Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed's "A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization"

So begins another of my book reports in progress. Like live tweeting, but with more words and over a larger, denser subject?

I'm only seven pages into this book, but so far every word is gold. Every idea and argument is well considered, well-researched, convicted, intelligent, strong. It all gels with what my research and my soul both tell me. I'd urge folks to read the whole thing so far, but here are a few small quotes I've pulled out. Like I said, there are so many others, but these are the ones I was compelled to write down (in longhand in terrible chickenscratch):

"If global crises are symptoms of a period of civilizational transition, then the onus is on us to work actively toward developing a system that is more just, equitable and free than is currently even conceivable" (2).

Man, you can tell I love this guy because I respect his choice not to use the serial comma.

Ahmed calls the ideological and ethical (and other categories) system that characterize civilization as a whole "dysfunctional" (3).

"The real threat to civilization is not from outside. It is from itself" (3).

Harvard professor and former US government advisory Samuel Huntington said a long time ago that the global predominance of Western civilization is not a consequence of inherent ideological or moral superiority but rather of 'superiority in applying organized violence' (5).

Of course I agree with this. Starting with my observations as a child, my awakening realization of accelerating resource scarcity, and my study of Derrick Jensen and Howard Zinn (and Lester Brown and so many others), I have seen how Western Civilization has been built on the backs of the "other," peoples too 'stupid,' 'weak,' 'backwards,' poor 'savages,' 'beasts,' 'bastards' who live in ways we no longer value (as a society, though not necessarily as individuals) and sit on landbases that have all the goods we want.

So, I started this post backwards, assuming you have the context of my mind already in your own.

Here's kind of where I started (this part of the journey)...

Check this out. The visual part is a little hokey, but listen to the audio. See what resonates with you. Argue where you disagree but keep an open mind. If you know something I don't (and I guarantee you do), I want to hear about it.

This book "argues that financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages need to be considered as different parts of the same ailing system," it offers a warning about the potential consequences of failing to view the system as a whole, and it "shows how catastrophe can be avoided" (the back cover).

And so it begins.

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