February 23, 2003

Of Needles & Bubbles

Out of a lot of great stuff, I'm pulling this one lil bit from Steve Den Beste's latest post.

These things are all consistent with my basic liberalism, which is to say my belief in liberty as an ultimate good for myself and my fellow citizens. I know that my liberty is fragile and easily destroyed. That liberty can only exist as long as my nation continues to exist to defend it. Our lives as citizens exist inside an artificial bubble which is constantly under greater or lesser threat and which must be actively maintained. There's nothing natural about our lives. The natural state for humans is barbarism, cruelty, violence and death.

"There's nothing natural about our lives. The natural state for humans is barbarism, cruelty, violence and death. This really resonates with me, especially now. I've long believed that we're only this much [this is me at my desk holding my thumb and finger about an inch apart] away from civilization collapsing. And the more we rely on technology, the easier it becomes. Think about it; every decade we move farther and farther from knowing how to do the most basic things. My mum is seventy, she knows how to can food, including meat, she knows how to cook on a wood stove, how to kill and prepare animals to be eaten. Out of those, I can probably can vegetables and fruits, and cook on a wood stove. But would I know how to plant crops at the right time, or when wheat is ready to harvest? How about taking the wheat from harvest to flour? What about soap? I know they used lye to make it, and that it was hot and smelly, but that about covers my knowledge. How do I make cloth?

Why do I worry about it all? I don't know, I guess it's just me being me. I worry about bioweapons, things like weoponized smallpox. If it doesn't kill all of us, how many deaths it this world away from total collapse of civilization as we know it? How many deaths would it take for our country to collapse? Our food comes from all over the country, all over the world. What if the trains and trucks stop running? No electricity, no running water, no medical services. Scavenging would work for a while, but it's a temporary solution.

There's a Brit TV show from the 70s called "Survivors" that deals with a world after a bioweapon escapes from a lab in China. Only a handful of people survive. In one of the episodes they talk about the simple sewing needle -- what happens when all the needles are gone? Take a needle from its beginning: mining the metal, smelting it, then whatever goes into making the molds, let alone to the point of making the needle itself. How do you do any of it? How do you do any of the millions of things that make our world as we know it work? Just the basics, not even things like computers or telephones or cars. Things like clothing, shelter, heat, light, food and water. We keep losing more and more of that knowledge.

Artificial bubble indeed.

Posted by Ithildin at February 23, 2003 3:36 PM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE