Growth - UofO debate

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DavidLeeWilson
Growth - UofO debate

this is (to me), as Peter Victor mentions at one point 'the nut'

Be it resolved that building an environmentally sustainable society will require an end to economic growth. this 'debate' or maybe better, 'cogent discussion,' took place January 20 at the University of Ottawa: http://www.sustainableprosperity.ca/debate

a webcast is now available: http://137.122.181.150/mediasite/SilverlightPlayer/Default.aspx?peid=5c9...

if you watch the webcast you may want to skip to 25 minutes in to avoid being turned off by the usual CBC incompetence, and you will have to download Microsoft Silverlight as well ( http://www.silverlight.net/getstarted/ )

and there are (at least) two important books (links are to the Toronto Public Library):

Peter Victor: Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster - http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM2491945&R=2491945

Tim Jackson: Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet - http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM2579147&R=2579147

I hope that at least some of you think this a worthy discussion topic.

 

 

Issues Pages: 
Unionist

How about the Cole's Notes version, for those of us with limited access to the Toronto Public Library?

 

Fidel

But cold war era propagandists promised growth with McMansions and two cars in every garage for the whole world! City living in suburbia!!

And if they can't deliver, well then,  the big American-Canadian dream turns into the big lie that it is. Perhaps the propaganda machine was too hard on Soviet communists promising just roofs, jobs, education and health care for all. Maybe capitalism itself has become dull and grey and incapable of producing the goods.

DavidLeeWilson

for Unionist: Cole's Notes? hahaha, you must be joking ... but there are booksellers too, and other libraries, and even on-line excerpts here and there, Tim Jackson's book came out of a report he did earlier which is available here: http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications/downloads/prosperity_withou...

the report has a short preface and a short-ish summary, or you could just Google either of these titles with the word 'review' and probably cobble up some kind of overviews

 

to Fidel: yes, McMansions ... Tomorrowland ... 'producing the goods' and delivering them and the associated material throughput is one facet of the problem to be sure, one of the debaters, Richard Lipsey, seemed to think that nanotechnology might be the silver bullet ... is that the problem do you think? that the system is simply incapable? or boring & complacent?

 

I do suggest watching the webcast, as I said before, you can save time by skipping to about minute 25 to begin ...

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Capitalism cannot survive without growth; thus we must get rid of capitalism if we are to have an environmentally sustainable society.

Unionist

DavidLeeWilson wrote:

for Unionist: Cole's Notes? hahaha, you must be joking ...

Not at all. Cole's Notes are antidotes to boundless groats growth.

 

DavidLeeWilson

why can't capitalism survive without growth? it's not obvious to me, don't we need capital in some form or other to provide tools, R&D, buildings yadda yadda?

capitalism & growth got spliced sometime shortly after WWII (as I understand it from Peter Victor, and admittedly my understanding is superficial) and the basic machine (again, as I understand it) is that growth provides for an expanding population in order that all of the next generation will have jobs

Fidel

DavidLeeWilson wrote:
to Fidel: yes, McMansions ... Tomorrowland ... 'producing the goods' and delivering them and the associated material throughput is one facet of the problem to be sure, one of the debaters, Richard Lipsey, seemed to think that nanotechnology might be the silver bullet ... is that the problem do you think? that the system is simply incapable? or boring & complacent?

I think the system will be deemed incapable if we destroy ourselves and-or the planet in the process. Apparently Frank Drake didn't give us much hope with the paramaters in his equation. He and others assumed that all technically advanced civilizations will tend to destroy themselves at some juvenile level of technological development. But I like Carl Sagan's assessment of Drake's eqn. It's a much more positive outlook.

Yes, nano could be a game changer for humanity if we don't muck it up in the mean time. Nano could possibly lead to a technically advanced state of affairs where material poverty, disease and hunger are eliminated. This is very futuristic. In my view, this would lead to the elimination of capitalism and Darwinian competition for all things as things are today. It would be an ideal situation for global socialism. American scientist Michio Kaku has recently congratulated Europeans on their successful start-up of the new particle accelerator at CERN labs. Kaku says that the probable new discoveries made at CERN lab will lead to establishing new laws of nature, and from that will come new and wonderful technologies. Europe will be at the centre of a new renaissance in scientific discovery. Europe will become the most important generator of wealth in the world as a result. Kaku laments on the USA's financial commitment to Darwinian military competition since the 1980s when Republicans cancelled a billion dollar project to build a similar size particle accelerator in George Bush's Texas. I think the future looks very promising if we can avoid destroying ourselves in the middle of our own technological adolescence.

DavidLeeWilson

we seem to be at tangents ... did anyone (beyond myself) watch the debate or the webcast? just a straight question hoping for a straight answer ...

