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John Kenneth Galbraith wrote in his book The Age of Uncertainty:
In 1774, Turgot became Comptroller-General of France, and his task was to curb the extravagance of the French court and thus to reduce the burden on the “produit net”.
He failed.  A firm rule operated against him.  People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.  Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason.  But the privileged feel also that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right.  The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich.  So it was in the Ancien Regime.  When reform from the top became impossible, revolution from the bottom became inevitable.

The emphasis is mine – I love his expression of our human problem.

Are you willing to give up any of your fine life to ensure the lives of the other and future inhabitants of the planet, including your children?  Are you even willing to review your own behavior from the point of view of an unsympathetic alien to try to imagine what the privileges you enjoy are?  That is our challenge: how do we see and roll back our craziness in the face of our own intransigence?


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  1. By What is sensible consuming? « nettleburn on 15 Aug 2011 at 11:41 pm

    […] I blame?  Us all, of course!  Will we mend our ways before falling off the edge of the world?  See below. Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed Green Laptops: Going […]

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