Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Tragic Yet Still Optimistic View of Life

I have what is called "the tragic view of life." Thomas Sowell wrote a book about it, called A Conflict of Visions. The "conflict" is with the liberal view of life (which he mocked as "the vision of the Anointed"), which considers people perfectible. If often means slaughtering them by the millions to get rid of the "imperfectables."

I don't consider the tragic view especially "tragic," just realistic (which is how Sowell and, for that matter, the ancient Greeks, saw it). It's the belief people are imperfect, flawed and limited and in many ways not too smart (especially in groups, when they're downright idiots). They're envious and ungrateful and blame their problems on other people. They're prone to theft and war and murder and disease - the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

More than anything else, it's the belief there are rarely solutions, but instead are trade-offs. Liberals want solutions and believe they exist, which is why they delude themselves with absurd nonsense such as "microaggressions."

Take vaccinations. There will always be a very small number of kids who have adverse reactions, including death. But you have to compare to the number of kids who'd otherwise die from tetanus or diphtheria.

A former girlfriend told me she never met her father's sister, since she died at age two from tetanus - running around barefoot, apparently. How many kids die from tetanus now? In the West, none.

I've mentioned the "Little House on the Prairie" books. Laura Ingalls Wilder had both diphtheria and malaria as a little girl. Her first child, Rose Wilder Lane, survived. All her other children died. The first boy, the one born after Rose, died in infancy from some sort of seizure. He probably wasn't even a month old.

Diphtheria? Malaria? Rabies? All gone, at least in the West.

When I was five years old the little boy upstairs died from leukemia. He, too, was five. Today, I've known kids who were cured of it.

I once took a girlfriend to a graveyard to find my grandparents' grave. One section of the graveyard was set aside for children. All of them died in the polio epidemic of the '50s. Some of the boys' markers (concrete) had marbles embedded in them, along with a picture of them. Polio? Not anymore.

I know an older woman who told me she had polio in the '50s and lay on her back "for seven years." She always had to use crutches to walk for the rest of her life, until she couldn't walk anymore and ended up in a wheelchair. That problem doesn't exist anymore.

Yet, I'm still optimistic. Not in the sense of people becoming more moral (everything we need to know about morality was written down thousands of years ago).

But materially, in terms of science and technology - then yes, I'm optimistic.

Materially, we are incredibly rich - and getting richer.

Science is advancing by leaps and bounds. "Peak oil?" I'm not worried. Sickness and disease? There's less and less every day. And gene editing is coming very soon. People will be smarter and "bad genes" will be culled.

I have a cousin who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Stage 3. One treatment of a new experimental drug wiped it out. Someday, cancer will gone, too.

Will all of this make us happier? No, it won't. But it'll mean a lot less pain and early death.

Being out of pain and not dying early is a wonderful thing.

Unfortunately no matter what material advances we make, for the mass or people it will never be enough. They'll want more and more. No matter what they get, they'll whine and whine and whine.

If one disease is cured, they'll want the cure for free (which means other people will have to pay for it, since There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch). That's the trade-off - the Law of Unintended Consequences. The problem is trying to figure what those trade-off are.

It'd be great if we could get rid of the Four Horsemen. That's going to be the really hard one, since it may not be possible

Personally I hope for the best and expect the worst. Optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, you could say.


kurt9 said...

You should read Al Fin's blog:

It has the right balance of pessimism and optimism and is of a very "Heinleinian" flavor of conservatism (the only flavor I identify with).

Speaking of Robert Heinlein, I consider him to be the appropriate standard bearer of Western intellectual thought as opposed to C.S. Lewis. I read both stuff and like Heinlein's world-view far better.

Heinlein speaks to the free, competent individual. C.S. Lewis does not.

Bob Wallace said...

I added it to my blogroll over there on the right a few days ago.

Anonymous said...

Always be optimistic, no matter what. The young appear to have bad today though:

Aged 34, graduated 3 times, unemployed, still a virgin, trapped in my parents' house:

Mindstorm said...

Life is too short to become a 'jack of all trades' that Heinlein would like men to become. It's possible to be a polymath in several fields an have passable familiarity with several more, but that's all.

Mindstorm said...

...and have...

Collen said...

"a jack of all trades... and a master of none" That's how a con artist is born.

Anonymous said...

There is definitely cause for optimism even in the short-term despite the economic and social shocks on the way. For example the rise of cryptocurrencies and Vasalgel. Both in part will be both the cause and solution to the aforementioned crises I think.

Mindstorm said... - Bob, what is your opinion of this post? The best possible alternative to Patriarchy(tm) as the explanation why women as a group would never surpass men only by themselves, without men being handicapped from the start.

ray said...

I was a kid in the Fifties. Modern folk cannot comprehend the relief of parents when the polio vaccine became available.

The prog/leftist/new age vision is that, as you write, people are perfectible -- 'we' just need the right people in power, and the right groups running things, according to the Improved Systems (feminism, ID politics, etc.) and THEN most of humanity's problems will be solved. We are progressing and moving in the right direction. We are on the 'right side of history'. As the 'president' constantly bleats.

Of course this is all vanity and cynical lies. Technology, in some areas, improves . . . but anyone who thinks human nature and group-politics is 'improved' over the past half-century is ignorant, or a liar. American culture, and daily life, is an absolute horror-show compared to the Fifties. People, individually and collectively, are de-evolving with obvious alacrity and gusto. I go out in public nowadays and feel like some demonic, poisoned society has been substituted for the reasonably healthy (if flawed) nation of the Fifties and early Sixties.

The Biblical world-view is that ALL of us are flawed, with many problems and sins and faults. Exactly the opposite of the Modern Scam, the Bible asserts that only God can fundamentally improve/fix us. WE can never solve our own issues, much less 'fix the world'. And the past fifty years of madness has proven this out, with America as test-case for the 'wisdom' and sovereignty of The Almighty People. Deluded into imagining they are actually in charge.

Bob Wallace said...

"Modern folk cannot comprehend the relief of parents when the polio vaccine became available."

I had no idea that section of the graveyard existed. I wandered it with my girlfriend and realized the date on nearly every grave was during the polio epidemic of the '50s.

Mindstorm said...

Ray. wasn't the polio vaccine an example of fixing something that needed fixing? Or would you prefer to leave the matter to God's will?

ray said...

Even the smallish towns, like ours, had a kid or two in wheelchairs from polio. I may be mis-remembering this Bob, but I think I got a shot earlier, and then in a subsequent year they gave us a 'sugar cube' vaccine administration.

I recall for sure that my parents were scared, tho, and made an (unusually) big deal out of lining up at the elementary school for our sugar cubes. Partly they were worried about my brother and I, of course, but partly they were hurt by the devastation of the disease on other kids. I praise God for this improvement in our generation.

ray said...

"Or would you prefer to leave the matter to God's will?"

I prefer to ignore smartass, leading questions from the Ignoscenti. Buzz off.

Mindstorm said...

Hahaha. If you don't have anything better to say, then 'buzz off' it is. It seems you don't know how to find your way out of a wet paper bag, let alone a leading question.

One Fat Oz Guy said...

For the reasons you mention I believe we won't see interstellar travel (or interdimensional if you believe in it).
The value of everything on Earth would plummet if we found Earth2. Why pay $500k for a house on Earth1 when you can have one on Earth2 for cheap?
Ever wonder why our space exploration has stalled for the last 40 years?
It's not because there's nothing of value up there, it's because it IS valuable and would devalue what's down here.
If we found a planet covered in diamonds, the price of diamonds plummets. Likewise with every other material.