The trouble with hedonism is that it is a little bit more-ish. Once pleasure becomes the norm, then only additional pleasure will do. After a while, the pleasure-seeking becomes self-destructive. The pleasure-seeker is either oblivious to his creeping doom, or does not care.
The way of avoiding self-destructive pleasures is to practice social conservatism. Instead of seeking the company of the Hellfire Club, or visiting Gin Lane, personal fulfilment can be achieved by living a normal ordered life. Pleasure can be found in observing the beauty of the world, and also through self-improvement, a hobby, or personal achievement. While not intense, it can be more fulfilling then constant bingeing on substances or experiences.
Abstinence is open to ridicule. However, such behaviour will always succeed in avoiding personal disaster. Unfortunately, abstinence is not an attractive choice compared to hedonism. The public will always be more interested in the drunk rock star who drives his Rolls-Royce into a swimming pool than they will be in the sober musician who keeps his Volvo below the speed limit.
Sexually transmitted diseases are arguably the most successful infections in history. They are spread through the outcomes of human desire. This means that such pathogens do not have to be very hardy, as they will be given numerous opportunities to propagate. Part of the success of the human race is due to our non-stop breeding season, which means we breed non-stop. And also infect each other while doing it.
It was not abstinence that stopped the spread of syphilis in its tracks. Condoms or the threat of ostracism or punishment may have slowed it down. It was, however, the mechanical solution of antibiotics that killed off this scourge. Similarly, the invention of the Pill, plus the legalisation of abortion, removed the social issues surrounding unwanted pregnancy. It was technological progress that unleashed the sexual revolution when the fear of the consequences of unrestrained breeding behaviour was removed.
The scourge of HIV has been mitigated not through changing sexual practices, but the development of pharmaceuticals. Britain’s first openly gay Member of Parliament, Chris Smith, has HIV. This is not stopped him from filling senior roles since he left the Commons. Pharmaceuticals keep him alive and productive.
And yet, despite the superiority of technology over abstinence to solve human problems, abstinence was seen as the best solution to the reported phenomenon of global warming. It is widely believed that it is possible to substitute so called “sustainable” energy generation technologies for those that are accused by some experts of damaging the planet. This is not true.
There are hundreds of millions of people in India who have no access to a mains water supply. To make sure that people in India and elsewhere can use a flush toilet in their own home instead of having to venture into fields to do their business twice a day, or to be able to use a washing machine, will require a massive industrial effort. It is folly to suggest that this will be completed using “sustainable” energy technologies. It is insulting, if not racist, to state that the supposed needs of the planet dictate that India’s millions will have to do without the fruits of civilisation we all take for granted.
Global warming has become a kind of religion. The rhetoric of the Green Party is little different from the words of worship to an Earth Goddess. And this is the problem that modern politicians face. This belief-system in an offended and vengeful Earth Goddess has been fully absorbed by a superstitious population, irrespective of the actual facts.
It is in the clear self-interest of numerous politicians and state-funded scientists to support the concept of global warming as this chimes in with the beliefs of the average voter and taxpayer. And yet, the measures to deal with this reported phenomenon go against the normal human response to nature’s fury. While it is reasonable to harness technology to reduce energy consumption, it is equally reasonable to develop technological solutions to natural phenomena that threaten mankind. Abstinence may seem virtuous, but not when it damages human development.
Donald Trump has been widely criticised for his withdrawal from the Paris Accords. He is actually making good on a campaign promise. That is how democracy works. People voted Donald Trump into the White House. However, this has not stopped the United States of America from addressing the underlying issue. It just means that America will not harm its own economy while doing so. Donald Trump has not doomed the planet to extinction. America is the most technologically advanced country on the planet. The only men to have walked on another world have been Americans. While some people seem to have faith in an Earth Goddess, it would make more sense to have faith in the inventiveness and positive attitude of the United States of America and its President.
Technological progress will always solve more problems than it creates. We are a species whose success is based on harnessing nature, not surrendering to it. If too many people stop believing that and instead believe in an angry Earth Goddess, humanity is doomed.
(Image: Mark Dixon)