Sunday, July 03, 2005

  Responding to "there will always be plenty of oil"

(from an email to the author of "Learning More About Oil")

“It can’t happen here.” I think there’s an incredibly strong impulse among humans (and maybe particularly Americans) to cling to the idea that no matter what the future holds, the status quo will more or less be maintained. I submit that a significant component of the reaction to 9/11 was related to this impulse. It wasn’t supposed to happen here, and the fact that it did, that many people had their faith in a now-and-forever-status quo shaken, left them angry and frightened. Prior to that event, I had a lot of personal experience in the area of “it can’t happen here” in conversations with people regarding gun control and the Second Amendment. When those people could even admit that the motivation for that entry into the Bill Of Rights was the result of the Constitution's authors having direct knowledge and a fear of having their means of defending themselves from tyranny stripped away, the response was nearly always a rolling of the eyes (“oh you poor misguided soul”) and the assertion that we live in different times and it could never happen here.

My reading of history tells me otherwise. I regard the concept of “life as we know it” as nothing more than a subjective reading of what we currently see and choose to remember and I believe history shows us that pretty much anything might happen. And although I don’t claim to be qualified to make specific predictions, I suggest it might be helpful for people to consider the possible role this (possibly unconscious) belief (that nothing will ever substantially change) has on their view of the future. Of course, this doesn’t preclude scientific investigation nor the possibility of any other method for divining the future...but as I’m sure you’ll agree, claims of scientific authority surround many sides of all sorts of predictions...which leads me to my second point.

You don’t “trust” From The Wilderness. I don’t “trust” the Wall Street Journal. I don’t know the source of your distrust and you’re certainly under no obligation to elaborate. My distrust of the Wall Street Journal is based on my perception that their motives seem to be largely in the service and defense of the very corporate and governmental power that I regard as potentially (and arguably, demonstrably) harmful to me. But who we believe or not believe and why is not really my point. I don’t think there’s any question that we see what we want to see and we hear what we want to hear (apologies to the late Harry Nilsson). Our basic beliefs and opinions tend to propel us in the direction of those in others that we resonate with. I suspect that’s why both of us are drawn to Lew Rockwell’s site, for example. I don’t have a problem with your dismissal of From The Wilderness, regardless of the reason, as long as you can grant me the latitude to not accept the sources you cite as the unquestionable authority on the subject.

I can’t know what your perceptions and biases have told you about who I am or what I believe. To give you a little help, I’ll tell you that I think the environmental movement promotes a lot of bad and skewed information and that they often tend toward hysteria and coercion as strategy, none of which appeals to me. On the other hand, I get really tired of the knee-jerk (and what I perceive as often similarly hysterical) responses from the other side that there are absolutely no problems with the environment and that no attention need be paid to it now or for the foreseeable future. I don’t think either of these views is productive, nor does it serve the interests of anyone who’s trying to figure out the actual truth of the situation and what action may be appropriate. All it does is to inspire slaps on the back from the folks in your camp who already agree with you.

Name: Bill St James
Location: Portland, OR

Let's celebrate uninformed uniformity

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