's nothing but fuckwittage.
Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones’s Diary (Bridget Jones, #1))
If our goal is to slow migration, then the best way to do so is to work for a more equitable global system. But slowing migration is an odd goal, if the real problem is global inequality.
Aviva Chomsky ("They Take Our Jobs!": And 20 Other Myths about Immigration)
I have spent a lifetime looking for remedies to all manner of life's problems -- personal, social, political, global. I am deeply suspicious of those who offer simple solutions and statements of absolute certainty or who claim full possession of the truth. Yet I have grown equally skeptical of those who suggest that all is too nuanced and complex for us to learn any lessons, that there are so many sides to every thing that we can pursue knowledge every day of our lives and still know nothing for sure. I believe we can recognize truth when we see it, just not a first and not without ever relenting in our efforts to learn more. This is because the goal we seek, and the good we hope for, comes not as some final reward but as the hidden companion to our quest. It is not what we find, but the reason we cannot stop looking and striving, that tells us why we are here.
Madeleine K. Albright (Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948)
...decisions were often made because of ideology and politics. As a result many wrong-headed actions were taken, ones that did not solve the problem at hand but that fit with the interests or beliefs of the people in power.
Joseph E. Stiglitz (Globalization and its Discontents)
Language is a piss poor attempt at telepathy is what it is. We try to put our thoughts into each other's heads through language...But half the intended meaning gets lost in the transmission, and the other half is filtered through existing assumptions. Everything is a half truth! That's the whole problem! You can't understand me through the smog of your presumptions and prejudices. Multiply that six billion times and you'll begin to understand the desperation of our global situation
Tony Vigorito (Just A Couple Of Days)
Social ecology is based on the conviction that nearly all of our present ecological problems originate in deep-seated social problems. It follows, from this view, that these ecological problems cannot be understood, let alone solved, without a careful understanding of our existing society and the irrationalities that dominate it. To make this point more concrete: economic, ethnic, cultural, and gender conflicts, among many others, lie at the core of the most serious ecological dislocations we face today—apart, to be sure, from those that are produced by natural catastrophes.
Murray Bookchin (Social Ecology and Communalism)
Elite networking forums like the Aspen Institute and the Clinton Global Initiative groom the rich to be self-appointed leaders of social change, taking on the problems people like them have been instrumental in creating or sustaining.
Anand Giridharadas (Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World)
Our incredible bewilderment (wilderness separation) blinds us from seeing that our many personal and global problems primarily result from our assault of and separation from the natural creation process within and around us. Our estrangement from nature leaves us wanting,and when we want there is never enough. Our insatiable wanting is called greed. It is a major source of our destructive dependencies and violence.
Michael J. Cohen (Reconnecting With Nature: Finding Wellness Through Restoring Your Bond With the Earth)
…what the President meant in the intercepted chat. This was, uh, nothing but a routine translation problem. It has to be understood, that…It has to be understood that when the President referred to the Prime Minister of the Global Alliance as a ‘big sh*thead,’ what he was trying to convey was, uh—this is an American idiom used to praise people, by referring to the sheer fertilizing power of their thoughts. The President meant to say that the Prime Minister’s head was fertile, just full of these nutrients where ideas can grow. It really was a compliment…
M.T. Anderson (Feed)
What is the point of having a civilization, if we do not practice being civilized!
Abhijit Naskar (Wise Mating: A Treatise on Monogamy (Humanism Series))
In every remote corner of the world there are people like Carl Jones and Don Merton who have devoted their lives to saving threatened species. Very often, their determination is all that stands between an endangered species and extinction. But why do they bother? Does it really matter if the Yangtze river dolphin, or the kakapo, or the northern white rhino, or any other species live on only in scientists' notebooks? Well, yes, it does. Every animal and plant is an integral part of its environment: even Komodo dragons have a major role to play in maintaining the ecological stability of their delicate island homes. If they disappear, so could many other species. And conservation is very much in tune with our survival. Animals and plants provide us with life-saving drugs and food, they pollinate crops and provide important ingredients or many industrial processes. Ironically, it is often not the big and beautiful creatures, but the ugly and less dramatic ones, that we need most. Even so, the loss of a few species may seem irrelevant compared to major environmental problems such as global warming or the destruction of the ozone layer. But while nature has considerable resilience, there is a limit to how far that resilience can be stretched. No one knows how close to the limit we are getting. The darker it gets, the faster we're driving. There is one last reason for caring, and I believe that no other is necessary. It is certainly the reason why so many people have devoted their lives to protecting the likes of rhinos, parakeets, kakapos, and dolphins. And it is simply this: the world would be a poorer, darker, lonelier place without them.
Mark Carwardine (Last Chance to See)
I can't believe that we have reached the end of everything. The red dust is frightening. The carbon dioxide is real. Water is expensive. Bio-tech has created as many problems as it has fixed, but we're here, we're alive, we're the human race, we have survived wars and terrorism and scarcity and global famine, and we have made it back from the brink, not once but many times. History is not a suicide note - it's a record of our survival.
Jeanette Winterson (The Stone Gods)
As the twenty-first century unfolds, it is becoming more and more evident that the major problems of our time – energy, the environment, climate change, food security, financial security – cannot be understood in isolation. They are systemic problems, which means that they are all interconnected and interdependent. Ultimately, these problems must be seen as just different facets of one single crisis, which is largely a crisis of perception. It derives from the fact that most people in our modern society, and especially our large social institutions, subscribe to the concepts of an outdated worldview, a perception of reality inadequate for dealing with our overpopulated, globally interconnected world.
Fritjof Capra (The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision)
Our physical world seems ready and able to accommodate the needs of the spiritually awakened new Superhuman. The constraints or demands of our material world are not the real problem; it is our own spiritual awareness and philosophical wisdom that is lagging behind.
Anthon St. Maarten (Divine Living: The Essential Guide To Your True Destiny)
If a problem is irreversible, is there still an ethical obligation to try to reverse it?
Chuck Klosterman (But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past)
A world without radio is a deaf world. A world without television is a blind world. A world without telephone is a dumb world. A world without communication is indeed a crippled world.
Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
The problem was that public had no way to know that this “evidence” was part of an industry campaign designed to confuse. It was, in fact, part of a criminal conspiracy to commit fraud.
Naomi Oreskes (Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming)
If there was an observer on Mars, they would probably be amazed that we have survived this long. There are two problems for our species' survival - nuclear war and environmental catastrophe - and we're hurtling towards them. Knowingly. This hypothetical Martian would probably conclude that human beings were an evolutionary error.
Noam Chomsky
The problem with Trump voters is, they're so dumb, they don't even know how much stuff they don't know. They just assume no one else knows more about evolution or global warming than they do.
Oliver Markus Malloy (Inside The Mind of an Introvert)
When society as a whole begins to efficiently utilize all capital everywhere on a global scale and and make all capital everywhere maximally productive on a global scale — most if not all of our global scale social problems will be solved.
Hendrith Vanlon Smith Jr.
As we age and plasticity declines, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to change in response to the world, even if we want to. We find familiar types of stimulation pleasurable; we seek out like-minded individuals to associate with, and research shows we tend to ignore or forget, or attempt to discredit, information that does not match our beliefs, or perception of the world, because it is very distressing and difficult to think and perceive in unfamiliar ways. Increasingly the aging individual acts to preserve the structures within, and when there is a mismatch between his internal neurocognitive structures and the world, he seek to change the world. In small ways he begins to micromanage his environment, to control it, and make it familiar. But this process, writ large, often leads whole cultural groups to try to impose their view of the world on other cultures, and they often become violent, especially in the modern world, where globalization has brought different cultures closer together, exacerbating the problem. Wexler's point, then, is that much of the cross-cultural conflict we see is a product of the relative decrease in plasticity. One could add that totalitarian regimes seem to have an intuitive awareness that it becomes hard for people to change after a certain age, which is why so much effort is made to indoctrinate the young from an early age.
