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gek-opel
20-06-2006, 10:40 PM
On a political and philosophical level how do the coming problems of resource crisis, climate change and ecological/environmental collapse challenge the dominant ideas of the capitalist "real">?

In many respects these problems are being viewed in a very depressing light, we must all tighten our belts and face a grim future we are told. However, in the manner in which they question at a fundamental level our current systems of political and economic organisation do they not also hold within themselves the ultimate possibility for long term escape from the bounds on human imagination imposed by the current deadlock of kapital's "reality"? Or do they merely imply a future of ever more desperate struggle over increasingly sparse energy supplies and safe environments?

polystyle desu
21-06-2006, 01:43 AM
Yes, Gek

i'm trying to say something like that in 'Futures',
it will take something BIG to make the breakthrough to the 'next ,
otherwise we will muddle muddle samo samo

gek-opel
21-06-2006, 05:12 PM
The key thing though is NOT the specifics of collapse, but the way in which that will undermine the stranglehold on the popular imagination- if only it can be channelled correctly- it contradicts fundamentally much of late-kapital's underlying mechanisms, its internal inevitability that removes other possibilities by rendering them as the impossible. It also completely refutes the underlying assumptions of the Amerikkkan dream, with all its expectations of infinite expansion and arrogant assurance in its own pre-destiny.

In Moll
21-06-2006, 08:11 PM
Hey gek-opel: Out of curiousity, why do you spell Capitalism with a "k", and insert "kkk" into the word American?

gek-opel
21-06-2006, 10:41 PM
Interesting one. kapital as in das kapital, amerikkka as in the ku klux klan? "K" as signifier of "uber" (derivation?). Alternative: appropriate signifier of net-based invective (theorists all a-lather again?) Tis a heady blog meme too...

polystyle desu
22-06-2006, 01:15 AM
Hmmm , Gek
i think the specifics are interesting ;
will the future entail a Ridley Walker type bombed back to a post Stone Age reality ?
or more of a no more gas Max Max rusting world of broken tribes ?
Can the Amuricans afford walls around our coastal cities ?
or if the Atlantic conveyor shuts down , will UK be shivering in snow ?

All the po mo theory 'stuff' is what i find almost totally uninteresting , because the ball is moving
the game afoot and the pace is faster then most writing

zhao
22-06-2006, 03:37 PM
not understanding what you refer to as the "capitalist real". I thought the consumerist first world promotes an insulated virtual-reality sealed off from the real of the rest of the world? so surely what is about to take place is the bursting of this bubble of UN-reality?

gek-opel
22-06-2006, 07:25 PM
Confucius: You are correct that it does create a kind of insulated world (behind the safety of our glass screens), but I guess what I am referring to is the thing K-Punk's been ranting about, the way that the idea of capitalism (in its current stage) has as a key component a shutting down of ideas of viable alternatives, a lock down on the possible. What climate change perhaps presents is a contradictory "reality principle". The challenge and shock of which (even though it will occur over a protracted period of time) should shift systems of human organisation in a new direction (maybe).

Polystyle: To be honest even a return to hunter-gatherer life would be preferable to what exists now. But I don't think it will necessarily be as bad as that. In terms of the specifics, I think there are a number of things to consider... Alongside environmental change will come (as you mention) a resource crisis, which ought to occur sooner than large scale disruption of ecosystems and flooding and the like. Many are banking on technological solutions to these problems, however I remain to be convinced here. I suspect the only real solution is to change lifestyle, perhaps in a very fundamental way, which is a good thing because life in the West at present is a kind of comfortable nightmare (difficult to say without sounding pathetic, we have all the "comforts" the millions starving would literally kill us for if they could)--- however it is a system of powerlessness, addictive consumerism and completely out of balance with the world and human emotional needs. [spiritual bankruptcy could also be mentioned here should you be so minded]. Are there any political theories being espoused yet as to the reality of how we are going to change...?

One thing I have read was about planning, and how our systems of urban living are entirely designed around the possibility of cheap car-based transport. I can't recall the name of the author (it was a rare decent piece in the New Statesman a while back) but he basically argued that cities will collapse when the price of oil hits a certain point, in the end we will have to design living habitats on a much more modest scale (which given the rise of the megalopolis at present is going to be a bit of a shock...)

Troy
23-06-2006, 08:10 PM
Point 1:

With regards to "resource crisis", "climate change", and "environmental collapse". I think it is debatable as to whether any of these things would happen within the next 1000 years. I wouldn't hang my hat on it, in any case. Or at least don't count on these things doing the work for you with regards to Paradox Shifting.

Point 2:

What is this "stranglehold on public imagination" you talk about, Gek-Opel? How can anybody's imagination be strangled? It's your responsiblility to take care of the health of your own imagination. Do imaginations bloom better in non-capitalistic worlds? Would a sudden world-wide blossoming of imagination suddenly cause change for the better?

DJ PIMP
23-06-2006, 11:20 PM
I've often thought about this. I think the environment is the only thing larger that capitalism has to negotiate with - it can happily co-opt any ideology or philosophical challenge, and at least to date can force its way through any social/cultural clashes (eg. the middle east, the cold war) using brute force.

Which is also interesting in that the earth is generally personified in the feminine, and that western capitalism is imbalanced towards the masculine, given the dominant interpretation of christianity and the mind/body split and triumph of rationalism and science etc.

So yeah... I'm hopeful that theres great potential there for social change.

But you know what gives me the shits? America moving into the middle east at terrible expense to its economy, exerting immense political pressure and taking control of the resource. Essentially the Neo-Cons are acting like THERE IS NO TOMORROW.

gek-opel
24-06-2006, 07:34 AM
Troy: I think there is evidence of all three occurring now, and resource crisis is a reality which will hit home within the next 15 years guaranteed (and short of a massive technological shift away from fossil fuels which the energy industry will not currently countenance). Polar and Antarctic environments are already collapsing (sometimes literally so). Whilst you are correct that we mustn't bank on a paradigm shift, I think these changes will undoubtedly shift societies globally in new directions out of necessity- why the entirety of the last hundred years of "civilisation" has been dependent upon the readily available resource of cheap energy. Now obviously it is debatable as to how things will shake down- to a "smarter" capitalism perhaps (but again almost definitely a NEW stage, a shift from the current model of so-called late capitalism), or to full scale societal collapse, or to something different again...

As far as the imagination issue goes, it is not so much that the problem exists on a personal level, but rather that infests the sphere of public imagination, that of policy-makers most specifically. Resource crisis and climate change will mean that the current liberal social-laissez fair-economic "consensus" will rapidly be eroded. This will mean that there will be a space for new philosophic and political ideas.

borderpolice
25-06-2006, 10:45 AM
even a return to hunter-gatherer life would be preferable to what exists now. [...] completely out of balance with the world and human emotional needs.

and what makes you think that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is more in touch with human emotional needs?


he basically argued that cities will collapse when the price of oil hits a certain point, in the end we will have to design living habitats on a much more modest scale

one could argue towards the contrary: higher energy costs will lead to forms of human dwellings that require little physical movements and where the necessary physical movements are more energy efficient, i.e. urban metropoles with super public transport.

bassnation
25-06-2006, 12:53 PM
Polystyle: To be honest even a return to hunter-gatherer life would be preferable to what exists now.

if it involves the death of billions of people to get there then count me out.

polystyle desu
25-06-2006, 10:01 PM
With no flash heating - or freezing of our tribes imminent
tho' some parts of society adjusting to 'future shock'

in this time of flux updating and adjustments are being made almost continuously 24/7 to our
analog-digital /$ banking/data collection/security/enviornmental systems ;

Knowing how Governments usually do , delegate or hand out big $ projects to -
these developments could be botched in any number of ways and so we can count on seeing a share of mistakes , bungling on almost all levels local & Gov ( see New Orleans)
with something halfass as any kind of a probable result - morning after / sober Reality check capitalism

Full scale societal collapse;
Think of how much it would take to have that ...
how many GenocidesOil crisis'NuclearwarsAtomic&ChemicalNaturaldisasters would have to be brewing and triggered /tipped into rupture by X to accumulate into full scale collapse .
Certainly the drying of the 'heart' of Asia has been enough to drive people out and search for resources for thousands of years and it could well be that desert's dust that blows across Bejing to Japan to LA
drifts to become the fly in the ointment , a possible major hitch when whole areas of the country are already deserts and the desert ghosts are hungry.
High tides reaching into lower NYC could change our daily lives in 20 years - let alone 100 (1000 ?!)

While sometimes thinking of how many major blows can a country -economic system can take before breaking down , full scale society collapse could involve disasters on scales we haven't seen.
Some areas are more vunerable then others and everyone's vunerable to unheard of bad moon magnitudes of events like Asteroids hitting the planet ,
a shutdown of one of the deep sea conveyor cooling currents ,
an unknown , unseen massing of tectonic pressures underneath volcanos and quakes plates of Earth

What if we are looking at the world map 20 -50 years from now and see how it changed in year XXXX ...

bassnation
26-06-2006, 08:37 AM
While sometimes thinking of how many major blows can a country -economic system can take before breaking down , full scale society collapse could involve disasters on scales we haven't seen.

stephen hawking has been talking about venus as a future model for the earth, should we not pull our fingers out and deal with climate change, an idea i find utterly terrifying.

this goes far beyond even a catastrophe as massive as the one which did for the dinosaurs.

imagine if this came true - it makes all our endeavours, our art, our intrigues, our struggles seem so pointless.

DWD
26-06-2006, 01:22 PM
imagine if this came true - it makes all our endeavours, our art, our intrigues, our struggles seem so pointless.

Does it? Why?

bassnation
26-06-2006, 01:39 PM
Does it? Why?

whats the point of planning for the future when there is no future?

if it all gets wiped out so that not even a single trace exists, then did it matter?

polystyle desu
26-06-2006, 03:56 PM
Aaah, Bass I hear you - but it's happened before (usually a good marker of it possibly happening again)
and this time 'round our em , civil - ization has more science crystal ball to see it coming ,
but all that may well be quite small compared to spiraling , building enviornmental patterns , true.

I mention previously Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker because it's scenario ,
pretty heartbreaking (mind breaking ?) of an England that has been nuked (the city core glows)
back to approx Stone Age lifestyle , main protagonist RW finally comes to understand by the end of the book what has happened and he realizes what has been lost , well, his comprehension is truly sad.
Opening of Riddley's story :
'On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar on the Bundel Down's
any how there hadnt ben none for a long time before him nor I aint looking to see none agen.
He dint make the ground shake nor nothing like that when he come on my spear he wernt all that big plus he lookit poorly.
He done the reqwyrt he ternt and stood and clattert his teef and made his rush and we wer then.
Him on 1 end of the spear kicking his life out and me on the other end watching him dy.
I said , 'Your tern now my tern later.'

The ol' citizens of Atlantis , keepers & librarians at the great Library of Alexandria ,
original Albion-ers and Oak tree knowledge crew , Babylonians probably all thought they had a future too.

Grande plans o' man , collateral damage forever , blowback and reaction cause / effect

What's that washed up on the Thames - it's a photo image of , what were they called ...? ... oh, a whale .

All lost ? all plans washed or blown away ?
Calling all skamperers in twiight then ,
long time 'going down , going down now ...'

Troy
28-06-2006, 05:06 PM
I put my faith in America, and my money into it's Stock Market.

Because our Leaders of Men are some rich, greedy, evil, smart motherf**kers. And they'll find a way to keep going no matter what countries or peoples we have to exploit to do so.

In a dog-eat-dog world I wanna ride the biggest, baddest, nastiest PitBull on the planet, and be the last one standing when the battle ends.

gek-opel
28-06-2006, 07:47 PM
Troy- an understandable viewpoint, but one which ignores the fact that the USA is the best at capitalist rule only under present conditions, and the problem with global climate change is that it messes with some of the basic principles of rampant fuck-everyone late capitalism, ie- that eventually the issues with

(a) increased oil scarcity and
(b) localised climate change (ie flooding in coastal areas, changes in ecosystems leading to rapid extinctions, and weather patterns shifting so previously fertile areas no longer work as before)

mean that this is one crisis they probably won't be able to exploit their way out of. Merely postpone the inevitable perhaps, although given that the US is currently obscenely in debt to China, and that China will in a relatively short period of time exceed the US as the globally dominant economic superpower, such postponements may be pretty short lived indeed...