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Alejandro Nadal wrote:
Growth is not only a cultural phenomenon or a feature of a maniac mentality. It is the direct consequence of how capitalist economies operate. This is true of capitalism as it operated in Genoa in the sixteenth century, and it is true today with the mega-corporations that rule global markets. The purpose of capital is to produce profits without end, that's the meaning of its particular form of circulation. Its purpose is not to produce useful things or useless stuff, its object is to produce profits without end and produce more capital. This is the engine of accumulation and it is fuelled by inter-capitalist competition....

By the forces of competition, "capital is continuously harassed: March! March!" Thus, Marx's analysis shows convincingly that capital can only exist as private centres of accumulation that are driven by (inter-capitalist) competition. This is why, in its quest to expand and survive (as an independent centre of accumulation) capital is continuously opening new spaces for profitability: new products, new markets. The corollary of this is that the only way in which we can get rid of "growth mania" is by getting rid of capitalism. It is not possible to have capitalism without growth.

[url=http://triplecrisis.com/is-de-growth-compatible-with-capitalism/]Source[...

 

Richard Smith wrote:
Of course there are times when capitalist economies do slow down, and grind along in a sort of stasis -- but that's even worse. Since the fall of 2008 when the world economy suddenly ground to a halt, we've been treated to a preview of what a no-growth stasis economy would look like under capitalism. It's not a pretty sight: capital destruction, mass unemployment, devastated communities, foreclosures, spreading poverty and homelessness, school closures, and environmental considerations shunted aside in the all-out effort to restore growth. That is "stasis" under capitalism....

I maintain that the growth imperative is virtually a law of nature built-into in any conceivable capitalism. Corporations have no choice but to seek to grow. It is not "subjective." It is not just an "obsession" or a "spell." And it cannot be exorcised. Further, I maintain that these theses are uncontroversial, even completely obvious to mainstream economists across the ideological spectrum from Milton Friedman to Paul Krugman.

[url=http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue53/Smith53.pdf]Source[/url] (.pdf)

 

John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York wrote:
Capitalism has remained essentially (if not more so) what it was from the beginning: an enormous engine for the ceaseless accumulation of capital, propelled by the competitive drive of individuals and groups seeking their own self-interest in the form of private gain. Such a system recognizes no absolute limits to its own advance. The race to accumulate, the real meaning of economic growth under the system, is endless....

The essential nature of the problem resides in the fact that there is no way out of this dilemma within the laws of motion of a capitalist system, in which capital accumulation is the primary goal of society.

[url=http://www.monthlyreview.org/books/ecologicalrift.php]Source - The Ecological Rift: Capitalism's War on the Earth[/url]

Fidel

Yes, yes, I agree with a lot of what Peter Victor suggests. We could eliminate poverty and unemployment in a low or zero growth economy. The problem is a political one not economic. Jobism as the only solution to poverty is an obsolete idea. Our politicians and the people who vote for them have us all stuck in a Puritannical Protestant past that says it's immoral for able bodied people not to work. We are killing the planet for the sake of jobism. People burn billions of gallons of gasoline to drive to their no-wealth-creating jobs where they burn up even more resources contributing to the mountains of crap and plastic widgets only later to be thrown on the capitalist scrapheaps of time. And they do this every day because there are few alternatives worth considering.

DavidLeeWilson

I have just been reading about Flaherty over in Davos shilling Queues de Castor, that's a good one ...

but I don't know what you mean when you say 'few alternatives worth considering' unless you are looking at it from the view of a commuter driving back and forth up and down the Don Valley Parkway

there are lots of good alternatives, Lester Brown lays it out pretty well in his 'Plan B'

the lovely young ladies over at Climate Action Network Canada are saying that the next step is to pressure MPs to force Harper to take fossil fuel subsidies out of the budget - it's a long shot but ... yeah, it's a minority government, it could be done, worth a try ...

Fidel

I meant there are not enough alternatives to the Don Valley Pkwy drive, yes. Billions, and one estimate says over a trillion gallons of gasoline are burnt up every day with "the commute." Some large percentage of workers load themselves into five and six-seat gas guzzlers to drive to work and do jobs which also end up contributing to harm done to the environment. Why not give people a choice to stay home and do nothing? $20000 a year basic income for staying home and not poisoning the environment with their carbonmobiles and commuting to their no-wealth-creating jobs doing harm to the environment. $20000 base income for doing nothing, and let the poor decide if they want to supplement that income with a lower to mid-range wage job in, and hopefully, a green sector job. ie. selling stuff over the phone, or call centre work a few days a week, or whatever doesn't necessitate driving dozens of miles every day in their carbon machines.

DavidLeeWilson

ok, round numbers: world consumption about 90 million barrels a day, 42 US gallons per barrel, of that about 3/4 goes to liquid fuel for airplanes trucks & cars, not sure of the breakdown there ... say, half for cars (?) which would make it 34 million barrels or a billion and a half US gallons a day for cars worldwide (?) - I hope I'm not too far off

so ... no trillions in it that I can see - daily at least, but yeah, a LOT, some liberal was half-heartedly wringing his hands in the Globe last week about traipsing around town getting crickets for his daughter's gecko ... whatever

it can't go on for very much longer, isn't that obvious? the choice is to get real or go extinct, is that it? or if not extinct then some gross devolution of civilization?

