I changed my mind too…….

9 11 2015
Dave Pollard

Dave Pollard

Every now and again, some blogger I follow writes a doozy of an entry.  This one by Dave Pollard, with whom I am usually on the same page, has just done this, and I just had to share it.  Awesome.


Human beings, it seems, change our worldviews — what we value and believe to be true — pretty slowly. When I started this blog 12 years ago, my worldview was pretty left-of-centre orthodox, as you can see on the left side of the above sketch.

A dozen years later my worldview has radically shifted, as shown on the right side of this sketch (see the footnote if you want a little more elaboration on these ‘new’ views). Some of the shifts came about from personal research and study, or from reading. Other changes came from some place deeper, an intuitive sense and knowledge that was not intellectual, and which I have come to trust more and more as each new intellectual discovery confirms what I intuitively already ‘knew’. Whether we’re conscious of it or not (and we’re mostly not), we are connected with all life on Earth and constantly ‘learning’ from it. I don’t see that as spiritual; it’s how life on that planet has evolved so successfully and in such a nuanced and balanced way over two billion years, largely without the dubious benefit of large ‘individual’ brains. This planet has a collective intelligence, and it’s a lot smarter than we can ever hope to be.

These radical changes in my worldview have been difficult to internalize and come to grips with. But what’s been even more challenging is how dramatically they have altered my take on just about everything I encounter, think about or do in my life. Everything looks utterly different through this raw new lens. The cognitive dissonance between what I see through this lens and what almost everyone else seems to believe (and the media present as ‘truths’) is staggering.

So I can appreciate that our political, economic, health and education systems are dysfunctional, grossly inequitable and substantially corrupt, but (through my new worldview) given the importance of preparing for a world in which these systems will soon have utterly collapsed, I can’t get excited about attempt to reform the present ones, or even stirred to outrage at their failings. The bridge is falling; what does it matter now who’s to blame and what might have been done to strengthen it?

And through my new worldview, I can’t bear listening to idealists tell us about how This Changes Everything, when I know how complex systems function and how nothing (within the capacity of the human species, anyway) changes everything (or really anything very much, at any scale or for very long or even necessarily for the better). Have we forgotten what happened after the Arab Spring, the fall of the Soviet Union, the “liberation” of Afghanistan and the Obama Campaign of Hope already?

But for those whose current worldviews mirror what mine was in 2003, I can appreciate why they believe, urge and do what they do. And I’m not arguing that my current worldview is ‘better’ than my old one, or than anyone else’s, because, as I say, we’re all on our own lonely path to trying to make sense of the world, and if we come to the conclusion that our worldviews are in sync and we make sense of the world the same way, we’re probably deluding ourselves. We can’t be other than who we are.

And in any case, our worldviews are only placeholders, parts of a flimsy and transient and indefensible model of a reality that will ever remain far beyond our understanding. They are playthings, not of much real use in the world anyway, and we take them far too seriously. If we are lucky, some of us (probably not humans) will vaguely appreciate that there is just one presence, one consciousness, and that all the lovely and sacred and sickly and destructive manifestations of that consciousness are just brief walk-ons in the play of life, of no enduring consequence.

But then, that’s just how I see it through the lens of my current worldview. Ask me again in another 12 years.


Note: Here’s a bit more on the elements of my ‘new’ worldview, in case you’re curious:

1. Our civilization will have completely collapsed by 2100. This collapse is part of the 6th Great Extinction of life on Earth, which began with the extermination of large mammals 12,000 years ago, and it will be accompanied by runaway climate change, the exhaustion of easily and inexpensively accessible natural resources, and the collapse of the unsustainable debt-driven industrial ‘growth’ economy.

2. Most human activity occurs within massive, unfathomably complex, self-perpetuating, change-resistant social and ecological systems. As such, we have very little control over our lives, internally or externally, and can’t hope to predict or significantly influence our future or our society’s trajectory. Complex systems evolve to resist attempts to reform or replace them (their equilibrium has been hard-won), and it is only when they become unsustainable and collapse that space is created for new systems to emerge.

3. We are all doing our best, suffering and trying to heal from the fierce and chronic stresses of Civilization Disease. The enormous stress that civilization culture imposes on us inevitably makes us physically and emotionally ill, but this culture’s cruel messages are that (a) ours is the only way to live and (b) we are responsible for our lot in life. Healing begins when we realize these messages are untrue and that we are all struggling to heal, and in the meantime all trying to do our best, what we sincerely believe is best for those we love and for the world, under trying conditions.

4. Our sense of self, mind, self-control, separateness and time are all tragic illusions. Our brains evolved to help the trillions of cells that comprise ‘us’, to detect features and dangers and hence ensure their collective survival; our sense of a separate, in-control ‘self’, centred in the mind, is an unintended consequence of this evolution of large brains, an accident, that our culture has learned to exploit to keep us all in line so this culture can continue. We’ve hence lost the sense of connection and of being a part of all life on Earth, and this has allowed us to unwittingly destroy the systems that all life depends on. And by our nature we do what’s urgent in the moment, not what is important in the longer term, so we have no capacity to change what we are doing.