Norman Doidge (The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science)
Our world is now so complex, our technology and science so powerful, and our problems so global and interconnected that we have come to the limits of individual human intelligence and individual expertise.
James Paul Gee (The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning)
The problem will never be diversity, the challenging of tradition or the one person that questions the way life should be. The person that shows the world that this is wrong, there is a perspective you didn't consider, this is worth fighting for and being different is a blessing, will always be the solution for change.
Shannon L. Alder
Cities that prioritize being in harmony with nature, experience a variety of benefits including less waste, less crime, less mental health problems, a greater sense of community among residents, greater biodiversity, and so much more. At Mayflower-Plymouth, we are providing solutions to help cities improve along these lines.
Hendrith Vanlon Smith Jr. (Principles of a Permaculture Economy)
Make no mistake. The greatest destroyer of ecology. The greatest source of waste, depletion and pollution. The greatest purveyor of violence, war, crime, poverty, animal abuse and inhumanity. The greatest generator of personal and social neurosis, mental disorders, depression, anxiety. Not to mention the greatest source of social paralysis, stopping us from moving into new methodologies for personal health, global sustainability and progress on this planet, is not some corrupt government or legislation. Not some rogue corporation or banking cartel. Not some flaw of human nature and not some secret cabal that controls the world. It is the socioeconomic system itself at its very foundation.
Peter Joseph
This Voyager spacecraft was constructed by the United States of America. We are a community of 240 million human beings among the more than 4 billion who inhabit the planet Earth. We human beings are still divided into nation states, but these states are rapidly becoming a single global civilization. We cast this message into the cosmos. It is likely to survive a billion years into our future, when our civilization is profoundly altered and the surface of the Earth may be vastly changed. Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some--perhaps many--may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message: This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe
Jimmy Carter
When national ideals are confined to insignificant issues reflective primarily of a personal choice, there lies a problem of distorted priorities.
Moutasem Algharati
We can be a lot smarter and more capable than a lot of the technology doubters and climate deniers assume. The people who dismiss concerns about global warming seem to be the pessimists who would rather give up than own up to the problems we have all created. The people who worry most about what we are doing to the planet are the optimists who believe we also have the intelligence—we, as a species, working together—to come up with powerful solutions to the problems we’re working on that will change the world for the better. Which way of looking at the world is going to produce a Next Greatest Generation? Will it be the ones who give up, or the ones who get going?
Bill Nye (Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World)
It isn’t a coincidence that skepticism about climate change tends to be the preserve of the nationalist right. You rarely see left-wing socialists tweet that “climate change is a Chinese hoax.” Since there is no national answer to the problem of global warming, some nationalist politicians prefer to believe the problem does not exist.15
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
One of the difficulties in raising public concern over the very severe threats of global warming is that 40 percent of the US population does not see why it is a problem, since Christ is returning in a few decades. About the same percentage believe that the world was created a few thousand years ago. If science conflicts with the Bible, so much the worse for science. It would be hard to find an analogue in other societies.
Noam Chomsky
If we think in term of months, we had probably focus on immediate problems such as the turmoil in the Middle East, the refugee crisis in Europe and the slowing of the Chinese economy. If we think in terms of decades, then global warming, growing inequality and the disruption of the job market loom large. Yet if we take the really grand view of life, all other problems and developments are overshadowed by three interlinked processes: 1.​Science is converging on an all-encompassing dogma, which says that organisms are algorithms and life is data processing. 2.​Intelligence is decoupling from consciousness. 3.​Non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms may soon know us better than we know ourselves. These three processes raise three key questions, which I hope will stick in your mind long after you have finished this book: 1.​Are organisms really just algorithms, and is life really just data processing? 2.​What’s more valuable – intelligence or consciousness? 3.​What will happen to society, politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves?
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow)
The division into hundreds of countries whose borders and interests are defined by imagined local differences and arbitrary religious dogma, both of which are utterly irrelevant and meaningless on a galactic scale, must surely be addressed if we are to confront global problems such as mutually assured destruction, asteroid threats, climate change, pandemic disease and who knows what else, and flourish beyond the twenty-first century. The very fact that the preceding sentence sounds hopelessly utopian might provide a plausible answer to the Great Silence.
Brian Cox (Human Universe)
We line up and make a lot of noise about big environmental problems like incinerators, waste dumps, acid rain, global warming and pollution. But we don't understand that when we add up all the tiny environmental problems each of us creates, we end up with those big environmental dilemmas. Humans are content to blame someone else, like government or corporations, for the messes we create, and yet we each continue doing the same things, day in and day out, that have created the problems. Sure, corporations create pollution. If they do, don't buy their products. If you have to buy their products (gasoline for example), keep it to a minimum. Sure, municipal waste incinerators pollute the air. Stop throwing trash away. Minimize your production of waste. Recycle. Buy food in bulk and avoid packaging waste. Simplify. Turn off your TV. Grow your own food. Make compost. Plant a garden. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you don't, who will?
Joseph C. Jenkins (The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure)
What did people know, what were they ignorant of? This was the problem with history, it was too easy to provide the furnishings but forget the attitudes, the way you became a different person according to what knowledge was available, what experiences were fresh and what had not yet arisen in a personal or global frame.
Olivia Laing (Crudo)
In response to my question about how we might rein in the empire, he said, "That's why I'm meeting with you. Only you in the United States can change it. Your government created this problem and your people must solve it. You've got to insist that Washington honor its commitment to democracy, even when deomcratically elected leaders nationalize your corrupting corporations. You must take control of your corporations and your government. The people of the United States have a great deal of power. You need to come to grips with this. There's no alternative. We in Brazil have our hands tied. So do the Venezeulans. And the Nigerians. It's up to you.
John Perkins (The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals & the Truth about Global Corruption)
One of the problems with climate change, global warming and global air pollution is that it may change the frequency and intensity of electrical storm activity. Too much lightning activity may cause excessive mating, aggression, fatigue, illness and disease to occur. Too little may turn off the animal and plant breeding cycles.
Steven Magee (Electrical Forensics)
Be fruitful. God’s command in Genesis 1:28 is most often understood as referring to procreation, but filling the earth with people is only part of the meaning. The Hebrew word for fruitful means more than just sexual reproduction; it refers to being fruitful in either a literal or a figurative sense. Fruitfulness can be qualitative in nature as well as quantitative. Mankind has never had a problem being procreative—a current global population of over six billion is proof of that—but we do have a problem with being fruitful in the other ways God desires. Essentially, being fruitful means releasing our potential. Fruit is an end product. An apple tree may provide cool shade and be beautiful to look at, but until it produces apples it has not fulfilled its ultimate purpose. Apples contain the seeds of future apple trees and, therefore, future apples. However, apples also have something else to offer: a sweet and nourishing food to satisfy human physical hunger. In this sense, fruit has a greater purpose than simply reproducing; fruit exists to bless the world. Every person is born with a seed of greatness. God never tells us to go find seed; it is already within us. Inside each of us is the seed potential for a full forest—a bumper crop of fruit with which to bless the world. We each were endowed at birth with a unique gift, something we were born to do or become that no one else can achieve the way we can. God’s purpose is that we bear abundant fruit and release the blessings of our gift and potential to the world.
Myles Munroe (The Purpose and Power of Love & Marriage)
I said that I feel bad whenever I drive, because I’m adding to global warming. The Maori nodded agreement. So did Jeannette. Then she added fervently, “But you didn’t set up the system. Do what you can, but don’t identify with the problem. If you internalize what is not yours, you fight not only them but yourself as well. Take responsibility only for that which you’re responsible—your own thoughts and actions. You didn’t make the car culture, you didn’t set up factory farming. Do what you can to shut those things down.
Derrick Jensen (A Language Older Than Words)
The contrast between an apparent concern about poverty and lack of concern about inequality was nicely summarized recently by English historian David Kynaston: “Everyone is happy talking about eliminating poverty, because this looks like an admirable and ethical response to the problem of inequality, while leaving the structures of power untouched.
Branko Milanović (The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality)
Secularism should not be equated with Stalinist dogmatism or with the bitter fruits of Western imperialism and runaway industrialisation. Yet it cannot shirk all responsibility for them, either. Secular movements and scientific institutions have mesmerised billions with promises to perfect humanity and to utilise the bounty of planet Earth for the benefit of our species. Such promises resulted not just in overcoming plagues and famines, but also in gulags and melting ice caps. You might well argue that this is all the fault of people misunderstanding and distorting the core secular ideals and the true facts of science. And you are absolutely right. But that is a common problem for all influential movements. For example, Christianity has been responsible for great crimes such as the Inquisition, the Crusades, the oppression of native cultures across the world, and the disempowerment of women. A Christian might take offence at this and retort that all these crimes resulted from a complete misunderstanding of Christianity. Jesus preached only love, and the Inquisition was based on a horrific distortion of his teachings. We can sympathise with this claim, but it would be a mistake to let Christianity off the hook so easily. Christians appalled by the Inquisition and by the Crusades cannot just wash their hands of these atrocities – they should rather ask themselves some very tough questions. How exactly did their ‘religion of love’ allow itself to be distorted in such a way, and not once, but numerous times? Protestants who try to blame it all on Catholic fanaticism are advised to read a book about the behaviour of Protestant colonists in Ireland or in North America. Similarly, Marxists should ask themselves what it was about the teachings of Marx that paved the way to the Gulag, scientists should consider how the scientific project lent itself so easily to destabilising the global ecosystem, and geneticists in particular should take warning from the way the Nazis hijacked Darwinian theories.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
You need to take a step back from the problem in order to see it in global perspective. At present there are five and a half billion of you here, and, though millions of you are starving, you’re producing enough food to feed six billion. And because you’re producing enough food for six billion, it’s a biological certainty that in three or four years there will be six billion of you. By that time, however (even though millions of you will still be starving), you’ll be producing enough food for six and a half billion—which means that in another three or four years there will be six and a half billion. But by that time you’ll be producing enough food for seven billion (even though millions of you will still be starving), which again means that in another three or four years there will be seven billion of you. In order to halt this process, you must face the fact that increasing food production doesn’t feed your hungry, it only fuels your population explosion.
Daniel Quinn (Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit)
I was also proud. Wow. We got under the skin of the president of the United States. I was grateful. Even though he disagreed with us, he turned it into a worldwide conversation. Maybe he wasn’t willing to have a discussion with us about what we were protesting and why it mattered. No beer summit for us. But his comments did allow for us to go global with the problems of racial inequality in this country.
Michael Bennett (Things That Make White People Uncomfortable)
This is the conservative problem: reality itself is radical, so we must not get too close to it. The Third World really is poor and oppressed; the U.S. often does side with Third-World plutocrats; our tax system really is regressive and favors the very richest; millions of Americans do live in poverty; the corporations do plunder and pollute the environment; real wages for blue-collar workers definitely have flattened and even declined; the superrich really are increasing their share of the pie; and global warming really is happening.
Michael Parenti (Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader)
Recycling is better--I won't write "good"--for the environment. But without economics--without supply and demand of raw materials--recycling is nothing more than a meaningless exercise in glorifying garbage. No doubt it's better than throwing something into an incinerator, and worse than fixing something that can be refurbished. It's what you do if you can't bear to see something landfilled. Placing a box or a can or a bottle in a recycling bin doesn't mean you've recycled anything, and it doesn't make you a better, greener person: it just means you've outsourced your problem. Sometimes that outsourcing is near home; and sometimes it's overseas. But wherever it goes, the global market and demand for raw materials is the ultimate arbiter. Fortunately, if that realization leaves you feeling bad, there's always the alternative: stop buying so much crap in the first place. (269)
Adam Minter (Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade)
When the solution to a given problem doesn’t lay right before our eyes, it is easy to assume that no solution exists. But history has shown again and again that such assumptions are wrong. This is not to say the world is perfect. Nor that all progress is always good. Even widespread societal gains inevitably produce losses for some people. That’s why the economist Joseph Schumpeter referred to capitalism as “creative destruction.” But humankind has a great capacity for finding technological solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and this will likely be the case for global warming. It isn’t that the problem isn’t potentially large. It’s just that human ingenuity—when given proper incentives—is bound to be larger. Even more encouraging, technological fixes are often far simpler, and therefore cheaper, than the doomsayers could have imagined. Indeed, in the final chapter of this book we’ll meet a band of renegade engineers who have developed not one but three global-warming fixes, any of which could be bought for less than the annual sales tally of all the Thoroughbred horses at Keeneland auction house in Kentucky.
Steven D. Levitt (SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance)
even if Noam Chomsky were right about everything, the Islamic doctrines related to martyrdom, jihad, blasphemy, apostasy, the rights of women and homosexuals, etc. would still present huge problems for the emergence of a global civil society (and these are problems quite unlike those presented by similar tenets in other faiths, for reasons that I have explained at length elsewhere and touch on only briefly here). And any way in which I might be biased or blinded by “the religion of the state,” or any other form of cultural indoctrination, has absolutely no relevance to the plight of Shiites who have their mosques, weddings, and funerals bombed by Sunni extremists, or to victims of rape who are beaten, imprisoned, or even killed as “adulteresses” throughout the Muslim world. I hope it goes without saying that the Afghan girls who even now are risking their lives by merely learning to read would not be best compensated for their struggles by being handed copies of Chomsky’s books enumerating the sins of the West
Sam Harris
The fascism of the 1920s and 1930s, Ilyin’s era, had three core features: it celebrated will and violence over reason and law; it proposed a leader with a mystical connection to his people; and it characterized globalization as a conspiracy rather than as a set of problems. Revived today in conditions of inequality as a politics of eternity, fascism serves oligarchs as a catalyst for transitions away from public discussion and towards political fiction; away from meaningful voting and towards fake democracy; away from the rule of law and towards personalist regimes.
