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comment by wasoxygen
wasoxygen  ·  3927 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Wendell Berry's post-Sept. 11 manifesto for environmentalists

Why is it that manifestos never cite their sources?

Some of these statements are amenable to fact-checking. Others are subject to common sense. Some are too vague to be clearly true or false, but if you replace the airy generalities with specific examples, they too resolve.

    III. The dominant politicians, corporate officers, and investors who believed this proposition did not acknowledge that the prosperity was limited to a tiny percent of the world’s people...

Fact to check: Only a tiny percent of the world's people are prospering. The United Nations says "The target of reducing extreme poverty rates by half was met five years ahead of the 2015 deadline." Bonus: "The hunger reduction target is within reach by 2015."

    VI. The paramount doctrine of the economic and technological euphoria of recent decades has been that everything depends on innovation. It was understood as desirable, and even necessary, that we should go on and on from one technological innovation to the next, which would cause the economy to “grow” and make everything better and better.

Sure. Landline vs. iPhone. Cassette vs. mp3. Pliers vs. Novocain. Thatched roof vs. shingles. Copper vs. fiber. Ideas that make life better do tend to become popular. A good manifesto should describe problems, not wrap status quo truisms in pretty language.

    This of course implied at every point a hatred of the past, of all things inherited and free.

Of course! We hate manual typewriters! Well, they're actually kind of cool and you can get them cheap if you care to. Horse-drawn carriages are rather inconvenient and messy too, but they do have a certain charm when you see them at tourist traps. Classic novels still have some die-hard readers, and they actually are free on Kindle. Bloodletting seems not to have maintained its fan base, however. Smallpox was inherited and free, and is indeed despised and past. Good riddance!

I like having a washing machine. Does it make me a hater if I prefer not to use a washboard like they did in the good ol' days?

    VII. ...We did not foresee that all our sequence of innovations might be at once overridden by a greater one: the invention of a new kind of war that would turn our previous innovations against us, discovering and exploiting the debits and the dangers that we had ignored.

Um, cyber war? The kind in which people don't get killed so much? Was the old kind of war much better? Did you hear that war is going out of style? Or is this about the national security apparatus? Instead of these poetic "debits and dangers" could you please state your meaning clearly?

    We never considered the possibility that we might be trapped in the webwork of communication and transport that was supposed to make us free.

In layman's words, spam and traffic suck.

    IX. We had accepted uncritically the belief that technology is only good; that it cannot serve evil as well as good; that it cannot serve our enemies as well as ourselves; that it cannot be used to destroy what is good, including our homelands and our lives.

Speak for yourself. I think it's long been recognized that double-edged swords are, well, you know.

    X. We had accepted, too...
See IX.

From here the tone turns more toward "should" than "is."

Am I being too pedantic, hoping to base my ideas and opinions about the world on actual facts that obtain in the world, rather than slogans? Indeed, "the substitution of rhetoric for thought, always a temptation ... must be resisted ..."