Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Opening Paragraph

One of the professors I have in my M.S.(environmental planning) program is asking the class to answer this question. Is Garret Hardin's "The Tragedy of the Commons" still valid today?

I haven't completed the answer (Short version of my answer: It isn't valid today, it wasn't validin 1968.), I'm only on the third paragraph, but this this is the rough draft of the opening paragraph.

I have to admit that when I think of Garret Hardin I am reminded of a character in J.R.R. Tolkein's novel, "The Return of the King". In that book there was a great villain, an existential enemy of persons of good will called Sauron. Sauron, like most tyrants, I suppose; like, for instance, Orwell's Big Brother sought the enslavement and corruption of those who resisted his will. Failing that, he would settle for their deaths. I am not suggesting Hardin is that important. He is no Sauron. He is no Big Brother. Hardin is not the prime enemy of humanity. He is merely another slave, though a willing one, of that enemy. He is like the man who stood at the Black Gate of Mordor and called himself "the Mouth of Sauron". In much the same way as "The Mouth of Sauron" spoke for Sauron, or like Goebbels spoke for Hitler, Hardin was a wicked and corrupted being speaking for the ancient enemy. His version of mercy, like his master's, was to let malnourished people starve to death, thus fulfilling the words of King Solomon the Wise "the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel". And like all servants of that enemy, he met an ignominious and evil end: Self-murder. But he did not merely kill himself. He perverted that love promised and hoped for in marriage into a pact for mutual-destruction. So, when I consider anything written or spoken by Hardin, when I evaluate his arguments, I keep in mind who's mouthpiece he is, that he advocated death, that he ended his life like Judas, that he destroyed the image of love.

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