Friday, 14 November 2008

Let's not all top ourselves just yet, shall we?

So here’s the thing, could we be about to experience a change more radical than two world wars? Perhaps for a small number of countries in the world but not, I would suggest for any of the major economies. Perhaps we should recap the high/low points of the 20th Century:
- World War I: around 20m deaths worldwide. We learn that having other people die from burning lungs and tears which burn skin is fun.
- The Flu Epidemic: around 25m die worldwide in less than three years.
- Great Depression: millions spend more than a decade living in the most grinding poverty in supposedly developed nations. (And all the savages just carry on as usual – we’re still on teaching them the Christian way and raping their countries for natural resources.)
- Stalin and Beria purges: untold millions die in gulags, show trials, mass executions. Even more die in the collectivisation of the farms.
- Mao’s long march. Don’t know much about this one. But millions of Johnny Foreigner Chinese chaps die. Usually of frostbite or starvation.
- World War II: someone works out a really good scheme for killing lots of people as efficiently and systematically as possible. Other WW2 high points: Burma railroad, comfort women, Sonderkommando teams clearing Poland, Dresden (a physical low point, of course...), and about 40-60m deaths worldwide as a direct result of the war.
- Too cool to be lumped in with the war: the atom bomb. We test it on ourselves. And then again, and then test it on Pacific islanders instead ... really cool countries realise U-235 just isn’t good enough, and aim for the single 200 megaton blast.
- My Lai: symptomatic of far too many military interventions in far too many places.

Yes, so i think you’re seeing my point: if you think we’re going to have a century where we do as much to ourselves as last century, I might opt out.

I confess I’ve yet to finish the course: i have an extreme wariness of some of the prophets who, all of a sudden, told me so. Eisman was the person who bet against the banks at the right time, if he’d done it six months earlier, he’d probably just have been another out-of-pocket hedge fund manager, frankly. One smart call does not make a guru.

Anyway, I don’t think it would do any harm to reiterate, at some point, the things that one can actually do as an individual: buy less stuff, fly less, recycle more, lobby your MP, write to the Government, support green and fair-trade outfits and (kudos Ol) spread the word.

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