I got bounced this link which is to a grandiosely titled video called Science Saves the Future – which I duly watched with my tea and toast. Save yourself the trouble of wasting your time since it is a loosely cobbled together snippets from “experts” I had never heard of. I think the basic message could be distilled into never fear science is here – now buy these tech stocks.
Coincidentally I have been re-reading the The Fate of Empires by Sir john Glubb. Glubb was an interesting individual who served in the British Army in both World Wars and was commander of the Arab Legion up until 1956. Following his 41 years of military service he spent his retirement writing generally about his experiences in the Middle East. However, he took time out from this topic to write the Fate of Empires and Search for Survival. Fate of Empires looks at the ebb and flow of empires over the past 3000 years. Glubb postulates that the average age of an empire of about 250 years and that this period is broken down into six cycles.
- The Age of Pioneers
- The Age of Conquest
- The Age of Commerce
- The Age of Affluence
- The Age of Intellectualism
- The Age of Decadence
Glubb speaks at length about the inadequacy of intellect and the idea that the human brain can solve any problem. He writes –
Perhaps the most dangerous by-product of the Age of Intellect is the unconscious growth of the idea that the human brain can solve the problems of the world. Even on the low level of practical affairs this is patently untrue. Any small human activity, the local bowling club or the ladies’ luncheon club, requires for its survival a measure of self-sacriﬁce and service on the part of the members. In a wider national sphere, the survival of the nation depends basically on the loyalty and self-sacriﬁce of the citizens. The impression that the situation can be saved by mental cleverness, without unselﬁshness or human self-dedication, can only lead to collapse.
I am not a luddite by any stretch of the imagination – I love technology and I come from an academic background but Glubb makes a valid point that without sacrifice being a clever clogs amounts to nothing at all. Science cannot solve all our problems – it can present technical solutions but it takes will power and courage (theres that word again) to make something happen.
As a tangential point he also writes –
There does not appear to be any doubt that money is the agent which causes the decline of this strong, brave and self-conﬁdent people. The decline in courage, enterprise and a sense of duty is, however, gradual. The first direction in which wealth injures the nation is a moral one. Money replaces honour and adventure as the objective of the best young men. Moreover, men do not normally seek to make money for their country or their community, but for themselves. Gradually, and almost imperceptibly, the Age of Affluence silences the voice of duty.
As a trader or someone who produces nothing this struck a chord with me. Nothing irritates me more than various Ayn Rand sycophants rabbiting on about the individual and completely ignoring that we exist within a collective and it is our place to make the collective better for everyone. Being able to live like we do is a special thing and helping others makes it worthwhile.