Once there was a pimple.
Along came a pimple popper.
"Alas," cried the pimple. "Is there no one who can protect me from this pimple popper?"
A pimple popper stopper heard her plea and stopped the pimple popper.
"Ah, you are my hero," said the pimple. "You saved me from the pimple popper."
The pimple popper stopper looked longingly at the pimple. "I think "I'll pop you," he said.
But you are a pimple popper stopper, not a pimple popper," said the pimple.
Nevertheless," said the pimple popper stopper. And he popped the pimple.
This is a parable. As it is a very bizzarre one, perhaps an interpretation is in order. And an apology. First the apology. I am sorry that it portrays humanity in such a negative light. Yes, humanity is the pimple. Indeed, some would say that humanity is a disease on the face of the earth a threat to the well-being of Gaia, and therefore to all life. Although this is a point with some merit, I must confess to a certain fondness for humanity. At its best it can be a species of exquisite beauty. Besides, with regard to its threat to Gaia, humanity would have to be portrayed not as a pimple, but as a cancer.
So it is, at best, an imperfect parable, but lets move on to the interpretation. Who is the Pimple Popper Stopper? S/he is the technocrat who is endangering the biological and social ecologies within which we live our lives. And the Pimple Popper? He represents all threats to the United States both real and imaginary. Whatever flaws our parable might have, hopefully it at least makes a simple point in a vivid way: At times those who purport to protect us from some evil are more dangerous than the evil they claim to protect us from. And it raises an important question: Who is to protect us from the pimple popper stopper?
In this essay I will be arguing that with the advent of the industrial revolution, Western Civilization embarked on an ill-advised project: namely to replace the natural environment with a humanly engineered one, and that this is one of the root causes of the various crises that threaten the continuation of the human race as a viable species. It was a project based on conquest and domination of materials, of biological processes, of people, of nations and societies and of the earth itself. No mountain was too tall to climb. No force too powerful to dominate. The social, psychological and physical technocrats that embody this philosophy promise to protect us from all dangers from disease, cold, hunger, boredom, unhappiness; from terrorists, communists and foreigners; from people with strange ideas; perhaps from death itself.
The most powerful embodiment of this "domination" philosophy is the United States World Empire and its support of the neo-liberal economic system. The oligarchs that control this empire aspire to put the wealth of the whole earth in the hands of the more or less four hundred billionaires who run our banks and multi-national corporations. Its centerpiece is unregulated capitalism. Let's call this group of 400 billionaires and their cronies the "Big B Club."
They are known in economic circles as the "Washington Consensus." They are committed to dominating the world through the use of social, psychological and physical technologies. They are the ones who have brought us the world-wide economic collapse, the Gulf of Mexico oil volcano, a policy of endless war without boundaries, global warming, the destruction of the rain forests, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, a world of slums, the poisoning of our lakes and streams, and the pollution of our air. I do not claim that this is an exhaustive list. Likely coming attractions are genocidal policies toward the poor, nuclear wars, outbreaks of humanly created diseases and violent class struggles on a global scale. While the technologies of the Big B Club may be working for themselves, they do not seem to be doing much for the rest of us.
In order the gain a clearer picture of what is entailed in technology lets begin with a example from the micro-level. In a recent column by "Click and Clack" (Tom and Ray Magliozzi) a woman wrote in concerning her 16 year old daughter, who had recently learned to drive. "We subscribe to the Reaganesque philosophy of "trust but verify" when it comes to raising teenagers. Is there a covert car-tracking device or service that you recommend that would provide us with the ability to locate the vehicle on demand via e-mail or SMS (Short Message Service?)"
Hmm. "Trust but verify." With their words they say they trust. With their behavior they say they don't. I leave it to the reader to assess which is closer to the truth and whether such a policy is just a bit hypocritical. The initial point here is that they are seeking a technological device that will increase their control over their daughter. Technology is, above all else, about control.
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