More than enough is always too much.
If you eat too much, you might get sick in the short term and fat in the long run. If you drink too much alcohol, you’ll get drunk (although there seems to be a popular consensus that getting drunk is perfectly acceptable, as also getting high). If you smoke too much, you might get fatal diseases like lung cancer. If you consume too much sugar, you might get cavities. If you work too hard, you’ll probably hurt yourself one way or another. On the other hand, if you have too much leisure, you’ll get soft, weak and lazy. If you spend too much money, you’ll have financial difficulties. But if you make too much money, you’ll get rich… (?)
How much is too much? How high is too high? How fast is too fast? “You shall know the tree by its fruit”, someone (allegedly) once said. The nature of the cause is seen by its effects (although, truth be told, the effects can be positive for some and negative for others).
More technology becomes too much technology at the point when it replaces human ability rather than simply extending it. The problem is not people using more technology, or even depending on technology; it is people depending on technology so much that their own faculties are disused and thus become degenerate. A slightly exaggerated instance of this would be people using a calculator to figure out the sum of two plus two.
This applies to numbers of people too. (I happen to be in favor of the concept of Dunbar’s number, by the way.) More people must lead to more social complexity. More social complexity must lead to more social confusion – unless there is an adequate level of control. Therefore, too many people must lead to too much social complexity, and too much social complexity must lead to too much social confusion. We thus have a situation where there is so much social confusion that it becomes practically impossible to control it properly.
Too much social confusion invariably engenders a potential for disorder. But if there is a sufficient level of control (“law and order”), at least social disorder can be minimized. Yet at the same time, other types of disorder which are caused by social confusion – including psychological and behavioral disorders – are actually allowed to proliferate, accompanied by a steady worsening of existential well-being, not to mention a general decline in morality and ethical standards. All of this is certainly good business for the therapeutic, psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries. Of course, multiculturalism adds greatly to social complexity and tends to aggravate social confusion even more. Such is increasingly the situation in this modern world.
It is fairly evident that democracy becomes less and less effective as it is applied to greater and greater numbers of people. A full, direct democracy in which all of the voters can reach an agreement is perfectly impossible except on the most localized level (such as a small village). When greater numbers of people are involved in the democratic process, more and more partial versions of democracy must be applied, such as representative democracy and majority rule. When too many people are involved, the notion of a democracy must necessarily become something of a farce that must be sustained through propaganda. Too many people must necessarily mean that many people are essentially disregarded and effectively disadvantaged (and yet, they might still believe in democracy).
In my “A Political Diagram” article, I mentioned that a more advanced civilization requires the greater level of control which is typical of Fascist regimes in order to maintain itself. It should be clear enough to anyone with intelligence that a more advanced civilization must necessarily be at least somewhat authoritarian (even if covertly), if not fully totalitarian, lest it experience a slow but steady process of dissolution and decline. This is quite plainly obvious in the European Union, and is becoming increasingly obvious in the United States and other Western countries such as Canada and Australia.
Sometime in the past year, I read Why Civilizations Self-Destruct by Elmer Pendell. Mr. Pendell demonstrates quite nicely how the development of an advanced civilization always produces the conditions that favor the proliferation of all of the more inferior types of people. This obviously is to the detriment of the more superior types of people who actually created the advanced civilization. Without adequate means of preventing the proliferation of inferior types and of ensuring the maintenance of the superior population, an advanced civilization must necessarily end up being destroyed by the very conditions that it has produced.
I am not an extremist. I avoid being too much on the right as well as being too much on the left. I believe going too far forward is just as detrimental as going backward, and rising too far upwards is just as dangerous as falling downwards. If I had to choose a favorite I Ching hexagram, it would be number 61; to me, this hexagram suggests the idea of remaining grounded in a properly centered position.
I believe that a moderate course of action is best under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, it seems to me that we are well beyond normal circumstances.
I have to admit that I am not entirely opposed to the rationale behind the book Ecoscience (written by John Holdren and Paul & Anne Ehrlich and published in 1977). Such extremist views were clearly prompted by the problems of excessive population levels. Of course, the institution of a global totalitarian regime is also advocated, but as I’ve indicated, this tends to be a logical necessity in a more advanced civilization.
At the same time, I have to agree with Varg Vikernes who consistently advocates a simpler way of life. It seems to me that a more complex way of life can never be without chronic serious problems, which obviously means that a way of life that has become too complex will be plagued constantly with insuperable problems. Do all of the superficial and superfluous benefits that we enjoy in our modern world really outweigh the many existential ills, errors and wrongs that we all experience on a regular basis?
Some years ago, I wrote an essay called “Modern Civilization is a Disease”; I haven’t posted that one on this blog. In this essay, I characterized modern civilization as a plague and a cancer. I also indicated that cities are the “points of infection” of the disease of modern civilization. Within the context of an advanced civilization, cities are essentially concentrations of excess population. As they grow, they become more and more complex, therefore creating the potential for more and more confusion and disorder. Nowhere are the excesses and extremes of modern civilization found except in those concentrations of excess population called cities. (It is interesting to note that the name of Judas Iscariot derives from the Hebrew Yəhudah Ish-Qəriyoth which literally means “Judah Man-of-Cities”, by which one may understand “Jew Man-of-Cities”.)
One of my earlier posts on this blog was called “The Four Ages”. In this post, I described four successive stages of development from primitive tribal barbarism to the eventual demise of an advanced civilization like our modern one. I suggested that the First Age was the maturing and developing stage, the Second Age was the ideal, mature and moderate stage, the Third Age was characterized by excess and overextension, and the Fourth Age was characterized by the destructive, revolting reaction to the excesses and overextension of the Third Age. I’d say that we are somewhere around the end of a Third Age and the beginning of a Fourth Age, perhaps in a transition between the two.
We get the word “hubris” from Ancient Greek. This word properly denotes excessive or arrogant pride (but not good, honest moderate pride). This modern civilization has been in most respects the very manifestation of hubris. It’s no surprise that powerful forces have risen up against modern civilization from within it, and that these forces are committed to nothing less than the destruction of modern civilization (even if unwittingly).
The wax on your wings is melting, Icarus. Some of the feathers are already becoming detached. I hope your successors will learn from your big mistake (if they survive).