Wednesday, July 06, 2005

the ugly dystopian

In the past, the ASPO newsletter has contained some articles where our follies are presented in the Swiftian sense. In the July 2005 newsletter, I fear William Stanton was given too much rope to present his not so modest proposal. To be straightforward, I found it a disappointing and unhelpful entry.

Oil and People
That is the do-nothing, let Nature take its course, scenario, involving more than a century of immeasurable human suffering. What alternatives are there? They have to be scenarios in which enlightened governments and their peoples, with astonishing foresight and determination, take positive action to reverse population growth by new, Draconian, laws. China has pioneered such an approach, by its one child per family policy.

It is definitely a painful and troublesome thing to go head to head with human evolutionary instinct. I am certainly one who believes that negative population growth is a desirable state of affairs for the next one hundred years. Getting there is tricky of course; consider the details of Stanton 's plan.

So the population reduction scenario with the best chance of success has to be Darwinian in all its aspects, with none of the sentimentality that shrouded the second half of the 20th Century in a dense fog of political correctness

This sounds ugly. And I'm not sentimental.

The scenario is: Immigration is banned. Unauthorised arrives are treated as criminals. Every woman is entitled to raise one healthy child. No religious or cultural exceptions can be made, but entitlements can be traded. Abortion or infanticide is compulsory if the fetus or baby proves to be handicapped (Darwinian selection weeds out the unfit). When, through old age, accident or disease, an individual becomes more of a burden than a benefit to society, his or her life is humanely ended. Voluntary euthanasia is legal and made easy. Imprisonment is rare, replaced by corporal punishment for lesser offences and painless capital punishment for greater.

The punishment regime would improve social cohesiveness by weeding out criminal elements.

Who runs this authoritarian nirvana? Will these rules apply democratically to the elites? Dropping population IS an important goal. The globe is done with pyramid scheme growth, except on the balance sheets of fools. However, instituting strict state controls would have unintended consequences, if it is tenable at all. I don't believe it is tenable. I suppose William Stanton would consider me to be a woolly-headed politically correct type, but I think his vision of the future sucks and reads like bad science fiction.

Engineer-Poet deserves credit for pointing out the general connection of Dystopian science fiction to gloomy post peak scenarios.

No one wants to see human suffering on a permanent, chaotic scale. The supposed alternative -– actively weeding out the undesirables -- is a slippery slope to a different sort of hell.

If it is to be a Darwinian future, I’ll take anarchy. Stanton can keep his death state.

3 Comments:

At 5:32 AM, July 06, 2005, Blogger Big Gav said...

Well said.

I hadn't even noticed that particular part of the ASPO newsletter - it does get a bit weird sometimes (which I've noted before isn't good for the people who provide the supposed scientific basis for peak oil theory) but that article was out of order.

 
At 10:09 AM, July 06, 2005, Blogger Matt said...

This is insane. I'll take anarchy any day over this.

 
At 4:02 AM, July 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even the dystopians will be disappointed. We have some clues for what will happen. Look at the former Soviet Union. After the peak oil and economic collapse there in the end of 80's the population growth has been negative (- 0.5 % a year). It is caused mostly by the very low birth rate.

This is not caused by the goverment policy. There is no "Darwinian" regulation. People behave more rationally than we think. If the social and economic outlook is really dim they don't want many children.

Many people in the US seem to panic already now. It is because they have never known what an energy crisis looks like. Nothing has happened yet. Oil is still dirt cheap. In Europe 2$/gallon gasoline is a real bargain. So would the 4$ gasoline be. 10$ gasoline hurts, 20$ gasoline hurts a lot but won't kill. Changing lifestyle will be easier than you think. Everybody will do the same. A nice collective experience. Walking and biking is healthy.

The real task is to help those people that are especially vulnerable. There are plenty of them.

 

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