Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Sustainability and Humanism along side truly free markets

I have colleagues, friends and internet adversories who all consider de-growth and de-globalisation as laughable hippy notions.

However there are obvious parallels to be drawn: the rise of Christianity and Modern Islam to reform conservative and morally corrupt churches before; the actual reformation lead by Martin Luther; the american and french revolutions; the 19th century rural and industrial uprisings and establishment of modern trade unions; the foundation of the democratic labout movements; keynsism post depression; the labour landslide post war; the civil rights movement in the USA; the second rise of union power in the 1970s; the revival of social democracy on both sides of the atlantic in the 1990s.

We stand at a point which is like the latter half of the 19th C coupled to both the great previous depression, and the rise of the hippy and green movements. In all this there is no coincidence and the outcome will not be more capitalism in the medium term. In the short term we will be offered at the alter of the faith of capitalism: Romney will win and austerity measures in the EU will come to place. But there are few markets left to liberalise, little left to privatise, and little economic growth to be gained from rewarding the rich with more tax breaks.

The point about many of us in this movement is that it is about reduction, recycling and replacement.

Globalisation is nothing new, it has been happening since homo sapiens followed their forerunners out of Africa and populated the earth. The species was going to be dominant and going to affect the climate, the flora and the fauna.

However the effects of globalisation now reveal the unwanted aspects of linking all our lives to a global economy which is driven by things far from anything to do with notions of the free market:

Things like OPEC, a cartel which still dominates world oil production. China - a country with strange protectionism, public subsidy, manipulation of markets internationally and most of all command-capitalism. Defence: a massive global industry funded by taxes and exploitation.

So the point is that powerful orginisations are in control on a massive scale affecting literally billions;: in fact the political decisions made by OPEC, the Chinese and Indian governments, the World Bank and splinter nuclei from the Davos group affect us all.

We are told to swallow that politicians achieve very little for our lifestyle and well being. In effect we are being communicated into a post-democratic world where politicians become increasingly remote puppets for the powerful organisations.  But this is not something we need to casually accept because if we do then we will have our standard of living errroded in favour of those who own not just the "means of production" but the material of supply for our daily needs.

Systems of individual greed become inevitably corrupt and implode. It may take another round of "raw capitalism" to allow this to be fully uncovered to enough people in the west for them to rise and rebell in a democratic way.

What marks out human beings from most other animals is the ability not just to cooperate, but to do so in a way which changes the environment to enable society to grow and exploit new biozones : in future in effect we have to rethink the biozone as  zones of sustainable food and energy supply and population.

 How much land and energy is needed to sustain a population determines the biozone based upon renewability- energy resources are replenishable, food chains are climate neutral and also conversely the volatilities of the 2050-2150 AD climate has a near neutral effect on food supply: we already have a viable alternative to oil - electricity from renewable sources and in particular ever lasting geothermal power. We also have the ability to make plastics from plant materials - again - by chemical engineering and most western countries have a rational economic supply of recyclable oil derived plastics. However biofuels and bio-source petrochemicals interfere with the food supply price and range of crops chosen by farmers.

The market will not decide and guide us, and in any case, it is not free market economics which are making the strategic changes in the world now as I state above. Market economics can and will deliver however a plentiful supply of food at least to the west and second world but in terms of energy this is questionable in the mid term when we reach a point where oil, coal and woodland supplies are of enough value for non burning ends that they become uneconomic. Climate change is remember a conservative and backwards looking science so far: we are seeing the effects already- more extreme weather events and in other areas, more severe weather events; marked warming and damage of eco systems which have taken millions of years to evolve. Life itself will survive climate change, and even a full nuclear war, but the human race will not.

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