The pandemic shows that we’ve gone too far

Steven Welzer
2 min readMay 23, 2020


The economic collapse associated with the pandemic — and the need to have central banks bail out everything and everybody — shows that we’ve gone too far in the direction of dependency upon the globalized system.

That system is able to produce really cheap gizmos, but it’s not satisfactory and not sustainable.

. size
. complexity
. remoteness
. opacity

. exploitation
. alienation
. speculation
. irresponsibility

A case can be made that “progress” has taken us too far from our original localist community-and-place-based life orientation. We now live everywhere and nowhere. What the internet represents is the latest next-step in the problematic process of losing our grounding. It follows that what we need is to turn our attention “back” — away from the global marketplace, away from the industrial mega-state, away from the cyberspace “cloud” — back toward a particular place-on-earth where we can renew real community and recreate Home.

A Daoist parable gives a sense of the other end of the spectrum from where we find ourselves now:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Small Country of Few People
People do not travel far. They have boats and carriages but little use for them. They have armor and weapons but do not display them. Their food is plain but good. Their clothes are simple but fit well. Their homes are secure.
Villagers in this country often live within earshot of a neighboring village, so close that they can hear each others’ roosters crowing in the morning and dogs barking in the afternoon. Yet they rarely feel the need to visit; they are content where they are, satisfied in place.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

By contrast, we are restless, bored and unsatisfied. We try to solve our problems of attention deficit disorder and hyper-stimulation by adding on more stimulation (or taking pills). We are losing appreciation for simple equilibrium, peace and quiet, limits and balances.

It’s time to shatter the mystiques and dependencies of the globalized system. It’s time to recognize that, rather than the “next higher stage” of development, it constitutes the next misguided milepost on the road to a pathological future.

Erich Fromm said that societies-as-a-whole can exhibit characteristics of insanity. If we don’t get back to lifeways centered around the basics of land, nature, and community, we will be in danger of losing what’s far more important than gizmos — ecological consciousness and personal health, as well as social sanity. It was Edward Goldsmith who wrote so insightfully about “The Great U-Turn”:



Steven Welzer

The editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a movement activist for many years (he was an original co-editor of DSA’s “Ecosocialist Review”).