The Precipitous Barbarisation of Our Times

Roberto Savio confronts an era of greed, fear and “populocracy.”

By Roberto Savio
in Rome
Inter Press Service

When all is said and done, it appears that Thomas Hobbes, the 17th century English philosopher who had a dire vision of man, was not totally wrong.

From the frivolous to the serious, in just a week we have had four items of news which would not happen in a normal world. An English porn beauty with 86,000 followers on social media has put bottles of the water she bathes in on sale at 30 pounds a bottle and has sold several thousand bottles.

A survey in Brazil found out that 7 percent of citizens believe that the Earth is flat (40 percent of American schools teach that the world was created in a week, according to the Bible, so there cannot be ancient civilizations). Another survey, this time of members of the British Tory party, who just elected Boris Johnson as prime minister (not exactly a triumph of reason) are so in favor of a “hard” Brexit that they do not care if this means the exit of Scotland and the end of the United Kingdom. Finally, in order to win election, U.S. President Donald Trump has made racism one of his banner issues and, in a country of immigrants, this has given him an increase of 5 points in opinion polls.

There are so many signs of barbarisation that they would fill a book… and, as Euripides famously wrote: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

White supremacists clash with police in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12, 2017. (Evan Nesterak, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

It is not a popular task, but we have to look at the reality and observe that, in the most scientifically and technologically developed period of history, we are living in times of precipitous barbarisation.

Social inequality has become the basis for the new economy. People have now lowered their expectations and are prepared to work part-time in a precarious job, where young people (according to the International Labour Organisation) can hope for a retirement pension of 600 euros a month. This has been accepted by the political system. We even have a study from Spain according to which, in the present housing market, nearly 87 percent of people need 90 percent of their salary just to rent a house.

A Salary Means Survival

Today, for many, a salary means survival, not a dignified life. The new economy has developed the so-called gig economy: you work to distribute food, but you are a co-entrepreneur without any of the rights of an employee, for an amount that will never allow you to marry. Children have grown accustomed to look at phenomena such as poverty or war as natural. And now politics are not based on ideas but on how you can successfully exploit the guts of the people, waving banners against immigrants (when we are witnessing a rapid fall in the birth rate) and splintering countries between ”We” who represent the people and “You” enemy of the country. The United States is the best example, where Republicans consider Democrats enemies of the United States. And this brings us to a central question: have Trump, Italy’s Matteo Salvini, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and company not been elected democratically? And they are the symptom or the cause of the “populocracy” which is replacing democracy?

It is not possible to offer a sociological or historical study here. Let us just use a bite: we have gone from the Gutenberg era into a new era – the Zuckerberg era.

Those who greeted the arrival of the Internet with enthusiasm also did so because it would democratize communication and therefore bring about greater participation. The hope was to see a world where horizontal communication would replace the vertical system of information which Gutenberg made possible. Information was, in fact, a support for states and business that used it to reach citizens, who had no recourse to feedback. With the Internet, people could now speak directly throughout the world and the propaganda that accompanied its arrival was not considered relevant: it is not important to know, it is important to know where to find It. Well, we have all the statistics on how the Internet has affected the general level of culture and dialogue.

Ad for a company offering “freelance services on demand.” (Billie Grace Ward/Flickr)

Smaller Attention Span

The attention span of people has declined dramatically. The majority of Internet users do not stay on an item more than 15 seconds. In the last five years, book volumes have been shortened by 29 pages. Today, articles longer than 650 words are not accepted by columnists’ services. The last meeting of editors of international news agencies decided to aim lower, at a 17-year-old instead of a 22-year-old. In Europe, the percentage of people who buy at least one book a year now stands at 22 percent (in the United States it is now 10.5 percent). According to a recent study in Italy, only 40 percent of the population is able to read and understand a book. In the same country, 13 percent of libraries have closed in the last 10 years. A popular TV news program in Spain several years ago, “59 seconds” brought a number of people to debate around a table; at the 59th seconds their microphones would disappear. Today, the dream of a TV interviewer is that the person interviewed will give a shorter answer than the question. Newspapers are for people over 40. And there is a unanimous complaint about the level of students entering the university: not all are free from mistakes of orthography and syntax. And the list could continue practically ad infinitum.

The problem of barbarisation has major relevance for political participation. The Gutenberg generations were accustomed to dialogue and discussion. Today, 83 percent of Internet users (80 percent under the age of 21), do so only in the virtual world they carved out for themselves. People of Group A gather only with people of Group A. If they come across somebody from Group B, they insult each other. Politicians have been able to adjust rapidly to the system. The best example is Trump. All U.S. newspapers together have a circulation of 60 million copies (10 million those of quality, both conservative and progressive). Trump has 60 million followers who take his tweets as information. The do not buy newspapers, and if they watch TV it is Fox, which is Trump’s amplifier. No wonder that over 80 percent of Trump’s voters would vote for him again. And the media, which have lost the ability to offer analysis and cover processes, not just events, take the easy path. Let us follow famous people and make the famous more famous. Analytical journalism is disappearing. In the United States it exists thanks to grants … in every European country, there are few quality papers left, but the largest circulation goes to tabloids which spare their readers the effort of thinking. The Daily Mirror in Britain and Bild in Germany are the best examples.

Symbolic representation of Internet addiction. (Sam Wolff, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The Internet has made everybody a communicator. This is a fantastic achievement. But in this increasing barbarisation, people also use the Internet for transmitting false information, stories based on fantasy, without any of the quality controls that the media world used to have. And artificial intelligence has been taking over, creating many false accounts, which now interfere in the electoral process, as was proven in the last U.S. elections. We have to add to this that the algorithms used by the owners of the Internet aim to trap the attention of users in order to keep them as much as possible. This month, El Pais published a long study entitled “The toxic effects of YouTube,” where it shows how its algorithms push the viewer to items that are of fantasy, pseudoscientific and of great attraction.

Citizens into Consumers

This is due to the fact that the owners have become fabulously rich by transforming citizens into consumers. They find out our identity, and they sell it to companies for their marketing, and also for elections. Those owners have unprecedented wealth, never achieved in the real world: not only in that of production, but even in the world of finance, which has become a casino with no control. The entire world of production of services and goods, man-made, is now close to a trillion dollars a day; that same day, financial flows reach $40 trillion. Jeff Bezos gave his ex-wife $38 billion in the divorce. That is equal to the annual average income of $20,000 of 19 million people. No wonder that 80 individuals now possess the same wealth as 2.3 billion people (in 2008, they were 1,200 individuals).

Protesting the Wall Street bailouts at Chicago Federal Reserve / Board of trade, Sept. 21, 2008.

According to historians, greed and fear are great engines of change in history. That was also true in the Gutenberg era. But now, they have triggered a combination of both in a short period of time. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the doctrine of liberal globalisation arrived with such strength that Margaret Thatcher (who with Ronald Reagan ushered in the new vision of individual profits and elimination of social goods) famously talked of TINA: There Is No Alternative.

The entire political system, including Social Democrats, went along with a system of values based on greed and unfettered competition at the individual, state and international level. It took 20 years to understand that the poor have become poorer, and the rich richer, and that states have lost much of their sovereignty to multinational corporations and the world of finance. It is worth noting that, in 2009, in order to save a corrupt and inefficient financial system, the world spent $12 trillion (the United States alone spent $4 trillion). Since that rescue, banks have paid the impressive amount of $800 billion in penalties for illicit activities.

The financial crisis of 2009 has triggered a wave of fear. Let us not forget that until 2009, there were no sovereignist, populist, xenophobic parties anywhere, except for Jean-Marie Le Pen in France. Soon old traps such as “in name of the nation” and “the defense of religion” were resurrected by politicians able to ride fear. A new scapegoat – immigrants – was found and populocrats are now undermining democracy everywhere.