George Victor

You are right on the money, David Lee.  Back in the early 1970s there were serious economists (institutionalists) who tried to construct a framework for a zero growth economy.  Hell, I looked at economic history in graduate studies at the U of T in hopes of finding the secret to zero growth. I found that  M Spector was correct:"Capitalism cannot survive without growth; thus we must get rid of capitalism if we are to have an environmentally sustainable society." But I believe that not all of the institutions of capitalism must be abandoned to achieve the objective of zero growth.

 Your thinking: "it can't go on for very much longer, isn't that obvious? the choice is to get real or go extinct, is that it? or if not extinct then some gross devolution of civilization?" , has been driving a flaky few like myself to distraction for four decades now, wondering why in Gaia's name it is not the central concern of all institutions of higher learning. I decided - over a bottle of Seagram's VO, just last year - that the answer lies in the nature of Homo sapiens. We're not up to that level of self sacrifice. Too busy doing the Darwinian thing. Surviving for the moment.

CAnada's Charles Taylor wrote a short paper on the subject at the height of heated debate - it was 1974, I believe - concluding that, perhaps, conditions are going to have to deteriorate to the point when it will be seen that we have to row together to save the fragments of what has developed since our cave days.  He called it the Dunkirk scenario.

A new babbler in another thread has brought forward an acronym - also from the Second World War, one coined by someone in one of the services - which might  describe the state at which critical mass (reaction) will develop.   FUBAR... Fucked Up Beyond All Repair .

 

 

Fidel

DavidLeeWilson wrote:

ok, round numbers: world consumption about 90 million barrels a day, 42 US gallons per barrel, of that about 3/4 goes to liquid fuel for airplanes trucks & cars, not sure of the breakdown there ... say, half for cars (?) which would make it 34 million barrels or a billion and a half US gallons a day for cars worldwide (?) - I hope I'm not too far off

That's more like it. Okay so that's only something like 1.3 trillion gallons of OIL consumed by the world in total every year, and not gasoline per day. Feeling much better about the situation now. For a second there I thought Americans were going to have start paying more for Canada's cheap fossil fuel supply subsidized by Canadian taxpayers. Phew!

Jingles

Quote:
Capitalism cannot survive without growth; thus we must get rid of capitalism if we are to have an environmentally sustainable society.

And you cannot have an environmentally sustainable society if one important variable continues its growth unchecked. 

Fidel

We know what you mean. So which dummkopf cold warriors and their central planners would design an economy around non-renewable fossil fuels, and then try to export it to the other 85% of humanity? We dun wanna know.

George Victor

Don't get bogged down in numbers, chaps.

Think ...causing the collapse of every bloody corporation that is dependent on market speculation. The Economic Imperative.

Think.  Don't trivialize this one.

George Victor

And to David Lee Wilson. When you make this kind of snotty crack : "the lovely young ladies over at Climate Action Network Canada are saying that the next step is to pressure MPs to force Harper to take fossil fuel subsidies out of the budget - it's a long shot but ... yeah, it's a minority government, it could be done, worth a try ..."

 

Who, in the name of Christ, could see you as anything more than chauvanistic, narrow minded and one of the last likely to understand the difficulties presented with constructing a goal like zero growth.

Those "lovely young ladies" are right on track to accomplishing something, you..... qnlksPAOFDO !

DavidLeeWilson

a man who will drink blended whisky is not to be trusted :-)

neither is James Lovelock, I don't care what he drinks, and I say that having read all of his books carefully, I read them because ... well ... the notion of Gaia is sooo tempting isn't it eh? too bad it's 'a kernel of truth in a bushel of nonsense,' a stopped clock is right twice a day &etc.

wind turbines on his beloved moors offend his aesthetic sensibility? puh-leeze!

these ideas: that capitalism can't be saved; that homo erectus is defunct through DNA alone (or through original sin, whatever) fall into the same can for me (the garbage can that is) - unfortunately for me, because again, I would very much like to believe such stuff and be comforted by something at least masquerading as knowledge

but where is the evidence? or even the desirability? consider that if we could clap our hands and vanish away all capitalism & capitalists in an instant (or stamp our feet like Kipling's butterfly) some billions of human beings (evil or not) would starve in short order - give your head a shake man! I may be too old (and too poor) to chase the nubiles any longer, but I still like lookin' at 'em! :-)

there are so many lame bourgeois twits & self promoters (like 350.org) pretending to know about our coming doom, there's a long list, but then come along these two economist fellows, Peter Victor & Tim Jackson, who seem to think that there might be a practical way forward, and another one too, Lester Brown with his 'Plan B'

I am not a believer (no faith except maybe in single malt) but since I haven't yet thrown the baby out with the bath I can look into the KJV, towards the end in Revelatons, and hear "strengthen the things which remain" and say ... yeah ... ok, let's get on with it then

 

I watched 'The Pawnbroker' this afternoon, Rod Steiger, Thelma Oliver with the first naked titties in a Hollywood film (delightful!), and came away trying to remember what the last stage in that grief whatchamacallit is? denial, anger, depression ... and then what? Nazerman stumbles off into the sunset, he doesn't immediately leap from a bridge, or if he does we are given no clue about it

of course the stages overlap, the denialists are still on the go, witness Jack Layton (you might not include him but I do, if the guy would just step up to the plate!!! ... he can't of course, he is completely hobbled by his labour union connnections) & IggyPop & Peter Kent, even Our Lady of Growth Elizabeth May (no lie, her speaker at the annual convention last year was none other than Don Drummond talking about the 'inevitability of growth'); we saw the angry young men & women & police during the G20, lots of anger out there; and the depressives are there too if somewhat shy in their shame - including myself in that stage, mostly,

the reason I took the time (to struggle with the stupid comment interface they provide on this site - just consider the number of links in that first post, and every one of them was a capital 'S' f**king struggle to put there) to try and get some kind of discussion started here was simply that - I'm not dead yet and what these guys are putting out looks good to me - and there has been no substantive argument displayed so far that what they are saying is not good ...

unless you simply accept the bald & unsupported assertion that "Capitalism cannot survive without growth." and give up, which I do not, Doh?!

Fidel

I believe that as of 30 or 35 years ago, capitalists re-designed their economies to fail on time every time in three or four year cycles. They make sure that bank rates and compound interest grow faster than the productive labour economy is able to expand and end up snuffing it as a direct result of the financial tourniquet. They've enveloped the real economy with a parasitic financial system. But unlike some parasites found in nature, these financial parasites are dumb parasites. They've taken over the brain of the hosts(governments) and convinced them that the parasites need nourishment over and above nutritional needs of the host. They weren't satisfied with merely a good thing.

DavidLeeWilson

as for ""the lovely young ladies over at Climate Action Network Canada" well, they are lovely, I've met them, but they are hampered by not knowing how to read very well despite oodles of higher education, by accepting what some of their sponsors give them without criticism, indeed, by accepting a great deal without criticism, and so on ... sorry if you don't like my snotty manner ... whatever ... I have been going around to events here in Toronto for two years now and I have yet to see very much indication of thoughtful organization, the best organized were the Black Bloc, too bad they are blinded by their anger (I imagine) and completely unacceptable

and anyway, I think I expressed approbation for the latest CAN initiative, which is to have a poke at fossil fuel subsidies in the Harper budget - to which end I have already communicated with my MP ... so.

I was called 'antichrist' once by a prof at architecture school, but I have never been called 'qnlksPAOFDO' before, is it some kind of acronym? or maybe it's the fusel oil affecting you is it George? do you think?

and calling me "one of the last likely to understand the difficulties presented with constructing a goal like zero growth" may be politically correct but I think it is maybe a bit of an exaggeration since I had no difficulty seeing some of the (relatively subtle) difficulties revealed in the debate, I had hoped that these might get discussed here

one of these difficulties is the notion that technology is somehow going to provide a silver bullet, either in the form of nanotechnology as suggested by Richard Lipsey, or as greater & greater efficiency as suggested by Paul Ekins - there is a little four letter equation ... which I have forgot, just a sec ... right, IPAT, or I=PAT where I is influence, P is population, A is affluence, and T is technology (p 102 of my edition of 'Managing Without Growth') and it can be quickly shown that the value of T must become unreasonably small if both population and affluence are growing

suffice to say that the notion that technological advance will save us has been discredited, what I meant by 'subtle' is that two leading lights like Ekins & Lipsey are still mouthing it, Krugman too, and yet, waaaaay back with Robert Solow, the 1987 Nobel economics prize guy, we have: "There is no reason at all why capitalism could not survive without slow or even no growth. I think it's perfectly possible that economic growth cannot go on at its current rate forever. ... It is possible that the United States and Europe will find that, as the decades go by, either continued growth will be too destructive to the environment and they are too dependent on scarce natural resources, or that they would rather use increasing productivity in the form of leisure. ... There is nothing intrinsic in the system that says it cannot exist happily in a stationary state."

ok? makes it an open question at least eh?

 

 

Fidel

I think capitalism won't survive in its current state as-is here in North America. And I think history is repeating itself in a slightly different sort of way.

