Monday, April 15, 2013

First Mother Nature, Then the Human Race

Rather like the protagonist in H. G. Wells' story "The Man Who Could Work Miracles," homo economicus thought he was master of the universe. From his proud tower looking down on Wall Street, he even said so. When the literal tower of his domain was attacked, he survived. When he was hit with economic collapse, he was humble enough to ask for a bailout but not too humble to let go of that master-of-the-universe idea. He held to it even when it meant defying Mother Nature, and Mother Nature hit back with some awe-inspiring displays of what he then dismissed as "extreme weather."

What homo economicus had overlooked, however, was human nature itself. He regarded the human race as a mass of weak and insignificant animals. He forgot that even the weakest of animals has an attack instinct when there is no alternative. So it is that we are seeing that instinct come into play. Because homo economics is more interested in the profit to be gained through the weapons business, he overlooked the fact that those weapons might be used against him, if not directly than against his belief that the world surrounding him was basically a safe place. Warping the old Sixties mantra, those who no longer see being part of the solution as viable are coming up with any number of ways to make the problems worse. Will it be long before, like the sinner man of the old song, homo economicus will discover that shelter and safety can no longer be found?

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