The Populocracy 

Populocracy is the new wave. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi ushered in a new language, and that language has now been updated by Salvini, Trump and so on. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are the new medium and now the medium is the message. The old elite had not found a new language.

The Zuckerberg era is an era of greed and fear. Zuckerberg is now attempting to create a global currency, the Libra, to be used by his 2.3 billion users. Until now, states were the only entities able to emit money, a symbol of the nation. Zuckerberg’s currency is based entirely on the Internet and will have no control or regulations. In case of a default, we will have a world crisis without precedent. In the Gutenberg era, this was not possible.

But who enabled Jeff Bezos to give $38 billion to a former wife? Who elected Trump and Salvini and company, who speak on behalf of the nation and the people, and turn those who do not agree into enemies of the nation and the people, creating an unprecedented polarization, accompanied by an orgy of revolt against science and knowledge, which have supported the elite, and must now be put aside for the good of people.

This process of barbarisation should not obscure an old proverb: every country has the government it deserves. It is called democracy. However, the traditional elite has no code of communication with the new era. The answer will come from citizen mobilization.

A young Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, has done more with her stubbornness to raise awareness about impending climate change than the entire political system. Even Trump (albeit for electoral reasons) has now declared that climate change is important.

Today, there many “rays of light” appearing in the world. The elections in Istanbul are a good example, as are the mobilization in Hong Kong, Sudan and Nicaragua, among many others. Let us hope we will reach a point where people will take the reins of the process and awake the world from the precipitous course of barbarisation. Even Thomas Hobbes concluded that humankind will always, soon or later, find the right path, and give itself good governance. He thought that an elite would always be able to lead the masses.

Well, elites are now the Greta Thunbergs of the world.

Publisher of OtherNews, Italian-Argentine Roberto Savio is an economist, journalist, communication expert, political commentator, activist for social and climate justice and advocate of global governance. Adviser to INPS-IDN and to the Global Cooperation Council. He is co-founder of Inter Press Service news agency and its president emeritus.

98 comments for “The Precipitous Barbarisation of Our Times

  1. Balogh
    August 1, 2019 at 02:29

    ” creating many false accounts, which now interfere in the electoral process, as was proven in the last U.S. ”
    Nothing has been proven at all except Mueller’s lie. Too bad, the article is good, a little disappointed to find on this quality site such a statement which is a lie.

  2. ggroxie
    July 30, 2019 at 17:56

    I’m catching a lot of heat for reposting this, specifically because of the claim that 40% of US schools teach creationism. I depend on CN to be accurate. So what gives with some of the claims in this article you folks published?

  3. Steven Rowlandson
    July 30, 2019 at 08:51

    The mark of the barbarian is that the barbarian finds it easier to take than to make. By that definition modern society is very barbaric.

  4. Robert
    July 29, 2019 at 12:30

    “until 2009, there were no sovereignist, populist, xenophobic parties anywhere”

    The reason for the emergence of these parties was the globalization of multi-nationals (WTO, “free” trade deals), replacing elected government control over trade, immigration, and both local business and citizen rights with multi-national bank and corporate rule. When unelected EU bodies can overrule and punish national governments for protecting their own citizens, when intelligence agents from several western countries conspire to frame the President of the US with Russia collusion, when “reputable” media organizations can be influenced to lie about weapons of mass destruction or Russian imaginary expansionism, when local businesses are forced to outsource production to low-wage countries, when developing countries can be sued by corporations for protecting their own natural resource rights, when governments opposed to corporate globalist control can be sanctioned or forcibly replaced, then it is time for common sense to prevail: you can be nationalist and populist without infringing on the rights of people in other countries. As to xenophobic – this is now the term applied to both left- and right-leaning political opponents as well as to adherents of an immigration policy controlled to avoid cultural, religious and employment/economic disruptions of existing populations, and the creation of ghettos. The only threat posed by populism is to ever-expanding corporate globalist control of the world and its concurrent promotion of war.

  5. Antonio Costa
    July 28, 2019 at 18:54

    I see a psychotic trend in this posts. The site is being trashed. Too bad. I think the author of this article has provide a cogent narrative.

    Perhaps these conditions he states are the cause of some of the posts.

    I’ll keep checking in to see if the psychosis subsides.

    • Jessejean
      July 29, 2019 at 12:35

      Thank you Antonio, for your comment. Talk about proving Greta’s point, these posts do it almost more than all her salient facts from the IPCC. A species that deserves its fate. Nevertheless, I do believe the children and their allies are stronger than the Dumb Yuppies who gave us this mess.

  6. Shayk Ud-Deen
    July 28, 2019 at 12:32

    “Populocracy is the new wave.”

    …populocrats are now undermining democracy everywhere.”

    “Let us not forget that until 2009, there were no sovereignist, populist, xenophobic parties anywhere, except for Jean-Marie Le Pen in France.”

    Wrong, wrong, and wrong. There was, and still is, no democracy in any way shape or form. What the U.S. and EU territories are experiencing as of currently are heavily molding forms of corporatocracy and dire financialization, symptoms of central bank policies. As for “populocracy”, the myth itself is nothing more than a Mercer-funded activity at undermining both sides of the political paradigm (“left” and “right”), not to mention that before 2010 and the like, there were nationalist parties existent albeit low profile and NOT within the mainstream branch of popularity, within both TV media and internet-based circumstances.

    In essence, the said barbarisation ended up being long term planned by a hidden team of planners unbeknownst to the common person as an instrument to undermine sovereign nation-states. History does bare witness to it.

  7. Roger Milbrandt
    July 27, 2019 at 17:30

    This is quite an impressive analysis. But anyone who sees Greta Thunbergs and the ‘democratic’ uprisings in Hong Kong and Nicaragua as signs of hope has not found very many signs of hope. These phenomena (Thunbergs, Hong Kong and Nicaragua) betray the markings of the faux populism I thought he was calling out.

  8. Josef
    July 27, 2019 at 16:59

    Kaczynski was right.

    • Said
      July 29, 2019 at 20:50

      And the only hope left is to follow his steps and adopt a primitive lifestyle.

  9. July 27, 2019 at 16:34

    I penned a snide review of the article as a typical lament that falsely attributes uniqueness to recent events, e.g. xenophobic political parties proliferated after WWI in many countries. Not to mention that as recently as 1000 years ago many European countries were populated solely by barbarians. However, today’s news in The Guardians are impressive:

    ‘There was blood everywhere’. Violent late night brawl in the buffet onboard P&O Cruises’ Britannia left staff who intervened injured, as passengers used furniture and plates as weapons. Witnesses told me they were so frightened they had to hide, as family groups fought.”

    He said that, after hearing the tannoy, he went to the restaurant where he found “shocked” passengers. “One witness, part of a group involved in the trouble, explained to staff that things kicked off when another passenger appeared dressed as a clown. This upset one of their party because they’d specifically booked a cruise with no fancy dress. It led to a violent confrontation,” he wrote.

    He added: “Britannia left Bergen at 14.30 on Thursday, the violence occurred 12 hours later after a black-tie evening. It followed an afternoon of ‘patriotic’ partying on deck, with large amounts of alcohol being consumed by many guests.

    “The buffet area was immediately sealed off as medical teams went to help the injured. Staff told me they’d never experienced anything like it and those behind the violence were confined to a cabin for the last day of the cruise, waiting for police here in Southampton.”

  10. Marko
    July 27, 2019 at 15:07

    “Jeff Bezos gave his ex-wife $38 billion in the divorce. That is equal to the annual average income of $20,000 of 19 million people. ”

    No , it is not. It is $2,000 , not $20,000.

    Ironic , coming from a guy ranting about the dumbing-down of society.