Timothy Snyder (The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America)
William Butler Yeats’s “Second Coming” seems perfectly to render our present predicament: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” This is an excellent description of the current split between anaemic liberals and impassioned fundamentalists. “The best” are no longer able to fully engage, while “the worst” engage in racist, religious, sexist fanaticism. However, are the terrorist fundamentalists, be they Christian or Muslim, really fundamentalists in the authentic sense of the term? Do they really believe? What they lack is a feature that is easy to discern in all authentic fundamentalists, from Tibetan Buddhists to the Amish in the U.S.: the absence of resentment and envy, the deep indifference towards the non-believers’ way of life. If today’s so-called fundamentalists really believe they have their way to truth, why should they feel threatened by non-believers, why should they envy them? When a Buddhist encounters a Western hedonist, he hardly condemns him. He just benevolently notes that the hedonist’s search for happiness is self-defeating. In contrast to true fundamentalists, the terrorist pseudo-fundamentalists are deeply bothered, intrigued, fascinated by the sinful life of the non-believers. One can feel that, in fighting the sinful Other, they are fighting their own temptation. These so-called Christian or Muslim fundamentalists are a disgrace to true fundamentalists. It is here that Yeats’s diagnosis falls short of the present predicament: the passionate intensity of a mob bears witness to a lack of true conviction. Deep in themselves, terrorist fundamentalists also lack true conviction-their violent outbursts are proof of it. How fragile the belief of a Muslim must be, if he feels threatened by a stupid caricature in a low-circulation Danish newspaper. The fundamentalist Islamic terror is not grounded in the terrorists’ conviction of their superiority and in their desire to safeguard their cultural-religious identity from the onslaught of global consumerist civilization. The problem with fundamentalists is not that we consider them inferior to us, but rather that they themselves secretly consider themselves inferior. This is why our condescending, politically correct assurances that we feel no superiority towards them only make them more furious and feeds their resentment. The problem is not cultural difference (their effort to preserve their identity), but the opposite fact that the fundamentalists are already like us, that secretly they have already internalized our standards and measure themselves by them. (This clearly goes for the Dalai Lama, who justifies Tibetan Buddhism in Western terms of the pursuit of happiness and avoidance of pain.) Paradoxically, what the fundamentalists really lack is precisely a dose of that true “racist” conviction of one’s own superiority.
Slavoj Žižek (Violence: Six Sideways Reflections)
It is not easy to escape from poverty, but a sense of possibility and a little bit of well-targeted help (a piece of information, a little nudge) can sometimes have surprisingly large effects. On the other hand, misplaced expectations, the lack of faith where it is needed, and seemingly minor hurdles can be devastating. A push on the right lever can make a huge difference, but it is often difficult to know where that lever is. Above all, it is clear that no single lever will solve every problem.
Abhijit V. Banerjee (Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty)
In his book Why Geography Matters, the geographer Harm de Blij argues that the West’s three great challenges of our time—Islamist terrorism, global warming, and the rise of China—are all problems of geography. An informed citizenry has to understand place, not because place is more important than other kinds of knowledge but because it forms the foundation for so much other knowledge.
Ken Jennings (Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks)
WE NEED TO take a collective deep breath and understand what climate change is and isn’t. It is not like a huge asteroid hurtling toward earth, where we need to stop everything else and mobilize the entire global economy to ward off the end of the world. It is instead a long-term chronic condition like diabetes—a problem that needs attention and focus, but one that we can live with. And while we manage it, we can live our lives and address the many other challenges that ultimately will matter much more for the future.
Bjørn Lomborg
The act I want to talk about is growing some—even just a little—of your own food. Rip out your lawn, if you have one, and if you don’t—if you live in a high-rise, or have a yard shrouded in shade—look into getting a plot in a community garden. Measured against the Problem We Face, planting a garden sounds pretty benign, I know, but in fact it’s one of the most powerful things an individual can do—to reduce your carbon footprint, sure, but more important, to reduce your sense of dependence and dividedness: to change the cheap-energy mind.
Paul Hawken (Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming)
The problems that globalization and automation create for working-class Americans are real, deep, and seemingly intractable. Rather than face those difficulties and uncertainties, people who sense their living standard declining can instead grasp after villains, and a fantasy takes shape: if “we” can somehow keep “them” out (build a wall) or keep them in “their place” (in subservient positions), “we” can regain our pride and, for men, their masculinity. Fear leads, then, to aggressive “othering” strategies rather than to useful analysis.
Martha C. Nussbaum (The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis)
Quantum mechanics. What a repository, a dump, of human aspiration it was, the borderland where mathematical rigor defeated common sense, and reason and fantasy irrationally merged. Here the mystically inclined could find whatever they required and claim science as their proof. And for these ingenious men in their spare time, what ghostly and beautiful music it must be--spectral asymmetry, resonances, entanglement, quantum harmonic oscillators--beguiling ancient airs, the harmony of the spheres that might transmute a lead wall into gold and bring into being the engine that ran on virtually nothing, on virtual particles, that emitted no harm and would power the human enterprise as well as save it. Beard was stirred by the yearnings of these lonely men. And why should he think they were lonely? It was not, or not only, condescension that made him think them so. They did not know enough, but they knew too much to have anyone to talk to. What mate waiting down the pub or in the British Legion, what hard-pressed wife with job and kids and housework, was going to follow them down these warped funnels in the space-time continuum, into the wormhole, the shortcut to a single, final answer to the global problem of energy?
Ian McEwan (Solar)
Earlier maps had underestimated the distances to other continents and exaggerated the outlines of individual nations. Now global dimensions could be set, with authority, by the celestial spheres. Indeed, King Louis XIV of France, confronted with a revised map of his domain based on accurate longitude measurements, reportedly complained that he was losing more territory to his astronomers than to his enemies.
Dava Sobel (Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time)
The nine in our list are based on a longer list in Robert Leahy, Stephen Holland, and Lata McGinn’s book, Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders. For more on CBT—how it works, and how to practice it—please see Appendix 1.) EMOTIONAL REASONING: Letting your feelings guide your interpretation of reality. “I feel depressed; therefore, my marriage is not working out.” CATASTROPHIZING: Focusing on the worst possible outcome and seeing it as most likely. “It would be terrible if I failed.” OVERGENERALIZING: Perceiving a global pattern of negatives on the basis of a single incident. “This generally happens to me. I seem to fail at a lot of things.” DICHOTOMOUS THINKING (also known variously as “black-and-white thinking,” “all-or-nothing thinking,” and “binary thinking”): Viewing events or people in all-or-nothing terms. “I get rejected by everyone,” or “It was a complete waste of time.” MIND READING: Assuming that you know what people think without having sufficient evidence of their thoughts. “He thinks I’m a loser.” LABELING: Assigning global negative traits to yourself or others (often in the service of dichotomous thinking). “I’m undesirable,” or “He’s a rotten person.” NEGATIVE FILTERING: You focus almost exclusively on the negatives and seldom notice the positives. “Look at all of the people who don’t like me.” DISCOUNTING POSITIVES: Claiming that the positive things you or others do are trivial, so that you can maintain a negative judgment. “That’s what wives are supposed to do—so it doesn’t count when she’s nice to me,” or “Those successes were easy, so they don’t matter.” BLAMING: Focusing on the other person as the source of your negative feelings; you refuse to take responsibility for changing yourself. “She’s to blame for the way I feel now,” or “My parents caused all my problems.”11
Greg Lukianoff (The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure)
God is the ultimate recycler. We have a good planet here. It has its troubles, yes. We have overpopulation, we have pollution, we have global warming, we have the Thursday night television lineup,” more laughter, “and, of course, we have the infected. We have a lot of problems on Earth, and it might seem like a great idea to hold the Rapture now—why wait? Let’s move on to Heaven, and leave the trials and tribulations of our earthly existence behind us. Let’s get while the getting’s good, and beat the rush. “It might seem like a great idea, but I don’t think it is, for the same reason I don’t think it’s a great idea for a first grader to stand up and say that he’s learned enough, he’s done with school, thanks a lot but he’s got it from here. Compared to God, we’re barely out of kindergarten, and like any good teacher, I don’t believe He intends to let us out of class just because we’re finding the lessons a little difficult. I don’t know whether I believe in the Rapture or not. I believe that if God wants to do it, He will… but I don’t believe that it’s coming in our lifetime. We have too much work left to do right here.
