Ronald Wright Quotes
“Civilization is an experiment, a very recent way of life in the human career, and it has a habit of walking into what I am calling progress traps. A small village on good land beside a river is a good idea; but when the village grows into a city and paves over the good land, it becomes a bad idea. While prevention might have been easy, a cure may be impossible: a city isn't easily moved. This human inability to foresee -- or to watch out for -- long-range consequences may be inherent to our kind, shaped by the millions of years when we lived from hand to mouth by hunting and gathering. It may also be little more than a mix of inertia, greed, and foolishness encouraged by the shape of the social pyramid. The concentration of power at the top of large-scale societies gives the elite a vested interest in the status quo; they continue to prosper in darkening times long after the environment and general populace begin to suffer. (109)”
“Capitalism lures us onward like the mechanical hare before the greyhounds,
insisting that the economy is infinite and sharing therefore irrelevant. Just enough greyhounds catch a
real hare now and then to keep the others running till they drop. In the past it was only the poor who
lost this game; now it is the planet.”
“Even today, some opt for the comforts of mystification, preferring to believe that the wonders of the ancient world were built by Atlanteans, gods, or space travelers, instead of by thousands toiling in the sun. Such thinking robs our forerunners of their due, and us of their experience. Because then one can believe whatever one likes about the past - without having to confront the bones, potsherds, and inscriptions which tell us that people all over the world, time and again, have made similar advances and mistakes.”
“Our practical faith in progress has ramified and hardened into an ideology -- a secular religion which, like the religions that progress has challenged, is blind to certain flaws in its credentials. Progress, therefore, has become 'myth' in the anthropological sense. By this I do not mean a belief that is flimsy or untrue. Successful myths are powerful and often partly true. […] The myth of progress has sometimes served us well -- those of us seated at the best tables, anyway -- and may continue to do so. […] Progress has an internal logic that can lead beyond reason to catastrophe. (4-5)”
“Though we became experimental creatures of our own devising, it’s important to bear in mind that we had no inkling of this process, let alone its consequences, until only the last six or seven of our 100,000 generations. We have done it all sleepwalking. Nature let a few apes into the lab of evolution, switched on the lights, and left us there to mess about with an ever-growing supply of ingredients and processes.
The effect on us and the world has accumulated ever since. Let’s list a few steps between the earliest times and this: sharp stones, animal skins, useful bits of bone and wood, wild fire, tame fire, seeds for eating, seeds for planting, houses, villages, pottery, cities, metals, wheels, explosives.
What strikes one most forcefully is the acceleration, the runaway progression of change - or to put it another way, the collapsing of time. From the first chipped stone to the first smelted iron took nearly 3 million years; from the first iron to the hydrogen bomb took only 3,000.”
“Our main difference from chimps and gorillas is that over the last 3 million years or so, we have been shaped less and less by nature, and more and more by culture. We have become experimental creatures of our own making. This experiment has never been tried before. And we, its unwitting authors, have never controlled it. The experiment is now moving very quickly and on a colossal scale. Since the early 1900s, the world’s population has multiplied by four and its economy — a rough measure of the human load on nature — by more than forty. We have reached a stage where we must bring the experiment under rational control, and guard against present and potential dangers. It’s entirely up to us. If we fail — if we blow up or degrade the biosphere so it can no longer sustain us — nature will merely shrug and conclude that letting apes run the laboratory was fun for a while but in the end a bad idea.”
“The islanders, they write: carried out for us the experiment of permitting unrestricted population growth, profligate use of resources, destruction of the environment and boundless confidence in their religion to take care of the future. The result was an ecological disaster leading to a population crash…. Do we have to repeat the experiment on [a] grand scale?… Is the human personality always the same as that of the person who felled the last tree?”
“The perfection of hunting spelled the end of hunting as a way of life. Easy meat meant more babies. More babies meant more hunters. More hunters, sooner or later, meant less game. Most of the great human migrations across the world at this time must have been driven by want, as we bankrupted the land with our moveable feasts.”
“Marx, kapitalizmi, neredeyse hayranlıkla, “sınırları yıkan bir makine” olarak tanımlarken kuşkusuz haklıydı. Komünizm ve kapitalizm, iki farklı yeryüzü cenneti vaadinde bulunan materyalist ütopyalardır. Pratikte, komünizmin doğal çevrede gerçekleşmesi kolay değildir. Ama en azından malların paylaşımını önermektedir. Kapitalizm ise, ekonominin sonsuz olduğunu ve bu yüzden paylaşmanın gereksiz olduğunu iddia ederek bizi, mekanik yaban tavşanların ardından koşan birer tazı gibi, daima ileriye doğru yönlendirmektedir. Yalnızca belli sayıda tazı gerçek bir tavşan yakalayabilir, geri kalanlarsa düşene kadar koşmaya devam eder. Geçmişte oyunu kaybedenler yalnızca yoksul olanlardı, ama bugün kaybeden gezegenin kendisidir.”
“studies show that the world's climate has been unusually stable for the past 10,000 years- exactly the lifetime of agriculture and civilization....Steady warming will be bad enough, but the worst outcome would be a sudden overturning of the Earth's climactic balance - back to it's old regime of sweats and chills. If that happens, crops will fail everywhere and the great experiment of civilization will come to a catastrophic end.”
- Date of birth: January 01, 1948
- Born: in London, England, The United Kingdom.
- Description: Ronald Wright is a Canadian author who has written books of travel, history and fiction. His nonfiction includes the bestseller Stolen Continents, winner of the Gordon Montador Award and chosen as a book of the year by the Independent and the Sunday Times. His first novel, A Scientific Romance, won the 1997 David Higham Prize for Fiction and was chosen a book of the year by the Globe and Mail, the Sunday Times, and the New York Times.