This entry was posted in How the World Really Works, Our Culture / Ourselves. Bookmark the permalink.



7 responses

9 11 2015
Chris Harries

He’s got a nice cheerful face in the photo!!!

Very neat encapsulation. I think a lot of us are roughly in the same space, but don’t articulate it so well, even to ourselves.

And though I identify with the worldview, I dare not express this too loudly amongst friends colleagues and family. Have to ask myself why. Am I being protective of their sensibilities? Am I captured by the ‘whatever you do, don’t talk doomsday’ meme? Do I fear being dismissed as a crank? Or am I holding out for a slender straw of hope against all odds?

Actually, with the small numbers of people I know who are of like mind I don’t mind sharing this at all.

_____________________ Chris Harries 195 Waterworks Rd Dynnyrne Tasmania ph 03 6223 4653

9 11 2015

I used to read Dave’s blog ages ago, but gave up when I realised he didn’t really ‘get’ it. Now I see that he does, so I’ll go back to it. Thanks for posting this, Mike.

9 11 2015
John Doyle

I’m not so sure about 2100 being the collapse date. The growth model will hit the finite wall well before then. The 3.5% growth forecast by the IMF recently means 4 doublings by 2100 one every 20 years, so 16 times what we spend now will leave the planet a smoking ruin. Even just one doubling is more than enough to deplete our resources beyond supporting us. So by 2100 collapse will be well and truly over. It’ll be post apocalypse by then. Crazy!

9 11 2015

I agree…….. understanding ‘the doubling’ notion associated with exponential function makes you think differently, and I have thought for quite some time too we were definitely in ‘the last’ one….

9 11 2015

Agree with John and Mike, No way can civilization last until 2100. We got past October, financial crashes happen in October and I suspect a financial crash will be the start. Maybe next October. I am getting to be like the end of the world predictors, I know, but frankly I do not quite see how everything has gone on this long. The numbers just keep getting worse.

However there are so many problems that the initiator could well come out left field. Something seen now as relatively unimportant will turn out to be hypercritical.

10 11 2015

Certainly we are in a race to save human civilization. The “profit motive” has taken dominance over the “community motive”, that which enabled humans to survive, evolve social organization, accumulate practical knowledge and maintain peaceful relationships. Life is massively cooperative, since individuals do not perpetuate alone, but in groups. The miracle of the commons is that threats can be recognized and behavior changed. Not easy to be sure. Heaving lifting, mind and behavior change often comes only when Mother Necessity shows up in force. Those that recognize the necessity earlier can prepare and weather great waves of change.This temporary reality is under-girded by the matrix of heaven. Billions of years from bang to re-bang – temporary? Okay, impermanent.

24 11 2015
Eclipse Now

1. Maybe, if we nuke ourselves back to the stone age or create some kind of super-virus, nano-virus, or other unforeseen catastrophe. But peak energy is a myth, as nukes can supply all the abundant reliable affordable safe energy we could ever use, and boron could replace all car and trucking transport cheaply and efficiently. Or not. Maybe electric cars will one day be cheaper? EG: This all electric bus just did over 1000km on one charge.http://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/australian-all-electric-bus-drives-into-record-books-1018km-on-one-charge/

2. Read the Eco-modernist manifesto. Almost everything you have summed up under point 2 is demonstrably and measurably wrong. The industrial system is evolving and transforming with scientific insight into our predicament gradually percolating through every facet of society, whether or not the people using the eco-apartments, increasingly green electricity, or recycled materials know it or not!

3. Civilisation also produces great wines, great movies, and great medicine; it allows scientists to monitor our environment and gradually push economies to move in a healthier direction. (Note the horror of China’s population with their air has created a large scale movement towards greener electricity, breeder reactors that eat nuclear waste, and even indoor eco-cities that filter their own fresh air and result in people catching elevators to school, not cars!)

4. Philosophical hogwash. They just don’t know what sentience is yet, and many professional scientists and philosophers really don’t care that you have decided it’s all a trick. Sentience is real and has a real effect, even if you don’t like it.
Regarding your hippie sense of ‘connection to nature’: it all sounds really PC and self-evidently deep green and groovy: until one stops and analyses the numbers, and actually *thinks* about how to reformat civilisation and safe nature.

I reference the Eco-modernist Manifesto, which actually seems to argue nature will do BETTER the more INDEPENDENT we become of it! You’re arguing for the very thing that will DESTROY NATURE — us becoming dependent on it and destroying it. Only our far more efficient industrial recycling ecosystems can divorce and decouple our impact on nature, giving more space for rewinding and replanting.

Culturally many people working in cleaner, safer jobs, not prone to the sudden starvation of H&G or the changing moods of the weather, can recapture some of their connection with nature by watching the ever more compelling and beautiful nature documentaries. Some of them are truly amazing, and coupled with scientific input can provide an overall worldview far more informed than the ‘intuitive’ stuff some lonely H&G tribe might to believe about the world. Sure they can name 20 different local birds or fungi they need to eat not to starve to death. But is that really appreciating what they have? And what about when they eat them all, because their village grew a little too big? Just die off? That’s ‘beautiful’ to you?

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