Thursday, October 23, 2003

Population Exchange?

TLS reports that a number of plant scientists in Britain have fled to Australia after their research projects, including a project on breeding drought-resistant plants for sub-Saharan Africa, were dismantled by bioterrorists.

The solution is clear: what we need is an exchange program through which British plant scientists can swop places with American scientists doing stem cell research.

Americans don't like stem cell research because they imagine that Godless Communists are promoting it in order to grow soul-less mutants in petri dishes. Europeans don't like genetically modified foods because they believe Big (American) Business is producing them in order to poison the population for fun and profit. Americans imagine cadres of mutant zombies, made not begotten, marching on major Midwestern cities to demolish suburban developments, churches and VFW halls and institute a Stalinist dysutopia along the lines of North Korea. Europeans picture SuperWeeds spreading with visible speed, choking off all natural plant and animal life until the entire landscape is covered with ultra-kudzu so that multinational agribusiness can monopolize all food production and rule the world.

I don't know what the moral is. Possibly that we're all equipped with a story template, hardwared into our brains, according to which an evil force creates monsters that devour everything natural, idiosyncratic, and human in scale, and replace it with standardized artifacts that reduce us to soul-less machinery, lacking self-consciousness and individuality--the triumph of mass mechanism. The nightmare took different forms--masses of brainwashed Russian workers or Chinese peasants, identically dressed, chanting in unison under monumental Socialist Realist posters, hordes of suburban commuters, dressed in identical gray flannel suits, carrying identical briefcases heading for advertizing agendies where they would manufacture slogans to stimulate zombie consumers to buy mass-produced products.

The preferred alternative was sweet nature, pretty little villages, compost heaps and organic gardens, happy tribal people and wilderness.

I don't care for that picture, a cardboard stage set masking brutality, tedium, and want. Life in the state of nature is nasty, brutish and short.

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