Sunday, November 18, 2007

Povertarian Romance Fascism's Hatred of Cleanliness and Plenty

Technology in the past 250 years has transformed the Human experience into something those before could not and most of those even today outside it cannot begin to grasp: there is a life of relative and widespread affluence, a life of food aplenty, of health into a long life, of personal freedom from terror and indiscriminate murder at the hands of tyrants.

Life in the Modern West is unbelievably good for almost everyone. It's due to free thinking individuals, individuals thinking about how to make their lives better, of individuals working together to make life good for themselves by providing a good life to others. Life for us is amazingly good, and it is so new it shocks and stuns those of us who know what life is and was for others forever in time till our blessed time. War, Famine, and Plague do not hunt us at every turn. We fall ill, we die, and we are gone like other generations before us, like those to follow. Unlike them, we live well nearly universally in the Modern West. We are well-fed, warm, and clean. Though most of us take it for granted, assuming it should be this way, that it must always be such for us, such is not to be taken lightly. We live on a razor's edge. We can easily fall and be done with ourselves forever. Our Modernity is imperiled. We are threatened not just by Moslems who wish to destroy Modernity with terrorism and the medieval religious fanaticism of tribalist Islam: our danger comes from within, from those of our own who live in the past without realizing it, who live with a family memory of life as a peasant, who live life in fear of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. For them, our good life is lie that cannot be true, that must be stopped before all is lost, before the gods come to destroy us in their wrath. Our Leftists, our Rightists, our ecologists, and naysayers of all sorts are living in a family memory of privation; they remember what life was and they live in perpetual fear, regardless of the two car garage and the electric lawn mover; they live in a life of fear that the cattle will die in the barn and the crops will fail.They live in fear and they live in hatred of those of us who do not fear. We are insulting the gods who will come to us with punishment. There is a primitive mind in Man, one that has lived as the norm for our eternity. It is we few in the Modern West who are completely different from all others, we revolutionaries. We only some of us. We many others of us have that family memory, the memory we aren't clearly aware of, the family memory of tales told to us a children by old grandparents , tales of misery and woe, of hunger and disease and war and death. Most of us get used to affluence and learn to accept it as our due; but not all of us: some cling to the fear of the life we lived always till recent years. It is the peasant mind that lives on in our time, the peasant mind in the Left and the Right that demands we stop our Modernity and crawl in terror back to the "reality"of the starving, filthy, sick past.We don't deserve this good life, and if we continue, all will die, the Earth itself will burn up and everything will die. Back, back, back! Back to want and starvation and fear when we knew we would be miserable and then die rather than this, this ease that will-- that must-- end. Our fanatic peasants in the suburbs and the citadels they quake and tremble and spit that we live so well, they rip their garments in terror of the retribution of the gods come to punish our hubris. They mean to stop us before we rile the gods too far. Tear down the vanities, destroy the idols of Modernity, grovel. Only that can save us.

They remember.

The first mechanical street sweeper invented was invented by C.S. Bishop, patented on September 4, 1849. U.S. Patent 6,699

They have a family memory of filth, and they long for its restoration. The fearful, the Romantic, the ones who hate our Modernity long for the return to a time before the triune revolutions that make our lives so fundamentally and utterly different from the lives of all others before us and most of those beyond us. The Romantic is a reactionary, one who longs to restore the past, whether it resembles the past or not, so long as it recalls a time when there was "authenticity" in place of the Modernity we now have, the food we eat, the homes we live in, the cleanliness we enjoy as a matter of unthinking course. The Romantic is frantic. Our lives are too good. Something has to give,and when it does we'll all suffer for it. Says the Romantic. He longs to destroy the Revolutions that make our lives good. He longs to destroy the alienating city, the displacement of men frm the farm and Nature. He wishes us to return to a pristine state of reality when things were not like this. This instead:

Sanitation in Latin America, according to wikipedia, is less than a sparkling success story:

Access to water and sanitation remains insufficient, in particular in rural areas and for the poor. According to the Joint Monitoring Program of the World Health Organization and UNICEF 50 million people or 9% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean did not have access to improved water supply in 2004,[1] and 125 million or 23% did not have access to adequate sanitation.[2] Increasing access remains a challenge, in particular given the poor financial health of service providers and fiscal constraints on behalf of central and local governments.

As far as sanitation is concerned, only 51% of the population has access to sewers.[3] Only an estimated 15% of the collected wastewater finds its way into wastewater treatment plants, which often are not properly functioning.[4] 26% of the population has access to forms of sanitation other than sewers, including septic tanks and various types of latrines.[5]--

Here are a few things to chew on as we think of what it's like living in a non-Modernist world: [Again from wikipedia]

59% of the world population had access to improved sanitation in 2004. [1] Only slightly more than half of them or 31% of the world population lived in houses connected to a sewer. Overall, 2.6 billion people lacked access to improved sanitation and thus had to resort to open defecation or other unsanitary forms of defecation, such as public latrines or open pit latrines. This outcome presents substantial public health risks as the waste could contaminate drinking water and cause life threatening forms of diarrhea to infants.

In developed countries, where less than 20% of the world population lives, 99% of the population has access to improved sanitation and 81% were connected to sewers.