    • July 27, 2019 at 16:35

      Did he claimed to be un-affected?

    • DW Bartoo
      July 27, 2019 at 17:46

      As you say, Marlo, $38 Billion would equate to 1.9 million people earning $20,000.oo a year.

      A Billion is a thousand Million.

      A. Trillion a thousand Billion.

      Amazing how few seem to understand or recall those numbers.

      • Tim Slater
        July 29, 2019 at 13:07

        > Ironic , coming from a guy ranting about the dumbing-down of society.

        I suspect this is merely a confusion between the Franco-American and British-German numbering systems. How much is a “billion” in Argentina?

    • Paolo
      July 28, 2019 at 04:58

      Can’t stop laughing

  11. Steve Naidamast
    July 27, 2019 at 14:44

    A very well written essay on deprivations that are facing the world at large…

    However, me need to understand the crux of the matter as to how we got here in the first place; technology always falls t o the lowest common denominator in any society. No matter what new technology is invented or created, it will always find its way in to the hands of those who will know how to abuse it and exploit people with it.

    The other factor here is that over 95% of the Human species is too stupid to survive in the long term. If it weren’t we wouldn’t have cognizant essays as this one.

    On Trump, I do thing the author is making a speculative prognostication that Trump will somehow be re-elected; end of story.

    As one who is quite good at predicting US presidential campaign outcomes even far in advance, I believe the Trump story may be over than most believe but more information is required to confirm this.

    On climate change.. Well everyone has gotten that completely wrong…

    “The planet does not need saving. Its been around for over 4.5 billion years and isn’t going anywhere; Humans are…”

    George Carlin

  12. Vera Gottlieb
    July 27, 2019 at 14:12

    It is the missing intelligence right here on planet Earth that we should be searching for.

  13. ToivoS
    July 27, 2019 at 13:53

    Savio seems to think that those people in England “are so in favor of a “hard” Brexit that they do not care if this means the exit of Scotland and the end of the United Kingdom.” is a bad idea.

    Actually many of us do not think that the EU is a good idea. Look what they did to Greece when they tried to become free of EU economic strangulation. How can anyone defend the UK. Over the last 200 years it has been the most viscous colonial power. They created the State of Israel and subsequent liquidation of the Palestinian people. Any progressive should welcome the independence of Scotland. One of their demands is to remove the Trident submarine bases (whose subs are loaded with nuclear tipped missiles). The world will be safer place if those awful weapons were removed.

    In short the world will be a better place if the EU was weakened and the UK ceased to exist.

    • Anne Jaclard
      July 27, 2019 at 16:51

      Sadly it is hard to find people who won’t discuss Brexit as either an absolute evil or a glorious attempt to create Singapore-on-the-Thames.

  14. Pablo Diablo
    July 27, 2019 at 13:01

    How is it that The Rich have been able to successfully blame The Poor for our problems???

    • July 28, 2019 at 08:25

      Pertinent question. In my humble opinion, it is because they own the mediums and thus control the message, at-scale, for the most part… Of course on the Internet you can find all manner of information and diverse opinion, however the “mainstream” is still controlled largely by those whom own it. And there is little doubt in my mind that they have the time and resources to work specifically on assuring that the masses respond, react, etc to events exactly in ways that maintain plutocratic hegemony.

  15. July 27, 2019 at 08:30

    Exxon knew over 40 years ago their business causes greenhouse gasses and climate change. Their own scientists made these discoveries. We have internal memos which document this. They hired the same lawyers and the tobacco companies to spread the same disinformation campaign about the coming climate crisis as the Marlboro man told you about not causing cancer.

    Same lies, different industry, same result: willfully ignorant people buy it. Difference is only Uncle Joe dies from smoking Marlboro reds. All of us are gonna die from Exxon’s malfeasance, including people who work at Exxon.

    Here are the documents:

  16. July 27, 2019 at 07:24

    Whoever objected to my saying the CO2 hypothesis is political and unproven, how about the fact that nobody discusses the effect of our human trash on this planet? We have billions of trash heaps everywhere, yet who talks about it? It’s constant CO2 talk. Millenia ago it was a fee middens, now we create refuse heaps all over Earth and don’t even deal with it. The military is the worst. And plastic everywhere is killing the planet. Eventually we’ll get plague and other diseases, just like in the 14th century.

    • Tim
      July 29, 2019 at 13:24


      > We have billions of trash heaps everywhere, yet who talks about it?

      I don’t know where you get your news from, but I can assure you that internationally, this is a hot political topic, with one Asian country after another refusing to accept any more garbage from North America and Europe (and there are plenty of exposés about poor people in Africa picking through our toxic waste for a living).

    • July 29, 2019 at 16:28

      As London sizzles with temperatures just short of 40 C, and Paris with temperatures above 40 C, the doubts in global warming are not convincing. My “favorite” objection to the CO2 “theory” is that it defies laws of thermodynamics, as some poor sods fail to understand that this the greenhouse gas effect has to be explained with quantum mechanics. BTW, the planet Venus is the poster case of global warming, with very dense atmosphere composed mostly of CO2 and surface temperatures in hundreds.

      OTOH, I try to avoid plastic bags to a maximum extends, and to reduce the volume of trash. That said, it is not always possible, with many purchases by shipped boxes often filled with packing plastic.

  17. Rick Patel
    July 27, 2019 at 06:49

    “Mobilization in Hong Kong” is a good thing? Get lost, CIA shill.

  18. Tim Jones
    July 27, 2019 at 01:54

    Nature suddenly came one day,
    Destroyed the place and went away.

    The birds sang their familiar song,
    “Has-it-saved-the-earth-yet? Has-it-saved-the-earth-yet?’

    “Only when it’s cost effective,
    Can we save the world,” corporations said.

    Then, Nature came again one day,
    Wrecked all the cities and went away.

    Hi tech got higher,
    until it reached to space.

    “Don’t worry,” said the military,
    Protecting earth from aliens, asteroids,
    Terrorists and Communists.

    The birds sang their familiar song,
    “High-tech? No-lo-gi-cal!”
    “High-tech? No-lo-gi-cal!”

    Then, Nature came to Earth one day,
    And washed all humanity away.

    And through the ages Earth restored,
    To the state the animals adored.

    The animals concluded people were deluded,
    And neither were they cost effective.

    And the birds sang,
    “High-tech? No-lo-gi-cal!”
    “High-tech? No-lo-gi-cal!”

  19. Attilio
    July 27, 2019 at 01:47

    Savio Should kwow that the so called Left ( PD in Italy, Socialists in France, democrats of the kind of the Clintonss are largely responsabile of what he calls barbarianism. No a single word on the cultural decline of the Left, unable to give credibles responses to the problems of the modern world, sleeping on its political correctness. No courage, no effort to understand the modern world in its complexity, elitism, opportunism….are the capital sins which affect the various Lefts in Europe and Us. Deprecation of the so called populists can not continue to cover the misery of the Left.

  20. July 27, 2019 at 01:44

    Savio Should kwow that the so called Left ( PD in Italy, Socialists in France, democrats of the kind of the Clintonss are largely responsabile of what he calls barbarianism. No a single word on the cultural decline of the Left, unable to give credibles responses to the problems of the modern world, sleeping on its political correctness. No courage, no effort to understand the modern world in its complexity, elitism, opportunism….are the capital sins which affect the various Lefts in Europe and Us. Deprecation of the so called populists can not continue to cover the misery of the Left.

    • Clark M Shanahan
      July 27, 2019 at 09:38

      There shall be no success battling the Right until Macron, the DNC, and other neoliberals clean up their acts.
      But your use of the term “Left” is misleading.
      Macron & the DNC are corporatist centrists, at best.

