Tuesday, July 26, 2011

#ChrisHedges: The good, the bad, the ugly

All three attributes of much of Hedges' recent writing are encapsulated in his Truthout post about the Norway terror attacks, entitled, "Fundamentalism Kills."

The "good"? Yes, fundamentalism kills.

The "bad"? Claiming that most scientists practice "scientism."

The really, really "ugly"? A short sidebar screed against urbanization.

On the "bad," as in his anti-atheism book, Hedges simply fails to distinguish between a few scientists, or a few skeptics on the edge of science, just as he failed to distinguish between a few "Gnu Atheists" and the great many.
The caricature and fear are spread as diligently by the Christian right as they are by atheists such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Our religious and secular fundamentalists all peddle the same racist filth and intolerance that infected Breivik.
Those two don't totally represent all Gnu Atheists, let alone all atheists in general.

Beyond that? Science isn't a second fundamentalism. "Scientism" may be, but science isn't. Ditto that "Gnu Atheism" may be a fundamentalism, but atheism in general isn't.

That said, the "bad" doesn't come out of nowhere. When a third "Gnu," P.Z. Myers, claims Hitch and Harris aren't conservatives, he refuses to face that Gnu Atheism has a messaging problem, fails to admit that this affects all atheism, and propagates both of those problems.

So, while Hedges is (once again) guilty of shoddy, shoddy thinking, I can understand his passion.

Beyond that, though, the bad leads into the ugly.

Here's Hedges on urbanism:
The Industrial Age has provided feats of engineering and technology, yet it has also destroyed community, spread the plague of urbanization, uprooted us all, turned human beings into cogs and made possible the total war and wholesale industrial killing that has marked the last century.
The problem of the evil side of urbanization, whether overstated or not, is mankind, not 'urbanization."

Otherwise, the invention of agriculture "uprooted' us from nomadism. And it turned humans into cogs more than 10,000 years ago.

It's also the only way the planet supports more than a few hundred million people, not more than 6 billion.

And that's why people like Hedges are more than a touch hypocritical. Does Hedges want to take a raft, kayak or Kon-Tiki to all his war journalism reporting? And, does he want to stop writing on the Internet? Stop taking his prescription medications, etc..

And, if we need to reduce world population by 90 percent as part of getting rid of "urbanization," is he volunteering to be part of that 90 percent?

Even if we concentrate on the last 100 years, urbanization has brought economies of scale, a flowering of the arts, etc. if Hedges doesn't like 'urbanization," he can move to North Dakota of his own free will. If he doesn't like that, he can join the "90 percent" that need to leave this planet.

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