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More quotes

August 25, 2009

A small collection of short quotes from Ran Prieur.

This first one is from an interview in What a Way to GoHere’s a link to the video.

That’s how awful that this world is, that we fantasize about a world with war, and hunger, and no trees, just because we get to be outside all day fighting for something that matters instead of cowering in sterile buildings rearranging abstractions.

This next one is from an essay called “How To Save Civilization.”

Civilization as we know it is unstable, because too many of its processes are increase-only. No engineer would design a plane that can only increase its speed and altitude, but we do it everywhere: When has a government reduced the number of laws? When has a new computer operating system been leaner than the old one? How often does a food store move into a smaller space and carry fewer products? Have we ever torn down a housing development and planted a forest? When did cars ever get easier to fix? I thought two-bladed razors were a silly fad — now they’re up to five. Apparently only a stand-alone product can be a fad. A feature on a product, no matter how ridiculous, can never be removed.

This one must have been just in a blog post that didn’t make it into his archives, because I can’t find a link to it.  However, I did find this, although it’s not Ran.  Hmm….  The modification date (2007-11-01 04:32) on the text file almost matches the date of the post, so my best guess is that one or the other saw the quote, liked it, and forgot to attribute it to the originator.

Any learning on the level of culture is vapor that will be swept away by the next Empire as soon as the forests grow back, and the only way out is to somehow change our basic nature to make it impossible for our power to systematically exceed our wisdom. It would be ironic if we accomplished that by getting so dependent on technology that we became permanently too stupid to form large-scale societies.

Finally there is this item, from “How to Drop Out: criticism and response.”  When I first read this I thought it was one of the most profound observations I had ever read about poverty.  The truth of it still remains completely intact.

People in the developing world are dying from lack of health care.

They’re dying from development. There were no starving people in Africa until the colonial powers came in and forced people out of their nature-based cultures to make them slaves in the extraction of “resources.” What these people need is to be permitted to live autonomously in balance with the Earth. Of course, it’s a little late now that the forests have been cut down and they’ve lost their indigenous cultures and skills. It now appears that the best way to help them is to make birth control easily available and culturally acceptable, and to remove the economic incentive for them to have kids, by teaching them more efficient ways to grow food and guaranteeing they will be cared for in their old age.

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