It takes no great skill to decode the world system today. A tiny percentage of the population is immensely wealthy, some are well off, a lot are just getting by, a lot more are suffering. We call it capitalism, but within it lies buried residual patterns of feudalism and older hierarchies, basic injustices framing the way we organize ourselves. Everybody lives in an imaginary relationship to this real situation; and that is our world. We walk with scales on our eyes, and only see what we think.

And all the while on a sidewalk over the abyss. There are islands of time when things seem stable. Nothing much happens but the rounds of the week. Later the islands break apart. When enough time has passed, no one now alive will still be here; everyone will be different. Then it will be the stories that will link the generations, history and DNA, long chains of the simplest bits—guanine, adenine, cytosine, thymine—love, hope, fear, selfishness—all recombining again and again, until a miracle happens and the organism springs forth!


Meanwhile humanity is exceeding the planet’s carrying capacity for our species, badly damaging the biosphere. Neoclassical economics cannot cope with this situation, and indeed, with its falsely exteriorized costs, was designed in part to disguise it. If the Earth were to suffer a catastrophic anthropogenic extinction event over the next ten years, which it will, American business would continue to focus on its quarterly profit and loss. There is no economic mechanism for dealing with catastrophe. And yet government and the scientific community are not tackling this situation either, indeed both have consented to be run by neoclassical economics, an obvious pseudoscience. We might as well agree to be governed by astrologers. Everyone knows this is the situation, and yet no one does anything about it. They don’t try to instigate the saving of the biosphere, they don’t even call for certain kinds of mitigation projects. They just wait and see what comes in. It is a ridiculously passive position.

Why such passivity, you ask? Because NSF is chicken! It’s a chicken with its smart little head stuck in the sand like an ostrich! It’s a chicken ostrich (fix). It’s afraid to take on Congress, it’s afraid to take on business, it’s afraid to take on the American people. Free market fundamentalists are dragging us back to some dismal feudal eternity and destroying everything in the process, and yet we have the technological means to feed everyone, house everyone, clothe everyone, doctor everyone, educate everyone—the ability to end suffering and want as well as ecological collapse is right here at hand, and yet NSF continues to dole out its little grants, fiddling while Rome burns!!!

Well whatever nothing to be done about it, I’m sure you’re thinking poor Frank Vanderwal has spent a year in the swamp and has gone crazy as a result, and that is true but what I’m saying is still right, the world is in big trouble and NSF is one of the few organizations on Earth that could actually help get it out of trouble, and yet it’s not. It should be charting worldwide scientific policy and forcing certain kinds of climate mitigation and biosphere management, insisting on them as emergency necessities, it should be working Congress like the fucking NRA to get the budget it deserves, which is a much bigger budget, as big as the Pentagon’s, really those two budgets should be reversed to get them to their proper level of funding, but none of it is happening or will happen, and that is why I’m not coming back and no one in his right mind would come back either

Another great chunk from Forty Signs of Rain, by Kim Stanley Robinson.

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