    • ML
      July 28, 2019 at 09:16

      With all due respect, you obviously haven’t a clue as to what “the left” really is. Stop using terms to describe things you appear to know nothing about. Educate yourself first, then speak and write. Thank you.

  21. July 26, 2019 at 23:47

    Funny how people were growing up poor in even the 50s and 60s, never thought that they were poor until they found out they were. Some of them are now saying that having a decent standard of living is causing a moral decline of society and making people soft. I would ask them if they would like to go back to their prior poor living conditions. I would not like to be poor and have a harsh living condition while the wealthy people enjoy everything that society has to offer to them.

  22. Anne Jaclard
    July 26, 2019 at 22:58

    Now, this and “The Great Reckoning” are two of the best articles I’ve seen in my two years of reading CN regularly! More sobering “critiques of everyday life,” please! There was a similar article on TruthDig which could maybe be re-published:

    Only one caveat: Greta Thurnberg isn’t all she seems. Read the work by Cory Morningstar and see she’s being unwittingly used by “green capitalism” and global economic structures detrimental to real ecology. A shame…

  23. mark
    July 26, 2019 at 22:15

    Little Greta is pure astroturfing.
    The oh-so-radical-and-oh-so-rebellious greenwash groups that appear out of nowhere with their Soros and corporate funding.
    So that more and more Macron style “green” taxes can be imposed on the Great Unwashed.
    And Goldman Sachs can make trillions in peddling Hot Air Certificates with the same facility as they do toilet paper derivatives, like medieval Papal Indulgencies.
    With a Green Taliban to deal with anyone who objects.

    • Anne Jaclard
      July 27, 2019 at 16:54

      Greta is not all that she seems but climate change and the ongoing ruin are very real. “Indulgences?” Have you been listening to the troll, Carl Benjamin?

  24. Tim Jones
    July 26, 2019 at 22:06

    Kudos to the sincere and hardworking staff at CN who continue to weather all manner cogent and uncogent comments, while weathering the wiles of barbery in the form of Fascism aimed against this torch of truth CN! Well done!

  25. CitizenOne
    July 26, 2019 at 21:54

    Sad but very true. History repeats. I do take issue with the authors “we get the government we deserve” mentality so no, we do not get the government we deserve. We get the government we tolerate.

    But other than that I agree we are living in times of increasingly toxic politics. Some applicable quotes from The Money Powers:

    When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.

    Frederic Bastiat – (1801-1850) in Economic Sophisms

    The powers of financial capitalism had (a) far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank…sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.

    Prof. Carroll Quigley in Tragedy and Hope

    In a small Swiss city sits an international organization so obscure and secretive….Control of the institution, the Bank for International Settlements, lies with some of the world’s most powerful and least visible men: the heads of 32 central banks, officials able to shift billions of dollars and alter the course of economies at the stroke of a pen.

    Keith Bradsher of the New York Times, August 5, 1995

    The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is eager to enter into close relationship with the Bank for International Settlements….The conclusion is impossible to escape that the State and Treasury Departments are willing to pool the banking system of Europe and America, setting up a world financial power independent of and above the Government of the United States….The United States under present conditions will be transformed from the most active of manufacturing nations into a consuming and importing nation with a balance of trade against it.

    Rep. Louis McFadden – Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency quoted in the New York Times (June 1930)

  26. Jeff Harrison
    July 26, 2019 at 21:43

    Cacophony. Not only is it dissonance but it’s dissonance at 100mph. This is the problem today. News really is supposed to be who, what, why, when, where, how. It’s supposed to be verifiable facts but instead what is presented as “news” is actually mostly opinion and typically it’s not even first person reportage. To make matters worse, the people presenting their opinions as news typically don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. This Greta Thune person doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about. The meteorological disequilibrium we are currently experiencing is not being caused by “global warming”. This whole mess started out 50 years ago when statisticians thought based on their analyses that the earth should be cooling off. It turns out it wasn’t. OK. But these guys have built an entire structure based on the idea that carbon dioxide traps heat. It’s more or less the same as 1633. That was the year that Pope Whatever-the-hell-his-name-was forced Galileo to recant seeing the moons of Jupiter because it violated the then current model of the solar system that had the Earth at the center. It wasn’t worth the powder to blow it to hell. The same is true of the models based on the notion that carbon dioxide traps heat. Trapping heat violates the second law of thermodynamics so from a theoretical perspective it’s a non-starter but even worse, the idea that carbon dioxide could trap heat is cockamamie. Heat is a physical phenomenon and has a physical manifestation. Heat is the kinetic energy of motion of atoms and molecules. There’s a reason that absolute zero is defined as that temperature where all atomic thermal motion ceases. The difference between your oven door when it’s cold and when it’s hot is that when it’s hot all the atoms and molecules are vibrating at a greater amplitude and frequency. How, pray tell, could CO2 “trap” that? Back in the day, they built models (i.e. physical models) of the solar system with everything orbiting the earth. Of course, they don’t really, so to accommodate that embarrassing reality, they put the planets on little whirligigs that allowed the planets to spin independent of their orbit to show the retrograde motion. It wasn’t perfect but hey, we’re still discovering the details. The so-called “climate scientists” (read statisticians with delusions of grandeur) today are doing the same damn thing.

    Having ranted this long, I should probably finish off with another bit of science that you never hear. The current concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 0.4% (0.004) that’s up from when I was a kid in the ’50s and it was 0.35%. People are running around like their hair was on fire and their asses was catchin’ with can we talk about a tipping point? Wait, what? What’s going to cascade? But this tiny amount of a compound in the atmosphere is actually important. As anybody who’s successfully had a terrarium can tell you, you’ve got to have a CO2 concentration >= (roughly) 0.2% or your plants die.

    At the end of the day, this whole rant was to claim that our real problem was that we were listening to the MSM on radio and TV and mostly what they put out is propaganda. Even people with a couple of degrees in physics and experience living in Europe, the MIddle East, and Central America can have problems with a constant stream of things to evaluate.

    • Nathan Mulcahy
      July 28, 2019 at 09:39

      “Trapping heat violates the second law of thermodynamics …..”. A lot of violations are going on by all the green houses all over the world. Oh vey, what are we going to do about it?

      • Jeff Harrison
        July 31, 2019 at 12:20

        Greenhouses stay warm because the infrared that everything on earth emits is frequently reabsorbed by the plants in the Greenhouse, not because it’s trapped. That’s why it’s the greenhouse effect and not some random empty building effect. Organic matter (unlike CO2) has a very broad absorption spectrum in the infrared spectrum. I always find people like you amusing. CO2 traps heat and that’s why the greenhouse is warm at night, huh? Plants do produce O2 during the day but at night they produce CO2 but they don’t produce enough to tip the concentration in the atmosphere.

    • Tim
      July 29, 2019 at 13:19

      > Even people with a couple of degrees in physics and experience living in Europe, the MIddle East, and Central America can have problems with a constant stream of things to evaluate.

      Well, I only have one degree in physics, and experience living in North America, Europe, and North Africa, but I can see that you don’t understand what you have read, and have probably been confused by simplified descriptions in newspaper articles, as well.

      To summarize: Wrong, wrong, and wrong!

      • Jeff Harrison
        July 30, 2019 at 19:00

        Sorry, buddy, but heat is the kinetic energy of motion of atoms and molecules. It is an attribute of matter just like length, width, density etc. No matter, no heat. And, no, that’s not wrong. I note you were careful not to try to disprove any of my points.

