Disaster Calculus

Good deeds are unpredictable because they are not natural; they don’t arise spontaneously, people commit them impulsively. Evil, on the other hand, acts naturally -- we never wonder about evil; we are only surprised if it is not realized. — Read more from NOTES FROM DISGRACELAND and follow on Twitter 21. XI 2021 It is only the occasional experience of the extreme that exposes the temperate human region where we can cultivate what we are competent to do. (Peter Sloterdijk) There is a co

Get the best daily market and macroeconomic commentary anywhere for less than $7 per month.

Subscribe today

Already have an account? log in

Speak your mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 thoughts on “Disaster Calculus

  1. As Frederick Douglass said, “Taught by events.”

    Certainly, there would have been no Ike. Personally, I doubt there would have been a President Kennedy either, no matter how intensely Joe Kennedy desired.

    Everyday I try to find evidence that we aren’t hell bent on learning the lesson of our destruction.

  2. I grew up in a society in the global South where the spectre of violence and civil war was always in the back of everyone’s minds. We had the added advantage of having a lot of European immigrants who understood very clearly the costs of spiralling into unmitigated social and political dysfunction. After I’d been living in the United states for awhile, I said in the comment section of some liberal website that one of the best things that could ever happen to the United states would be an outbreak of actual shooting conflict, either via invasion or civil war. My point was that things were getting so bad in the US, and US warmongering becoming so egregious, that only the experience of the consequences of socio-political dysfunction we’re likely to change things. Needless to say, I was trashed mercilessly by the Clintonites on the thread. How dare I suggest that anything was wrong with the glorious United States? Or at least anything that couldn’t be fixed by electing Hillary?

    I still think uncontrollable conflict that actually hurts ordinary people are the only thing that will ever convince many Americans of what is required for them to live in the real world.

  3. Not sure anyone will see this comment at this point, but this essay feels very pertinent right now as we head into the holiday season right as a new Covid variant is likely to explode. Let’s hope the Omicron variant turns out to be mild, but this feels like the moment where Three Mile Island was on the verge of catastrophe.

    1. had the same thought. if two years ago, we KNEW that 1million americans would die over a 2.5 year period, action to prevent it would have been taken. but instead, weve actually seen how callous americans are towards health/safety/life in general. the US didnt even lose that many people over 4 years in ww2.
      the takeaway is that with covid, we have not learned anything…maybe even have gone backwards, having given rise to the acceptance that all things are political. poor reading skills, poor math skills and now the embrace of anti-science/ anti-intellectualism/ anti education even, has now set us up to walk right into the next crisis be it health or economic and do nothing while we debate whether or not the crisis exists (despite the deaths/sickness).

      ive never known anyone who died from the flu. one neighbor and one neighbor’s father died from covid. in ww2 how many people had that similar experience? today its worse, but 0 collective anguish.

  4. IDK. Whatever this “universal flash of insight” may impart on whatever subset of Humanity that survives the ignition point of one of these ‘flashes’ (I was taught in elementary school how to die more slowly by hinding under a desk while preserving my eyesight … so I could appreciate the horror of seeing the incinerated bodies of my parents perhaps?) it doesn’t imprint beyond maybe two or three generations. Rarely illuminates beyond one. If ‘lessons learned’ can be incorporated into a ‘system’, then maybe the beneficial effects can perpetuate for a milieu or an era or two under stagnate conditions. In any case, after the first generation all that remains is the shadow of a once living truth burned onto a crumbling wall. So, what ensuing generations will make of it is never for certain. The longer the generational game of telephone is played the more the lessons learned randomly wander off the mark. Few cultures or generations produce a master of stickiness for their ‘lessons learned’ the likes of an Aesop. One of the major drawbacks, ultimately fatal perhaps, of specialization.

    IDK. For me, when I’m feeling predisposed to be agreeable, I’d say sure the Thirty (pick a number) Years War did apparently have a profound impact upon subsequent generations and States of Organization. When all is said and done, long after anyone reading this has faded into wind borne motes, I’d wager the Thirty Years War will have had a longer lasting impact than WWII on Humanity’s struggles to survive it’s impulses and technologies.

    Still going to take a look at the author though if I can.

NEWSROOM crewneck & prints