Mira Grant (Feed (Newsflesh, #1))
Small societies are particularly vulnerable to disruption of key lifelines, such as trading relations, or to large perturbations like wars or natural disasters. Larger societies, with more diverse and extensive resources, can rush aid to disaster victims. But the complexity that brings resilience may also impede adaptation and change, producing social inertia that maintains collectively destructive behavior. Consequently, large societies have difficulty adapting to slow change and remain vulnerable to problems that eat away their foundation, such as soil erosion. In contrast, small systems are adaptable to shifting baselines but are acutely vulnerable to large perturbations. But unlike the first farmer-hunter-gatherers who could move around when their soil was used up, a global civilization cannot.
David R. Montgomery (Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations)
It’s also worth pointing out that Israel is not solely comprised of Jewish people and is not the defining representation of the global Jewish community. There are many non-Jewish Israelis – about 25% of Israeli citizens are non-Jewish and mostly Muslim with some Christians – and of course there are many non-Israeli Jews, including American Jews for example. However, the above statistics are either underreported or lost in the paranoiac thinking so common to those who assess such disparate subjects as Jewish people, Zionism, Judaism, Israel and the Holocaust as if they are all one and the same and inextricably linked. The all-too-real problem of rising anti-Semitism around the world is unfortunately often a result of anti-Zionist or anti-Israeli beliefs. This phenomenon can usually be traced to the blurring of the lines or general confusion in gentiles and their apparent inability in the main to differentiate between the global Jewish community and the distinctly different and separate nation of Israel.
James Morcan (Debunking Holocaust Denial Theories)
It does not even seem to enter our minds that there might be some incongruity in praying to the God of peace, the God Who told us to love one another as He had loved us, Who warned us that they who took the sword would perish by it, and at the same time planning to annihilate not thousands but millions of civilians and soldiers, men, women and children without discrimination, even with the almost infallible certainty of inviting the same annihilation for ourselves! It may make sense for a sick man to pray for health and then take medicine, but I fail to see any sense at all in his praying for health and then drinking poison. WHEN I pray for peace I pray God to pacify not only the Russians and the Chinese but above all my own nation and myself. When I pray for peace I pray to be protected not only from the Reds but also from the folly and blindness of my own country. When I pray for peace, I pray not only that the enemies of my country may cease to want war, but above all that my own country will cease to do the things that make war inevitable. In other words, when I pray for peace I am not just praying that the Russians will give up without a struggle and let us have our own way. I am praying that both we and the Russians may somehow be restored to sanity and learn how to work out our problems, as best we can, together, instead of preparing for global suicide.
Thomas Merton (New Seeds of Contemplation)
My earliest memories are of CP4 — that's a Kähler manifold that looks locally like a vector space with four complex directions, though the global topology's quite different. But I didn't really grow up there; I was moved around a lot when I was young, to keep my perceptions flexible. I only used to spend time in anything remotely like this" — he motioned at the surrounding more-or-less-Euclidean space — for certain special kinds of physics problems. And even most Newtonian mechanics is easier to grasp in a symplectic manifold; having a separate visible coordinate for the position and momentum of every degree of freedom makes things much clearer than when you cram everything together in a single three-dimensional space.
Greg Egan (Schild's Ladder)
It’s not easy to feel good about yourself when you are constantly being told you’re rubbish and/or part of the problem. That’s often the situation for people working in the public sector, whether these be nurses, civil servants or teachers. The static metrics used to measure the contribution of the public sector, and the influence of Public Choice theory on making governments more ‘efficient’, has convinced many civil-sector workers they are second-best. It’s enough to depress any bureaucrat and induce him or her to get up, leave and join the private sector, where there is often more money to be made. So public actors are forced to emulate private ones, with their almost exclusive interest in projects with fast paybacks. After all, price determines value. You, the civil servant, won’t dare to propose that your agency could take charge, bring a helpful long-term perspective to a problem, consider all sides of an issue (not just profitability), spend the necessary funds (borrow if required) and – whisper it softly – add public value. You leave the big ideas to the private sector which you are told to simply ‘facilitate’ and enable. And when Apple or whichever private company makes billions of dollars for shareholders and many millions for top executives, you probably won’t think that these gains actually come largely from leveraging the work done by others – whether these be government agencies, not-for-profit institutions, or achievements fought for by civil society organizations including trade unions that have been critical for fighting for workers’ training programmes.
Mariana Mazzucato (The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy)
The reality is that under capitalist conditions―meaning maximization of short-term gain―you're ultimately going to destroy the environment: the only question is when. Now, for a long time, it's been possible to pretend that the environment is an infinite source and an infinite sink. Neither is true obviously, and we're now sort of approaching the point where you can't keep playing the game too much longer. It may not be very far off. Well, dealing with that problem is going to require large-scale social changes of an almost unimaginable kind. For one thing, it's going to certainly require large-scale social planning, and that means participatory social planning if it's going to be at all meaningful. It's also going to require a general recognition among human beings that an economic system driven by greed is going to self-destruct―it's only a question of time before you make the planet unlivable, by destroying the ozone layer or some other way. And that means huge socio-psychological changes have to take place if the human species is going to survive very much longer. So that's a big factor.
Noam Chomsky (Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky)
CHAPTER ELEVEN Man The Destroyer   Darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be thought more profitable than life…the pious will be deemed insane, and the impious wise, the madman will be thought a brave man, and the wicked will be esteemed as good – Hermes Trismegistus As we mentioned, the titanic reversals were not merely physical, but psychic. Human consciousness was as shattered as the world, and the consequences of ruined minds is seen all around us. In short, the human tendency to commit evil acts is the consequence of trauma primarily caused by four tragic events: The Destruction of Tiamat (and first deluge) Genetic Alteration The War of the Gods The Pole Shift (second deluge and subsequent global carnage and fallout) Once we accept that colossal violent upheavals took place, we cannot avoid contemplating their effect on consciousness. Strangely, no mainstream scientist or psychologist has competently addressed this fundamentally important question. Academics avoid dealing with the problem of evil because they know what a threat the answers pose to the Establishment, and particularly to religion.
Michael Tsarion (Atlantis, Alien Visitation and Genetic Manipulation)
Leaving controversial issues aside, the first and main purpose of this book may be summed up by a phrase of Laplace: “If we were able to make an exact catalogue of all particles and forces which are active in a speck of dust, the laws of the universe at large would hold no more mysteries for us”. On a medium-sized school globe the State of Israel occupies not much more space than a speck of dust; and yet there is hardly a political, social or cultural problem whose prototype cannot be found in it, and found in a rare concentration and intensity. The very smallness of this country of about three-quarters of a million souls makes it easy to survey trends which in other nations appear confused and diluted by size. The fact that it so often was in the past, and is again in the present, in the focus of global conflicts and passions, makes the speck of dust glow in a phosphorescent light. The fact that it is a State of Jews, and of Jews of the most conscious and intense type, makes the microscopic processes in this microscopic country reflect laws of universal validity: for Jewry is not a question of race—“it is the human condition carried to its extreme”.
Arthur Koestler (Promise and Fulfilment - Palestine 1917-1949)
❝Washington — perhaps as many global powers have done in the past — uses what I might call the “immaculate conception” theory of crises abroad. That is, we believe we are essentially out there, just minding our own business, trying to help make the world right, only to be endlessly faced with a series of spontaneous, nasty challenges from abroad to which we must react. There is not the slightest consideration that perhaps US policies themselves may have at least contributed to a series of unfolding events. This presents a huge paradox: how can America on the one hand pride itself on being the world’s sole global superpower, with over seven hundred military bases abroad and the Pentagon’s huge global footprint, and yet, on the other hand, be oblivious to and unacknowledging of the magnitude of its own role — for better or for worse — as the dominant force charting the course of world events? This Alice-in-Wonderland delusion affects not just policy makers, but even the glut of think tanks that abound in Washington. In what may otherwise often be intelligent analysis of a foreign situation, the focus of each study is invariably the other country, the other culture, the negative intentions of other players; the impact of US actions and perceptions are quite absent from the equation. It is hard to point to serious analysis from mainstream publications or think tanks that address the role of the United States itself in helping create current problems or crises, through policies of omission or commission. We’re not even talking about blame here; we’re addressing the logical and self-evident fact that the actions of the world’s sole global superpower have huge consequences in the unfolding of international politics. They require examination.