    • zhenry
      July 30, 2019 at 23:52

      Very concerned at the climate denial on what I consider one of the more informative current affair sites where there is mostly a search and analysis of integrity. As well the commenters are mostly enlightened.
      I am not a physics expert but the likes of a James Hansen explaining what appears to be a strong link between fossil fuels, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the heating up of the earth makes sense, and so does the documentary evidence that Exxon new about this apocalyptic danger back in the 1970s and decided to deny it with a billion dollar misinformation campaign. Even worse the approx 17 asset management financial giants who provide the few rich (only a handful of decenters) with 200 or so CEOs who invest trillions in 70 or so corporations – the core of global financial capitalism – who pollute the most and mostly without any consideration for climate change. (see Prof Peter Phillips ‘Giants The Global Power Elite’).
      It seems to me they are challenging planetary forces to kill off most of the 99% and leave a few elite to have complete control of what is left of a habitable earth?

      • Jeff Harrison
        July 31, 2019 at 12:50

        I hope you actually paid attention to what I said. I never said that we don’t have a problem. But the claim that the UCEWA types have science on their side is bullshit. The only thing they got is statistics (which is all you’re citing). You can’t read an explanation for how CO2 traps heat without listening to tales of ice cores which aren’t science, they’re data. The real answer is that we’re producing more heat here on earth. You got 4 ways to warm the earth. The torrents of electromagnetic radiation the sun sends our way. The trick thing about light is that in order to be absorbed and converted to heat, it has to have a wavelength in the absorption spectrum of the matter. The hole in the ozone gets us more sunlight (in the UV spectrum) but the other thing is that transparent materials – the atmosphere, water – don’t absorb light, they just pass it on. They get warmed by the stuff in the air and water that then transfers heat to the air and water. So you seem to like statistical correlations… do you suppose there’s one between the warming of the Pacific ocean and all the crap we have floating in that huge gyre int the pacific? And that’s not the only thing. All those tiny plastic microballs in products? And they have a huge surface area compared to their diameter. Two, the heat of the sun itself. This comes to us in the form of the solar wind and coronal mass ejections as the actual mass of the sun comes to earth. The thing is that a charged particle moving in a magnetic field experiences a force orthogonal to it’s direction of motion (which means it’s gonna start traveling in a circle – hello, the Van Allen belts). This keeps most of the sun’s mass away from the earth. Except that now the earth’s magnetic field is weakening. Third is fires started by man himself. Not so much today but during WWII, the firebombing we did created infernos so intense that people died of suffocation because the fire had sucked up all the oxygen. Again, not so much today but nuclear explosions produce unbelievable amounts of energy. Finally, the earth itself. Finally, there’s volcanic activity. The ones that are most effective are the ones under the ocean, the thermal transfer is much better but this is probably the least of the contributors.

        You want to make things better? Clean up the oceans and ban plastic microballs and finish closing the hole in the ozone.

        • zhenry
          July 31, 2019 at 22:18

          I am all for cleaning the oceans and plastic and I thought the ozone hole had been covered, all though I read recently it was beginning to reappear.
          The important thing here is your so called science lecture is not going to be seriously researched by me, and some comments I dismiss straight away.
          I have done a lot of my own investigation into climate change, not just James Hansen, and the link between the ‘3 vital issues’ is clear as far as I am concerned. The research the number of scientists involved the data the U.N. are overwhelming.
          Then you have ‘the evidence’ of Exxon’s own research.
          Are you being paid by the oil companies? Because misinfo. on sites like these would be part of their agenda.

  27. IvyMike
    July 26, 2019 at 20:55

    There was a period in America, WW2 until, say,1972, in which the worker did quite well, there was a thriving middle class, education worked, and journalism was often honest and very effective. At no other time or place in history did those conditions exist. How can anyone intellectually honest read history and not realize this?

  28. Greg Cantin
    July 26, 2019 at 20:26

    Not his greatest work. The assumption of Russian interference as fact shows he takes biased leaps of faith.

  29. July 26, 2019 at 20:13

    Trump has not recognized climate change as a real problem. Instead, he has fired all the scientists in his administration, and blocked all climate reports, scrubbing it off the official website.

  30. July 26, 2019 at 20:02


  31. July 26, 2019 at 18:56

    It’s nice to know that Soros writes under the pseudonym of Savio. I like to keep track of aliases.

  32. July 26, 2019 at 18:21

    Unproven and political? Ha hahaha!

    You mean the documents we have from Exxon, Mobile, Shell, etc etc demonstrating their own oil company researchers knew about the climate change they cause some 40 or 50 years ago?

    Where have you guys been? Bob… Jesskika… do you live in caves or just pretend not to know?

    • Carl Rising-Moore
      July 26, 2019 at 21:06

      Anthropogenic climate change is real… the denials of this reality are paid for by the fossil fuel industries. This young woman Greta from Sweden has caused an international movement of young climate change activists…. including here in the Philippines. ?

    • Tim Jones
      July 26, 2019 at 21:58

      As the article points out, there is much less reading, researching going on, and journalists adjusting their reads to 17 yr. olds. On the other hand, there is so much information, on all topics, and inexplicable events regarding the heavens and the earth, that even if someone or some group knows the answer why (Exxon is your example and coporations don’t exactly shout it out to the world), there is not enough money to source the info, corroborate, then investigate and finally report as everything continues to move exponentially faster.

    • CitizenOne
      July 27, 2019 at 00:45

      What did we know back in the 1950’s about Global Warming?

      It turns out we knew quite a bit.

      Here is a long version of a 1958 Bell Labs Science Hour “The Unchained Goddess”

      The part of the film dealing with Global Warming and the possibility that our man made emissions of Carbon Dioxide are a threat to the global climate are around 50 minutes into the film. You don’t have to watch the long version.

      Here is an excerpt of the 1958 Bell Labs Science Hour “The Unchained Goddess” during the two minutes the 1958 film explains the possible threat to life from pumping billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

      It is clear that scientists knew the potential harm to the global climate from CO2 emissions more than half a century ago.

      It is also clear that once the global oil corporations became aware of the ultimate fate of the planet caused by their business model they launched (paid for) a disinformation campaign culminating in the current climate change denial industry funded by the petrochemical industries in order to create doubt that Global Warming is caused by increasing emissions of CO2 or even that it is real.

      It is also clear that there has been a concerted effort by global petroleum corporations, our Main Stream Media (MSM) and our Government to create a cloud of doubt surrounding Global warming by creating plausible deniability that Global Warming exists by deliberately suppressing information about another phenomenon termed Global Dimming which is the examination of the intensity of the sunlight reaching the surface of the planet.

      Multiple independent observations have concluded that the intensity of the sunlight reaching the Earth surface is 10% less than it was 60 years ago. This is an astonishing observation and it reveals that we may have been wrong to ignore Global Warming because the effect of Global Dimming masks the true threat we face.

      Some want to disperse sulfur into the high atmosphere in order to use Global Dimming to our advantage.

      Here is a documentary guaranteed to scare the pants off you.

      • July 27, 2019 at 16:47

        Shhh! We don’t want to know. We’d rather ride our Chevy unicorns on the rainbow!

  33. Vincent Berg
    July 26, 2019 at 18:00

    Actually science and technology are the root of the condition. Ever since Man, through serendipitous mutations, developed the ability to devise tools, we have been on an increasingly rapid trajectory to extinction. Unique in all of earthly nature perhaps (so far?), in that our demise is self-created rather than dependent on a comet strike or some such natural arising event, but inevitable all the same. It’s what we are. It’s only a matter of time.

    July 26, 2019 at 17:47

    Some comments are automatically withheld for moderation. This could take some time before we get to it to restore those comments that do not violate our comments policy. We ask your patience before reposting.

  35. Tedder
    July 26, 2019 at 14:43

    I don’t know anything about the elections in Istanbul, but the mobilization in Hong Kong and Nicaragua are suspicious manifestations of American foreign influence. We cannot always interpret from face value reports of our corrupt media.

