Readers who have also read my Question Everything blog may well wonder why I am bothering to rethink anything. I am on record for believing that civilization is close to collapse and one might readily suppose that I would think it too late to rethink what we are doing because there isn't enough time to do anything about it even if we come up with some clever alternatives. And that is basically correct.
Why then am I launching this blog if its fruits are to no avail?
There are several basic reasons that I am pursuing this effort. First, I might be wrong. As convinced as I might be that our modern technological industrial societies are about to vanish (and I am definitely not alone in this surmise), there are plenty of other thoughtful people who, while recognizing that we can't go on like this, destroying the world as we do, also believe there is time to institute changes to prevent catastrophe. Given the complexities of the dynamics it doesn't seem reasonable to me to just argue with their positions or logics. They have their point of view and since I do not have a god's eye view of the world, I can't be absolutely certain that I am right and they are wrong. So, like Pascal's wager, I'm hedging my bets. If they are right, then the effort to find workable and feasible alternatives to societal living might pay off.
A second reason, admittedly selfish, is that pursuing this exercise is fun. I enjoy using systems science and systems thinking to analyze the problematique and consider the designs for solutions. What else should I do with my time now that I've retired from teaching?
But the third reason I want to pursue this effort is that if I am right about imminent collapse then any results of rethinking may be of value to future humans, to help them avoid making the same mistakes we've made. Or, if it will be physically impossible for them to follow the same course of social development (e.g., there won't be any readily available fossil fuels to exploit) and thus are prevented from making those mistakes, to provide them with some guidance as to what to do to develop successful societies. Now this presupposes that the process of rethinking will lead to positive models of societies that will achieve long-term sustainability. I'll confess, I've already done some rethinking about this and will write about it in the months to come, hoping to get comments and feedback and, possibly, better ideas.
As to how any of this may make it into the hands of some humans one hundred or more years from now, that is, of course problematic. I am envisioning the post-collapse period to still include survivors and maybe even a few thrivers living in a "modern" version of a dark age. In the historic Dark Ages little pockets of humanity, monks in monasteries for example, preserved some remnants of Greek, Assyrian, and Roman thoughts by copying and recopying ancient manuscripts believing that the contents might be sacred even if they themselves did not fully grasp their significance. With luck, something like that may take place again. We can't know, of course. It is something of a crap shoot. But if it does work it might give future humans a leg up on guiding future social development. All we can do is give it our best shot and keep our fingers crossed! If anyone has any thoughts about maybe doing something more proactive than crossing fingers please do share.
The first subject to consider rethinking coming soon.