Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Final Solution: Disaster and Evolution

Do calamities bring about cultural change? Jared Diamond’s Collapse dealt with the legacy of upheaval and Stephen J. Gould’s concept of “punctuated equilibrium” points to exogenous factors in evolution. Certainly, the Ice Age resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs, pterodactyls and other prehistoric creatures. The Black Death in the Middle Ages transformed European society. Perhaps there even was an Atlantis, a kingdom that lies buried under the seas. Global warming has already shrunken the polar caps, affecting water levels and, in some cases, totally eradicating coast lines. Venice recently was totally flooded; what compensations will occur to offset the eradication of ways of life? The current pandemic will have greater consequences than even 9/11 despite, Isis, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Obviously the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki leveled unprecedented destruction as did the bombing of Dresden, but the current pandemic is unique for being a truly equal opportunity employer. Within a relatively short space of time whole populations are adapting to radically changed regimens, based primarily on social distancing. The question is, will many of the accommodations made in the name of safety turn into viable lifestyles? Division of labor and economy of scale were two by-products of industrialization that radically transformed the nature of the worker’s relation to the products of his labor. Social distancing might be looked at as the end result of the industrial revolution, with the computer replacing the work place or work station and the communal human element reduced to little more than a relic of the past.

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