N. American economic theory of the last 30-35 years has prodded us slowly but surely toward a form of laissez-faire, the kind which was rejected by Americans in 1932 elections and in Canada by 1935. Laissez-faire was intolerable for millions then. Today there is no FDR on the horizon, it's true. The US is doomed to more economic decline and over-spending on military. Something has to give, and it looks like dominance of the US dollar is in decline. Other countries are already deciding that they no longer wish to finance US Military buildups around them. And US Military and NATO was an important stick reward for those countries defying the new liberal financial order of things over the last several decades. Without the military might, there will be no more laissez-faire.

Laissez-faire capitalism was proven to be incompatible with democracy in North America in the 1930s. This was demonstrated again in Richard Nixon's America, and in Pinochet's Chile by 1985. The new laissez-faire is just as undemocratic and wants forcing on populations by either militarism or lies and deception as has been the case in Ronald Reagan's time and 1990s Russia and South Africa, Thailand, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Haiti and down the home stretch to Obama's America where they are still mired in recession and jobless "recovery." And in a comparison of 30 or 35 industrialized countries, only Italy's per capita growth rate has been lower than Canada's rate of 0.9% since the '08 meltdown. And we haven't experienced the full monty neoliberal reforms like some countries where they have abandoned much of the new liberal capitalism foisted on them by western economists and politicians since the 1990s.

Meanwhile, things are not as gloomy in those countries practicing banking and finance a little further to the left. Developing Asian and South American countries, Malaysia and South Africa are bucking the neoliberal trend. Washington Consensus is being replaced by Beijing consensus. State-owned banks and publicly owned investment banks in China and India and other countries were loaning money for construction and other projects all throughout the period of meltdown in the west. Those countries were once the largest economies in the world. They will be again. Those countries will be the trend setters over the next century not North America if we stick with the latest incarnation of laissez-faire capitalism made new again as neoliberal ideology.

George Victor

 

In the following paper (chosen just for its use of dates) you'll see something of the brief, recent history of Homo Sapiens' struggle with the idea that we're making Earth inhabitable for a lot of species, including our own. I hope that Ottawa gathering of minds was not just into re-inventing the wheel of discourse on steady state economies. You'll see the Bruntland report coming into the picture in the 1980s with the concept of "sustainability," which was the copout point in the discussion. People could live with the idea of making their lifestyle "sustainable," even though not one in 100,000 achieves it. It will require social restructuring for success on any meaningful scale. The demise of capitalism.

One other point. James Lovelock spent much of his life convincing the physical science people that the equilibrium of Earth's atmosphere that has made life possible on its surface, so near to the Sun, is not just a happy accident. The appearance of life forms that began to sequester carbon a couple of billion years back initiated a symbiotic relationship by which plants and marine life - together with physical aspects - gave us this baby bear's porridge of climate and atmosphere that we continue to take for granted.

Lovelock's theory is now accepted into the mainstream of science and is no longer contentious, except in the minds of some who stand above all that and don't realize how ridiculous they look in the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE DISCOURSE ON SUSTAINABLE

DEVELOPMENT

1.1. Roots of the Discourse

The roots of the discourse on sustainable development as an internationally recognized

issue extend to the first UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in

1972 and to some earlier influential studies (see e.g. Carlson 1962, SCEP 1970,

Meadows et al. 1972). The concept "sustainable development" first became prominent

in the World Conservation Strategy published by the World Conservation Union in

1980 (IUCN 1980). It was thoroughly discussed and elaborated by the UN World

Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 in the so-called Brundtland

report 'Our Common Future' (WCED 1987). And finally the global ethos of

sustainable development was agreed on and confirmed by national governments at the

UN World Conference on Environment and Development (United Nations 1993) in

Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Sustainable Development (SD) is generally expressed by the Brundtland Report as

an ethos that "humanity has the ability to ensure that it meets the needs of the present

without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs"

(WCED, 1987, 8). From the discussion followed it became evident that the meaning of

SD is made up in three dimensions: economic, ecological and socio-cultural. In the

ecological dimension, SD refers to the adaptation of economy and technology to the

earth's ecological constraints and environmental challenges. In the social dimension

SD refers to giving attention in welfare creation to social equity and global solidarity

rather than to the share-holders' profit issue. SD policies should give priority to those

who live in poverty, and to achieving better equity both within generations

(intragenerational equity) as well as across generations (intergenerational equity).

Provided with unlimited natural resources and with adequate accumulation of

appropriate scientific knowledge we were easily able to meet the fundamental human

needs of our generation without denying similar opportunities to succeeding

generations. However, in a finite world such as ours where the human population is

estimated to double while natural capital is depleted and degraded in increasing pace,

we have to challenge the pace of knowledge accumulation. If not in synchrony with

each other resources may become to constrain severely the task of meeting

fundamental needs for all either periodically or spatially. Basically, the major options

before humans are either a co-evolution with nature towards global sustainable society

based on advancing human knowledge and wisdom, or a competitive fragmentation of

societies and collapse of life support systems, - in the worst case - extinction of

humankind. The choice is primarily an ethical and socio -cultural one, and only in the

second place economic and technological in nature (Malaska 1971, 1972).