Those rich evil greedy and smart men may well not be able to cope with the rapid shifts which are going to come. All their strategies are based entirely upon the last 100 odd years of stable environments and super-abundant cheap energy sources.

gek-opel
28-06-2006, 07:52 PM
Polystyle: I'm sure we shall adapt even in a post-collapse situation. And who is to say that it will necessarily be viewed as a bad thing in the end? It will ultimately be traumatic in an almost incomprehensible way for us, those of us who have to live through it, but out the other side? If humans continue to live will they really look back with Riddley Walker's melancholy?

bassnation
28-06-2006, 08:18 PM
Polystyle: I'm sure we shall adapt even in a post-collapse situation. And who is to say that it will necessarily be viewed as a bad thing in the end? It will ultimately be traumatic in an almost incomprehensible way for us, those of us who have to live through it, but out the other side? If humans continue to live will they really look back with Riddley Walker's melancholy?

the ends justify the means? if life is rosy for people "on the other side", the price of all those lives is worth it?

i'm always wary when someone says other peoples lives are worth spending on a cause - whether its misplaced foreign adventures, communism or a return to pre-industrialised society - the latter being massively overrated in my eyes.

there was certainly misery back then and peoples lifespans were shorter. why is this necessarily a good thing to return to? because there'll be no advertising and kapital won't exist? and whos to say we won't go and invent capitalism all over again?

gek-opel
28-06-2006, 08:40 PM
I wasn't saying that the end justifies the means, merely that those at the other end might not mind as much as we might like to think... FWIW I suspect we are all personally going to be hating it quite a lot, and I do not relish the prospect... however...

Sure it lets us live much longer, but I remain unconvinced as to how much "progress" we have really made, beyond trading one slice of life/time for another (ie- we live longer but most of our lives are now occupied with work that makes the average westerner miserable- in hunter-gatherer societies people only "worked" for three hours a day...)

polystyle desu
29-06-2006, 02:52 PM
Hmm and aha

Troy , i will be having to trust in those 'en power to do something like the 'right thing' too late when the chips fall too , and as citizens we have some 'faith' in that 'will be done right'
- although everything i see points to the usual Pork spending and stuff their own pockets , their DeLay's , ENRONs and whatever PolitiCorp's they signed onto while patching a dam here , finding trailers for people there and taking Japanese PM's to Graceland for being 'loyal friend'.

Spied a number yesterday for saving the Cities from floodwaters in the area of 'hundreds of billions of dollars'
, hey throw out a number - we feel safer already .

Watching 9/11 from our bedroom window , the aftermath and effect on the island's day to day culture,
followed by the reports of the seemingly near ol' dirty bomb (that durty durty bomb progaganda)
that inroduced the 'Go Bag' to our WAR ON TERROR ALLTHE TIME peacetime vocab -
then having the summer city blackout a couple years ago had me following these trains of disaster thought.
Good thing i filled the tub with water before pressure ran out ,
could pull out the tiny camping stove and have some noodles that night , had a flashlight.
Arriving at the SuperM in time to snag the last bottled water the morning after was lucky,
and i probably only got the bread rolls left at the corner deli 'cause i know those Middle Eastern cats who own Deli's up and down Ave. A .
My decision to only make a 'food and water run' the day after also worked out ,
i didn't want to go up and down the 12 flights of stairs more then once while carrying water and stuff !
( with wife in Japan at the time , only had to 'shop' for one scrabler so that was a bit lucky too)

Out in the city at large , the blackout marked a party night; meat to be used before it got bad ,
luke beer better then none for some -
but by the second day , I started to see packs of teenage kids run
and went bk up to watch from the roof.
Had to take photos to commemorate because the skyline was so dark , town quiet and calm,
but wasn't looking forward to striking back out there the next day ...
It broke the second evening ,
but give any large city a few days , a week of large scale problems like no electricity , water or some transit
and the break down would be immense , some just won't make it
and we'll be talking differently from the other side.
I can imagine in these instances , different cities will react /act differently , Londinium different then say , LA
and Tokyo different from say , DC or Atlanta
but the plunge down into it could be swift and fatal and would take some of the Rich & Greedy right down with everybody .
I simply wish (dream on) that the 'smart' US would actually learn and apply lessions they should have learned in New Orleans and from all the hurricanes that have come so many times the names fast fade while repairs still not caught up.
Only some combination of passing of the 'old guards' time,
new faces coming in who may have actually not the sliver spoon firmly inserted and who have survived some disaster may finesse their area/quadrant through some bad times.
Possibly some 'Gore / Yeltsin of disasters' who rises , tolls the bells and raises the alarm - then sinks in the alluvial mud /smoked ruins later becoming a leader of those who made it to 'the other side'

Gek , wouldn't you look at your former home , say seen even only 1 year after a suitcase nuke contaminated your area , the old mags , Burial and dubstep CDR's all there from a former life
raise some tear in the possibly glowing dust ...

Mind you, the dirty nuke scenario is not an easy one to pull off and the damage probably quite limited.
It's really down to which way the wind blows , that day, that zero hour .

Those big crows took the windsock off the Cable TV antennae (again) ...

dogger
29-06-2006, 02:55 PM
in hunter-gatherer societies people only "worked" for three hours a day...)

What possible verification can you have for this? What do you mean by 'work' anyway, since you've put it in inverted commas?

polystyle desu
29-06-2006, 03:04 PM
Was taking a hard look at that number '3 hrs a day' ?

That's not how it goes down on the farm or out in the country ... !
Getting, harvesting , digging and hunting yer essentials takes a lot of time each day

'3 hrs a day' that's barely average TV time p day

bassnation
29-06-2006, 03:09 PM
What possible verification can you have for this? What do you mean by 'work' anyway, since you've put it in inverted commas?

yeah, the "good old days" of the primitive hunter / gatherer society - when most women died young in childbirth and the line between survival and starvation was a thin one.

but hey, capitalism didn't exist so it must have been a veritable utopia.

whats wrong with progress if it saves peoples lives with modern medicine or makes their existence more comfortable? should we really feel ashamed of this? its extremely naive to imagine that any kind of human society is without its own problems, violence or exploitation.

gek-opel
29-06-2006, 05:14 PM
Bassnation/Dogger: In pure hunter-gatherer societies (ie- not those with crops) labour has been approximated in a study I read to about 3 hrs per 24 hour period. "Work" consists of hunting/trapping and foraging. It might be more than this, but I suspect not much more on average...

I remain unconvinced that we have progressed much, merely exchanged some time here for some other time there, we're certainly not living in paradise, are we? Most women did not die in childbirth (more did die, yes, but surely not most?)... equally most modern "comforts" are little more than new forms of existential slavery... I am not claiming that life then was necessarily easier, or more extensive... just that it was not some living hell (or perhaps it was, but just of a different kind to the one we have now...)

Polystyle: Hmm. The situation you describe is agonizing. However, providing I can physically sustain myself- what exactly has been lost? Just possessions?

bassnation
29-06-2006, 05:43 PM
Bassnation/Dogger: In pure hunter-gatherer societies (ie- not those with crops) labour has been approximated in a study I read to about 3 hrs per 24 hour period. "Work" consists of hunting/trapping and foraging. It might be more than this, but I suspect not much more on average...

I remain unconvinced that we have progressed much, merely exchanged some time here for some other time there, we're certainly not living in paradise, are we? Most women did not die in childbirth (more did die, yes, but surely not most?)... equally most modern "comforts" are little more than new forms of existential slavery... I am not claiming that life then was necessarily easier, or more extensive... just that it was not some living hell (or perhaps it was, but just of a different kind to the one we have now...)


gek, the chances of a woman dying during childbirth was as high as 1 in 8 as recently as 200 years ago, let alone back then. do you realise how much of a challenge it is to give birth to an animal with such a large brain as a human being? its a trade off that mother nature made. without medical advancement the figure would be very much higher.

if you see this is a luxury, you have a very different view of the world than i do. its all very well looking at poverty and seeing it as some noble thing ("its just possessions") when you've never been anywhere near even relative poverty yourself. the reality is less noble than you imagine it to be. its insulting to the poor to play these games, i think. do you imagine all of us living in poverty would somehow make us more ethical beings?

and as for existential slavery, i actually enjoy my work and yes, i enjoy the little luxuries of modern western existence - as do you. we wouldn't even be having this conversation via the wonders of modern technology if you didn't. i suppose the next thing is that old chestnut about being so oppressed i don't even realise. i'm not buying it.

gek-opel
29-06-2006, 06:21 PM
Hmm- ok but is poverty not a relative concept? I talk not of the poor now, living in a world of incredible inequality, but of this future we have been discussing, where presumably there are no enclaves of Western privilege.

Also: this is not an urban poverty, but a return to a hunter-gatherer society. You hunt, you gather, you die relatively young, and at the first sign of serious sickness you are basically fucked. I'm not positing this as some kind of noble or ethical option... merely as one which is not necessarily worse than our own (where we have exchanged 50% of our lives for an extension in life length, rather than quality). It is this trade-off which is essential. Everything else (products, goods services) are mere frippery and distraction, given meaning in context but not in any sense absolute goods.

My idea with this thread was to interrogate the possibility that the collapse of our environment will challenge some of our basic conceptions of our interrelation with the world and each other...

Troy
29-06-2006, 06:46 PM
Great thread, Gek-Opel. (my last post was actually an attempt at humor)

It is an interesting idea... that calamity might change how people relate with the world and each other. But just as modern society is a reflection of basic human qualities (good and bad), so will any future society, whether it be post-armageddon or not. The basic unit (the person) needs to change for the whole (society) to change.

It's the same reasoning I used in my thread called "My Plan to Destry Capitalism", but maybe I shouldn't go there, as that thread got some Dissensians banned...

DJ PIMP
29-06-2006, 09:53 PM
It is an interesting idea... that calamity might change how people relate with the world and each other. But just as modern society is a reflection of basic human qualities (good and bad), so will any future society, whether it be post-armageddon or not. The basic unit (the person) needs to change for the whole (society) to change.The individual and collective mirror one another, and the environment.

gek-opel
30-06-2006, 09:27 PM
Cheers Troy...

I was really looking for some Dissensians better-read than I to hit me up with some philosophical/political theory shit on the impact of these events, so I could fill my knowledge gaps in this area...

so...?

bassnation
30-06-2006, 10:41 PM
Cheers Troy...

I was really looking for some Dissensians better-read than I to hit me up with some philosophical/political theory shit on the impact of these events, so I could fill my knowledge gaps in this area...

so...?

alright, you have some interesting ideas. so lets turn it round.

in what way do you think a hunter / gatherer lifestyle would benefit mankind?

do you, for example, think modern life has made us fat, lazy and complacent? do you think a short life filled with danger and death would fulfil us more? the whole james dean thing.

and lastly, if you went to sleep in your own bed tonight and woke up tomorrow in a pre-civilised society, how would you feel? what would you most miss and would it really be something important you couldn't live without (say, for example, your collected works of lacan, or maybe your nitendo game boy - its all the same, at least as far as hunter gatherers are concerned).

and extending said ridicolous and hypothetical situation, if you could take one item there with you, what would be? choose carefully, because back then there are no plug points. batteries count however, but obviously with diminishing returns.

do you think people would be aggressive, or would the light regime of three hours a day setting the traps lead to a generally chilled out vibe? at what point do you think the poisoned apple dropped into eden?

do you think its possible to put all that harmful knowledge back in the box? do you think its possible that hunter gatherer societies could stay as just that, without morphing into bigger and less amenable structures?

come on lets have your thoughts. i wish i could couch these questions in academic terms but sorry its just not me.

dogger
01-07-2006, 03:10 PM
Bassnation/Dogger: In pure hunter-gatherer societies (ie- not those with crops) labour has been approximated in a study I read to about 3 hrs per 24 hour period. "Work" consists of hunting/trapping and foraging. It might be more than this, but I suspect not much more on average...