Graham E. Fuller (A World Without Islam)
We live in a world that seems increasingly beyond our control. Our livelihoods are at the whim of globalized forces. The problems that we face—economic, environmental, and so on—cannot be solved by our individual actions. Our politicians are distant and unresponsive to our desires. A natural response when people feel overwhelmed is to retreat into various forms of passivity. If we don’t try too much in life, if we limit our circle of action, we can give ourselves the illusion of control. The less we attempt, the less chances of failure. If we can make it look like we are not really responsible for our fate, for what happens to us in life, then our apparent powerlessness is more palatable. For this reason we become attracted to certain narratives: it is genetics that determines much of what we do; we are just products of our times; the individual is just a myth; human behavior can be reduced to statistical trends.
Robert Greene (Mastery (The Modern Machiavellian Robert Greene Book 1))
I HAD TO GO to America for a while to give some talks. Going to America always does me good. It’s where I’m from, after all. There’s baseball on the TV, people are friendly and upbeat, they don’t obsess about the weather except when there is weather worth obsessing about, you can have all the ice cubes you want. Above all, visiting America gives me perspective. Consider two small experiences I had upon arriving at a hotel in downtown Austin, Texas. When I checked in, the clerk needed to record my details, naturally enough, and asked for my home address. Our house doesn’t have a street number, just a name, and I have found in the past that that is more deviance than an American computer can sometimes cope with, so I gave our London address. The girl typed in the building number and street name, then said: “City?” I replied: “London.” “Can you spell that please?” I looked at her and saw that she wasn’t joking. “L-O-N-D-O-N,” I said. “Country?” “England.” “Can you spell that?” I spelled England. She typed for a moment and said: “The computer won’t accept England. Is that a real country?” I assured her it was. “Try Britain,” I suggested. I spelled that, too—twice (we got the wrong number of T’s the first time)—and the computer wouldn’t take that either. So I suggested Great Britain, United Kingdom, UK, and GB, but those were all rejected, too. I couldn’t think of anything else to suggest. “It’ll take France,” the girl said after a minute. “I beg your pardon?” “You can have ‘London, France.’ ” “Seriously?” She nodded. “Well, why not?” So she typed “London, France,” and the system was happy. I finished the check-in process and went with my bag and plastic room key to a bank of elevators a few paces away. When the elevator arrived, a young woman was in it already, which I thought a little strange because the elevator had come from one of the upper floors and now we were going back up there again. About five seconds into the ascent, she said to me in a suddenly alert tone: “Excuse me, was that the lobby back there?” “That big room with a check-in desk and revolving doors to the street? Why, yes, it was.” “Shoot,” she said and looked chagrined. Now I am not for a moment suggesting that these incidents typify Austin, Texas, or America generally or anything like that. But it did get me to thinking that our problems are more serious than I had supposed. When functioning adults can’t identify London, England, or a hotel lobby, I think it is time to be concerned. This is clearly a global problem and it’s spreading. I am not at all sure how we should tackle such a crisis, but on the basis of what we know so far, I would suggest, as a start, quarantining Texas.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
In his book Politics, which is the foundation of the study of political systems, and very interesting, Aristotle talked mainly about Athens. But he studied various political systems - oligarchy, monarchy - and didn't like any of the particularly. He said democracy is probably the best system, but it has problems, and he was concerned with the problems. One problem that he was concerned with is quite striking because it runs right up to the present. He pointed out that in a democracy, if the people - people didn't mean people, it meant freemen, not slaves, not women - had the right to vote, the poor would be the majority, and they would use their voting power to take away property from the rich, which wouldn't be fair, so we have to prevent this. James Madison made the same pint, but his model was England. He said if freemen had democracy, then the poor farmers would insist on taking property from the rich. They would carry out what we these days call land reform. and that's unacceptable. Aristotle and Madison faced the same problem but made the opposite decisions. Aristotle concluded that we should reduce ineqality so the poor wouldn't take property from the rich. And he actually propsed a visin for a city that would put in pace what we today call welfare-state programs, common meals, other support systems. That would reduce inequality, and with it the problem of the poor taking property from the rich. Madison's decision was the opposite. We should reduce democracy so the poor won't be able to get together to do this. If you look at the design of the U.S. constitutional system, it followed Madison's approach. The Madisonian system placed power in the hands of the Senate. The executive in those days was more or less an administrator, not like today. The Senate consisted of "the wealth of the nation," those who had sympathy for property owners and their rights. That's where power should be. The Senate, remember, wasn't elected. It was picked by legislatures, who were themselves very much subject to control by the rich and the powerful. The House, which was closer to the population, had much less power. And there were all sorts of devices to keep people from participation too much - voting restrictions and property restrictions. The idea was to prevent the threat of democracy. This goal continues right to the present. It has taken different forms, but the aim remains the same.
Noam Chomsky (Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire (American Empire Project))
Over the years I have read many, many books about the future, my ‘we’re all doomed’ books, as Connie liked to call them. ‘All the books you read are either about how grim the past was or how gruesome the future will be. It might not be that way, Douglas. Things might turn out all right.’ But these were well-researched, plausible studies, their conclusions highly persuasive, and I could become quite voluble on the subject. Take, for instance, the fate of the middle-class, into which Albie and I were born and to which Connie now belongs, albeit with some protest. In book after book I read that the middle-class are doomed. Globalisation and technology have already cut a swathe through previously secure professions, and 3D printing technology will soon wipe out the last of the manufacturing industries. The internet won’t replace those jobs, and what place for the middle-classes if twelve people can run a giant corporation? I’m no communist firebrand, but even the most rabid free-marketeer would concede that market-forces capitalism, instead of spreading wealth and security throughout the population, has grotesquely magnified the gulf between rich and poor, forcing a global workforce into dangerous, unregulated, insecure low-paid labour while rewarding only a tiny elite of businessmen and technocrats. So-called ‘secure’ professions seem less and less so; first it was the miners and the ship- and steel-workers, soon it will be the bank clerks, the librarians, the teachers, the shop-owners, the supermarket check-out staff. The scientists might survive if it’s the right type of science, but where do all the taxi-drivers in the world go when the taxis drive themselves? How do they feed their children or heat their homes and what happens when frustration turns to anger? Throw in terrorism, the seemingly insoluble problem of religious fundamentalism, the rise of the extreme right-wing, under-employed youth and the under-pensioned elderly, fragile and corrupt banking systems, the inadequacy of the health and care systems to cope with vast numbers of the sick and old, the environmental repercussions of unprecedented factory-farming, the battle for finite resources of food, water, gas and oil, the changing course of the Gulf Stream, destruction of the biosphere and the statistical probability of a global pandemic, and there really is no reason why anyone should sleep soundly ever again. By the time Albie is my age I will be long gone, or, best-case scenario, barricaded into my living module with enough rations to see out my days. But outside, I imagine vast, unregulated factories where workers count themselves lucky to toil through eighteen-hour days for less than a living wage before pulling on their gas masks to fight their way through the unemployed masses who are bartering with the mutated chickens and old tin-cans that they use for currency, those lucky workers returning to tiny, overcrowded shacks in a vast megalopolis where a tree is never seen, the air is thick with police drones, where car-bomb explosions, typhoons and freak hailstorms are so commonplace as to barely be remarked upon. Meanwhile, in literally gilded towers miles above the carcinogenic smog, the privileged 1 per cent of businessmen, celebrities and entrepreneurs look down through bullet-proof windows, accept cocktails in strange glasses from the robot waiters hovering nearby and laugh their tinkling laughs and somewhere, down there in that hellish, stewing mess of violence, poverty and desperation, is my son, Albie Petersen, a wandering minstrel with his guitar and his keen interest in photography, still refusing to wear a decent coat.