DavidLeeWilson

George, you say "I hope that Ottawa gathering of minds was ..." which tells me that you have not even watched the debate ... I call that 'bad faith'.

Fidel

It's a Western world banking system that dictates growth. We must grow or fall deeper and deeper into indebtedness to the banking cabal and global money speculators. We either grow, or our bought and paid-for stooges tell us they have no other option but to pawn off ever more of the family jewels and silverware to financial capitalists who are strangling the low growth-pro financial economy from both ends. Who's in charge, our stooges or their money masters? At some point they own everything and have taken over powers of resource allocation from "democratically" elected government. At some point they will have to seize control of new lands in Asia and surround Russia and China militarily for what they hope will be the biggest land grab since enclosure era England that lasted centuries, and of 1990s Russia, some of which has been reversed since under Putin. Usury and interest rates-driven growth and ficititious capital are what drives our western economies. And right now the BRIC countries, South Africa and Malaysia and ALBA countries are saying no to marauding capital.

George Victor

DavidLeeWilson wrote:

George, you say "I hope that Ottawa gathering of minds was ..." which tells me that you have not even watched the debate ... I call that 'bad faith'.

Bad network connection. Someday, when my horse comes in, I'll have broadband.  Right now its dialup.

But carry on your irrelevant nitpicking.

 

DavidLeeWilson

well George, I guess it's time to put an end to this, I came here looking for a discussion of what I still think was an important exchange in Ottawa on the 20th of last month, as far as I can see no one here saw it or has taken the time to watch it (I am sorry to hear that you do not have broadband access, you might have said so earlier), I put up my ante in the form of the time and effort it has taken and I am not seeing any equivalent response, so, being a tidy pachyderm and just to tie up a few loose ends and then, like wazizname on SNL "I am outa here!"

... all I can make of 'qnlksPAOFDO' is Quasimodo ... I guess I can live with that, your 'in the name of Christ' doesn't wash anymore in 2011 - since you mentioned Charles Taylor, I will just mention 'A Secular Age' ... invoking Christ into this was just ... silly, the other bit about people who don't buy into James Lovelock ... what was it? ... oh yeah, "some who stand above all that and don't realize how ridiculous they look in the process" and that may all be so but ... maybe you thought I was making it up about the wind turbines and Lovelock's aesthetic sensibility? I wasn't

... I had never seen the name Alejandro Nadal before, nor Richard Smith, nor John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York, but I thank you Spector for the links provided, I had a brief look at them, there is certainly a good argument to be made on the basis of 'what broke it ain't likely to fix it' but as usual it depends on where you draw the line, and for the record, while I admire Peter Victor and Tim Jackson, that doesn't mean I take their ideas aboard wholesale ... still ... redefining prosperity is not a bad place to start to get in at it, wealth and illth ... "A hundred sovereigns may be no wealth, but the direst illth, to the drowning wretch in whose pockets they serve only as a load to drag him to destruction."

if there were to be an effective counterforce (which there isn't as far as I can see) I think it would be in the kind of concrete physical network of compassion imagined by Ivan Illich, even knuckleheads like Bill McKibben can see that but unfortunately none of us knows how to go about building one (though I would suggest that fixing the abominable comment interface on this site would help, to which end I hereby pledge $100 if and when one of the pooh-bahs at Rabble reads this and asks me for it) this discussion is an object lesson about what happens in the absence of such a network

here's a gift for y'all, a short meditation on the 'vantages of, say, Alzheimer's? - make of it what you will (a link to the entire original follows):

At the end of the third day a fly came and stung him on the shoulder, and before he knew what he was doing he lifted up his trunk and hit that fly dead with the end of it.

''Vantage number one!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'You couldn't have done that with a mere-smear nose. Try and eat a little now.'

Before he thought what he was doing the Elephant's Child put out his trunk and plucked a large bundle of grass, dusted it clean against his fore-legs, and stuffed it into his own mouth.

''Vantage number two!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'You couldn't have done that with a mear-smear nose. Don't you think the sun is very hot here?'

'It is,' said the Elephant's Child, and before he thought what he was doing he schlooped up a schloop of mud from the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo, and slapped it on his head, where it made a cool schloopy-sloshy mud-cap all trickly behind his ears.

''Vantage number three!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'You couldn't have done that with a mere-smear nose. Now how do you feel about being spanked again?'

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child, 'but I should not like it at all.'

'How would you like to spank somebody?' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake.

'I should like it very much indeed,' said the Elephant's Child.

'Well,' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, 'you will find that new nose of yours very useful to spank people with.'

'Thank you,' said the Elephant's Child, 'I'll remember that; and now I think I'll go home to all my dear families and try.'

