The Whimper…

T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, The Hollow Men, ends with the following lines…

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

A recent study,  led by   applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and using   new statistical modelling methods, predicts that this  current civilization will likely collapse in  another twenty to  fifty years. The study   draws analogies with past human  civilizations;  the Assyrian, Roman, Mayan, Minoan,  the various  Chinese empires…. We can assume that  like us;  the populations of those civilizations had every reason to believe their civilization was unique and would last  forever. While civilisational  collapse is quite rare, characterised by  entire ways of life, systems of thought, cultural values and worldviews disappearing,  political  collapse occurs frequently ( eg empires and kingdoms disintegrating).  What  appears likely to  happen in our modern context,  given  the confluence of a number of catastrophic events, is civilisational  collapse.

While this particular study  has been  sharply critiqued by  journalists and  scientists  alike for its simplicity and generalisations ; the  broad conclusion that,  as Paul Simon aptly put it ,”everything put together falls apart” , is  a healthy  reminder of human hubris.

The single most important  story   unfolding in  not-so-slow-motion  on this planet  is the  ongoing  destruction of the natural  world  in  the name of “progress”  and “growth” (ie  consuming ever more “stuff”) by  humans;  ,  which  will  in the near  future,  significantly negatively impact  on this species. Despite our insistence to the contrary, humans are entirely reliant on other species for our survival.  It is a  given that is blindly ignored by  politicians, businesspeople and businesses  and all  those with  a current stake in  the way  our “civilization’  currently works ( ie all of us).

As key  resources become more expensive to  extract,  the world economy (which is apparently now the full extent of this ‘civilization’) begins to contract  and distort .  And as the gap  between rich and poor widens,  the “have-nots” increasingly demand in  more and more violent ways,  their right to  a slice of the pie. As the oceans and  atmospheric temperatures rise,  so  do the pressures on  our artificial nation-states. As we progressively and rapidly eliminate species after species to produce more things,  to make “progress”;  our chances of long term survival  as a species are being rapidly reduced.   Our civilization demands that  we assume that  we have an infinite volume  of resources to  consume for  the infinite future in  a closed planetary  system –  a small  contradiction in  terms!   We are indeed heading for the perfect  storm.

Study  after academic  study shows that the more we  gain from  a civilization’s  prosperity,  the more we are blind to its failings and contradictions and its  inevitable fall. This  tunnel vision says , that ‘if I am  doing well out of this catastrophe then it cant be a catastrophe at all!’

Homo  sapiens  pride themselves on their remarkable intelligence; their capacity to manipulate their environment for their own ends. They appear unable to grasp  that  that  self-definition process of  appropriating everything  good, intelligent and wonderful  to  human attributes,  is simply  the result of their blinded vision.  If by  definition, species that manipulate their environment  are determined to be superior to all other species;  then lo-and-behold!- homo sapiens are superior beings! Because homo sapiens are above all other traits,  social  beings,  all of us have an intensely strong need to  “fit in”,  to belong to the group. Agreeing with other people on ‘our’ group’s   thought processes and paradigms is an essential part of this togetherness. However, agreement does not  it make it truth.

Thus, it does not matter that the capacity to manipulate the environment for the benefit of our species and at  the expense of all other species on  this planet might not be quite such an intelligent thing to do, given that  the environmental devastation and species  destruction is largely for homo sapiens’ short term  pleasures, power  and baubles.

Were we to  say  that  a species that can  sustain itself  easily and efficiently without damaging its environment in  the process, were  more ‘worthy’ beings than other species ;  then homo sapiens would not be registering on  the short-list!

Over the millenia, homo sapiens have  been able to convince themselves  that  people of other cultures, or colour,  or background are inferior to one’s own culture because of this self-defining process.  Using the same intellectual process,  the more different another species is from ourselves, the  less worthy , less  intelligent, more expendable and worthy of our  exploitation and destruction that species becomes.   The more differentiated from our species the “other” is,  the easier it is to  dismiss its inherent traits and qualities and its right to life. However on our ever smaller blue planet,  we no  longer have the luxury to differentiate between  “them’  and ‘us”.

How much easier then is it  to dismiss the equality of other species with ourselves when their characteristics, strengths and skills are so different from homo sapiens, and when it  is so  much to our benefit to be able to kill  and exploit other species without moral qualms.

As Henry  Gee also points out succinctly in his Guardian  article , each  species’ particular traits or “strengths” are  based purely on, firstly, what  biological  mechanisms of sense are available to  them ,and secondly, how they use those senses to  that  species’ best  advantage. Homo sapiens  may not value our sense of smell  because its not a particularly efficient sensing mechanism in  homo sapiens, but you can bet  a dog does!

The capacity for self-delusion in our  species is immense. Witness the largely American  driven  anti- climate -change camp. Of course we cannot be  destroying our planet with C02 through  industrialization, because capitalism and owning the means of production   is the reason  for our being!  – after all, aren’t we, the US consumer, the greatest people on  earth because our nation is   the epitome of capitalism?