Would be interested to find out which study. Why is 'work' defined in such narrow terms? Doesn't all the time spent sitting around making tools etc also count as work, since it would have been necessary for survival? And have you ever tried lighting a fire without matches? That almost takes three hours on its own. It's also an outrageously sexist idea: doesn't looking after children count as 'work' as well (although our own society doesn't exactly credit it as such)? Sorry to quibble over details but it just seems like an outrageous claim to make, in support of a very tenuous idea i.e. that there was some form of Edenic pre-civilisation human existence to which we can potentially return.

Symphathise with your main points however, and think it is an interesting discussion.

polystyle desu
01-07-2006, 06:49 PM
Gek , is there philo/political theory on this ?
i would guess the po mo authors haven't gotten their hands in the dirt er, ... ever ?
all a bit up in the Tower and too 'klean' to garden let alone hunt & gather

But continuing to burrow into the thoughts here , ok 'hunter -gatherers' :
The world has woken up the day after - thrown into turmoil - broken down and they realize
nothing in the fridge , the corner shop is closed (and here in NYC) no Fresh Direct trucks are coming to deliver the good stuff to your door ...

Maybe those hippies 'out in the country' , the green thumb of the town , little plots of the dacha's are going to have something on hand / in hand and will be looking real good ...
to the rest of the armed and monied populace who didn't do a green thing.

The cities lose weight > starve while country Co ops hang on ?
The last Russian collective farm thumbs their noses while the consumers suffer ?
I can imagine the first Green Market's day here in a 'last days' crisis ...
green smears on the pavement and stiffening bodies all that's left in the trashed booths @ Union Sq.
Snipers covering raiders , thick plated cars from the PolitiCorp's , soldiers at the barricades.

Where would the first citizens be shot in a food riot ,
all batteries soon gone /stolen/bartered/hoarded ,
hand powered radios , TV's - (iPods !) , pressure's down so we drink from the rivers once the stores have been picked clean ...

'Who's your tribe ...' asks a voice coming out of the dark at the jerry rigged border ck,
it asks remarkably nicely the first time ...

gek-opel
02-07-2006, 12:49 PM
@ Dogger-- yes you're probably correct about the sexism re: childcare, however my source for this was a documentary on indigenous Congolese tribes (I think... memory hazy) and in a food rich environment- here a lush jungle- the time taken to hunt for food each day was 3 hours, of course many other life-tasks need to be completed at the same time- construction of shelters, religious ritual, childcare, cooking of food etc etc.
Its not so much a pre-Edenic civilisation I was on about really (though I think it ain't as bad as Bassnation would have us believe, but possibly not as good as I have been propounding either) but rather how environmental changes and resource crisis) which will occur in a creeping slow manner over the next century will give us the potential to rethink various systems of political and economic organisation... that instead of the dreamed of technological solutions to these grave dangers (needed so we can continue exactly as before) there might be imaginative solutions, requiring radical shifts in lifestyle, political organisation, and our own conceptions of how we interrelate with the world- ie a fundamental challenge to the hegemony of late capitalism.

The question really is how long it will take for different countries to stop believing they can simply go on as before with some modifications of behaviour and some more advanced technology? Cos the kind of post-apocalyptic tribe-world conceived of by Polystyle Desu, where dressed in rags we huddle around as the glowing back-light of the last powered-up i-pod slowly winks out before us will only occur if we continue to be as arrogant as we have been. If the problem is global, how can a system of government based around competing individual countries, each supporting thousands of competing individual corporations and companies actually effectively deal with this threat? There is a tension here-- either increased fragmentation to the point of neo-primitive tribes, or a new internationalism... though whether such a solution will be too late by then...

polystyle desu
02-07-2006, 01:36 PM
A scattered tribe world is not something I look forward to ,
I only come to those conclusions based on observation ,
Sci Fi and cautionary Lit , movies , general enviornment and human trending.

I do think perhaps here in the States esp. since 9/11 -
but also before , there is still some 'well ,i'll just pick up and start again' hard core/hard scrabble mentality built in ( not that very far from the 'endless plain ' 'free country' , I want it - i shoot it ,make it mine mentality)
and so we end up 'existing into' what we expect
so a diet of scary news, science shows , news science shows and 24 has some rigged daily to deal .

Won't even get into the fact that whatever happens, the States , the US Corporation ,
will be right there , *ucking up but as Troy pointed - surviving too .

I'll be thinking about the last part of your reply Gek , the global possiblities

tatarsky
02-07-2006, 03:00 PM
Re: Primitive Society:

As Gek is aware, I recently went on a slightly bizarre holiday to Dorset, which was an introductory training course to Bushcraft and Survival skills. Some have mocked this as some tree-hugging, 'finding myself' exercise, but nothing could be further from the reality of my intensions or experience. It involved - building a shelter, sleeping in it for a week, primitive fire-lighting techniques (fireflash+knife+birch bark; Flint and Steel ; Friction by bow-drill), navigation, tracking, setting traps and snares, primitive fishing, food preparation and cooking (I skinned a rabbit and made a rather nice stew), water collection and treatment.

I mention this because, whilst the whole experience was fantastically fulfilling and re-energising, it did leave me feeling grateful for modern civilisation. Building a fire by friction is exceedingly hard work, takes hours, is exhausting, and there's no guarentee you'll actually manage it. And certainly the 3 hours work gek cites is way of the mark for temperate climates - there is surprisingly little vegetation that is edible (getting carbohydrates is particuarly difficult), so many more hours would be needed than that to find food - some agriculture would be necessary, and catching wild animals is always going to be hit and miss.

The experience was surprisingly re-energising, both mentally and physically. At the moment my exercise routine doesn't extend outside the walls of dmz, so to spend a week of continuous physical exertion, with the country air in my lungs, improved my health dramatically. The mental improvement was most notable though. The days consisted of specific tasks, all of which were completed by the end of the day, in stark contrast to the manner of my current employment, and the issues and difficulties that go with modern life. I slept beautifully, with none of the usual unresolved issue driven insomnia and exhausting REM sleep.

Undoubtedly these aspects were hugely satisfying, but by the end of the week, I was thoroughly looking forward to going back to london, to sleep in my own bed, to have running water, readily available food and warmth. But even more than that, it was clear that living like this would be incredibly boring. The daily grind of lighting a fire, maintaining it, and food collection and preparation would become unbearably dull.

Above all I came to appreciate some of my more recent musical experiences as the truly amazing achievements they are (a wonderfully energetic and puzzling Battles gig, DMZ, Alva Noto and Ryoji Ikeda at the Tate).

Re: Climate Change and Resource crisis against the Capitalist Real

Gek's right, the pressures of climate change and resource crisis may require a fundamental shift in economic and political structures. I'm not convinced by this construct of the 'Capitalist Real', in fact , I think that's a misleading and unhelpful term that K-p's put forward. Undoubtedly, the Reality aspect of that phrase deserves consideration - as an expression of current totalitarian control over thought/action and a reinforcement that the current state of affairs is the only possible one, the 'natural' one, the only alternative in this Globalised world.

It is the reference to Capitalism that I have a beef with. Both sides are happy to accept that the current situation is a capitalist one (by which i mean, the political elite, and k-pesque Marxists), as it suits their world views. But I would question that as a fact. Throughout all of the developed world, tax rates sit somewhere around the 40% mark. In other words, 40% of all goods and services are provided for by the state. That doesn't really sound that laissez-faire to me. Furthermore, the economy scarcely resembles any of the theoretical contructs that proponents of free-market economics use to justify their arguments, which necessarily imply a large number of small firms in each market. The reality is a small number of large firms.

The current reality can scarcely be described as Capitalist.

It would be better described as Monopolist Real.

I think thinking about it in those terms might yield better insight in to how climate change and resource crisis might break down the current reality - since a capitalist structure might well remain in tact, even a free market one, and may even provide the solution. The problem is one of monopolists reinforcing their market power through control of consumers (via increasingly sophisticated and deceptive marketing) and governments (from the process of Globalisation), leaving us with an imposed monoculture designed for as little disruption to the hegemony of the banks and big business as possible.

gek-opel
02-07-2006, 03:27 PM
Big up Tatarsky...

Yeah the three hours thing only works in staggeringly rich environments such as jungle... I have read theories posited as to the eventual "success" of Chinese, European, and Middle Eastern civilisations throughout history being dependant on this, the greater difficulty of achieving basic subsistence leading to a broader variety of solutions and increased innovation... (Davies in "Europe- A History" I believe)

Yes "monopolist real" works well also because it links the economic monopoly to that which this stage has on the imagination... and yes, free-market economists use theory which corresponds little to practice to underpin their efforts to further extend these monopolies... (the endless galling US-laissez faire arguments for reduced regulation in developing nations obviously springs to mind, whilst they themselves maintain protectionist domestic policies on agriculture for example...)

tatarsky
02-07-2006, 03:53 PM
Yeah the three hours thing only works in staggeringly rich environments such as jungle... I have read theories posited as to the eventual "success" of Chinese, European, and Middle Eastern civilisations throughout history being dependant on this, the greater difficulty of achieving basic subsistence leading to a broader variety of solutions and increased innovation... (Davies in "Europe- A History" I believe)

This seems to make sense. Presumably the mechanism is that the struggle of daily life in difficult climates meant people were accustomed to working hard, and developing tools (and a coordinated economic structure) to make things easier, and then the process just continues. As opposed to just getting on with eating nice ripe fruit.



I find it slightly easier to imagine the effects of resource crisis than climate change.

Resource crisis will presumably imply escalating prices of those scarce resources. Undoubtely, that will mean that people will turn to creating their own products and services from readily available resource - and a much greater degree of recycling and looking after one's stuff and fixing things rather than just chucking it out when it's old and you're bored with it. The cost of the 'new' will go up. Also, travel will be much more expensive, which will mean that the benefits of Globalisation to business will be eroded by the increased costs of shipping. Which would imply that the specialisation that Globalisation has released will have to shrink back again.

The price of stuff is the key indicator here - the point at which transportation costs go beyond the benefits of increased specialisation and cheap foreign labour will be the point at which the hegemony of the Global Company will begin to collapse.

Doubtless, we're in for some inflation.

bruno
02-07-2006, 03:54 PM
It is the reference to Capitalism that I have a beef with. Both sides are happy to accept that the current situation is a capitalist one (by which i mean, the political elite, and k-pesque Marxists), as it suits their world views. But I would question that as a fact. Throughout all of the developed world, tax rates sit somewhere around the 40% mark. In other words, 40% of all goods and services are provided for by the state. That doesn't really sound that laissez-faire to me. Furthermore, the economy scarcely resembles any of the theoretical contructs that proponents of free-market economics use to justify their arguments, which necessarily imply a large number of small firms in each market. The reality is a small number of large firms.

The current reality can scarcely be described as Capitalist.

It would be better described as Monopolist Real.

I think thinking about it in those terms might yield better insight in to how climate change and resource crisis might break down the current reality - since a capitalist structure might well remain in tact, even a free market one, and may even provide the solution. The problem is one of monopolists reinforcing their market power through control of consumers (via increasingly sophisticated and deceptive marketing) and governments (from the process of Globalisation), leaving us with an imposed monoculture designed for as little disruption to the hegemony of the banks and big business as possible.
a lucid argument. but i think you will agree that outside the developed world there are places with situations similar to those that gave rise to marxism originally, grossly iniquitive and with societal structures that perpetuate this state of things. it remains to be seen how effective these new economic frameworks will be in helping mutate these structures, if at all.

gek-opel
02-07-2006, 04:09 PM
Yeah, interesting point Re: the global company, utterly dependant on the current rich energy supplies to allow their networks of importing goods from the cheapest labour markets, and outsourcing for services. They must be pretty sensitive to any cost changes in energy...

tatarsky
02-07-2006, 04:19 PM
a lucid argument. but i think you will agree that outside the developed world there are places with situations similar to those that gave rise to marxism originally, grossly iniquitive and with societal structures that perpetuate this state of things. it remains to be seen how effective these new economic frameworks will be in helping mutate these structures, if at all.