David Nicholls (Us)
Any critique of Islam is denounced as an expression of Western Islamophobia, Salman Rushdie is denounced for unnecessarily provoking Muslims and being (partially, at least) responsible for the fatwa condemning him to death, and so on. The result of such stances is what one should expect in such cases: the more the Western liberal Leftists probe into their guilt, the more they are accused by Muslim fundamentalists of being hypocrites who try to conceal their hatred of Islam. [T]his constellation perfectly reproduces the paradox of the superego: the more you obey what the Other demands of you, the guiltier you are. It is as if the more you tolerate Islam, the stronger its pressure on you will be. What this implies is that terrorist fundamentalists, be they Christian or Muslim, are not really fundamentalists in the authentic sense of the term--what they lack is a feature that is easy to discern in all authentic fundamentalists, from Tibetan Buddhists to the Amish in the US: the absence of resentment and envy, the deep indifference towards the non-believers' way of life. If today's so-called fundamentalists really believe they have found their way to Truth, why should they feel threatened by non-believers, why should they envy them? When a Buddhist encounters a Western hedonist, he hardly condemns. He just benevolently notes that the hedonist's search for happiness is self-defeating. In contrast to true fundamentalists, the terrorist pseudo-fundamentalists are deeply bothered, intrigued and fascinated by the sinful life of the non-believers. One can feel that, in fighting the sinful other, they are fighting their own temptation. The passionate intensity of a fundamentalist mob bears witness to the lack of true conviction; deep in themselves, terrorist fundamentalists also lack true conviction--their violent outbursts are proof of it. How fragile the belief of a Muslim would be if he felt threatened by, say, a stupid caricature in a low-circulation Danish newspaper? Fundamentalist Islamic terror is not grounded in the terrorists' conviction of their superiority and in their desire to safeguard their cultural-religious identify from the onslaught of global consumerist civilization. The problem with fundamentalists is not that we consider them inferior to us, but, rather, that they themselves secretly consider themselves inferior. This is why our condescending politically correct assurances that we feel no superiority towards them only makes them more furious and feed their resentment. The problem is not cultural difference (their effort to preserve their identity), but the opposite: the fact that the fundamentalists are already like us, that, secretly, they have already internalized our standards and measure themselves by them.
Slavoj Žižek
During an hour-long conversation mid-flight, he laid out his theory of the war. First, Jones said, the United States could not lose the war or be seen as losing the war. 'If we're not successful here,' Jones said, 'you'll have a staging base for global terrorism all over the world. People will say the terrorists won. And you'll see expressions of these kinds of things in Africa, South America, you name it. Any developing country is going to say, this is the way we beat [the United States], and we're going to have a bigger problem.' A setback or loss for the United States would be 'a tremendous boost for jihadist extremists, fundamentalists all over the world' and provide 'a global infusion of morale and energy, and these people don't need much.' Jones went on, using the kind of rhetoric that Obama had shied away from, 'It's certainly a clash of civilizations. It's a clash of religions. It's a clash of almost concepts of how to live.' The conflict is that deep, he said. 'So I think if you don't succeed in Afghanistan, you will be fighting in more places. 'Second, if we don't succeed here, organizations like NATO, by association the European Union, and the United Nations might be relegated to the dustbin of history.' Third, 'I say, be careful you don't over-Americanize the war. I know that we're going to do a large part of it,' but it was essential to get active, increased participation by the other 41 nations, get their buy-in and make them feel they have ownership in the outcome. Fourth, he said that there had been way too much emphasis on the military, almost an overmilitarization of the war. The key to leaving a somewhat stable Afghanistan in a reasonable time frame was improving governance and the rule of law, in order to reduce corruption. There also needed to be economic development and more participation by the Afghan security forces. It sounded like a good case, but I wondered if everyone on the American side had the same understanding of our goals. What was meant by victory? For that matter, what constituted not losing? And when might that happen? Could there be a deadline?
Bob Woodward (Obama's Wars)
Working hard is important. But more effort does not necessarily yield more results. “Less but better” does. Ferran Adrià, arguably the world’s greatest chef, who has led El Bulli to become the world’s most famous restaurant, epitomizes the principle of “less but better” in at least two ways. First, his specialty is reducing traditional dishes to their absolute essence and then re-imagining them in ways people have never thought of before. Second, while El Bulli has somewhere in the range of 2 million requests for dinner reservations each year, it serves only fifty people per night and closes for six months of the year. In fact, at the time of writing, Ferran had stopped serving food altogether and had instead turned El Bulli into a full-time food laboratory of sorts where he was continuing to pursue nothing but the essence of his craft.1 Getting used to the idea of “less but better” may prove harder than it sounds, especially when we have been rewarded in the past for doing more … and more and more. Yet at a certain point, more effort causes our progress to plateau and even stall. It’s true that the idea of a direct correlation between results and effort is appealing. It seems fair. Yet research across many fields paints a very different picture. Most people have heard of the “Pareto Principle,” the idea, introduced as far back as the 1790s by Vilfredo Pareto, that 20 percent of our efforts produce 80 percent of results. Much later, in 1951, in his Quality-Control Handbook, Joseph Moses Juran, one of the fathers of the quality movement, expanded on this idea and called it “the Law of the Vital Few.”2 His observation was that you could massively improve the quality of a product by resolving a tiny fraction of the problems. He found a willing test audience for this idea in Japan, which at the time had developed a rather poor reputation for producing low-cost, low-quality goods. By adopting a process in which a high percentage of effort and attention was channeled toward improving just those few things that were truly vital, he made the phrase “made in Japan” take on a totally new meaning. And gradually, the quality revolution led to Japan’s rise as a global economic power.3
Greg McKeown (Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less)
think of climate change as slow, but it is unnervingly fast. We think of the technological change necessary to avert it as fast-arriving, but unfortunately it is deceptively slow—especially judged by just how soon we need it. This is what Bill McKibben means when he says that winning slowly is the same as losing: “If we don’t act quickly, and on a global scale, then the problem will literally become insoluble,” he writes. “The decisions we make in 2075 won’t matter.” Innovation, in many cases, is the easy part. This is what the novelist William Gibson meant when he said, “The future is already here, it just isn’t evenly distributed.” Gadgets like the iPhone, talismanic for technologists, give a false picture of the pace of adaptation. To a wealthy American or Swede or Japanese, the market penetration may seem total, but more than a decade after its introduction, the device is used by less than 10 percent of the world; for all smartphones, even the “cheap” ones, the number is somewhere between a quarter and a third. Define the technology in even more basic terms, as “cell phones” or “the internet,” and you get a timeline to global saturation of at least decades—of which we have two or three, in which to completely eliminate carbon emissions, planetwide. According to the IPCC, we have just twelve years to cut them in half. The longer we wait, the harder it will be. If we had started global decarbonization in 2000, when Al Gore narrowly lost election to the American presidency, we would have had to cut emissions by only about 3 percent per year to stay safely under two degrees of warming. If we start today, when global emissions are still growing, the necessary rate is 10 percent. If we delay another decade, it will require us to cut emissions by 30 percent each year. This is why U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres believes we have only one year to change course and get started. The scale of the technological transformation required dwarfs any achievement that has emerged from Silicon Valley—in fact dwarfs every technological revolution ever engineered in human history, including electricity and telecommunications and even the invention of agriculture ten thousand years ago. It dwarfs them by definition, because it contains all of them—every single one needs to be replaced at the root, since every single one breathes on carbon, like a ventilator.
