Read: “Activism v. Restraint”

26 May 2010

If you talk about the possibility of a collapse of industrial civilization and—along with it—life as we know it, people seem to think you’re a bit nuts. And this is even after the economy went haywire, oil reached its highest-ever price (with little look, it seems, into why that was), and the U.S. continued waging a never-ending war.

So I’m looking back to a time when people took the possibility of collapse more seriously: not the current Great Recession, but during the Great Depression.

“As late as 1937, the Depression still presented a risk of social and industrial collapse, ‘the very conditions that in other nations had hastened the slide into tyranny,'” writes Jeffrey Toobin in his New Yorker article, “Activism v. Restraint” (May 24, 2010).

He points out how FDR’s New Deal was challenged by the Supreme Court, and how he had to change the composition of the court to secure the changes he wanted to make. “Court-mandated inaction, Roosevelt believed, was therefore not an option.”

Obama may face the same challenge today, Toobin writes. I’m less hopeful about a resolution along the lines of the New Deal. We’ll see. I still think we’re facing possible collapse.


books I've read on failure & grace

The World Without Us
The Last Oil Shock: A Survival Guide to the Imminent Extinction of Petroleum Man
A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster
Hell and High Water: Global Warming--the Solution and the Politics--and What We Should Do
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
The Tipping Point
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time
The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization
Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail
The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850
Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World

Mason's favorite books »