Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Progress and Pseudoprogress

What changes to what elements of society would qualify as evidence of ‘progress?’  We sort of assume society is making ‘progress,’ but we seldom check to see what is actually happening, or ask if what is happening is really motion toward a desirable, and necessarily sustainable, goal.  So let’s look at some trends, and decide whether they are indicative of ‘progress.’
Let’s start with some of the good ones. 

For instance:  Is increasing inequality a sign of ‘progress?’  One could argue that it is a (necessary) price for progress, one that fortunately doesn’t have to be paid by the wealthier beneficiaries of progress.  But do those who do have to pay this price benefit from ‘progress’ at all?  Or is other people’s progress bought with their decline? 

The environment is mostly more polluted.

More people, greater stress on limited resources.

More forests cut down.

Fewer wild animals.

More fisheries depleted or facing depletion.

Soil depletion.

Increased depletion of ground water.

Warmer more acidic oceans.

(US).  Fewer factories  More office space

 Fuel efficiency

But use more energy

Increasing reliance on distant sources of oil minerals which must be extracted at increasing cost.   including mineral fertilizers.
Increased incarceration.

Increased polarization of society

Increased concentration of ownership of the means of production
  Increased concentration of ownership of media.

Increased concentration of ownership of whisky production

Increased debt burdens of government and non-wealthy

More people:

More land planted

Increased spending on military.

Increased threats from terrorism

Lots more ‘data’

More money

(US)More guns in private hands.

(US) Increased costs of health services

(US) Increased costs of higher education.

(US) Increased trade deficit
(click on the little ‘MAX’ button)

Reduced spending on infrastructure.

More and more expensive technology for non-poor  especially the very rich

The Internet.

(US ) Bigger houses.  More mega mansions.

(US) More homeless.  Increased poverty.

More useless anti-biotics

The rise of neo-liberalism

(US) More militarized police force

More corrupt politics  Serving narrow constituency, vs, the people.  

Increased concern with the self. Vs public.

Increasing privatization of the commons.

More mega yachts

I'll get around to filling in most of the other references. (Or you could.)  And perhaps some other indicators. (Or you could.) I apologize that some data are merely indicative.   But I wanted to get the next post out.

Thank you.

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