I don’t have much to say on this, but I did think it’s worth sharing.
When you have a society where your emergency rooms can’t deal with the number of children trying to kill themselves or overdosing on drugs, it’s a sign that your society is fundamentally broken. You’re not going to solve that by raising the marginal tax rate, or some other minor policy tweak.
The type of society we live in today is just fundamentally not compatible with human psychology. But that’s what people don’t want to hear. If we spent the past 10,000 years or so harvesting crops and firewood, occasionally sending the men out to hunt or fish in little boats on the ocean, interspersed with numerous religious festivals and the occasional war with neighboring tribes, then maybe that’s what we’re designed to do.
I don’t want to write a whole sperglord manifesto here about how we need to return to living as nomadic hunter-gatherers. You can just look at the 60’s and 70’s and you’ll notice young people back then were generally happier too. If you doubt that, consider that we didn’t have overcrowded emergency rooms full of depressed children back then. The children are not depressed because they suffer transphobia. They’re trans because they’re depressed.
We evolved in small mostly ethnically homogeneous rural communities. And that’s how we lived up until a few decades ago. That’s also the only way for us to have a future. Most of the world’s megacities will become uninhabitable due to the urban heat island effect. We will also need to have far more people working in agriculture. That will require the revival of rural communities.
You can maximize food production for different variables. In the Western world, we basically maximized calories per unit of labor. When using cows, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens to produce food, you get high yields, with little effort. This allows the people who own the means of production to earn a lot of money: They don’t need a lot of employees.
The first highland clearances in Scotland, where poor farmers were chased from their ancestral lands by their clan leaders, were to have cattle graze on the lands where they formerly grew their own crops. It was simply easier for Scottish elites to make money with animals, than to let the poor farm the land. People lost their lands and were thus driven into the cities.
The same process is happening around the world today. Economic structures force farmers to abandon their lands and move into big dense cities. Even our modern method of growing crops is profoundly wasteful. Consider this: We know that you increase the yield of crops like maize when you plant them beneath trees, especially when your cereal crops are at risk of heatwaves. You can then have the products of the trees, as well as the maize. So why don’t we do this? The answer is simple: Try driving a big combine harvester through a field of trees. That doesn’t work.
If children and teenagers became depressed and developed eating disorders because they’re picking apples off trees or digging in the dirt, you would wonder how our species got through the past 10,000 years. In reality, this is the sort of thing humans like to do. Most people want a stress-free, simple life, but it’s stigmatized. In Africa working the land is used as a punishment for children.
What’s prestigious is doing a PhD, what’s looked down upon is using your physical body for your job. We sit in chairs and then we spend a few hours every week compensating for it in the gym, focused on a single muscle group, carefully pre-loading and post-loading with supplements so that none of our effort is in vain.
And as I have sought to explain before, humans are just very easy to manipulate by making things prestigious. People spend their days studying some arcane subject matter that doesn’t interest a single soul who isn’t paid to care about it, because that’s what they’re taught success looks like.
The nice thing is that addressing the climate crisis requires the same solutions as addressing the suicidality crisis. You will need to reverse the “progress” of the past 200 years. People need to return to ethnically homogeneous rural communities, they need to return to working the land, they need to build their own houses by hand and they need to return to developing rich traditions and oral legends. Mysticism needs to drive a wooden stake through the heart of reason.