Systems thinking recognizes the complexity of the environment we inhabit. In the human realm, we are organized around social, economic, and political systems. Yet we are also mammals that are part of the biological diversity of the planet, which is threatened by the immense destructive capability of the human species.
We have built a social architecture that is actively killing members of our own species while causing the sixth mass extinction of species on this planet. We have built a machine that has formed its own artificial intelligence, and it is actively in the process of killing human beings. Corporations are inventions of aristocratic hierarchies and monarchies to control labour forces to extract resources and make profits. They have assumed legal personhood and now function as overloads over human activity. Humans are no longer in control, since the internal logic of the value of money supersedes the value of human beings.
Money, also, is a fiction that humans have designed as a medium of exchange. But for love of money, people will exploit other people. Injustice is considered by nation states and corporations as the collateral damage of a system designed for self-perpetuation and self-preservation.
Humans created the perfect killing machine, and people are beginning to rise up to stop it.
A transcript of an excerpt from the excellent Nice Try! podcast about Utopias and how they go wrong. This episode is called Germania: Architecture in a Fascist Utopia. Traces of this fascist utopia still exist in modern Berlin. This excerpt starts at around 32:50.
Speer was handily able to distance himself from an evil system he was not just participating in, but perpetuating. It’s chilling.
It spells out so clearly that Nazi Germany’s worst atrocities and many atrocities the world over were not only the ideas of singular evil men. They were supported and enacted by systems, by groups of people who woke up in the morning and went to offices to work on it.
We try to recount these stories in monuments and plaques, as though history is a grandiose series of battles and not something enacted in nine-to-fives.
And in the meantime, more buildings go up. Land is moved. A patchwork of monuments and plaques can’t keep up. Because we are all surrounded by so much new development, so many rising towers are transforming the faces of the cities around us. It’s difficult to keep track of all the forces at play, to know who they were built for and who paid for them and which ones intend to do good. Because at the end of the day, all structures are, in some ways, ideology made manifest. They’re so much bigger than any of us. We just look around and feel so small.
— Avery Trufelman