The tragedy of the oil and gas spewing into the Gulf for more than a month now is something that sits heavily on my mind and is another sign of all that is wrong with the world. BP, the company that has been British Petroleum, has said this will be the largest oil spill response in history and it does seem that they are doing quite a bit. I do applaud their efforts to address this crisis compared to not addressing it at all. However, it is a reminder to me of all the reasons why life is so often hellish and why it is almost impossible for me to have any hope in the world in which I live. All the difficulties that are involved in Louisiana’s managing wildlife refuges, large scale fishing and a major oil industry in a difficult situation are part of the worldwide centuries long mega trend of stupidity and evil in a committed making of deserts and despair which traps people into vile cities and horrible jobs in near deserts that is what some people call civilization. China is not perfect in any of its policies but the fact that it employs half its people as farmers is seen as an aberration or a weakness by most Westerners. While I would like to see things get better for these people among whom I lived I actually admire and respect their deep tie to agriculture. I look at the manors of medieval Europe with complex covenants, hedgerows,small plots, commons and Lord’s fields as well as a set of rules about shared infrastructure as a magnificent achievement. The enclosure and industrialization did some good but also very much evil in the world. There is a meaning of the word Arcadian that means ” a paradise of natural resource management”. In other words for me there is no good side or upside to disabling fisheries and tourism and nature reserves and pressuring more people into the petrochemical economy here. Indeed I do not want to see the oil industry decline, not at all. But if I have to or had to choose then the oil & gas would give way to the wetlands management interests. Only really confronting the world forces that are destroying us in a sane way will work. I am afraid that I am not optimistic about any of the right things happening.
This is a very bad time for me. I was one of a small minority of Americans who wanted a federal system to be our project in rebuilding Iraq and felt that the minute we accepted a nonfederal solution to their broken state we were closing off the best options and increasing the chances of the worst options and also that ending any real chance we would have an ally who would support our best national self. Among the small minority who were committed to the federal model of Iraqi redevelopment I was among the few among this minority who favored a state or province for the Marsh Arabs. Basically, I favored a bicameral legislature with the lower house based on population and the upper house representing states or provinces. Those would have been Iraqi Kurdistan, a Sunni Arab Majority Province in the triangle, an approximately equal Sunni and Shiite population Province, the special capital city province of Baghdad, a Perseo-Arab Shiite majority province and an Arab Shiite majority province as well as a Marsh Arab province. More or less all media and political figures started off with a dismissing of the possibility of a Marsh Arab state. It was a sort of unanimous presumption. In the Philippines I was a very weak and insignificant force in trying to get the landed gentry, tribal peoples and Federation of Free Farmers as well as fishermen to see and discuss their common interests in an environment that was both preserved and exploited. In other words, managed with wisdom. In Mexico, I struggled to help garlic farmers and goat herds interact more effectively with the world economy. None of these efforts were huge nor entirely unsuccessful but they were all failures as far as my own efforts were concerned.
I have long been involved in the struggles here related to all of the things involved in this crisis. However, I am in many ways a remarkably unsuccessful person. I do not know what the final lessons of this crisis will be but I do know that they are lessons we desperately need to learn well and are not likely to learn well. I alos believe that while people here are among the most conscientious and hard-working people in the world they are the kinds of people who can be driven to do desperate things if placed in desperate situations. The creation of a large class of desperadoes who are skilled and look like almost every population on Earth and who are skilled in the use of arms with honor is not something to be dismissed lightly. We must hope that things will get better and not become entirely desperate.