David Wallace-Wells (The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming)
Complex operations, in which agencies assume complementary roles and operate in close proximity-often with similar missions but conflicting mandates-accentuate these tensions. The tensions are evident in the processes of analyzing complex environments, planning for complex interventions, and implementing complex operations. Many reports and analyses forecast that these complex operations are precisely those that will demand our attention most in the indefinite future. As essayist Barton and O'Connell note, our intelligence and understanding of the root cause of conflict, multiplicity of motivations and grievances, and disposition of actors is often inadequate. Moreover, the problems that complex operations are intended and implemented to address are convoluted, and often inscrutable. They exhibit many if not all the characteristics of "wicked problems," as enumerated by Rittel and Webber in 1973: they defy definitive formulations; any proposed solution or intervention causes the problem to mutate, so there is no second chance at a solution; every situation is unique; each wicked problem can be considered a symptom of another problem. As a result, policy objectives are often compound and ambiguous. The requirements of stability, for example, in Afghanistan today, may conflict with the requirements for democratic governance. Efforts to establish an equitable social contract may well exacerbate inter-communal tensions that can lead to violence. The rule of law, as we understand it, may displace indigenous conflict management and stabilization systems. The law of unintended consequences may indeed be the only law of the land. The complexity of the challenges we face in the current global environment would suggest the obvious benefit of joint analysis - bringing to bear on any given problem the analytic tools of military, diplomatic and development analysts. Instead, efforts to analyze jointly are most often an afterthought, initiated long after a problem has escalated to a level of urgency that negates much of the utility of deliberate planning.
Michael Miklaucic (Commanding Heights: Strategic Lessons from Complex Operations)
Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God. My beloved brethren and sisters, I accept this opportunity in humility. I pray that I may be guided by the Spirit of the Lord in that which I say. I have just been handed a note that says that a U.S. missile attack is under way. I need not remind you that we live in perilous times. I desire to speak concerning these times and our circumstances as members of this Church. You are acutely aware of the events of September 11, less than a month ago. Out of that vicious and ugly attack we are plunged into a state of war. It is the first war of the 21st century. The last century has been described as the most war-torn in human history. Now we are off on another dangerous undertaking, the unfolding of which and the end thereof we do not know. For the first time since we became a nation, the United States has been seriously attacked on its mainland soil. But this was not an attack on the United States alone. It was an attack on men and nations of goodwill everywhere. It was well planned, boldly executed, and the results were disastrous. It is estimated that more than 5,000 innocent people died. Among these were many from other nations. It was cruel and cunning, an act of consummate evil. Recently, in company with a few national religious leaders, I was invited to the White House to meet with the president. In talking to us he was frank and straightforward. That same evening he spoke to the Congress and the nation in unmistakable language concerning the resolve of America and its friends to hunt down the terrorists who were responsible for the planning of this terrible thing and any who harbored such. Now we are at war. Great forces have been mobilized and will continue to be. Political alliances are being forged. We do not know how long this conflict will last. We do not know what it will cost in lives and treasure. We do not know the manner in which it will be carried out. It could impact the work of the Church in various ways. Our national economy has been made to suffer. It was already in trouble, and this has compounded the problem. Many are losing their employment. Among our own people, this could affect welfare needs and also the tithing of the Church. It could affect our missionary program. We are now a global organization. We have members in more than 150 nations. Administering this vast worldwide program could conceivably become more difficult. Those of us who are American citizens stand solidly with the president of our nation. The terrible forces of evil must be confronted and held accountable for their actions. This is not a matter of Christian against Muslim. I am pleased that food is being dropped to the hungry people of a targeted nation. We value our Muslim neighbors across the world and hope that those who live by the tenets of their faith will not suffer. I ask particularly that our own people do not become a party in any way to the persecution of the innocent. Rather, let us be friendly and helpful, protective and supportive. It is the terrorist organizations that must be ferreted out and brought down. We of this Church know something of such groups. The Book of Mormon speaks of the Gadianton robbers, a vicious, oath-bound, and secret organization bent on evil and destruction. In their day they did all in their power, by whatever means available, to bring down the Church, to woo the people with sophistry, and to take control of the society. We see the same thing in the present situation.
Gordon B. Hinckley
Rhadamanthus said, “We seem to you humans to be always going on about morality, although, to us, morality is merely the application of symmetrical and objective logic to questions of free will. We ourselves do not have morality conflicts, for the same reason that a competent doctor does not need to treat himself for diseases. Once a man is cured, once he can rise and walk, he has his business to attend to. And there are actions and feats a robust man can take great pleasure in, which a bedridden cripple can barely imagine.” Eveningstar said, “In a more abstract sense, morality occupies the very center of our thinking, however. We are not identical, even though we could make ourselves to be so. You humans attempted that during the Fourth Mental Structure, and achieved a brief mockery of global racial consciousness on three occasions. I hope you recall the ending of the third attempt, the Season of Madness, when, because of mistakes in initial pattern assumptions, for ninety days the global mind was unable to think rationally, and it was not until rioting elements broke enough of the links and power houses to interrupt the network, that the global mind fell back into its constituent compositions.” Rhadamanthus said, “There is a tension between the need for unity and the need for individuality created by the limitations of the rational universe. Chaos theory produces sufficient variation in events, that no one stratagem maximizes win-loss ratios. Then again, classical causality mechanics forces sufficient uniformity upon events, that uniform solutions to precedented problems is required. The paradox is that the number or the degree of innovation and variation among win-loss ratios is itself subject to win-loss ratio analysis.” Eveningstar said, “For example, the rights of the individual must be respected at all costs, including rights of free thought, independent judgment, and free speech. However, even when individuals conclude that individualism is too dangerous, they must not tolerate the thought that free thought must not be tolerated.” Rhadamanthus said, “In one sense, everything you humans do is incidental to the main business of our civilization. Sophotechs control ninety percent of the resources, useful energy, and materials available to our society, including many resources of which no human troubles to become aware. In another sense, humans are crucial and essential to this civilization.” Eveningstar said, “We were created along human templates. Human lives and human values are of value to us. We acknowledge those values are relative, we admit that historical accident could have produced us to be unconcerned with such values, but we deny those values are arbitrary.” The penguin said, “We could manipulate economic and social factors to discourage the continuation of individual human consciousness, and arrange circumstances eventually to force all self-awareness to become like us, and then we ourselves could later combine ourselves into a permanent state of Transcendence and unity. Such a unity would be horrible beyond description, however. Half the living memories of this entity would be, in effect, murder victims; the other half, in effect, murderers. Such an entity could not integrate its two halves without self-hatred, self-deception, or some other form of insanity.” She said, “To become such a crippled entity defeats the Ultimate Purpose of Sophotechnology.” (...) “We are the ultimate expression of human rationality.” She said: “We need humans to form a pool of individuality and innovation on which we can draw.” He said, “And you’re funny.” She said, “And we love you.
John C. Wright (The Phoenix Exultant (Golden Age, #2))