Subtlety of thought is one, not many. It’s not possible to be an old fashioned brute in all ways but one. It’s not possible to become an angel of thinking among one-liner brutes.
This is why revolutions of knowledge and wisdom always happen in the revolutionary polis. A revolution is when an entire society reconsiders its system of mind. So, fundamentally, it’s a mental reconsideration, country-wide, a country-wide growth of subtlety. This is very clear from history.
Crete, Athens, and much of Europe, when they contributed to civilization markedly, were in pre-, post-, or outright revolutionary stages; France and Britain, in particular proved capable of sustaining quasi-revolution on a rather permanent basis for centuries.
Some pretend otherwise, and periodically come to sing the praises of a particular religion, which is supposedly a civilization. Never mind that this religion, “God Is Great”, has more than 100 variants which want to kill each other, more than anything else.
By singing the praises of “God Is Great” religion, what is implicitly done is to sing the praises of the Christian religion, a superstition which nearly destroyed civilization around 400 CE. Christianism in turn became the God is Great religion, when it adapted to the sands of Arabia (closest family members of the “God Is Great” founder were Christian, one of them a professional monk).
Christianism was established by a succession of Roman emperors who imposed a god made in the image of the (already divinized) Roman emperor. A bone was thrown to intellectuals by claiming the “LOGOS”, logic, was “god”.
However, when one man rules, considering that men rule with ideas, nothing but the ideas of that man should rule. Thus
The brand new Canadian government’s Foreign Minister, Stephane Dion, is “déçu” (= more than disappointed) by Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone Pipeline. So much for subtlety. Canadians still like it dirty.
Obama talked about “dirty oil”, and perfidiously, but completely correctly, remarked that “dirty oil was not in the best interest of the USA”. Indeed. Go Barry, go, just when we thought we had lost you, Obama is coming on his own, literally. Too little, too late, but always good to take.
That was not so subtle, but that lack of subtlety is exactly the subtlety needed to impose the crucial view: fossil fuels are what the Twentieth Century was about, and they are killing the biosphere.
The effect is subtle, it’s called “CO2 forcing”, and it was discovered by a number of (European) scientists looking at a number of distinct effects (and some are still alive today, including the discoverer of CO2 in fossil ice, Claude Lorius (Grenoble)). At this point, the science is certain, and action is needed: one talks of two degrees Celsius. But that, by itself is a catastrophe (as the poles would melt). Yet, the truth, is that we are presently on a trajectory bringing a minimum of THREE degree Celsius (same catastrophe as with two degrees, just faster).
Yes, 2 Degree Is Too Much, as I said in 2009, but now, to my satisfaction, many are discovering this to be true (six years later).
War Can Be Subtle:
Considering that the climate catastrophe is upon us, how come the West is dragging its feet so much. Indeed, one could transit to a carbon free energy: the technology exists.
Superficially, it’s all the fault of the fossil fuel industry, and all those who profit from the six TRILLION dollars of subsidies, each year. Also mental inertia.
But there is more. War can profit immensely a few, or even entire nations. Countries such as Britain, France, the USA were created by war. Actually point at a country, and I could pretty much tell you about the wars which created it.
The tribe which by far profited the most of the greatest wars of the Twentieth Century was the USA. It turns out, I have pointed out with relish countless times, that the USA help instigate these wars with enough subtlety, that it gave an excuse for official historians in plutocratic universities to claim they saw nothing there.
A subtlety now is that the same sort of reasoning could be contemplated: extreme wars, the sort we are heading towards, from exploding populations while the biosphere is imploding, could only profit some of those closest to the world’s decision circles.