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Western laws are much more friendly to social mobility than in India or China

that's true, and one of the positive forces released by early industrialism, new money earned in the factories enabled the peasants to aspire to a middle class life, less tied down to land and season.

there was more social justice in the meritocracy of money than when monarchy and aristocracy were the only rule.

the problem came with pollution on the ground and in the skies and waters, and in the psychology of the last century, where the relative good of money was claimed as absolute, ala ayn rand.

here's an opinion you may enjoy, martin

The Archdruid Report

It's easy to turn scientism into the villain of this particular piece, but scientism is simply a recent example of the human habit of using successful technique to define the universe. Hunting and gathering peoples see the animals they hunt and the plants they gather as the building blocks of the cosmos; farming cultures see their world in terms of soil, seed, and the cycle of the year; the efforts of classical civilization to inhabit a wholly logical world, and those of modern industrial civilization to build a wholly scientific one, are simply two more examples. Nor was scientism always as maladaptive as it is today. During the heyday of the industrial age, it directed human effort toward what was, at that time, a successful human ecology. In retrospect, scientism's limitless faith in the power of human reason turned out to be a case study in what the ancient Greeks called hubris, the overweening pride of the doomed. At the time, though, this wasn't obvious at all, and there's a valid sense in which scientism has become problematic today simply because its time of usefulness is over.

Still, the cultures best suited to the deindustrial age will have to embrace an attitude toward nature differing sharply from scientism: an attitude that starts from humility rather than hubris, remembering that "humility" shares the same root as "humus," the soil on which we depend for the food that keeps us alive. That attitude offers few justifications for today's arrogant notions about humanity's place in nature. Still, just as Greek logic was pulled out of the rubble of the classical world and put to use in a string of successor civilizations, the scientific method is worth hauling out of the wreckage of the industrial age, and could function just as well in a culture of environmental humility as it does in today's culture of environmental hubris. My guess, for what it's worth, is that the environmental sciences offer the most likely meeting ground for such a project of rescue.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 19th, 2009 at 05:15:48 PM EST
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