    • Carl Rising-Moore
      July 26, 2019 at 20:49

      You are 100% correct about this… both the Nicaragua and the Hong Kong protests are backed by the American Deep State of Full Spectrum Dominance aka the Washington Consensus. I was impressed by the article until these examples were raised as evidence of progressive change.

  36. Em Sos
    July 26, 2019 at 14:14

    Roberto Savio:
    If life today is not normal, then when has it ever been otherwise?
    “We have to look at reality…” you think? It’s a nice thought!
    It pains to have to agree with you, Thomas Hobbs was far more correct than wrong, in his assessment of human…kind!
    On the other hand, humble apologies for feeling it necessary to have to point out to you that what occurs in the supposed ‘thinking’ animals’ world is the very definition of the word normal, at least as it pertains to the range of his capacities for critical consciousness, at the present moment.
    ‘Blind faith’ belief in the mythologies of all religions is a prime example.
    As applies to all his senses: man speaks, sees, hears, feels, smells, believes etc., only the phenomena that fall between the parameters of their specific spectra.
    How then to linguistically define ‘universal consciousness’ is another matter entirely!
    The word barbarity is nothing new. It is but a word in the lexical parameters of elites’ rhetorical grandiloquence’s.
    Although the human animal, purportedly, does not act on instinct alone, neither, so far in history, has he shown any tendencies for thinking above and beyond the range of his earthly individual ego.
    Nonetheless, there have always been the exceptions; Thomas Hobbs, the person; being a quintessential expression.
    Another, being Julian Assange, and all those other selfless whistle blowers!
    “The Precipitous Barbarisation of Our Times” is but another downward swing in man’s limited repertoire; in a pendulum swing already millennia in motion.
    It is, regrettably, to his own detriment, as a specie, that at this critical moment in time this as far as he is willing to go in truly ‘knowing’ himself,
    And, it seems to me, on the massive scale necessary to bring about radical change, we are not one jot closer.
    Question: Is Homo-Sapiens on this earth only to eventually totally self-destruct?
    Are you saying that this neo-barbarization is the antithesis of civilization?
    What time is it?

  37. Rosanna
    July 26, 2019 at 12:29

    Personally, I would like to see more journalism and fewer opinion pieces on CN. Especially less of the hand-wringing type of opinion pieces. Just not interested in the Chicken Little screed du jour.

  38. Truth
    July 26, 2019 at 12:17

    the evil of the empire needs ended in all nations. This author apparently wishes to stay in good with them. Brexit Libertarians and all those around the world rebelling against the undercover communism of established only for a few, goverments around the central bank controlled world have always struggled. The pseudo media and self serving intellectuals like this have always cared so much for themselves that they don’t mind millions in slavery as long as they can make a living sitting in a comfortable place and use their self deluded words to support the current regime.

  39. July 26, 2019 at 11:59

    Q: How do you know there are no adults in the room (especially the ones calling themselves “adults” the loudest)?

    A: When it takes the simple honesty of our own children pointing it out to our faces rubbing our noses in the mess we’ve made.

    • bob
      July 26, 2019 at 15:10

      oh dear

  40. Paolo
    July 26, 2019 at 11:50

    This must be the millionth article I read about the good-ol-times and the present day internet induced debauchery…

    One thing I very much appreciate about Consortium News is how it exposes the lies or distortions about russiagate and Assange on the New York Times and other big media…
    I suppose the NYT is one of the ”quality newspapers” that, according to the author of this article, so few read. Considering how many seem to believe that Assange is on Putin’s payroll, those who read the NYT and the ”serious media“ must in fact be quite a number.

    The author writes that «40 percent of American schools teach that the world was created in a week»: I would love to know where he got that figure he states as a fact.
    I did some (fast) googling to find that 40 per cent figure, but I had no success. I found instead that «the percentages who say they believe in God, pray daily and regularly go to church or other religious services all have declined modestly in recent years» ( Also I found that «In U.S., Belief in Creationist View of Humans at New Low», (
    Darwin talks about evolution over millions of years, so it is probably fair to imagine it will take a while before the entire world population evolves from God worshipers to Darwin worshipers. Is it such a big problem?

    «The Gutenberg generations were accustomed to dialogue and discussion»: is that a fact?
    A few decades after newspapers became popular in Paris, the French Revolution ended up in La Terreur. Also the Russian revolution started a few decades after newspapers became popular in Russia.
    It would be interesting to study all the deep discussions and dialogues that helped such good-guys as Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, and many others rise to power. Also I wonder if there are statistics about the increase in the number of killed in action or political violence in the good ol Gutenberg Era when they were all discussing and dialoguing politely.

    One interesting thing is that before all the above, newspapers were first introduced in London at the end of 1600-beginning-of-1700 and very soon those writing on newspapers were dubbed Hack Writers. Wikipedia explains that «A hack writer is a pejorative term for a writer who is paid to write low-quality, rushed articles or books “to order”, often with a short deadline». Grub Street, where most of these gentlemen lived and worked, was soon derogatorily used to refer to the cheap and mean literature newspapers produced. Some started worrying that the mediocrity of what Hack Writers wrote would redefine the very concept of culture. In his famous satirical poem Dunciad, Alexander Pope even predicted that the rise of the Grub Street Hack Writers would lead to the fall of British civilization. Isn’t it about what is now being said of the internet?

    Why not look at the situation from a different point of view?
    The like-minded elite that has taken over most of the editorial industry in this never-ending twilight of the Gutenberg era, is rapidly aging and too comfortably settled down to risk emerging from the plush eco-chamber they have locked themselves into. All it can do is blame the ignorant populace and accuse internet, omitting to remind us that there has never ever been a time when the majority of the population was not ignorant.

    IMHO discussions about epocal changes such as the introduction of print or the digital world should be left to scholarly papers and not concentrated in brief newspaper columns with no footnotes or bibliography. Let’s start marking the differences between Hack Writers and serious scholars. Cherry picking statistics to proof some trite opinion doesn’t work anymore.

  41. July 26, 2019 at 11:34

    Allowing accumulation of obscene wealth impoverished the masses, as always, but at unorecedented levels. People were forced into a modern version of economic serfdom. They lost out on education.

    John Wilson’s statement about climate change is true, there is no consensus on CO2 and, matter of fact, scientists are now coming out with information about electromagnetism, the sun, and cosmic influence, finally. Earth, after all, is 4 5 billion years old, and humans aren’t here but a small portion of that. We’ve had about 6 or 7 ice ages as well as that number of mass extinctions, regardless of the Industrial Revolution hyping up the reproductive activity of humans.

    Also, I disagree that Trump initiated the racism argument. That was a pushback to his campaign statements about Mexicans, which took on a life of its own over time. Democrats actually ran with racism, racism, racism (as they did with Russia, Russia, Russia–which is also a form of racism).

  42. Hayden Head
    July 26, 2019 at 11:32

    About the effect of the Internet on attention spans: A whole cadre of thinkers, academics, and podcast hosts have demonstrated that attention spans are actually still pretty healthy. Joe Rogan regularly hosts interviews that last from two to three hours; Jordon Peterson does the same, as does Ben Shapiro, Sam Harris and others. You might not like what these people say–which is odd in the extreme since they say very different things–but the fact that millions of people listen to them indicates that our attention spans are not necessarily shorter. I think the problem lies not in the listener but in the lecturers. The fact is that universities have left a generation (or two) starved for serious intellectual discourse. Mainstream academicians have definitively settled the existence of God–He doesn’t; the purpose of life–create your own meaning, a la Nietzsche; and personal responsibility–you kids are already so damned good there is nothing you need to improve. But these questions are far from settled, have enormous implications for human happiness, and are still acutely interesting to thousands upon thousands of people. The fact is that a lot of people, young or otherwise, don’t pay attention because they’re sick to death of what’s being said.

