From the Prince of Wales:
Gandhi realised that humanity has a natural tendency to consume and that, if there are no limits on that tendency, we can become obsessed simply with satisfying our desires. The desire grows ever more potent as we consume ever more, even though we achieve very little of the satisfaction we desire.
I’m sure that many people know it is wrong to plunder the Earth’s treasures as recklessly as we do, but the comprehensive world view persuades us that such destruction is justified because of the freedom it brings us, not to say the profits. Our tendency to consume is legitimised by a world view that puts humanity at the centre of things, with an absolute right over Nature.
The movement responsible for the imbalance — it is often called “Modernism” — rose to dominance at the start of the 20th century.
“Modernists had a Utopian desire to create a better world. They believed in technology as the key means to achieve social improvement and in the machine as a symbol of that aspiration.”
Modernism fuelled a fundamental disconnection from Nature — from the organic order of things that Nature discloses; from the structure and cyclical process of Nature and from its laws that impose those natural limits which Gandhi was at such pains for us to recognise.
As a result, our perception of what we are and where we fit within the scheme of things is fractured. This is why I consider our problems today not just to be an environmental crisis, nor just a financial crisis. They all stem from this fundamental crisis in our perception. By positioning ourselves outside Nature, we have abstracted life altogether to the extent that our urbanised mentality is out of tune with the key principles underpinning the health of any economy and of all life on Earth. And those principles make up what is known as “Harmony”.
In cutting ourselves off from Nature we cut ourselves off from what we are; from our inner selves.
All I am saying is that we simply cannot contend with the global environmental crises we face by relying on clever technological “fixes” on their own.
I agree with this article entirely, except that blaming Modernism is too shortsighted. It’s convenient, however, and the Left will like it.
But I think the disease runs deeper than that, and goes back to the revolutions we had in 1789 or so: the idea that the individual is superior to the order around them, and that we should re-order the world around human individuals, not ideas.
As Aldous Huxley pointed out, that’s a one-way path to the pursuit of convenience and ignorance of anything more complicated. Materialism comes from individualism.
While historically this problem may have exploded in the 1700s, Plato tells us that it happens to every civilization. They have a birth-death cycle: when new, they are run by strong leaders, then by the military elites, then by oligarchs, then by democracy and finally, anarchy leading into tyranny.
We either fight the attitude that the individual is King — which brings with it materialism, Modernism, disconnection from Nature — or we fall prey to that which has brought down innumerable civilizations before us.