ronald wright

ronald wright.png

intro’d to Ronald while watching surviving progress – based on his book a short history of progress

Michel Bauwens (@mbauwens) tweeted at 6:52 AM – 24 Aug 2018 :
Surviving Progress (2011) A Mind Expanding Documentary via @YouTube (


2012 – interview on progress (24 min):


originally.. spiritual progress.. beginning w industrial/science revolution.. 200 yrs ago.. progress began to think.. material progress.. problem is .. can’t tell diff between good/progress until it’s played out..

2 min – this pattern of rise and fall repeatedly over past 2000 yrs.. the terrific acceleration of change in past .. may lead to sticky end..

3 min – as a child.. what i learned was that things don’t work the way they’re supposed to.. and progress would be that they would

5 min – we now have a pretty good idea of what are we.. we do know we are a species of great ape that has achieved a sense of intelligence.. in sense of cleverness

where are we going

6 min – human – we’re very clever.. and extremely good innovative short term thinkers.. but we’re extremely bad at foreseeing the long term consequences of what we’re doing and also extremely bad at limiting our immediate desires.. for power/food/money/whatever.. for limiting them.. keeping them at a reasonable level..  in order to keep things going indefinitely.. we tend to just let things rip until they crash

7 min – the runaway of change and the collapsing of time.. from first chip stoned tool.. to the smelting of iron took about 3 mn years.. but from first smelting of iron to hydrogen bomb tok 3000 yrs.. so a thousandth of time

8 mi – as things speed up time gets shorter.. in pre historic times social change was slow that an individual wouldn’t notice anything diff in life time.. only in past 100-150 years.. that change/progress has begun moving at such a pace.. we will not leave a world much like the one we are born into

9 min – culture is everything.. all of the belief/practices/styles.. of any society..  passed on rather than being innate.. civilization has a specific meaning.. essentially a culture/society that has reached a certain size/scale/complexity.. really don’t get civilization until after slow growth of agriculture.. end of last ice age.. the first experiments w farming only go back about 10-11 000 years.. ie: planting seeds.. then gardening into full scale agri.. then get a boom in population and social classes..  civilization..

civilization ness

11 min – i don’t think we’re necessarily any worse than others.. just because of tech advance and large numbers of us able to do more damage to earth than those in past

12 min – i consider it an experiment in civilization.. an experiment the jury hasn’t pronounced on yet.. what we have now is one big world civilization.. so no untouched pristine untouched pockets left.. that might proceed if we fail.. all no resting on one big high stakes throw

13 min – progress traps – begin very successful.. seductive.. ie: ice age hunters.. ruined hunting.. kill 200 mammoths rather than 2 rather than 1

16 min – i think civilization itself could be a progress trap.. our job is to make sure it isn’t.. we have to take what’s good and use that to build good progress.. something that will last.. rather than burning up everything for a short term binge.. right now we don’t know if we’re capable of doing that

17 min – i’m a great admirer of civilization and i want our experiment to succeed.. but as we do these things.. we’re putting everything at risk.. certainly everything we would think of as a civilized life..

18 min – we can’t foresee how things will turn out..  the precautionary principle has to be put in play.. controllable experiments to see downsides of techs.. ie: genetic modification.. particularly of our food; nanotech.. machines reproducing selves; ..  as techs get more complex/powerful.. we have to exercise cautionary principle under social control.. everyone everywhere.. has to be dealt w on a world level.. just as about every problem we are facing at the moment..

22 min – it’s a mistake to think the interest of nature is diff than our interest

holmgren indigenous law

23 min – wake up call.. the temp is rising.. due to us.. leads to disaster if continues


find/follow Ronald:

his site:

Historian, novelist, and essayist Ronald Wright is the award-winning author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction published in 16 languages and more than 40 countries. Much of his work explores the relationships between past and present, peoples and power, other cultures and our own.

A Short History of Progress, in which he examines humankind’s increasingly precarious “experiment” with civilization, was the best-selling book in the 50-year history of the prestigious CBC Massey Lecture Series, winning the Libris Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year.  Martin Scorsese’s Surviving Progress, a documentary film based on the book and produced by Cinémaginaire, Mark Achbar, and other members of The Corporation team, premiered in fall 2011 (see News)

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His contribution, A Short History of Progress, looks at the modern human predicament in light of the 10,000-year experiment with civilization. In it he concludes that human civilization, to survive, would need to become environmentally sustainable, with specific reference to global warming and climate change.