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Greenism: Moral Reality or Political Appearance?

Demonic gods seeking to destroy civilization should study memes and trends. A meme is a notion that appeals to most people so they repeat it to others; a trend is the corresponding physical action they take to show they have been infected with a viral meme. Memes and trends fill mental space so effectively they can camouflage reality.

Our latest trend, here in the covert ongoing collapse of human civilization, is to be "green." Spin doctors finally formulated a meme for our ecocide in progress and called it "global warming." It is such an effective meme that while science bluffs and wrangles with its veracity people are already in full-on sublimated panic trying to "go green" to avoid apocalypse.

And in the rolling suburbs and cubic apartments, solemn stares note that "green" equals "good" and then gratefully relinquish awareness to comfortable oblivion. They like having memes like this -- external voices of judgment, from universally agreed reliable sources like media, government, role models and friends -- because someone else takes the blame if things go wrong.

We can see the paradox of the morality of "greenism" through this division. People can receive instructions, but the same impulse that makes them accept these instructions as "truth" has them refusing to engage the issue itself, preferring to act in surrogate instead. This is what we call externalization.

The ancient Greeks, and later postmodernists, observed that when civilization has been around for awhile, people must live in two realities: first, a physical reality they can predict to varying degrees and second, a social reality comprised of how actions and individuals look to other people. It replaces internal motivation with manipulation of external appearance.

From this split comes our modern neurosis. Carl Jung saw neurosis as the brain splitting when given an incomplete answer ("people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life", [1961] 1989:140) and Plato used a cave metaphor to show how people accept representations of reality as reality itself.

When neurosis becomes the norm, civilization is already well into decay. Individuals get lost facing the mess, and turn to a series of philosophies that despite their diversity disguise a tenet in common: the independence of the individual from society, while retaining the benefits of society.

In this postmodern vision, we are considered good citizens in social reality if we do not act in a way that restricts others -- at all. This absolute, which is nothing short of sociopathic since it denies the cooperation and compromise that makes any civilization succeed, thwarts our ability to take collective action.

(As a reader points out, there is a self-reflexive exception: we cannot restrict others, except in order to restrict them from restricting us, which is why society prohibits murder, rape, and arson but not, for example, buying a huge house and a Hummer, even though those cause damage as well, albeit indirect and requiring a long-term view to see.)

This leaves us with one choice for going green: buy green products and do green things on our own, and hope that the others -- who we already know from the condition of the planet are generally a selfish, oblivious, destructive herd -- figure it out on their own. A more impotent philosophy would be hard to devise!

When approach philosophies, the only question is whether an idea is effective (anything else is the kind of false elitism that makes idiots praised for "unique" -- and wholly irrelevant -- ideas). No one gives a damn if Joe Chardonay buys LED lights and recycles used cigarettes. The world goes on. No real change occurs.

People will endorse either "political greenism," or individually acting in ineffective ways, or "moral greenism," which means greenism is so important that it requires setting aside all other principles so we can at least avoid ecocide, end uncertainty, and build from that new level. Compromise and sacrifice are required, which conflicts with political greenism.

What isn't moral greenism: buying green products, voluntary recycling, specially-designed green houses, turning off leaky taps and "vampire electronics" which use electricity in idle states, recycling cigarette butts, and making art projects out of recycled materials.

What is moral greenism: designing all products and houses for multiple purposes, including sustainability and durability, since a product which doesn't need to be replaced produces the least waste of all; mandatory recycling and minimal packaging; ending our reckless growth; encouraging natural selection to remove truly delusional and dysfunctional people; smarter people having stable families and more children to raise the quality of humanity.

People -- arguing not toward an end, but from how it makes them appear, which we could call "reversed" logic -- say greenism must uphold "Progressive" principles. Progressives want the individual to be the moral principle that overrides everything else in society. They see that as a positive future which reverses a primitive (but natural) past -- a negative outlook on nature itself.

I have a radical contrary proposition: there is nothing new under the sun. The challenges of civilization today are identical to those that faced the first civilizers; our technology and institutions bring efficiency, but they do not change the essential questions and solutions to the need for civilization.

"Progressive" dogma is a sleight of hand to make us believe that social reality does indeed supplant reality, and the people telling us to believe this are neurotic and depressed and most probably want everyone else to suffer the same fate. They're not thinking about reality and subconsciously hate nature.

The green issue separates those who actually intend to fix the problem from those who want to appear to fix it. Currently, the latter group far outnumber the former, but their numbers dwindle as the problems of modern society slowly reveal themselves more clearly. As ecocide progresses, and we're all still miserable, they start looking like demonic deceivers.

As when we formed civilization, our goal now is to adapt to our environment and master it -- not kill it. Paradigms change over time, and the "political greenism" neurosis belongs to old, dead, stodgy, inflexible, brain-dead order that got us in this mess. The future belongs to those who can think about reality, not how things appear to other human monkeys.

Your best weapon against these monkeys -- humans who, content with being human, no longer strive to make themselves better internally, and so fixate on external details -- is to call them out on the divide between appearance and moral reality. Let them know we're playing with fire, and the problem is easily solved if they abandon the neurotic meme of reality denial.

December 8, 2008