The tragedy of our era, is that we live in a period in which there’s nothing left that needs to be built. We are men who were put upon this Earth, by people who were prosocial. The medieval era saw rates of violence decline, as the most violent men killed each other or ended up on the gallows.
The man who wants to destroy, who wants to depopulate the countryside, who wants to burn down villages, who wants to ship slaves back to Scandinavia, was removed from the gene pool. I don’t mourn this fact of life. But it left us with the prosocial man, who just wants to build new things.
And the sad reality, is that there isn’t really anything left that needs to be built. There are just many, many things out there, that need to be maintained, or that need to be managed in their gradual decline.
The priest doesn’t have to travel to new lands to convert the heathens who adhere to creeds no man had ever heard of. He needs to settle petty conflicts between elderly volunteers and decide which church he has to shut down.
The car manufacturer doesn’t need to come up with a new design. We already know the right designs, there’s a reason all cars look the same. You saw what happened with Musk’s mistake of coming up with a new design. The car manufacturer needs to come up with a material that bends slightly better so that pedestrian deaths per kilometer driven drop by 2%.
The reality, is that we live in an era in which there are no things left that need to be built, just many things that need to be destroyed. But nobody likes doing that. It’s not the nature of good prosocial people, to want to destroy things. Good people want to build things, or if they are highly conscientious and low in openness to experience, they want to maintain things.
As a young man I regularly visited my grandmother in the nursing home until she died. The place smelled like urine. There was a woman there who asked every ten minutes when her daughter would visit. They ended up drawing on the board the day her daughter would visit, but she just kept asking it regardless of course. There was also a deaf and blind man, just staring out in front of him. My grandmother once asked me to get her away from there, she didn’t know how she ended up there. Another time I found her wandering back and forth in the hallway at a hurried pace, insisting people were following her.
The honest truth of the matter of course, is that a place like that just needs to be destroyed. People end up there, because they’re both cruel enough to give up on trying to care for their parents, but also weak enough to let their misery fester somewhere where they don’t have to see it. So just cut through the rope. If you don’t want to take care of something, if you’re not willing to preserve something’s dignity, destroy it. You’re not robbing someone of a bright future.
This is true for other places too. In 2004, the Haitian president wanted the French government to start paying for the massive loans they were forced to pay off to France. So the French and American governments funded some rebel groups to overthrow their government. Since then the place has just continued to descend downhill, the people there are now stuck on an island with a massive wall separating them from a successful state, the Dominican republic.
You don’t want to cure the patient. But you don’t have the guts to euthanize him either. You just let the patient continue to suffer, in a place full of cholera and shanty towns without electricity that collapse in earthquakes and gangs that rape and murder freely. Why does a place like this exist? What purpose does it serve, to have eleven million people stuck in a prison like that?
People complain about Gaza being an open air prison, but in Gaza people made a choice: For generations they had 6 or 7 children per woman, they elected Hamas and dug up the pipes the EU paid for. Haiti in comparison, has five times as many people living on the island, but just doesn’t get jack shit. You could simply kill everyone there and allow the Dominican republic to take over the place. That would be more humane than what the world has chosen to do.
The same thing is ultimately true for the Gaza strip. Israel is armed to the teeth with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. That country isn’t going anywhere. All the neighbors are smart enough to quit picking fights with it. So what are the Gazans supposed to do? If the world had any empathy at all, they would have kicked them out years ago. But no country in the region is willing to assimilate them. Can you blame them for carrying out suicide missions? They want to die.
I could go a step further and I’m really sorry for being so morbid, but you can even just look at children with cancer, like ALL. The kids never grow to a normal adult height. Their capacity for exercise is impaired. They have cognitive problems. They’re at high risk of the thing returning. And if they have kids, their kids are at increased risk too.
How is this better? You could also look at it from an optimist’s perspective: The child gets to experience the first ten years of human life, which are the best years. They skip out on high school, they don’t have to grow up and sit at a desk all day and they don’t have to pee in their diaper in the nursing home.
Healthcare isn’t aimed at preserving our vitality. Nobody has any therapy for me that allows me to view the world the way a ten year old boy does. But if I ever were to develop a brain tumor, they would help me spend decades of my life as a deformed brain-damaged ghoul. How is that an improvement?
You never “save” someone’s life. It’s impossible to “save” someone’s life. If a bulldog ran towards a toddler and I picked up the kid and held him above my head until the bulldog bit my ankle and I dropped the kid and he proceeded to attack the kid, would anyone say I “saved” the child? No, I delayed what was going to happen. You always delay the inevitable.
Parents of children who died tend to be completely traumatized, the rest of their lives are a waste. But to a large degree, I think that is just a result of how we treat the death of a child. We tell the parents some vague superficialities about how the kid “is in heaven now”. But there’s one thing we don’t do.
We don’t give parents of dead children a high dose of mushrooms. We don’t let them see that we are all just one consciousness experiencing itself. We don’t let them see that the kid had a simple life spent playing and making friends and not worrying about unpaid bills or the size of her nose or her fertility window or her emerging memory problems. No, the kid played with LEGO and dolls, the kid ran around with the other kids, the kid climbed in trees and then the story suddenly ended.
There’s a reason Romeo and Juliet ends where it ends. There’s a reason Wuthering Heights doesn’t revolve around the happy lifelong marriage of a woman named Cathy and a man named Heathcliff. These stories end at the good point. They don’t show you the slow and steady decay, for a reason. Nobody really wants to experience the slow and steady decay, but you somehow just tend to end up stuck with it.
I’m serious, when I say that I wish parents would just understand this, including parents of teenagers who died of suicide or a drug overdose. If your kid died of suicide or a drug overdose, there wasn’t some bright very enjoyable future ahead for them, I’m sorry. That was never really in the cards.
You don’t see President Biden or Elon Musk come out and say “yeah I survived a suicide attempt at 15”. You see the girl in Kensington injecting tranq come out and say such a thing. And losing a child to suicide hurts, but you would otherwise have been hurt too, by having to see a child who never manages to thrive, who drifts directionless through life.
I think we just need to accept that the boom is over and now it’s time for the best. I think we need to accept that this whole steady state society we could have built was never really going to be a pleasant thing either, where the whole world needs to be convinced to maintain a sense of voluntary stasis that is just completely unlike what human beings tend to do.
Nobody plays a game of civilization where you keep everything the same. I grow bored of strategy games where my opponents are too powerful to defeat in war, I quit playing when I reach that point. Humans need change. Every era has a different atmosphere, because we figure out new things. In the 60’s we discover LSD, so new music and a new attitude towards life becomes popular. In the 80’s everyone gets synthesizers and the economy stagnates, so music again changes.
I don’t think the “we keep the fertility rate around 1.6 and we spend 20% of our GDP on drawing down carbon and don’t allow anyone to travel anywhere except in overcrowded trains” would really have worked. It’s probably just not compatible with human psychology. Not even the Swedish and the Finnish seem truly willing to sign up for this. It was probably always going to have to be boom-bust. So now it’s time for bust.