Crisis? What Crisis?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-08-17 21:00:00 No comments

I heard a good one the other day: "You can't give people the solution to a problem they don't have yet." Meaning if people for the most part don't see their lot as being in a bad way, they won't be likely to do much about it save for the most routine maintenance.

This is the mindset behind the idea that things need to be pushed to a crisis point to make their inherent badness into something that's everyone's problem, not just the problems of an invisible few. "Accelerationism" is the term widely used for this sort of thing. I never liked this idea, in big part because it makes a few false assumptions. 

For one, forcing a crisis isn't the only way to make something everyone's problem. Changing the thresholds of perceptions is another way to do it — teaching people how to notice things that they always elided or ignored. It doesn't work to the same degree for everyone, but it's a way to shift the baseline where most everyone starts at.

The other is the idea that the only way to deal with the inherent badness of things is to make it everyone's problem, or the problem of as many as possible. Better instead to make it the problem of those who are most directly equipped to do something about it, both in terms of their motivation and their opportunity.

I do like, however, the idea of taking something that shouldn't be the problem of only a few and lightening the burden of that problem on those few. What I don't like is using it as a stick to beat everyone indiscriminately. Misery doesn't always motivate; sometimes it just emmiserates.

Tags: sociology