As another example of  collective self-deception, Seth Klarman, the manager of the $27billion hedge fund, the Baupost Group, recently  remarked on the similarities of the world’s banking system to the ‘Truman Show’, the late nineties Hollywood film, where the lead character  “lives a seemingly charmed world, snuggled comfortably into an American suburbia of white picket fences and crisply cut lawns. But gradually Truman starts to notice something is not quite right. He is actually trapped inside a film set controlled by hidden directors, and discovers to his horror that he is the unknowing star of the world’s most popular reality TV show.”  In one of the more blatant  nuances of reality shifting homo  sapiens have acquiesced to,  our  financial  system  is in  essence simply one of “smoke and mirrors” -the manipulation of facts and figures designed  to  obscure reason and reality;  a fragile house of cards.

The dreaded "black swan"!
                                  The dreaded “black swan”!

One key point of difference with previous human civilizations  around the world  is that  our current  civilization is a global one; each  of the parts are inextricably connected.  Apart from  a few small tribes in   isolated areas, every one of us has bought in to  this unique  method of environmental  destruction. Thus  when this civilization collapses -(and it is a “when” and not an “if” ), that collapse will be both  more  rapid and more global; there will not be another model of homo sapien civilization around for the  survivors to pin their hopes on. The other significant difference with other previous human civilizations is this current one’s geographical  reach.  Vast  areas of the planet have now  been laid waste in  the name of human progress.

So, while the modelling conducted by  Safa Motesharrei  may be flawed, it does provide an opportunity for  serious debate about the direction this global  civilisation of ours is taking us..

 


 

Links

Did Nasa fund ‘civilisation collapse’ study, or not?

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Plotting the Downfall  of Society-Peter Turchin Book Review

A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation

Crisis of Civilisation 

So, after the IPCC report, which bit of the world are you prepared to lose? | GeorgeMonbiot

The Ukrainian Situation-an analysis

The current  unstable and dangerous situation in  the Ukraine where  large elements of the Russian  speaking part of the Ukrainian  population in  in Eastern  and Southern Ukraine are apparently pushing  for  Russian  annexation can  be largely  attributed to Ukraine’s  turbulent and violent history.

Kiev,  the capital  city of Ukraine is considered by  many Russians to be the birthplace of Russia, or “Kievan Rus” in  the thirteenth  century. While no  longer a predominantly Russian  speaking  country, its principal connection has been  with its more powerful  northern neighbour over the last 800 years.

Ukraine ,or “the Ukraine” as it is often known, literally means “borderlands”, an indication of its status as a standalone state entity over the last  1000 years.

After the Partitions of Poland (1772–1795) (around the time of the US War of Independence), Ukraine was divided between Russia and Austria, with the largest part of Ukraine being  integrated into the Russian Empire, and  the rest under Austrian (known as the  Austro-Hungarian Empire  since 1849) control.

Gaining its independence briefly  from the Russian Empire in the chaos following the Russian Bolsehvik  Revolution of 1917 , Ukraine was forcibly incorporated under   Soviet   control in 1921 and remained a semi-autonomous republic of the Soviet  Union until  the collapse of the USSR in 1991, when it  once again  became independent.

During the rule of Stalin in the USSR in the 1930s, agrarian collectivisation policies were brutally enforced across  the  entire Soviet Union, but particularly in  what  has been referred to  as the bread-basket of Russia;  the Ukraine. Known as Holodomor, the communist collectivist   policies resulted in at least 7.5 million deaths with mass starvation occurring amongst  the peasantry  of western Ukraine particularly. Ukraine has defined the process as genocide, and the  brutal  process of starvation and loss of lands was instrumental in  the rise  of right-wing groups in  Western Ukraine, (whose populations   tend to be more Eurocentred than  the South-East),  who  supported the principles of both Mussolini’s  fascist party in   Italy and Nazi policies in Germany. The views were largely centred by  1943 in  the actions of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army led by  Stepan Bandera, in ethnic cleansing of Poles and Jews  as well  fighting with the Nazis against  the Russians . Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B) was strongly supported by  Western intelligence agencies and particularly the CIA   after the second world  war .

In  addition to  those horrors,  in 1944 approximately 200,000   Crimean Tatars were forcibly  deported to other parts of the USSR because of their presumed alliance with the Nazis, where a large percentage subsequently died of starvation.  Those Tatars who  have since returned   to the Crimea remain  fiercely hostile to  the Russians and some  have been implicated in  anti-Russian warfare in  other countries and also  within Crimea and wider  Ukraine.

 

Jews and Russians were seen to be the cause of the death, destruction and dispossession which occurred in the Holodomor. In retaliation,  Ukrainian fascist and Nazi  groups were formed which both fought alongside the Nazis against  the Russians and also aided in  the Nazi’s Jewish  progroms in Western Ukraine. The Svoboda party and its activist group, the Pravyi Sekor (Right Sector), are the  current manifestations of those nationalist  movements. Members of these two  groups have  also fought alongside Chechnyan  separatists and jihadists  in Russia  in  the past few years. In addition the right -wing Ukrainian  nationalist  private army and political party,  the Ukrainian  National  Assembly – Ukrainian National Self  Defence (UNA-UNSO) ,  a violent and extreme right-wing and anti-Russian organisation, has been  implicated in  the  sniper shootings of both  police and demonstrators in  Maidan Square in Kiev.