Could you elaborate on this, I'm not quite sure what you mean?

bruno
02-07-2006, 05:10 PM
tatarsky: i meant mutate for the good.

in some parts of the world the gap between rich and poor is far more pronounced than in, say, the uk. labour laws are deficient, class divisions are strict and so on. in opening these markets to trade liberalisation, for example, would this produce a widening or bridging of that gap between rich and poor?

[of course there are no magical formulas. the same set of rules applied to different societies can lead to disaster or betterment. and i'm aware that a free trade agreement is only a mechanism, not a tool for societal change. but it comes with a set of rules by which you must abide, barring, for example, certain exploitative practises and so on. how strict these are depends on how much both parties are prepared to compromise.]

tatarsky
02-07-2006, 05:39 PM
tatarsky: i meant mutate for the good.

in some parts of the world the gap between rich and poor is far more pronounced than in, say, the uk. labour laws are deficient, class divisions are strict and so on. in opening these markets to trade liberalisation, for example, would this produce a widening or bridging of that gap between rich and poor?

Well, actually, if you use the Gini coefficient (standard measure of income inequality), it's only really South America that has greater inequality that the US and UK:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gini_coefficient

But anyway, there's not really much of a consensus as to how trade liberalisation effects inequality - some say it benefits the rich disproportionately and is to the detriment of the poor - others the say the opposite.

I wouldn't say inequality was necessarily the biggest issue for these nations though. If income goes up, and people are brought out of poverty, these would definitely represent an improvement, even if inequality increases a bit.

So, what are we saying here, in the context of this discussion: that the absorption of developing world states will disrupt the global order?

Undoubtedly, China will do so (especially since they're underpinning the $). Not sure about the others though. Unless we go far enough so that there is no cheap labour to be found, but i'm pretty sure that's a long way away.

bruno
03-07-2006, 02:04 AM
So, what are we saying here, in the context of this discussion: that the absorption of developing world states will disrupt the global order?
i think the model of rich nations syphoning off goods from poorer ones today is a caricature, things aren't black and white. things have changed. in any case it is even less beneficial than before to act in such a way precisely because of interdependence or globalisation, whatever you want to call it. injustice breeds discontent, which breeds instability, and this is ultimately bad for commerce. so you need to make sure your parters diversify, develop in their capacity to deliver what you need, are a happy healthy lot, but never completely to your standards. you always have to have the upper hand. and i suppose one could argue the other way around, that protectionism - massive subsidies for key areas of the economy, keeping a tight fist around, say, technological advances, is bad because it limits propagation, competition, etc. but then you have the case of china in which they have taken apart things patiently, made their own version of whatever they need (media formats, etc) and moved on, not trampling over developed countries but ignoring them altogether. this is a massive shift from the classic competition scenario. so there is no formula, and one would have to do a case by case study to draw any conclusion, if one is to be had at all. but with the free market system i think along the same lines as with democracy: it isn't perfect, but it's what has worked best up to now.

bruno
03-07-2006, 02:23 AM
that instead of the dreamed of technological solutions to these grave dangers (needed so we can continue exactly as before) there might be imaginative solutions, requiring radical shifts in lifestyle, political organisation,
this has been done in the past: cambodia - to catastrophic effect. under the khmer rouge technology, medicines, expertise of any kind was destroyed. all the things one takes for granted. all the comforts that to you are 'little more than existential slavery'.

if any restructuring of society is to be done it can't go against the basic tenets that guide it. if, for example, to postpone some impending disaster some form of slavery is proposed, this is not an acceptable solution. sending the whole population back to the stone age is not a solution either. if the cure is worse than the sickness, let the patient die in peace.

tryptych
03-07-2006, 02:07 PM
the ends justify the means? if life is rosy for people "on the other side", the price of all those lives is worth it?

i'm always wary when someone says other peoples lives are worth spending on a cause - whether its misplaced foreign adventures, communism or a return to pre-industrialised society - the latter being massively overrated in my eyes.

there was certainly misery back then and peoples lifespans were shorter. why is this necessarily a good thing to return to? because there'll be no advertising and kapital won't exist? and whos to say we won't go and invent capitalism all over again?

I don't pretend to understand much about Primitivism, but at least some threads of it don't simply advocate a return to pre-civilisation, hunter-gatherers nad staying there - rather developing "technology" and "medicine" etc along different lines, not those based in and around the various structures of power/agriculture/heirarchy that founded civilisation as we know it. Obviously, comprehending what a non-civilised, non-technological "technology" would be like is near impossible - that's part of the "stranglehold on the imagination", the determining of what is possible by capital/whatever you want to call it, that Gek and Mark K-Punk have talked about.

WRT Bassnation's point about spending people's lives on this cause, I see it less as a desirable position to work to, more as a likely natural turn of events - as John Gray (definately not a primitivist) claims in "Straw Dogs", 6 billion plus people is more than the earth can sustain. And just like populations of all other animals, bacteria etc, when the numbers reach intolerable levels, something's going to cull th population - disease, environmental catastrophy, war.

So it's not a question of is it "worth" it, or means being justified... I don't see that more people = a good thing, in any absolute terms.

Oh - the wikipedia entry on primitivism has lots of info on Zerzan et al, and plenty of links to various studies which claim different things about exactly how much leisure time hunter gatherers had:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-primitivism

gek-opel
03-07-2006, 04:27 PM
Bruno: Hate to say it but your responses only demonstrate the shackles imposed at present on the imagination--- that its either Cambodian year zero or what we have now! You are correct that a "year zero" style approach will lead only to the throwing of various beneficial babies out with the rancid bathwater they are currently bathed in-- but realistically the solutions are going to be relatively simple, and probably not as extreme as reverting to a primitive society. Somewhere in between that extreme and where we are now lies the solution, and it is perfectly possible to negotiate that within the bounds of the principles of our society (although these are rather less fundamental and more fluid over time than you might imagine). A question: Will America be able to cope with this shift from endless exploitable horizons? Or to put it another way, are its own basic tenets so antithetical to the reforms necessary as to render them impossible without the collapse of its society?

Oh and Re: China and other developing nations--- they aren't ignoring them, they are MASSIVELY investing in certain parts of Africa at least, and are welcomed as they don't ask too many ethical questions apparently...

noel emits
03-07-2006, 04:31 PM
In "The Human Zoo" Desmond Morris makes the point that our societies have developed far in advance of our evolution. So, whereas for the vast majority of our existence, and therefore the conditions under which we evolved into what we are today, we existed in small tribal groups. Under these circumstances we knew most of the people we would come into contact with and our leaders (respected tribal elders?) were very accessible and immediately accountable. We also knew exactly why they were to be considered wise and worthy of our respect.

Under these circumstances our individual impact on the lives of our fellow's and our environment was also plain to see.

Now vast numbers of humans live in large population centers surrounded by 'strangers' - this can lead to wide-scale feelings of anxiety / mistrust / alienation and lack of social responsibility. Our 'leaders' are now utterly remote. The difficulty being that we are really not every well equipped to deal with the situation we have made for ourselves.

Sorry if this sounds simplistic, i think it is relevant.

gek-opel
03-07-2006, 04:33 PM
Which leads to a need for reduction in scale of individual reality- for both psychological and environmental benefit.

DJ PIMP
03-07-2006, 09:05 PM
Is it that the social or environmental reality is too large in scale, or that the nature of the reality is so dense and complex as to overwhelm us?

polystyle desu
03-07-2006, 11:13 PM
Continues to be a good thread Gek and everyone ...
Noel I think you (& Desmond Morris 'Zoo') are ROTM ...
Bleep - interesting way to ask the question , most problems can hopefully be broken down into solveable size
depends on the brains and how desperate we become / how much time we have ...
Tartarsky - great account of how freakin hard it is to make a fire with friction ! from someone who was actually out there in the woods
Good on ya man for the stretch

DJ PIMP
03-07-2006, 11:50 PM
"In small schools, students participated more, it meant more to them, they were more tolerant of others, they formed closers, more lasting relationships, were more effective in group processes, could communicate better, performed six times more in responsible positions, they were absent less often, were more dependable, tended to volunteer more often, were more productive, were more articulate, and found their work more meaningful. In other words, the small schools produced better citizens, who tended to be more satisfied with their lives and were more competent in every way.

What is easily missed in all this is that consolidations is not restricted to schools but found on all sides — particularly in business and government. Everything is getting bigger: automobiles, airplanes, buildings, and cities. We are living in an age of giants. Yet everything that is known about man’s needs points in the other directions. It is like a disease: since everyone has it, we think nothing of it. The problem, of course, is that vulnerability increases with size and it therefore becomes necessary…to “manage” the environment, which makes for great rigidity and suppression of the individual as well."

Beyond Culture, by Edward T. Hall

bruno
04-07-2006, 01:45 AM
gek:

true, the cambodian example is a bit over the top. but i can't think of many good precedents for radical change, perhaps you could mention a few that have worked (that didn't involve trampling over human rights). i'm all for change, though. but gradual.

imagination: i'm pleased to report mine is intact. the problem is that imagination comes up against the wall of how humans actually think and behave. and that hasn't changed much over time, probably never will.

doll steak
04-07-2006, 07:30 AM
Bruno - How about the English Revolution of the late 1600s? I'm not saying nobody died (they did), but unlike the dynastic wars which preceded it (accompanying 'gradual change') it put a new, dynamic class in charge that improved life for millions of people. This seems the crucial thing to me - not the pace of change but in what direction its going. We have gradual change in the welfare system in the UK at the moment, but its movign towards the end of support for the disadvanted - mentally ill people being forced into the 'labour market'.

John Doe
04-07-2006, 11:40 AM
How about the foundation of the Welfare State in the UK in 1945 by Atlee's post-war Labour government? A 'paradigm shift' which occured practically overnight, in the teeth of oppostion from vested interests, and which overturned many of the hiterto 'common sense' analysis of captial and the social that had underpinned the economic system in the UK since the 19th Century?

gek-opel
04-07-2006, 03:16 PM
Bleep: I think yr quote answered your question there! I think sustainable semi-autonomous living areas on a much smaller scale are what is necessary, but this doesn't mean that technology can't play a vital role in allowing them to be just as functional in terms of medical care and IT as before.

DJ PIMP
04-07-2006, 09:13 PM
Yeah, I'm not convinced though. Communications technology would ensure that such smaller communities didn't become totally insular, but theres interesting frictions that come from having larger communities that aren't culturally homogenous where our differences rub up against each other. If things slowed down a bit and we weren't so crushed under the weight of our own media I like to imagine that maybe we'd get to know each other a bit better.

Is it necessary to retreat to the smaller community model or can we attempt to change the existing model, perhaps better mediate the communities within large cities?

What are the aspects of the megalopolis that actually appeal to people?

noel emits
04-07-2006, 09:26 PM
Indeed it may not be so much a matter of scale as a question of involvement / responsibility.

Awareness of interconnectedness / interdependance needs to be increased. This applies to societies and environments.

In this light those supposedly 'smart' greedy people that currently have a grip on the global scene will be seen to be short-sighted and very simple-minded. They are not even serving their own best interests.

bruno
05-07-2006, 05:32 AM
doll steak: you're right, pace isn't the central thing. i tend to associate speed with violence, i don't know why. and you mention the direction of change. i would add that it also has to be legitimate, or be perceived as legitimate.

gek-opel
05-07-2006, 05:16 PM
Bleep: Yeah, I hadn't considered the lack of diversity which would ensue. That's a big problem. It would forment conflict.

KernKätzchen
09-07-2006, 04:03 PM
Yeah, I'm not convinced though. Communications technology would ensure that such smaller communities didn't become totally insular, but theres interesting frictions that come from having larger communities that aren't culturally homogenous where our differences rub up against each other. If things slowed down a bit and we weren't so crushed under the weight of our own media I like to imagine that maybe we'd get to know each other a bit better.

Is it necessary to retreat to the smaller community model or can we attempt to change the existing model, perhaps better mediate the communities within large cities?

What are the aspects of the megalopolis that actually appeal to people?

