What is progress? Where are we heading as a society?
The name of our blog is taken from the title of a short story by Joseph Conrad. It tells the tale of of two more or less incompetent European Colonizers who were left in charge of a trading outpost deep in Central Africa. Much like the better known “Heart of Darkness”, it displays the struggles and failures of the people that followed the call of the white man’s burden, to bring civilisation and progress to Africa. This higher calling is obviously negated by the very reason the trading outpost exists, to get poached ivory from native hunters in exchange for goods and money. This irony pervades the story and ultimately it is the incompetence and ignorance on the part of the Europeans that is the leading cause of their downfall.
Words like civilisation and progress have a historical background that is wrought with hypocrisy. Thinking about where we as humanity are heading and the more we learn about environmental degradation of our planet and inequality that is pervading our society, the more we feel that “progress” in the usual sense of the word is getting us nowhere. To quote Yvon Chouinard:
“If you’re standing at the edge of a cliff and you don’t want to commit suicide, you turn around 180° and start walking forward.”
In that case, progress is not so clearly defined and we might actually have to step back from the path that we are on, go back to older ways of working and thinking.
The same way the protagonists of the short story are faces of progress, in a bitter satirical way, we feel that our politicians and businesses are faces of this “dead-end” kind of economical progress. We are trying to find another way in our very own Outpost of Progress.
An Outpost of Progress is: