Before the age of capitalism, technology and the much hated “materialism”, human beings lived in an age of Nature. The constant struggle in the age of Nature was for survival. From the caves to the covered wagons, people did everything they could to eat, build shelters and survive. Self-esteem and self-fulfillment were secondary or non-existent. It was all about survival before the age of reason and material progress that reason spawned.
Ironically, the age of capitalism and technology delivered us from that era, at least for those of us fortunate enough to live in societies where capitalism and materialism were free to do their thing. Telephones, automobiles, refrigeration, electricity, Internet — none of these precious values were even conceivable prior to the age in which man’s mind ruled over the planet.
Ironically, those of us who live in the world touched by the benefits of man’s mind are the same ones who now believe that capitalism and technology are the problem, not the solution. The vast majority of us do things like support “environmentalism”, recycle our garbage, and sign on for organic foods. This makes us feel good, like we’re rejecting the things we’re supposed to reject — materialism and capitalism — and, most of all, can be seen as rejecting those things by our peers and neighbors, people who likewise feel the need to be seen as rejecting capitalism and materialism.
Yet all it takes is a natural disaster, like Hurricane Irma, to remind us just how important these inventions of mankind are — electricity, running water, Internet, and all the rest. Thanks to materialism, profit-making capitalism and the nature-challenging advances of science, far fewer people will die in Hurricane Irma than would have been the case in a pre-industrial, pre-technological age. The worst part of the storm will be for millions who go without power, or without the comforts they only come to appreciate once they’re gone.
The religion of our age is one of making sure we’re seen as rejecting these things we’re quick to seek out again the moment they’re gone. Yet when a natural disaster hits, we’re reminded — for a temporary period, thankfully — just how important these things are.
America in the early twenty-first century is a hilarious thing, even in the midst of a non-hilarious event such as Hurricane Irma. On the one hand, man’s progress is condemned as “raping” the environment and destroying the pristine state of earth. On the other hand, the moment nature shows us how threatening to our survival it can be, we rush back to the protection of our material comforts. It takes a hurricane to point out how much we need the hated capitalism and materialism, although most of us are still too dense to reflect on it, much less see it.
I prefer to celebrate man’s accomplishments in science, technology, fossil fuels and capitalism all of the time, not just in their temporary absence after a natural disaster. It seems more honest, more authentic, more rational — and far less hypocritical.
What do you think?
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