I think the key appeal of living in the big city is the combination of everyday anonymity (nobody recognising you on the bus etc.) with the freedom to contact like-minded people if you want. So you get the security of being able to hide yourself in the crowd - and I think it is a source of security, as well as of insecurity (I've often wondered how many people would come to my rescue if I dropped down with a heart attack on a busy London street) - as well as the security that comes with being part of a community one has chosen to become a member of: one based on like-mindedness rather than mere geographical proxmity. I'm talking about the sort of communities that spring up surrounding particular music scenes, for example, or even web forums like this one (where the geographical principle is completely removed). Obviously these geographically dispersed but culturally specialised communities depend for their survival on communications technology and, in a city, on cheap local travel. Whether this means we all get to know each other a bit better or whether it means we all just seek out our little cultural niches and merely tolerate the other people on the bus, I don't know.

soundslike1981
09-07-2006, 09:42 PM
The idea of someone pontificating about how great a post-"kapital," return-to-hunter-gathering existence will be <i>on the fucking internet</i> is hilariously absurd. Techno-hippie babbling on the backs of pretentious university degrees.

Is it not better, perhaps, to oppose the rampant, myopic exploitations of "late" capitalism; but to say that the goal of "civilisation" is ultimately better than alternatives based on mere survival?

It's crap like this thread that sadden me most, because of all of the obvious intelligence being wasted on fantasy. So many conservatives who conserve nothing; and liberals who forget that liberation is a product of, rather than the opposite of, civilisation.

It's shit like "Amerikkkan" that means our bright minds are impotent. You can't do better than that?

soundslike1981
09-07-2006, 09:47 PM
if the cure is worse than the sickness, let the patient die in peace.


Amen.

soundslike1981
09-07-2006, 09:48 PM
Bruno: Hate to say it but your responses only demonstrate the shackles imposed at present on the imagination--- that its either Cambodian year zero or what we have now! You are correct that a "year zero" style approach will lead only to the throwing of various beneficial babies out with the rancid bathwater they are currently bathed in-- but realistically the solutions are going to be relatively simple, and probably not as extreme as reverting to a primitive society. Somewhere in between that extreme and where we are now lies the solution, and it is perfectly possible to negotiate that within the bounds of the principles of our society (although these are rather less fundamental and more fluid over time than you might imagine). A question: Will America be able to cope with this shift from endless exploitable horizons? Or to put it another way, are its own basic tenets so antithetical to the reforms necessary as to render them impossible without the collapse of its society?

Oh and Re: China and other developing nations--- they aren't ignoring them, they are MASSIVELY investing in certain parts of Africa at least, and are welcomed as they don't ask too many ethical questions apparently...


Please, please tell me you're still at university. Please?

Edit: or, alternatively, please tell me what it is you <i>do</i> to eat, clothe and shelter yourself while pondering ways to free your creativity from the shackles of Amerikkkan Kapitalist hegemony or whatever. I hope to goodness you're at least working for Oxfam or the like, not being a painter or a poet or something.

soundslike1981
09-07-2006, 09:58 PM
Cheers Troy...

I was really looking for some Dissensians better-read than I to hit me up with some philosophical/political theory shit on the impact of these events, so I could fill my knowledge gaps in this area...

so...?


Ok, I'm sticking to the music threads at Dissensus, I guess.

One thing's for sure--the Ivory Towers will be amongst the first to fall, when it all comes crashing down. I lament the loss of actual knowledge, but the razing of minds obsessed with "philosophical/political theory shit on the impact of" events of the most severely physical, destructive sort is one of the few good things I can see about a return to a primitive survival.

KernKätzchen
11-07-2006, 10:52 AM
The idea of someone pontificating about how great a post-"kapital," return-to-hunter-gathering existence will be <i>on the fucking internet</i> is hilariously absurd. Techno-hippie babbling on the backs of pretentious university degrees.


No-one is claiming it would be great. The point is it may happen. To point something out as a possibility is not the same as to condone it morally.

KernKätzchen
11-07-2006, 11:05 AM
Ok, I'm sticking to the music threads at Dissensus, I guess.

One thing's for sure--the Ivory Towers will be amongst the first to fall, when it all comes crashing down. I lament the loss of actual knowledge, but the razing of minds obsessed with "philosophical/political theory shit on the impact of" events of the most severely physical, destructive sort is one of the few good things I can see about a return to a primitive survival.

Because of course, all theory is bollocks, isn't it? And academics are locked in their ivory towers, out of touch with the 'real world' and everything in it, creaming off our hard-earned taxes on their fat research grants blah bloody blah turn to page 13. I don't know what your definition of 'actual knowledge' might be, but killing off an Internet discussion thread with your pernicious brand of inverted snobbery is not, I would say, a good way to encourage any kind of intellectual development. Because these events may be destructive to the socio-economic systems upon which we all (not just the 'ivory towers') currently depend, does that mean nobody is permitted to discuss them?

KernKätzchen
11-07-2006, 11:07 AM
and liberals who forget that liberation is a product of, rather than the opposite of, civilisation.


..."you're either with us or you're against us..."

KernKätzchen
11-07-2006, 11:08 AM
It's shit like "Amerikkkan"

Na. Fair enough. That is shit.

matt b
11-07-2006, 12:58 PM
"I was really looking for some Dissensians better-read than I to hit me up with some philosophical/political theory shit on the impact of these events, so I could fill my knowledge gaps in this area... "

have you read murray bookchin (http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bookchin/bio1.html)?

bassnation
11-07-2006, 01:14 PM
Because of course, all theory is bollocks, isn't it? And academics are locked in their ivory towers, out of touch with the 'real world' and everything in it, creaming off our hard-earned taxes on their fat research grants blah bloody blah turn to page 13. I don't know what your definition of 'actual knowledge' might be, but killing off an Internet discussion thread with your pernicious brand of inverted snobbery is not, I would say, a good way to encourage any kind of intellectual development. Because these events may be destructive to the socio-economic systems upon which we all (not just the 'ivory towers') currently depend, does that mean nobody is permitted to discuss them?

his points are as valid as anything else said on this thread - hes injecting some much needed reality into the discussion. to turn it around, are you saying that ideas that aren't couched in pomo academic terms are worth nothing? why should these discussions be exclusive to a bunch of students?

and you say that no-one wants it to happen, but gek is quite open in saying he doesn't see anything much valuable from modern civilisation that is worth saving. thats entirely different to what you think he said.

i think its quite right to challenge bullshit ideas like that, don't you?

and when we disagree we will do it in the way we want, not in the sanctioned terms that you approve of.

matt b
11-07-2006, 01:22 PM
i think its quite right to challenge bullshit ideas like that, don't you?

points made by me and scott disco aimed at gek on this thread (http://www.dissensus.com/showthread.php?t=3874&page=2) remain unanswered, and link in with this one.
:(

dogger
12-07-2006, 12:22 PM
@ bassnation: "and when we disagree we will do it in the way we want, not in the sanctioned terms that you approve of"


out of interest, at want point does Kernkätchen infer an approval of what you call "sanctioned terms"?

KernKätzchen
12-07-2006, 12:47 PM
his points are as valid as anything else said on this thread - hes injecting some much needed reality into the discussion. to turn it around, are you saying that ideas that aren't couched in pomo academic terms are worth nothing? why should these discussions be exclusive to a bunch of students?

and you say that no-one wants it to happen, but gek is quite open in saying he doesn't see anything much valuable from modern civilisation that is worth saving. thats entirely different to what you think he said.

i think its quite right to challenge bullshit ideas like that, don't you?

and when we disagree we will do it in the way we want, not in the sanctioned terms that you approve of.

Oh please. I wasn't saying that at all: just trying to object to the way in which soundslike1981 killed the discussion by calling everyone a bunch of students. Not a particularly useful approach imho, and one rooted in a branch of anti-academic snobbery I find particularly galling. (For the record, no, I am not still at university...)
I do think it is important to challenge bullshit ideas like: "even a return to hunter-gatherer life would be preferable to what exists now". This is clearly ill-thought-out rubbish based on very little knowledge or evidence. However, gek's original question was an interesting and valid one - whether, and to what extent, the bounds placed on people's imaginations by current capitalist notions of what is and isn't possible will be destroyed by environmental degradation. For example, I have often wondered whether capitalist economic systems rest on a 'frontier mentality' - an assumption of infinite natural resources (and an infinitely expandable human population) that did make sense in the days when the human population was still small enough to have very little impact on the environment, but false now that we know that it can have, and is having, a deeply (self-) destructive effect on a world-wide level. For example, why does economic theory take constant 'growth' as a measure of economic health? Why is it a problem for Italy's economy that its population is no longer growing? (I would still like to know if anybody who knows anything about economics has any further ideas on this - if they are still bothering to read this thread, that is.) These are the kind of questions gek was trying to raise, bassnation, before some people decided they were too academic and not sufficiently 'real'. Thanks.

bruno
12-07-2006, 02:02 PM
i personally don't care too much what views other people hold as long as they are prepared to listen, and gek has. his comments were supposed to provoke, generate discussion - the thread is richer for it. it's a rare instance actually, this thread, because it has become all too common for people to preach to the converted, or sit in their little corner with hands over the ears, utterly convinced of their special truth. when in reality they deserve a good thrashing!

polystyle desu
12-07-2006, 03:58 PM
Aaah yes, the 'intellectual non- real'
or is bk to a non -intellectual real'

Some believe you can make fire quicker with 2 sticks then a theory

Hard to imagine the conversation going on between citizens without computers tho'
And if it's all much too hazy you can always go to another thread , 'click'

Now Listening : Syd's She Took A Long Cold Look

noel emits
12-07-2006, 04:20 PM
The 2 sticks theory of fire creation is OK but I personally have had some trouble verifying it's validity, especially in damp forests.

tryptych
12-07-2006, 05:10 PM
whats the point of planning for the future when there is no future?

if it all gets wiped out so that not even a single trace exists, then did it matter?

But this is a given, not a possibilty. Civilisation, the human race are finite things, and we should work from the assumption that at some point there will definately be "no future", rather than wondering about the possibility of such an event.

Global economic collapse, the sun going nova, the heat death of the universe - something, like Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" is "going to get us all". I guess you might find this a depressing thought, or that it makes everything pointless, but I don't.

polystyle desu
12-07-2006, 06:38 PM
Tartarsky , can you say anything more about your holiday in Dorset ?

Having read a few Survival handbooks , Living Off the land texts years ago
Some of those specific items like purifying drinking water , making fire if you have to ,
thoughts of living in that mode for even a few days ,
how tiring it would be too , day after day
Sounds like hard long days out there

I say this having just done a glorious day hike upstate Monday
for hours up and down the hills , sun beaming bright on high green plains
down the wood road and an beach of flat rocks granting easy stepping into the big cool lake
We wished we were staying the night
in a couple little nylon tents up over the next hill , but maybe next time ...

But as we were saying on the trail
'Wouldn't it become feasible for people come up here into the park and just set a living
albeit rough , even for days or weeks at a time in time of crisis ...'
Probably still having to go down to the store in nearest town for alot of stuff
Stashin' lighters and matches !

tatarsky
12-07-2006, 08:14 PM
Let's try and get this thread back on track, shall we, and ignore the troll.


For example, why does economic theory take constant 'growth' as a measure of economic health? Why is it a problem for Italy's economy that its population is no longer growing?

So, why 'growth'?

The orthodoxy in economic theory puts growth front and centre because it is pretty evident that economic growth does give us clear benefits. This occurs almost by definition. Underpinning that growth is consumer demand. If there wasn't that demand, there wouldn't be growth. Which means someone somewhere wanted the additional production. Some previously unsatisfied want has been satisfied - therefore growth is a good thing.

In addition, growth allows us to take more leisure. The number of hours we work has fallen dramatically, believe it or not. Washing machines, Microwave ovens, etc. save us an enormous amount of time.

There are also some slightly more complicated reasons which basically show that growth > low unemployment, which is fundamentally a GOOD thing. People hate being unemployed, and it causes all sorts of political unrest.

There are numerous reasons why the emphasis on GDP is flawed though, and any economist worth his salt recognises this. (In fact, GDP only began in the 30s - every economist prior to that thought in terms of utility/happiness in a kind of Benthamite way)

One of the principal reasons why GDP's flawed is that there are loads of goods and services that don't get included in the numbers. For example, imagine a married couple with some kids. Currently the wife stays at home and looks after the kids, but then one day she decides she's bored and wants her career back. So they hire and nanny and she goes back to work. The additional production from her going back to work is genuine, but what about the nanny. The nanny's job was being done before by the wife, but there was no financial transaction in place. Has the nanny added anything? If the wife's labour of looking after the kids had been included in the GDP numbers, then hiring the nanny would not affect GDP, because her wage would be exactly equal to the theoretical wage of the housewife.

Similarly, i could wash my car for free, or i could pay someone to do it. If i'm lazy and go to the car wash, GDP will go up, but really its artificial.

Then there's all the environmental goods that don't get included - like say, clean air, or the reservoir of oil.

There's another equally fundamental problem, that some economists are waking up to (and, intriguingly, the Tories are flirting with them...), is that whilst GDP has grown massively over the latter half of the 20th Century, pretty much all the data available on the subject declares that we are no happier as a result.

The reason is not because having more stuff and money is bad - it's that we've done it in such a way as to make a lot of other things that affect our happiness change for the worse. Things like unemployment, the role of families, dislocation from local environment, increased crime, you know, the really fucking obvious stuff.

It's amazing that it's taken economists to wake up and smell the rotting sewers, but they are getting round to it. God knows if anyone in politics will pay the blindest bit of attention though. (As i say, Cameron has been flirting...eerghh...i'm skeptical.)

As a good (and very, very easy to read) intro the subject, you can check out:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0141016906/026-0578725-4236450?v=glance&n=266239&s=gateway&v=glance



Ok, question 2: Why is population decline a problem?

Well, there are questions of international economic clout (fewer people = smaller economy) - eg America is fucking massive and has all the power, which is being threatened by China because it's growing so quickly. Remember, America's GDP PER HEAD is lower than many other countries, but it's total GDP is WAAY higher, which gives it its strength.

Also, a declining population also equals an aging population. Which means a BIG pensions liability. Which means people who are of working age get really fucked over paying for all the OAPs (since higher taxes are required).


That help? ;)

tatarsky
12-07-2006, 08:49 PM
Tartarsky , can you say anything more about your holiday in Dorset ?


Of course!

It was a fantastic experience, which as i said, was quite exhausting. But then, they did make it deliberately so, making us do quite a lot stuff, to make it a bit more realistic i suppose. But if you wanted to just go away to a forest somewhere and live off the land for a bit, it actually isn't hard.

The most exhausting parts of it are making a shelter and lighting fires by friction. But there's no reason why you can't take a lighter, so that knocks out one of them. Similarly, if you want to be a bit more bushcrafty, there's other techniques that are actually dead easy - using a fireflash and a knife for example. A fireflash is a stick of some composite metal that shards off and gives sparks when you strike your knife against it. Aim those sparks into a pile of silver birch bark, add some kindling, and you're away. Or, you can go a bit more old school and use flint and stone, which is surprisingly easy too, if you take some charcloth with you (which is easy to make at home).

And building your own shelter is great fun, and really rewarding. It was probably the most rewarding thing of the whole week. Sleeping in it's great too.

The trickiest thing is food. If I was going to sod off the wilderness on my own, i would take enough to eat - stuff like supernoodles and the like, that are easy to cook. You could fish, i suppose, but that's always a bit risky. There really isn't very much vegetation that's any use in temperate climates.

Water's a doddle though. Find it. Boil it. Drink it. That'll do most of the time, unless you happen to be right next to a chemical plant. Finding it may involve digging a bit of a hole, but once you've done that, that's it really.

It is really nice to get out of London (the grim air and NOISE!!! really hits you when you get back), but i don't think i'd be up for doing it for a long time, because it would get incredibly tedious.

I suppose if you had some good company it would be alright, and you could probably make it quite comfortable if you got involved in some carpentry. Maybe make a guitar and sing songs round the fire!

Kum ba yah anyone? ;)

Oh, and here's picture of my home for the week. Good eh?

KernKätzchen
13-07-2006, 09:47 AM
Let's try and get this thread back on track, shall we, and ignore the troll.



So, why 'growth'?

The orthodoxy in economic theory puts growth front and centre because it is pretty evident that economic growth does give us clear benefits. This occurs almost by definition. Underpinning that growth is consumer demand. If there wasn't that demand, there wouldn't be growth. Which means someone somewhere wanted the additional production. Some previously unsatisfied want has been satisfied - therefore growth is a good thing.

In addition, growth allows us to take more leisure. The number of hours we work has fallen dramatically, believe it or not. Washing machines, Microwave ovens, etc. save us an enormous amount of time.

There are also some slightly more complicated reasons which basically show that growth > low unemployment, which is fundamentally a GOOD thing. People hate being unemployed, and it causes all sorts of political unrest.

There are numerous reasons why the emphasis on GDP is flawed though, and any economist worth his salt recognises this. (In fact, GDP only began in the 30s - every economist prior to that thought in terms of utility/happiness in a kind of Benthamite way)

One of the principal reasons why GDP's flawed is that there are loads of goods and services that don't get included in the numbers. For example, imagine a married couple with some kids. Currently the wife stays at home and looks after the kids, but then one day she decides she's bored and wants her career back. So they hire and nanny and she goes back to work. The additional production from her going back to work is genuine, but what about the nanny. The nanny's job was being done before by the wife, but there was no financial transaction in place. Has the nanny added anything? If the wife's labour of looking after the kids had been included in the GDP numbers, then hiring the nanny would not affect GDP, because her wage would be exactly equal to the theoretical wage of the housewife.

Similarly, i could wash my car for free, or i could pay someone to do it. If i'm lazy and go to the car wash, GDP will go up, but really its artificial.

Then there's all the environmental goods that don't get included - like say, clean air, or the reservoir of oil.

There's another equally fundamental problem, that some economists are waking up to (and, intriguingly, the Tories are flirting with them...), is that whilst GDP has grown massively over the latter half of the 20th Century, pretty much all the data available on the subject declares that we are no happier as a result.

The reason is not because having more stuff and money is bad - it's that we've done it in such a way as to make a lot of other things that affect our happiness change for the worse. Things like unemployment, the role of families, dislocation from local environment, increased crime, you know, the really fucking obvious stuff.

It's amazing that it's taken economists to wake up and smell the rotting sewers, but they are getting round to it. God knows if anyone in politics will pay the blindest bit of attention though. (As i say, Cameron has been flirting...eerghh...i'm skeptical.)

As a good (and very, very easy to read) intro the subject, you can check out:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0141016906/026-0578725-4236450?v=glance&n=266239&s=gateway&v=glance



Ok, question 2: Why is population decline a problem?

Well, there are questions of international economic clout (fewer people = smaller economy) - eg America is fucking massive and has all the power, which is being threatened by China because it's growing so quickly. Remember, America's GDP PER HEAD is lower than many other countries, but it's total GDP is WAAY higher, which gives it its strength.

Also, a declining population also equals an aging population. Which means a BIG pensions liability. Which means people who are of working age get really fucked over paying for all the OAPs (since higher taxes are required).


That help? ;)

Thanks, tatarsky. May well check that book out. :) Re: population growth/decline. Take your points but how do they fit with the (likely) fact that current levels of world population growth are ecologically unsustainable?
Re: happiness. There seem to be a lot of surveys about comparing the happiness of various countries, some a bit dodgy imho.
This one, published in the Independent yesterday, is a bit different, however. It ties happiness and longevity statistics to a nation's 'ecological footprint'. So it's less happiness per se than happiness gained from an efficient use of natural resources. Eco-fun. A strange idea. Almost all the countries that come out on top are tropical islands, which given the criteria is no great surprise. Weirdly, Colombia is number 2.
http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article1173235.ece

IdleRich
13-07-2006, 10:16 AM
"The orthodoxy in economic theory puts growth front and centre because it is pretty evident that economic growth does give us clear benefits. This occurs almost by definition. Underpinning that growth is consumer demand. If there wasn't that demand, there wouldn't be growth. Which means someone somewhere wanted the additional production. Some previously unsatisfied want has been satisfied - therefore growth is a good thing."
I'm not an economist or anything like but it seems that there are several obvious questions that this raises. Firstly, going by what you have just said, if there is no growth then there could be two reasons; demands going unsatisfied or all demands already satisfied. In the second case we would have no need for growth so surely we shouldn't be using it to measure the (economic) success of a society. I think that's roughly what KernKätzchen was getting it.
Secondly, who is to say what constitutes worthwhile consumer demand? You see Hollywood stars or whatever with palaces for their pets which is a relatively new development. If the economy has grown to satisfy that demand (or other less extreme examples) is that necessarily a good thing?
Also, what about things that people don't need anymore, how do they fit into this?

tatarsky
13-07-2006, 07:39 PM
Thanks, tatarsky. May well check that book out. :) Re: population growth/decline. Take your points but how do they fit with the (likely) fact that current levels of world population growth are ecologically unsustainable?

Well, I suppose this takes us some way back to gek's opening gambit. The answer to which, for my money anyway, really comes down to whether technological developments and their adoption can occur fast enough. If they can't, then it's pretty obvious that some kind of resource crisis is bound to result in a catestrophic reduction in population. Either that or climate change plays havoc with our ecosystems and we all either boil, freeze or migrate to the square inch on the planet that remain inhabitable. At that point, I'm not sure people will be so concerned about getting a new iPod. The puzzling thing is that I can't quite work out i think this is a good or bad thing. Surely there's some alternative way out of this krushingly homogenous kultural kollapse? (excuse the k's, i just couldn't help myself ;) ) Certainly, in this respect CC and EC do represent the ultimate challenge to the capitalist (/monopolist?) real. Whether we need to be that ultimate is in question though.


Re: happiness. There seem to be a lot of surveys about comparing the happiness of various countries, some a bit dodgy imho.
This one, published in the Independent yesterday, is a bit different, however. It ties happiness and longevity statistics to a nation's 'ecological footprint'. So it's less happiness per se than happiness gained from an efficient use of natural resources. Eco-fun. A strange idea. Almost all the countries that come out on top are tropical islands, which given the criteria is no great surprise. Weirdly, Colombia is number 2.
http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article1173235.ece

And with impeccable timing, Sir Reynolds links to other articles on happiness studies:
http://blissout.blogspot.com/2006_07_01_blissout_archive.html#11526809785839288 9

gek-opel
13-07-2006, 07:57 PM
Hmm- Tatarsky positing the techno-solution to resource crisis... surely the solution is lifestyle change? Reduction in waste, reduction in use... most of the necessary technology to get by IN COMFORT is here already... isn't it? Its about shifting things (how far is open to debate, obv) in terms of patterns of consumption of energy, however that needs to be achieved. To sit and hope for some technological panacea is wrongheaded, tho a perfectly natural consequence of addiction to our current way of thinking... "technology got us in to this damn mess, it HAS to get us out, doesn't it???"

tatarsky
13-07-2006, 07:57 PM
I'm not an economist or anything like but it seems that there are several obvious questions that this raises. Firstly, going by what you have just said, if there is no growth then there could be two reasons; demands going unsatisfied or all demands already satisfied. In the second case we would have no need for growth so surely we shouldn't be using it to measure the (economic) success of a society. I think that's roughly what KernKätzchen was getting it.
Secondly, who is to say what constitutes worthwhile consumer demand? You see Hollywood stars or whatever with palaces for their pets which is a relatively new development. If the economy has grown to satisfy that demand (or other less extreme examples) is that necessarily a good thing?
Also, what about things that people don't need anymore, how do they fit into this?

Well yes, therein lies the rub. I think it's pretty clear that economic growth is not the best measure of the success of society.

And for other, even more sinister reasons that you cite.

Fundamental to the frameworks and models that classical economics relies on, is the assumption that the wants of individuals are known a priori, and determined by themselves. As it happens, the second of your reasons for a lack of economic growth (ie because we've got everything we want) was quite a worry for some around the 30s (as a possible theory of the great depression, i think). Business got around this problem by creating people wants, their desires.

If you've seen Adam Curtis documentary 'The Century of the Self', you'll know exactly what i'm on about. Check it here: http://www.dissensus.com//showthread.php?t=3614

This 'Capitalist Real' construct, seems like an idea that needs much further refinement, in particular, clarity on what is meant by Capitalist here (as I attacked early), and how this has gone about enforcing itself as our destined reality. The Century of the Self does a pretty good job of elaborating on the second part.

It's a shame k-punk's ignoring this forum now, I would have liked some greater clarity here. His interpretation is clearly one of a contemporary Marxist, which strays some way for my more strictly economic interpretation. In other words, could his interpretation be quite literal - Capitalist society has the accumulation of Kapital (sorry...) as its ambition, vs a Socialist one which puts Social coordination first?

tatarsky
13-07-2006, 07:59 PM
Hmm- Tatarsky positing the techno-solution to resource crisis... surely the solution is lifestyle change? Reduction in waste, reduction in use... most of the necessary technology to get by IN COMFORT is here already... isn't it? Its about shifting things (how far is open to debate, obv) in terms of patterns of consumption of energy, however that needs to be achieved. To sit and hope for some technological panacea is wrongheaded, tho a perfectly natural consequence of addiction to our current way of thinking... "technology got us in to this damn mess, it HAS to get us out, doesn't it???"

Well quite...hence my use of the phrase 'technological developments and their adoption'.

gek-opel
13-07-2006, 08:31 PM
But as you say Tatarsky (or perhaps imply?) the whole system which creates these pressures runs on one principle: ever expanding demand- given the fundamental economic principle is that we exist in a world of limited resources, should not the aim be to REDUCE demand? (I could bring in Buddhism here... but I won't) Obviously this destroys the model of sustainable economic growth that has been the benchmark of post-1980s capitalism... what models of stable or reducing demand are there within a capitalist system? Are we talking along the same lines as Galbraith here or what? A lot of the current economic solutions to climate change involve utilising the market mechanism (eg- carbon trading) to take into account the broader value of environmental production and the costs of environmental damage-- is this enough to create an economic model which will reduce energy consumption sufficiently to avoid a severe collapse?

tatarsky
13-07-2006, 09:09 PM
Actually, I think this is more Malthus than Galbraith. Who called for 'moral restraint' as the only solution.

We're DOOMED!

I know your not convinced by any argument that relies on technological change. But do keep in mind that Malthus was wrong, in that he was concerned with a lack of food - arguing that population grew exponetially, while food could only ever grow arithmetically, leading to catastrophes. That turned our to be completely wrong, as agricultural developments allowed for population growth way beyond what the good reverend thought possible. You could be wrong in the same way.

On the other hand, given the breadth of the problems that climate change and resource crisis could potentially bring, perhaps you're right.

As for whether a capitalist model could revert to a system that had stable or even declining output at its core... perhaps it could. From a theoretical point of view, this would require a dramatic shift away from gdp as the primary metric. Something new would need to replace it, which would presumably involve taking account of the 'stock' of natural assets. The difficulty comes in pricing stuff. This is why carbon trading should be made to succeed. Unfortunately, i've heard its not working tremendously well. From a more practical, political perspective, wrestling all the vested interests into enacting such a massive change in gear seems highly unlikely.

gek-opel
13-07-2006, 09:20 PM
Err yeah the European carbon trading market collapsed recently I think...

Ever increasing demand and finite resources just don't compute surely? Or am I underestimating human ingenuity here, and we will be saved by remarkable scientific and technological genius?

matt b
13-07-2006, 09:31 PM
Let's try and get this thread back on track, shall we, and ignore the troll.



that's a touch harsh.

tatarsky
13-07-2006, 09:58 PM
Err yeah the European carbon trading market collapsed recently I think...

Ever increasing demand and finite resources just don't compute surely? Or am I underestimating human ingenuity here, and we will be saved by remarkable scientific and technological genius?

You could be... particularly when you consider that an increasing amount of that demand is coming from products that use up very little resource. like mp3s, for example. Demand for intangibles could perhaps sustain this economy based on growth principals.

tatarsky
13-07-2006, 10:07 PM
that's a touch harsh.

Is it? Throwing your weight around, criticising the very essence of a thread that had already gone on for 5 pages and that people had openly declared as being a good conversation, and doing it in a manner that was fundamentally designed to be insulting and dismissive. I don't know about you, but for me, that's called trolling.

Sure, go ahead and argue with the tenets of gek's ideas, but i question the point of doing so in the manner in which it was done. There's no point in having an argument unless you're actually trying to convince the other person of your point of view. Otherwise, you're just being a twat.

gek-opel
13-07-2006, 11:03 PM
:mad: I don't personally mind being insulted- its quite funny to see people venting their ire... still is it not best to keep things away from the needlessly ad hominem?

swears
13-07-2006, 11:17 PM
The American right's complete wilful ignorance of global warming is all the more distressing when you think that somebody as right wing as Thatcher had accepted it as fact as far back as 1989. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,1517966,00.html)

matt b
17-07-2006, 10:54 PM
Is it? Throwing your weight around, criticising the very essence of a thread that had already gone on for 5 pages and that people had openly declared as being a good conversation, and doing it in a manner that was fundamentally designed to be insulting and dismissive. I don't know about you, but for me, that's called trolling.

er, ok but i took bassnation's post as a comment on the style of language used, which for many not versed in PoMo/ modern academic discourse is alienating. that's far from trolling in my book.

any way, back on-topic...

surely the issue is really about the whys and wherefores of economic theories that externalise/ignore social cost?

gek-opel
17-07-2006, 11:18 PM
That's not necessarily the be-all and end-all, but it is an important aspect.... but that goes beyond merely climate change and into social responsibility. There's no doubt then that if such real costs (and potential benefits???) could be incorporated that capitalism might garner more pleasing results- but how are they to be assessed, and how are they to be implemented? The problem really comes as competing economies refuse to accept a disadvantage to their potential economic output if others don't do likewise...

swears
18-07-2006, 02:13 PM
That's not necessarily the be-all and end-all, but it is an important aspect.... but that goes beyond merely climate change and into social responsibility. There's no doubt then that if such real costs (and potential benefits???) could be incorporated that capitalism might garner more pleasing results- but how are they to be assessed, and how are they to be implemented? The problem really comes as competing economies refuse to accept a disadvantage to their potential economic output if others don't do likewise...

There's gonna have to be legislation. The market definately isn't going to sort this out on it's own. But no government is going to endanger jobs/economic growth and therefore votes by implementing it, so we're left with ineffective international attempts like Kyoto.
This looks like getting way worse before it gets better.

bassnation
18-07-2006, 02:38 PM
Is it? Throwing your weight around, criticising the very essence of a thread that had already gone on for 5 pages and that people had openly declared as being a good conversation, and doing it in a manner that was fundamentally designed to be insulting and dismissive. I don't know about you, but for me, that's called trolling.

Sure, go ahead and argue with the tenets of gek's ideas, but i question the point of doing so in the manner in which it was done. There's no point in having an argument unless you're actually trying to convince the other person of your point of view. Otherwise, you're just being a twat.

not to continue the "derailment" but this deserves a response.

nowhere in my posts can you find me swearing, being abusive or dismissive. you, on the other hand, think its perfectly acceptable to call people "twats" because you don't agree with the manner of the dissent. i don't much like your message either, maybe you could clarify whether your post is trying to persuade or simply insult?

lets just keep it polite mate.

and i'd just like to make absolutely clear that although i've disagreed with gek here, on the whole i find him to be a highly stimulating and interesting poster - there are no hard feelings. lets get a grip and move on.

bassnation
18-07-2006, 02:51 PM
But this is a given, not a possibilty. Civilisation, the human race are finite things, and we should work from the assumption that at some point there will definately be "no future", rather than wondering about the possibility of such an event.

Global economic collapse, the sun going nova, the heat death of the universe - something, like Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" is "going to get us all". I guess you might find this a depressing thought, or that it makes everything pointless, but I don't.

i like this way of viewing it. its akin to a zen-like appreciation of lifes rhythms, which of course includes death, an end to (literally) everything.

this reminds me of the mayfly - the adult only living for a single day, lacking even a gut as there is not enough time to make feeding necessary. but at least the mayfly is procreating - death is not the end.

maybe your perspective changes when you have children, but for me (and for most of us, considering the ever-increasing population and peoples desire to see their line continue after their own death) its instinctive to want us to carry on. life just wants to be.

btw, the heat death thing is by no means inevitable. some theories actually have the universe contracting back into a singularity with time running backwards for whatever life remains. that sounds quite cool actually, despite meaning certain death for all of us.

tatarsky
18-07-2006, 07:16 PM
Mr B.

My comments weren't angled at you, but rather soundslike1981's bolt of anti-intellectualism. Particularly riling was his dismissiveness of gek's arguments being akin to someone still at university (which i happen to know he's not...but even if he was, surely that wouldn't make for any good reason to ignore the content of his posts. A solid argument would have been rather more constructive). Actually, I thought the manner in which you brought up soundslike1981's comments and put them forward as having some validity (i.e. that it's foolish to suggest that we're in a worse state than a hunter-gatherer society) was otm.

And to clarify, i was asserting twatish behaviour, which does not equate to actually being a twat. A pedantic point perhaps. Would you not agree that arguing for the sake of arguing without actually trying to be persuasive is not in fact, quite twatish, especially on an internet forum?

Any way...perhaps we should let this go... and get on with more interesting matters.

----

As matt b implies, at the crux of this has to be the overthrowing of the gdp model, which requires economic theory to get to grips with external/social costs much better. Perhaps even this is a little bit simplistic, as much of the necessary theory and tools of such an alternative model are very much to hand (i.e. taxation and the marketisation of pollutants, etc. - its the lack of political pressure that renders the current situation, and the dominance of the multinational over governments.

I hate to have to get all 'the corporation is evil', but i'm finding it to be an increasingly unavoidable position, or at least, under current corporate governance structures.

What's most worrying about all of this, with both climate change and resource crises, is that i have pretty much no understanding of the time frames involved here, and even worse, it seems that nobody really does. Has anyone any knowledge here? It would seem pretty crucial to the question.


btw, the heat death thing is by no means inevitable. some theories actually have the universe contracting back into a singularity with time running backwards for whatever life remains. that sounds quite cool actually, despite meaning certain death for all of us.

Not quite sure what you mean by this...all sounds very drowned world to me. Time running backwards? What does that mean? (Not really that up on my physics...) How does such a contraction rubbish the heat death thing anyway?

gek-opel
18-07-2006, 07:36 PM
There's a theory which runs that if the universe (read the entire construct of space-time) expands, it must eventually contract, as it contracts not only does this warp space, but time as well, and I guess it would make sense then that time might run in reverse?

The corporation isn't evil, anymore than a virus is evil. Its not terribly nice, certainly, and will often run counter to the interests of human society, but it has no moral status. It's an abstract meme, maximising its own market position as much as it is allowed- a virus. Therefore it makes sense to regulate the shit out of them. Although I am unsure as to what body will have the necessary transnational power to properly implement an economics of "real-cost" on the world.

tatarsky
18-07-2006, 08:04 PM
The corporation isn't evil, anymore than a virus is evil. Its not terribly nice, certainly, and will often run counter to the interests of human society, but it has no moral status. It's an abstract meme, maximising its own market position as much as it is allowed- a virus. Therefore it makes sense to regulate the shit out of them.

Not entirely sure if i buy into that argument. I'm not sure if its correct to let shareholders and executive boards off the hook entirely by declaring their activity as beyond morality.
Although perhaps from the point of view of analysing their behaviour, it is best to think about them as such, particularly with large corporations.

gek-opel
18-07-2006, 08:17 PM
In terms of large share-holder owned companies, yes. I mean, of course the individuals at the top are immoral people (or can be) and ought to be held accountable for their actions, from an economic point of view its the abstract, self-maximising nature of the corporation which needs to be taken into account....

matt b
18-07-2006, 08:34 PM
The corporation isn't evil, anymore than a virus is evil. Its not terribly nice, certainly, and will often run counter to the interests of human society, but it has no moral status. It's an abstract meme,

is this true now? i thought the multi-nationals had successfully lobbied so that they have the same legal status as people (can't remember where i read this).

they have attempted to overrule policies that protect he environment , by claiming they infringe their right to make a profit (i studied this over 10 years ago, in relation to agenda 21, so it might have changed somewhat).