There is, according to me, a creature called the Povertarian. He is a Romantic, one who revolts against the triune Revolutions of Modernity. In his mind life is meant to be ugly and painful and dirty. He talks about community-- meaning collective fear and suspicion; of sharing-- meaning subsistence and fatal scarcity; of authenticity-- meaning meaning bondage to entitlement and superstition and ignorance and fear of the powerful generally. The Romantic hates Modernity, longs for its destruction, and has since 1789. Affluent and happy individuals are an offense to his mind, for Man should be poor, starving, desperate, and grateful. The better life gets for the many, the more insanely obsessed becomes the Romantic with destroying the life of Man as a happy individual with enough food to eat. Back to the Land. Be at One with Mother Nature. Eschew chemicals and eat only locally produced organic food. Drink bottled water from lakes and streams. No electricity, no light in the darkness. Back to a time when there was a Brotherhood of Man.Smash everything Revolutionary. And we keep inventing more of the new and the better. We had nothing but want and illness and death. We invent.We think and we try.We do. Clean water. Sewers!

There's always more, in this case such as street lamps: Excerpted from PG&E: " Our History", Part 1

...Electricity made its appearance. This new wonder was first demonstrated to San Franciscans in 1871 by Father Joseph M. Neri, professor of natural philosophy at St. Ignatius College, the forebear of the University of San Francisco. Father Neri first showed a startled populace an electric arc light from a window of the college facing Market Street. Other more impressive demonstrations followed. But the good father was not a businessman. A businessman soon appeared in the person of George H. Roe. This young Canadian had come to San Francisco in 1875 at the age of 23 and brashly founded a money-changing and lending firm which defied all probabilities and flourished.

Roe had no thought of founding an electric company, but when a defaulted loan saddled him with a primitive dynamo he decided to see how it worked. It didn't, as things turned out, but by the time he learned this he was hooked. He found dynamos that did work, got backers and in June 1879 incorporated the California Electric Light Company.

At 27, George Roe had founded the first electric company in the PG&E
family tree.

By September a little building at Fourth and Market was completed and two tiny Brush arc-light dynamos were installed. Together they could supply 21 lights. Customers were lured by the unabashed offer of service from sundown to midnight (Sundays and holidays excluded) for $10 per lamp per week.

Yet in light-hungry San Francisco, customers came clamoring. By the first of the next year, four more generators with capacity of more than 100 lights had been added. Electricity had come to the West.

This plant, in fact, was the first in the entire nation to offer central-station electric service to the public. It preceded by several years Edison's better-publicized Pearl Street Station in New York, often called the first.

If many claim credit for the same invention it seems to say its a good one:

Street Lights - Charles F Brush The arc light as a practical illuminating device was invented in 1878 by Charles Brush, a Ohio engineer and graduate of the University of Michigan. Others had attacked the problem of electric lighting, but a lack of suitable carbons stood in the way of their success. Charles Brush made several lamps light in series from one dynamo. The first Brush lights were used for street illumination in Cleveland, Ohio.

Pre-Modernity? Not merely nasty, brutish, and short: it was and is violent, stinking, filthy, dangerous, and dark. If it's really that appealing to our "back to nature, organic foods, save the whales" localists, then left them go live in a cesspit in the dark. There are many and varied locales from which to choose. But of course, it's always the affluent poseur who wishes to save the world and indigenous peoples from Modernity who will never go out to live forever like a savage. No, the povertarian is happy to condemn the poor and ignorant to poverty and ignorance, but he himself will never stand for it. Of course not, and we know of course not. It's not even a question at all. We know the poseurs are posing, and so do they. But it's not simple chit-chat at cocktail parties. There is an influence, and it kills people. Maybe that's not so obvious. But look at it this way: Would you drink out of your toilet? Why should well-to-do Westerners work to ensure others do with theirs? Next time you hear a povertarian talking so glibly about the poor, tell him to shut his stinking mouth. You don't even need an argument. It's just obvious.

Modernity is not perfect. There is a terror in the Western World, a memory of want and disease and death, and there is a fear of provoking the gods with our hubris. It is an affront to many that ordinary people who have been forever in the world subservient are now free and fed and smiling. The Romantic, the povertarian, he will if he can, destroy it all. He will turn off the water, he will blow out the lights. We will live again in a state of Nature, and the roaring triumphant savage will laugh

1 comment:

truepeers said...

I wonder if you've got the povertarians and green fascists right. Of course the romanticization of the primitive is part of their picture, sometimes, for certain purposes; but they are also often full of contempt for the uneducated primitive, slashing and burning, hunting elephants, bathing in their shit streams, etc. It seems to me our romantics don't so much want to turn off the water and turn out the lights but assure they are socialized and nationalized and put under the control of the right kind. Socialism is the dream of "modernity" AND communitarianism. Hugo C. he da man. Take the oil and give it to the poor, so everyone has enough and no one too much of a good thing. Keep the poor colourful, something for the ecotourists to admire, while making sure they have enough cheap LED lighting in the hut to insure they can read the latest UN IPCC report. The pose of our poseurs is the cardinal virtue of temperance updated for a Techocratic cult, with no respect for why we need freedom and big electricity bills, except if we run a Grow Op. Actually, I'll never be able to hate an electricity bill again: ten old-style dollars per month for a few hours a night of lamp time!