So the Elephant's Child went home across Africa frisking and whisking his trunk. When he wanted fruit to eat he pulled fruit down from a tree, instead of waiting for it to fall as he used to do. When he wanted grass he plucked grass up from the ground, instead of going on his knees as he used to do. When the flies bit him he broke off the branch of a tree and used it as a fly-whisk; and he made himself a new, cool, slushy-squshy mud-cap whenever the sun was hot. When he felt lonely walking through Africa he sang to himself down his trunk, and the noise was louder than several brass bands. He went especially out of his way to find a broad Hippopotamus (she was no relation of his), and he spanked her very hard, to make sure that the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake had spoken the truth about his new trunk. The rest of the time he picked up the melon rinds that he had dropped on his way to the Limpopo - for he was a Tidy Pachyderm.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/32488/32488-h/32488-h.htm#Page_63

George Victor

David: " well George, I guess it's time to put an end to this, I came here looking for a discussion of what I still think was an important exchange in Ottawa on the 20th of last month, as far as I can see no one here saw it or has taken the time to watch it (I am sorry to hear that you do not have broadband access, you might have said so earlier),"

 

I'm sure it was an "important exchange" up Ottawa way. I have felt for four decades now that our species will survive only by coming to grips with the subject.

But you trivialized it - made it your own - by babbling about "lovely young ladies" and dismissing a giant of modern science for his criticism of wind turbines being located on land and not out at sea.

We are all "out to sea" at the moment.  Cross your fingers and chart an objective course.

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

DavidLeeWilson wrote:

... I had never seen the name Alejandro Nadal before, nor Richard Smith, nor John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York, but I thank you Spector for the links provided, I had a brief look at them, there is certainly a good argument to be made on the basis of 'what broke it ain't likely to fix it' but...

And I had a "brief look" at your webcast and the list of participants (all of whose ideas I do have some familiarity with) and decided my time was better spent plucking my ear hair.

Merowe

...and I've started crawling through the Prosperity without Growth report, and appreciating it. DavidLeeWilson don't let the sometimes-grumpy babblers put you off, some of us appreciated your comments and input!

George Victor

Just not the "lovely young ladies" and Lovelock sucks because he's against wind turbines across the countryside parts.

This snippet was fascinating: "even Our Lady of Growth Elizabeth May (no lie, her speaker at the annual convention last year was none other than Don Drummond talking about the 'inevitability of growth');"... A Green convention????

Ghislaine

George, I don't think we are supposed to quote so much of an article here on babble...

George Victor

And Paul Krugman in the NYTimes today describes what all economists should be taking note of in a world of growing populations and growing storms:

 

 

February 6, 2011

 

By PAUL KRUGMAN

 

Droughts, Floods and Food

We're in the midst of a global food crisis - the second in three years. World food prices hit a record in January, driven by huge increases in the prices of wheat, corn, sugar and oils. These soaring prices have had only a modest effect on U.S. inflation, which is still low by historical standards, but they're having a brutal impact on the world's poor, who spend much if not most of their income on basic foodstuffs.

The consequences of this food crisis go far beyond economics. After all, the big question about uprisings against corrupt and oppressive regimes in the Middle East isn't so much why they're happening as why they're happening now. And there's little question that sky-high food prices have been an important trigger for popular rage.

So what's behind the price spike? American right-wingers (and the Chinese) blame easy-money policies at the Federal Reserve, with at least one commentator declaring that there is "blood on Bernanke's hands." Meanwhile, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France blames speculators, accusing them of "extortion and pillaging."

But the evidence tells a different, much more ominous story...

"The usual suspects will, of course, go wild over suggestions that global warming has something to do with the food crisis; those who insist that Ben Bernanke has blood on his hands tend to be more or less the same people who insist that the scientific consensus on climate reflects a vast leftist conspiracy.

"But the evidence does, in fact, suggest that what we're getting now is a first taste of the disruption, economic and political, that we'll face in a warming world. And given our failure to act on greenhouse gases, there will be much more, and much worse, to come."

 

George Victor

No , we're not.  I'll work at rectifying it.   But pretty important stuff for the agriculturally-minded (and others) eh?  Tad Homer-Dixon says we have to save what farmland we have, from here on in, since the price of fuel will mean not a helluva lot gets shipped around - besides the atmospheric effect on crops, worldwide.

Howzzat for length?

George Victor

This link brought absolutely no feedback in political debate. Does it excite any interest/disinterest in an environmental context? :

SLOW MONEY. Green Calgary presents Woody Tasch, founder of the Slow Money Alliance. 23 February.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Only for those who think capitalism can save us from environmental destruction caused by capitalism.

George Victor

It was offered to readers looking for innovation, MS, not doctrinaire fundamentalists.  

From my post #14: "I believe that not all of the institutions of capitalism must be abandoned to achieve the objective of zero growth." This may or may not be viable, but it sure beats the empty rhetorical approach and the 1917model. Wink

George Victor

My list would not interest a high priest of rhetoric with his closed mind and fearsome load of baggage, MS. Sorry.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

From The Future of Capitalism, by Lester Thurow:

Quote:
Nowhere is capitalism's time horizon problem more acute than in the area of global environmentalism ...