'evil' is not a word i'd use, but certainly corporations act in a totalitarian fashion, grabbing more and more power and using it to their own ends (not a modern critique- adam smith warned of this).

ideally, we would do away with them because their influence in pervasive and undermines grassroots democracy. this leads to a normalisation of 'pragmatic' politics, even at a local level. something i encountered recently when talking to a local councillor, who had no sense of shame when stating that he would follow his own goals rather than those of his electorate.

gek-opel
18-07-2006, 10:12 PM
Hmmm they are malignant yes, (if un-checked)... but evil is a spurious term and I just think they amoral entities, constructed (if a shareholder owned concern) to only reflect the interests of the shareholders. If said shareholders are many and only connected via pension funds, it effectively becomes only concerned with profit. It seems pretty much a virus. The legal thing is to protect individual board members/directors isn't it?

The best thing is to think that they are an effective maximiser of profits for themselves, but that they will do this by absolutely any means potentially open to them, and therefore whilst they are of potential value to society, they must be viewed with suspicion and regulated as if they were going to be amoral, (because they are). Its only when governments become weak that they can become such a grotesque threat to the public good.... A bit like the bipolar sovereignty theory (ie the executive vs the judiciary) you could think of it as the govt vs business, as a dynamic and positive process of pulling for power which results in balance for the public good. However, this would require a stronger government, with an agenda which was more definitely for social, rather than business ends...

swears
18-07-2006, 11:27 PM
....you could think of it as the govt vs business, as a dynamic and positive process of pulling for power which results in balance for the public good. However, this would require a stronger government, with an agenda which was more definitely for social, rather than business ends...

Pah, wet liberalism! ;)

zhao
19-07-2006, 09:06 AM
did someone already mention john zerzan?

http://www.primitivism.com/future-primitive.htm

gek-opel
19-07-2006, 04:51 PM
@ Swears: Yeah Im not sure how entirely I buy that argument myself-- but it is correct that corporations are very effective profit maximising entities, so why not exploit that?

swears
19-07-2006, 10:08 PM
@ Swears: Yeah Im not sure how entirely I buy that argument myself-- but it is correct that corporations are very effective profit maximising entities, so why not exploit that?

Yeah, I was kidding a bit....
I have to say though, if we could get to that stage it would be an improvement on how things are at the moment. But, if that's all society ever aspired to, it would be sort of depressing.

tatarsky
23-07-2006, 04:15 PM
What's most worrying about all of this, with both climate change and resource crises, is that i have pretty much no understanding of the time frames involved here, and even worse, it seems that nobody really does. Has anyone any knowledge here? It would seem pretty crucial to the question.

... ONE YEAR.


(Potentially)


This is some scary shit: http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article1191932.ece

"As we report today on pages 28 and 29, the Amazon now appears to be entering its second successive year of drought, raising the possibility that it could start dying next year. The immense forest contains 90 billion tons of carbon, enough in itself to increase the rate of global warming by 50 per cent.

Dr Nepstead expects "mega-fires" rapidly to sweep across the drying jungle. With the trees gone, the soil will bake in the sun and the rainforest could become desert."

Oh good.

bruno
23-07-2006, 04:37 PM
i wonder if lack of sunlight rather than lack of rain didn't kill off those trees. i can't find a reference to that experiment anywhere.

but it's true, it's the end of the world.

tatarsky
23-07-2006, 05:15 PM
Here it is:

http://www.whrc.org/southamerica/drought_sim/index.htm

It looks like the plastic covering was transparent.

So, yes, we're doomed.

gek-opel
23-07-2006, 05:51 PM
It is difficult to model cos climate-biomass interaction is very intricate, but its likely that relatively modest incremental change eventually leads to events such as say forest fires in the amazon or the melting of large polar ice-masses (which would lead to a change in the total reflectivity of the earth, therefore meaning we absorb more heat from the sun) which have catastrophic impact, meaning a sudden increase in temperature. There are probably things we haven't even considered yet which will be affected profoundly by relatively small changes in temperature... jolly good eh?

tryptych
23-07-2006, 09:53 PM
btw, the heat death thing is by no means inevitable. some theories actually have the universe contracting back into a singularity with time running backwards for whatever life remains. that sounds quite cool actually, despite meaning certain death for all of us.


Not quite sure what you mean by this...all sounds very drowned world to me. Time running backwards? What does that mean? (Not really that up on my physics...) How does such a contraction rubbish the heat death thing anyway?

As I understand it, the "reverse arrow of time" was shown to be a possibility by Lawrence Schulman in 2000. He showed that time can be made to run backwards in a closed system, but only by imposing boundary conditions on the final state of the system, as well as the initial state. His example was of a gas diffusing in a closed box - the gas starts in one corner (initial boundary condition) and over time diffuses throughout the box, ie the entropy increases. By imposing a final bounday condition - that the gas molecules all end up in the small region they started from - time "runs backwards".

See here for brief report:

http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20000101/fob5.asp

and more here (subscription only):

http://www.newscientistspace.com/article/mg16522244.600.html

Relating to the "heat death" thing - even if we live in a closed finite universe (which seems unlikely on current data), although the universe won't end up in such a state of uniform, very low temperature, it would have to go through a point where time and entropy slowly grind to a halt before reversing. This sort of thing tends to make my brain feel like it's melting out of my ears, but there's quite a good wikipedia entry on the entropic time's arrow:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_%28arrow_of_time%29

DJ PIMP
24-07-2006, 04:13 AM
This sort of thing tends to make my brain feel like it's melting out of my ears New analysis of the language and gesture of South America's indigenous Aymara people indicates they have a concept of time opposite to all the world's studied cultures -- so that the past is ahead of them and the future behind.

http://www.physorg.com/news69338070.html

Wibble...

jenks
24-07-2006, 08:45 AM
I have read in a couple of books on Linguistics that the ancient Greeks also had the concept of the past being in front with the future behind.

Makes sense - you can see the past but not the future.

Also it makes sense of the line Marvell stole - 'and at my back I hear Time's winged chariot hurrying near'. (the future comes from behind us)

I use this example in teaching ideas about the effect of culture on language, whilst refuting Sapir-Whorf.

gek-opel
24-07-2006, 08:13 PM
Sapir-Whorf language hypothesis? How does this refute it exactly Jenks... (vague stirrings of something I learnt at university... hmm...) would be interested to know...

[warning potential thread derailment]

polystyle desu
25-07-2006, 01:10 AM
From the Discovery Ch. cable TV program on global warming with Tom Brokaw the other night ...

Over the next 50 -100 years :

* There may be little or no arctic polar ice in summer by 2060 ...
Greenland's ice sheet is melting as well

* ' Oceans rise by 3 ft. by end of century ...'

* ' Antarctica continuing to melt ? ... '

* Scenarios included parts of many major cities underwater ;
From NYC down the East Coast , flooded into Central London

Flash on the NYC underwater scenes towards end of Spielberg's "AI" !

tryptych
02-08-2006, 01:56 AM
Just been watching repeat of Bruce Parry's programme on the BBC, Tribe (http://www.bbc.co.uk/tribe/) (dunno what you all think of his attitude towards and relations with the various tribes - would be interested to hear) and I was struck by the differences between them

The Nyangatom, one of several tribes in the Omo valley of Ethiopia struggling in very harsh conditions, surrounded on all sides by enemy tribes and in continuous low level conflict and the Babongo in the Gabon, who are hunter gatherers who only need to work 3-4 hours a day* to provide for their needs, and spend much of their time in leisure (they're also the founders of the Bwiti religion and its use of iboga as scarement which is fascinating but for another thread).

The environment seems to be the strongest determining factor.

*I guess this programme must be what gek-opel was referring to.

gek-opel
03-08-2006, 09:56 PM
Yes, but as discussed above this is heavily dependant upon the super-abundance of their environment. In our temperate climate we would be faced with far more meagre pickings...

polystyle desu
05-08-2006, 06:54 PM
While mentioning 'abundance' ,
can we say we as a race do have all we need around us / in us
to survive climate change , societal collapse ?

Is there enough 'will' to tip things to a point where hundreds , thousands, millions of people are not only convinced but actively working to get our Gov's and 'crat's doing what WE want - until they do so ?
( Gov's should be afraid of the people, not people afraid of Gov's)

I do think 'yes' to both

gek-opel
06-08-2006, 03:36 PM
Anyone picked up on the biofuels ruse yet? Apparently being pushed heavily by everyone from US farmers to BP and the GM food industry... (there's a smug advert from the energy industry relating to this on UK TV right now actually) basically using biomass to create fuel, however apparently there is simply no energy benefit in using them- as fossil fuels are necessary for almost every stage of the industrial farming and refinement processes they actually take 30%more energy to produce than the finished fuel produces....

DJ PIMP
07-08-2006, 11:00 PM
Ha...! Didn't know that Gek... but figured if it was a viable alternative we'd be seeing more of it already.

Melting permafrost may release oodles of carbon:
http://www.livescience.com/environment/060615_permafrost_carbon.html

tate
07-08-2006, 11:50 PM
Anyone picked up on the biofuels ruse yet? . . . however apparently there is simply no energy benefit in using them- as fossil fuels are necessary for almost every stage of the industrial farming and refinement processes they actually take 30%more energy to produce than the finished fuel produces....
This is incorrect. Your objection was true maybe 5-6 years ago, but not today. Fossil fuels are no longer necessary for the refinement processes of biofuels, since renewable energy will work just fine: the refinement of ethanol, for example, requires only heat, and there is no reason why that heat could not be produced by electricity, steam, solar energy, or similar means.

Regarding ethanol, it should be kept in mind that this fuel is only 10% corn-based, while 90% is still gasoline. So, ethanol extends the possibilities of gasoline consumption by 1/10, but in no way supplants it. The fuel known as E85 pushes that percentage to 15% biofuel, 85% gasoline, but special engines must be manufactured in order to use E85, unlike ethanol, which can be used in virtually all standards engines today. In other words, the usefulness of ethanol, with its 10% extension of fuel consumption, is a temporary boon from one perspective, but hardly an answer in the end.

There is more to say about ethanol, however: It is tricky for the US farmer.

On the one hand, the popularity of ethanol, a corn-based fuel, brings a higher price for corn, which is great for corn producers. On the other hand, corn is a basic feed staple for livestock, including cattle and hogs, so the higher the price for corn the more that livestock producers must pay in order to feed their animals. And since most farmers in the US raise both corn *and* livestock, the popularity of ethanol could drive up the price of corn and threaten the ability to raise livestock, which would be disastrous for farmers and bad for the price of food as well! Very, very few people outside of the midwest agriculture community are aware of these dangers, though there is increasing evidence that an over-exuberance for ethanol may be mimicking the mid-90s fad for internet stocks.

So are biofuels a 'ruse' to be cynically dismissed out of hand? No. They are indeed advantageous now and the environment would benefit if we were to begin using them sooner rather than later (Brazil has done much with fuels produced from sugar cane).

But at the same time, biofuels by themselves provide no magic answers to the current energy crisis either (in this I agree with gek's point). Which is why informed opinions are more helpful than summary dismissals!

DigitalDjigit
08-08-2006, 06:06 PM
I didn't keep the figures or the results of my calculations but I took the number of vehicles in Brazil and the area they use for ethanol production and then plugged in the American vehicle fleet and found that we would have to use something like 1/2 or 3/4 of the land under cultivation right now to fuel all our vehicles. Since US is one of the biggest food exporters in the world I don't know how we would eat if this came to pass (or course it won't).

Of course this was if we used nothing but ethanol, if we assume corn is converted to ethanol with the same efficiency (probably not a bad assumption) as ethanol and that the yields per acre are comparable (probably not a good assumption). Also, in Brazil they probably get two crops a year which is not true for corn in the US AFAIK.

gek-opel
08-08-2006, 07:44 PM
The economics of it don't add up in a world of ever-expanding populations with billions of hungry mouths to placate... I believe China have concluded that the pressure on land available for food production would be too much and haven't really invested in this technology. The Americans love it cos its (a) advantageous to not be in thrall to the middle east and (b) its another subsidy to the mid west farmers...