  43. Drew Hunkins
    July 26, 2019 at 11:30

    “Barbarisation of Our Times”

    Also something seldom mentioned that added to the barbarism was all the verbal assaultiveness written into the scripts of television shows. Sitcoms and dramas of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and through today are full of verbal putdowns and ridicule towards all the everyday characters. This subconsciously affected the personal relations of millions.

  44. DH Fabian
    July 26, 2019 at 11:25

    The point that can’t be overlooked is that essentially the same thing applies to Democrats and liberals. They are no longer even recognizable to the third faction, those who don’t march in lockstep behind the party bosses — the left, the poor, etc. Listening to the Democrat politicians and reading through the daily liberal media too often shows a world that is disconnected from what so many can see for themselves. This is America, a corporate state, and we are its servants.

  45. patricia guerrero
    July 26, 2019 at 11:19

    I would add that the events in Puerto Rico are also encouraging rays of light.

  46. Jon
    July 26, 2019 at 11:17

    Citing Hobbes is wrong. He is a ruling class’s wet dream.

    Hobbes was incomplete in his formulation.

    We need a ruling class to govern and manage factions and conflicts, not because human nature requires it, but because factionalism and conflict at social scale are created by the ruling class.

    Jay Gould said it best: “I Can Pay One Half Of The Working Class To Kill The Other Half”

    • druid
      July 29, 2019 at 13:45

      Agree, a society does need a ruling class, but one that does NOT become the 0.01% with greed and hubris and at the expense of everyone else, which is what is happening now.

  47. Eric32
    July 26, 2019 at 11:10

    Some propagandized girl vacantly parroting some lines only impresses dummies.

    If it wasn’t for fossil fuel CO2 spewed out during the industrial age, it’s likely earth would be heading into a cyclical cooling, which would be a lot worse in its consequences than this warming.

    This example of using ignorant emotionalisation for manipulation of people is an example of democracy’s achilles heel.

  48. July 26, 2019 at 10:33

    So. Is the author stating that what happened in Hong Kong over China’s law to extradite individuals to mainland China a sign of hope? He seems to conveniently omit the imprisonment of Julian Assange based on bogus charges.

  49. July 26, 2019 at 10:32

    (“Today, there many “rays of light” appearing in the world. The elections in Istanbul are a good example, as are the mobilization in Hong Kong, Sudan and Nicaragua, among many others.”) – the author

    – Really?! What the freak is this supposed to mean? A CIA inspired and supported attempt to foment protest and to demonize and overthrow the elected government of Nicaragua is somehow a “ray of light?” In what universe pray-tell is this considered a “ray of light” – other than the one inhabited by Bush, Hillary, Obama, Trump and the rest of the Western figure-heads for oligarchy that have ruthlessly destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, overthrew democracy in Honduras, and did their best to take out Syria? The world doesn’t need any more such “light” I dare say.

  50. July 26, 2019 at 09:55

    Our so-called “culture” is a vapid wasteland of trickle-down narcissism from the likes of the Trumps and Kardashian reality TV celebrities and their corporate minions. In money we trust. If people pay money for it, then it is good; let this be the law of the land.

  51. July 26, 2019 at 09:32

    Like so many articles suggesting the coming apocalypse, you feel the impact of information overload. Missing too often is feasible prescriptive steps that can be taken. Perhaps even more important is the recognition that we have serious problems and the creation of an atmosphere where people sit down together, listen to each other, and agree that compromise is a necessary component of any actions to be taken.

    In the most important organs where this must occur, our government, this is lost in the pursuit of victory over your opponents. This certainly goes back to the way our representatives are selected and what they must do to be reelected. Thus, this most important organ for shaping our society and the way we deal with the world is dysfunctional. It is intended by the powerful to be that way.

    How do you change all that, that is the prescriptive challenge, to create a problem recognition and problems solving government where compromise and actionable decisions are the guiding principles.

    • DH Fabian
      July 26, 2019 at 11:32

      Prescriptive changes. Consider the possibility that we have passed the point where such changes are possible. We have spent decades talking about the changes needed in the US, to even begin moving in a legitimately progressive direction. Throughout, the US has only maintained its regressive course.

    • lindaj
      July 26, 2019 at 15:08

      Extinction Rebellion has a demand that the government recognize a Citizens Assembly, people chosen at random from the population to judge the way the world’s resources should be used — in other words direct democracy. To me this is the only hope we have of wresting these crucial decisions away from the bought off politicians.

  52. Zhu
    July 26, 2019 at 09:19

    Yep, souund about rigjt.

  53. DW Bartoo
    July 26, 2019 at 08:16

    Thoughtful, well-considered, and very precisely accurate comments on “our” time, Roberto Savio.

    One can only expect, given the recent climate changes here at CN, that gnashing fangs and bloody claws will gather, in full Panglossian splendor, to rip and tear such clear-eyed observations to tattereted shreds as the grunts and growls will howl that things have never been better, that rugged, brutal capitalist dominance, perpetual warfare, and austere privation are all that keep the many from the brutal clutches of rabid socialist communism (which always fails, thank gawd) and medicated-child-driven corporate plots of climactic fear-mongering, designed to rob the many of precious optimism and boundless hopes of wealth and power, of sex-slaves, and super sonic pogo sticks that can bounce the English Channel in a single boing!

    Beyond the teeming multitude of know-nothings, are hoards of flat-Earth sound-biters who’ve not had an original thought in their empty wee noggins for decades, if ever.

    It ought to be quite a circus to behold as the incurable optimists clash with the perpetually disgruntled exuberant.

    Has “education” failed?

    Did it even bother to try?

    Or is this mass of technology-crazed happy mealers precisely what was intended?

    Just smart enough to quarrel, but far too dumb to grasp just who has got their number, owns their ass, and profits from the Barnum?

    Ah, well, as Carlin suggested, ain’t it fun to just sit back and watch, and the more absurd and desperate it all becomes the more enjoyable a hoot it is?

    Not going with a whimper, nor a bang, but with babbling blither-booberation and hyped-up righteous indignation directed at everyone and everything except those who richly deserve “it”.

    The lives of everyone but the elite are now made worthless.

    While it IS the elite who are, most truly, worthless.

    Sure, that may be a grim view, and a slander upon “merit”.

    But what the feck are ya gonna do about it?

    Bitch, complain, go postal?

    It is all just good, make-a-killing fun.

    What does your retirement account look like? Your portfolio performing well? Your kids got any future? Your grandkids?

    Suppose decision is made to kick Iranian butt?

    Suppose the world economy shits a brick as oil costs a grand a barrel?

    Will that be skin off yer own sweet ass?

    Or, have you a safe off-shore enclave, staffed by AI robots who all look like Bond Girls, a mechanized indoor farm, and a nuke tipped, mercenary guarded, locked-down, gated, “community” to safely retire to?

    If not, gulls and buoys, your future daze will be quite interesting.



    Got that out of my system, and feel much better.

    Please pass the euphemistic semantic evasions over here.

    Simply close eyes, ears, and hearts, then, I am very certain, things will work out just swell.

    I mean, really, things COULD be worse.

    And probably will be.

    Perhaps, at that point, all can hitch a ride on the Bezos-Gates-Musk-Zuckerberg Lolita Express Rocket To Mars?

    Armageddon a bit concerned.

    How ’bout you?

    • JoAnne
      July 26, 2019 at 16:35

      I believe I may have identified “it” as the “predator paradox”. Cultures which have conscientiously adapted and stabilized the dangerous neurobiological pattern are eventually overpowered, if not not overcome by ecological limits.
      Do you know any visionaries capable of resolving the paradox at any scale? I don’t, and they go unheeded anyway. I mean, we’ve had at least 200,000 years to learn “mutual respect and cooperation”. Or even the concept of “balance”, or holism/wholesome/holiness. We just don’t like nature/life/the earth/each other/ourselves well enough to protect it/them/us (“do no harm”). Alas.

