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Confronting Comfort 12 March 2008

Posted by mecca in ABUSHARIF, By Author, Culture.
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At a certain level, I think that the kind of reform “we” need, whether it involves matters like the environment or political and social patterns of thought, requires the kind of courage to confront not fear but what makes us comfortable and satisfied and all the paradigms that we have inhaled without inspection. Christopher Lasch says it light and right:

How does it happen that serious people continue to believe in progress, in the face of massive evidence that might have been expected to refute the idea of progress once in for all? The attempt to explain this anomaly–the persistence of a belief in progress in a century full of calamities–led me back to the eighteenth century, when the founders of modern liberalism began to argue that human wants, being insatiable, required an indefinite expansion of the productive forces necessary to satisfy them. Insatiable desire, formerly condemned as a source of frustration, unhappiness, and spiritual instability, came to be seen as a powerful stimulus to economic development. Adam Smith argued that … civilized men and women needed more than savages to make them comfortable, and that a continual redefinition of their standards of comfort and convenience led to improvements in production and a general increase of wealth. There was no foreseeable end to the transformation of luxuries into necessities.

The problem with things like “fixing the environment” and the ridiculous notion (a manufactured commodity to keep us busy and to change the subject) of “religious reform” is that it does not touch (in fact, it deliberately untouches) the subdermal altering of assumptions, like the myth of material progress as a sign of human progress. (Lasch’s quote is taken from his preface to: The True and Only Heaven.)