What should a capitalistic society do about longrun environmental problems such as global warming or ozone depletion? ...

Using capitalist decision rules, the answer to what should be done today to prevent such problems is very clear - do nothing. However large the negative effects fifty to one hundred years from now might be, their current discounted net present value is zero.

If the current value of the future negative consequences are zero, then nothing should be spent today to prevent those distant problems from emerging. But if the negative effects are very large fifty to one hundred years from now, by then it will be too late to do anything to make the situation any better, since anything done at that time could only improve the situation another fifty to one hundred years into the future. So being good capitalists, those who live in the future, no matter how bad their problems are, will also decide to do nothing.

Eventually a generation will arrive which cannot survive in the earth's altered environment, but by then it will be too late for them to do anything to prevent their own extinction. Each generation makes good capitalist decisions, yet the net effect is collective social suicide.  (emphasis added)

Thanks to [url=http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=3816]Climate and Capitalism[/url] for this.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Which institutions of capitalism do you not want to abandon, George? I mean besides class privilege, market-based economics, private appropriation of surplus value, the World Bank, wage slavery, and consumption taxes?

Or perhaps it would be easier to tell us which institutions of capitalism you do want to abandon. I'm sure it's  a much shorter list.  

ETA: Or you could just decide to call me names. Your choice.

Merowe

I think western capitalist culture is on a death trip, plain and simple. Capitalism has systematically downgraded greater society's survival mechanisms as a side effect of its constant search for profit. But! The last crash is a sign of intensification as the system starts to autocannibalize. For all the talk of recovery the reality is the 'system' has already started to shrink; and it may be that it runs out of steam before taking the biosphere with it. A faint chance.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

George Victor wrote:

My list would not interest a high priest of rhetoric with his closed mind and fearsome load of baggage, MS. Sorry.

Nevertheless, I'm certain many of us would find an answer to his question interesting.

George Victor

Sure, LTJ, as the posting notes, there was bugger-all response, but here goes again, same appeal ...

 

This link brought absolutely no feedback in political debate. Does it excite any interest/disinterest in an environmental context? :

SLOW MONEY. Green Calgary presents Woody Tasch, founder of the Slow Money Alliance. 23 February.

 

We will not be able to break with the salting-away of savings for those golden years, which has cemented the market-voter relationship more than anything else in the postwar period. So there must be a means of saving with progressive goals in mind...the conservation of energy through innovative (alternative) technology would be high on the list, along with food production. People in Ontario only howl about the higher cost of electricity under the new "smart meter" regimen being put in place (the average is about $1.50 more per month for 80 per cent of the consumers - a $3 per month saving for the 20 per cent who can most easily use the system - as the citizenry come to learn its mysteries. Such ignorance of the reasons behind institution of smart meters in the first place demonstrate just how difficult it will be to make a transition to a zero growth economy. It's why Charles Taylor (see above) thought there wouldn't be much progress until things got very difficult to explain away and ignore.

In that regard, a return to the loss of value on the market experienced in the depth of the Great Recession just two years ago, would do wonders in moving people away from expectations of double-digit returns on their investment.

Then, of course, there would have to be a return to exchange controls in a wartime setting...with a place for increasing state industry in the mixed economy that achieved its peak just 70 years ago. But only an economy on wartime footing could overule the squeals from the free-marketers and those pricing for whatever the market would bear. The late Kenneth Galbraith was appointed price-control "czar" by Roosevelt only 71 years ago. Part of the problem in envisioning any of this, of course, is a result of the radical movement away from state involvement since the 1960s.

Since the monetarists of the Chicago School took over, its been "impossible" for the mainstream to consider allowing the economy to deflate, which would lead to recession and eventually depression.

Globalization, in turn, demonstrates how destructive a narrow focus on productivity and competition can be for a majority of the working population. In "Why your world is about to become a whole lot smaller" we learn why that has to end, anyway, as we run out of the cheap oil  necessary for container ships to make foreign products competitive.

So, LTJ, a return to wartime conditions, allowing a modest profit to crucial production aimed at survival in a warming world and investment of pension funds in those areas. (With lots and lots of wrinkles to work out in heated discussion, trial and error... :)

 

 

 

George Victor

Well, no outright brickbats in reply, but still no response to suggested uses for all that capital...other than letting capitalists use it, eh.  Not So Slow Money.Wink

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

An interesting article about the Darklords of the Cornfields, and their most recent 'partnership': Monsanto invests in Sapphire

OT1H, all my usual fears of monocrops and corporate control of agriculture and threats to natural biological diversity well up once again. OTOH, there is a small glimmer of hope that the growing billions might be fed.

Not well fed, but just possibly, fed.