      • CitizenOne
        July 26, 2019 at 22:10

        Have we considered the possibility that we are preparing for the next leap in evolution?

        “Over these years in the history of the Earth, there was a large climatic shift. This caused the human brain to evolve at a relatively rapid pace. Species that could not adapt to the shifting temperatures and environments quickly went extinct. Eventually, only Homo sapiens from the Homo Group remained.”

        So as the climactic shift we face hits in full force will we develop even bigger brains? Will they get so big we will want to change the climate every day in order to satisfy their insatiable hunger?

        Then what? Now that is a true disaster!

      • DW Bartoo
        July 27, 2019 at 07:20

        JoAnne, I consider it likely that only over the past 20 thousand years, of human existence, have pathological “tribes” arisen which had the “technological” means of what “our” tribe styles as “Full Spectrum Dominance”. Of course, “our” tribe has had the advantage of nuclear weaponry since the end of WWII, but its “ambition” to imperial pretensions has been manifest from the very beginning, even before “the Colonies” broke free, at the behest of the merchant class, John Hancock (a real piece of work) chief among them.

        “Our” … “history” is a litany of deceit, betrayal, avaricious greed, and savagery essentially unparalleled in its depravity, except when compared to the very worst of other examples and to claim that “we” were not quite so bad as Vlad the Impaler, or Nazi Germany, is to already place ourselves in the most unsavory company.

        I do not think the saving “enlightenment” will come from any single human being, and saviors rarely match their scribe’s righteous claims, as those claims are the livelihood of the disciples, in far too many cases.

        Rather, if humanity is to muddle through this era of unfettered greed, selfishness, and arrogant hegemony, then insight will have, of dire necessity, to come from many committed souls who labor, not for self aggrandizement or worthy recompense, but out of a far deeper sense of obligation to the the experience of sentient existence, to the mere chance of being alive.

        Life is little valued, conscience and principle are scoffed at as wishy-washy ineptitude, “unrealistic”, unpragmatic, and uselessly childish by those who worship brute power over others and total control of everything.

        Those so driven to seek absolute power and obscene wealth are frightened empty beings, operating on primitive levels of satiation that preclude actual awareness of anything beyond themselves and the mechanisms which they assume will make them “safe” and “secure”, whatever the expense and destruction to other life forms and the planet which sustains the existence of all terrestrial life.

        The crazed simply do not care to understand, do not care to care, are pathologically incapable of such understanding and yet, are the very ones most driven to seize power and wealth, even as the toadying “disciples” ofgreed and power, the many hangers-on, best exemplified, in “our” tribe by the political class which includes the media AND academia, as well as garden-variety politicos who pander, simper, and sing on cue.

        Nonetheless, look about you, note those voices at this site, who counsel reason, tolerance, understanding, and courage, there are more than a few, despite the clamoring deniers, displacers, and delusionists who flock here to disparage and mock.

        Far more individuals understand our common human plight than ever have done so before, both in number and in percentage.

        Is “success” guaranteed?

        Of course not.

        But process and persistence matter.

        It may not seem glamorous, and it is not.

        Awareness, and competence are joined, piece by piece, over time, and upon such solid foundation, whatever IS possible must be built.

        Whether it succeeds is not of this moment, this time, our time, requires of us nothing less than the diligent effort of trying, calmly and rationally, to salvage our own humanity and to reach out to all others capable of understanding why that is necessary and the only possible pathway out of depravity, deceit, destruction, and death.

        Death, not of individuals, but of the possibility of life, itself.


  54. Simeon Hope
    July 26, 2019 at 06:56

    This piece is remarkable in its peddling of conventional wisdom as radical thought. “The attention span of people has declined dramatically.” No evidence is provided because we all know this is true and we blame social media, right?

    “I have spoken to various people who dedicate their working lives to studying human attention and they have no idea where the numbers come from either. In fact, they think the idea that attention spans are getting shorter is plain wrong.

    “I don’t think that’s true at all,” says Dr Gemma Briggs, a psychology lecturer at the Open University. “Simply because I don’t think that that’s something that psychologists or people interested in attention would try and measure and quantify in that way.””

    “A group of researchers at the University of Illinois found that expert video gamers could “track objects moving at greater speeds, better detected changes to objects stored in visual short-term memory, switched more quickly from one task to another, and mentally rotated objects more efficiently.” In other words, their attention was better.”

    Just because it’s on a leftist website doesn’t mean it’s any more rooted in reality than anything else.

  55. July 26, 2019 at 05:39

    What is missing from this otherwise excellent article is the rather important fact that humanity has reached the limits of economic growth and that the global economy has overshot the carrying capacity of the planet and its ecological system. This is only partially covered by referring to climate change and Greta Thunberg as the issue is so much wider, including the biodiversity collapse, resource depletion including the rising cost of extracting fossil fuels and also the depletion of the minerals that would be needed for a transition to renewable energy systems. The trend has been recognised as by mainstream economists in their phrase “secular stagnation” but they have not a clue why this is happening. Needless to say stagnation in the real economy undermines the financial economy as borrowers do not have a rising income to service their debts. Bringing interest rates down in turn leads to aset price inflation that prices ordinary people out of residential markets. Not having a clue what is happening the elite must nevertheless pass the blame to someone and, as they have done through all of history, they pass the blame to the victims of the trends – in scapegoating. In some coutries there has been an idea that education underpins economic growth – it it doesn’s do so without the cheap energy so what we are getting is a massive expansion of over specialised people coming out of university but then there is no job for them at the level of their qualification. The problem here is also over specialisation and what Karl Marx called “craft idiocy” – people who know a lot about little and have no overview that would allow them to make sense of what is going on in the world…This is fatal in a world heading towards economic and ecological collapse where one needs people who undersstand what is happening, with skills in organising and an ability to improvise in home building and renovation plus cultivational skills. They need to be capable of surviving and making themselves useful in what I would call a “lifeboat economy” when everything collapses

  56. john wilson
    July 26, 2019 at 04:24

    The absurdity of assuming that this Greta creature is some kind of environmental prophet beggars belief. The global warming theory is by no means a proven fact and is really little more than an idea. The notion we should all give up our cars and life style to save the planet isn’t going anywhere and anyway, who or what are we saving the planet for? Many years ago when I was young we were told that petrol was going to run out in the next ten years and that was at least 40 years ago. The in thing for young people to demonstrate about back then was CND and ban the bomb. Today the young are out in force trying to ban the motor car etc. Actually, the young are in far more danger from nuclear bombs and war that anything the climate might do to us.

    • robjira
      July 26, 2019 at 10:39

      Then bury your head in the sand (just don’t dig too deep; the Chinese authorities will demand a proper visa)

    • July 28, 2019 at 07:36

      Except the chickens have come home to roost and we’re all getting baked right now. Have a nice day!

      P.S. Calling a child a “creature” as if she’s from a Frankenstein novel is not a good look. You come off as an abusive “adult in the room” when you talk to kids that way. No wonder they don’t trust us to lead.

  57. bob
    July 26, 2019 at 03:48

    Oh dear

  58. Tom Kath
    July 25, 2019 at 23:59

    “The answer is in your hearts! The answer is 12!” – Damn! I’m on the wrong website.

    • Jeff Harrison
      July 26, 2019 at 17:52

      No, it’s not. It’s 42.

      • OlyaPola
        July 30, 2019 at 05:18

        Mr. Adams’ notion was in illustration of “the” answer is a construct, and constructs differ as functions of assays of belief.

        Enjoy your journey.

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