Diagnosing Ghosts

It never stops, apparently. Would-be greens just love to blather on about “our culture” being the root cause of ecological destruction, as if capitalists don’t exist, and “we” somehow freely and pristinely chose what we got.

The latest purveyor is a source who damned well ought to know better: The Post-Carbon Institute. Here is the pronouncement of Peter Whybrow, M.D., whom the POI publishes as its voice on “culture and behavior”:

We had perfected the consumer-driven society. The idea was simple and irresistible. It tapped deep into the nation’s mythology and for a brief moment, during the exuberant years of the dot-com bubble, the Dream was made material. Vast shopping malls proclaimed prosperity throughout the land. Horatio Alger’s story was once again our story—the American story—but this time on steroids. Temptation was everywhere. And true to our instinctual origins, we were soon focused on immediate gratification, ignoring future consequence. Shopping became the national pastime. Throwing caution to the wind, at all levels of our society we hungered for more—more money, more power, more food, and more stuff.

The United States is the quintessential trading nation, and for the past quarter century we have worshiped the “free” market as an ideology rather than for what it is—a natural product of human social evolution and a set of economic tools with which to construct a just and equitable society. Under the spell of this ideology and the false promise of instant riches, America’s immigrant values of thrift, prudence, and community concern—traditionally the foundation of the Dream—have been hijacked by an all-consuming self-interest. The astonishing appetite of the American consumer now deter-mines some 70 percent of all economic activity in theUnited States.

Wow. To borrow from E.P. Thompson: Folks, this here is what you call an orrery of errors. It’s 100 percent made-up, unexamined mainstream pseudo-history, repackaged as being somehow alternative and liberating and honest.

According to Dr. Whybrow, not only have “we” somehow “hijacked” ourselves, but “Our nature has no built-in braking system. More is never enough.” Sure, right. I think I’ll go home tonight and kill myself by eating 27 pepperoni pizzas. According to the good doc, that’s my biologically-dictated fate, and yours, too.

With liberators like these, with this kind of quarter-baked rot parading as rebellious social criticism, who needs the corporate media?

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This is where the ascetic folkish left is of such determined awfulness: this dude is allegedly on the left, but the gee-whizness of that condescending pedantry of “just and equitable society” together with “free market ideology is such easy dribble lapped up by greenwahsing greens and Wall Street progressives and the hollowed-out minds of the raging micro-opposition, why even start a conversation? This guy is faculty, at UCLA, a big success in his world, and sure to be at a Bioneer/TED talk coming to your local big-money academic campus soon.