In 1954,  Nikita Khrushchev, the  Soviet President of the day,  transferred the Crimea , to the Southeast  of Ukraine and previously part of Russia itself , to the Ukraine republic .

svoboda
The Wolfsangel, Svoboda’s first party logo (1991–2003) and now widely used as a uniform emblem by the Right Sector, is both a truncated swastika and the acronym “HH”- for “Heil Hitler”

The most defining reason  for the recent demonstrations in Maidan Square in Kiev, against the corrupt but democratically elected president Viktor Yanu­kovych, was  Yanu­kovych’s decision to  switch  from  supporting alignment and eventual   Ukrainian integration with the European Union (after IMF “re-alignment” of the economy), to alignment with Russia  and its $15 billion  no-strings loan. It is likely that many of those early demonstrators in Maidan Square  saw their chance to  escape  a Ukraine of poverty, for the wealth  and opportunity of Europe, slipping away. However the muscle on  the ground at Maidan Square and  even since the new government in Kiev was installed, has been  the Svoboda Party  (whose insignia up  until  2003 was the Wolfsangel, both a  symbol for the swastika and  the acronym  for “Heil Hitler”)  and  its hand-maiden, the ‘Right Sector’.

Alexander Muzychko (Sasha Biliy of the “Right Sector” ) “speaking”  to a state prosecutor 27th  Feb

While Svoboda  has  partially dissociated  itself from  its neo-Nazi past; its offspring, the Rights Sector or “Pravyi Sektor” regards “de-Russification” of Ukraine as its core ideology, along with  ensuring the ethnic  purity of the Ukrainian population including the exodus of Jewish populations, and good moral  values.

Global Research notes that ” Canvas, formerly Otpor, received significant money from the US State Department in 2000 to stage the first successful Color Revolution against Slobodan Milosovic in then-Yugoslavia. Since then they have been transformed into a full-time “revolution consultancy” for the US, posing as a Serbian grass-root group backing “democracy.”  While Poland under President Tusk, and Sweden have been pushing for Ukraine’s integration into the EU since the initial  “colour revolution”, with  the strong backing of the US State Department and CIA, they have perhaps inadvertently been also  supporting and subsidizing  the far right Ukrainian agenda, who have no interest in EU integration. Ostensibly EU/US support has been for the “technocrats” (ie those who  support IMF financial “reforms” ) like ex-boxer Klitschko and the newly appointed acting president Oleksander Turchinov. (of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland’s  “fuck EU” fame”)

However one of the first  steps of the new government was to  rescind the previous government’s  recent legislation to legitimize Russian  as an official  language of the Ukraine. It is likely that  that rescindment,  more than any  other factor,  was  the key reason  for  South-Eastern Ukrainians of Russian descent, many of whom  solely speak  Russian, to  fear for their future in  a ‘Ukraine for Ukrainians’.

The other major  factor is undoubtedly the fear  by  Russia that the new Ukrainian government will  also  rescind the  lease recently extended out to  2042 for Russia’s only warm water naval  base. As the US is well  aware, the Sevastopol base allows the Russians to  re-supply  its ally  President Bashad in Syria against  US, Turkish  and Saudi funded extremists in  the Syrian  civil  war. Loss of the warm water naval  base in in the Crimea would have significant negative strategic  impacts for the Russians, as the  British and French  are also  only too  aware of, after their  battles, in alliance with  the Turks to  re-capture the Crimea  and Sevastopol from the Russians in the Crimean War in 1853.

It should be noted also  that  the  industrial base of Ukraine is predominantly in the South-Eastern parts of the country, where there are significant populations of Ukrainian ethnic Russians, and where it’s  heavy  industry  was a key  part of the Soviet economy. As with many ex-Soviet states, the factories are by  Western standards, unproductive and out of date, and hence would require massive injections of IMF capital  and machinery, along with  massive layoffs of superfluous workers;  a prospect for which   Western industrialists have been rubbing their hands in  glee  since the Ukrainian Orange  Revolution in  2004. (Post-script-see the great  analysis of the neo-con plan  for acquisition of  Ukrainian/Russian  assets  by  Michael  Hudson here )

The complex interactions of internal  Ukrainian  and international  players, create the opportunity for war. The Russian decision to  send in  more troops into  the Crimea  certainly escalates the situation. Additionally, other South-Eastern Ukrainian  cities with varying proportions  of Russian speaking populations, are now also   rising up  against  the new Kiev anti-Russian government and establishing self-protection militias against the  Right  Sector and other far-right Ukrainian groups. How much  support  those Russophiles   will  get in  the cities of Donetsk, Kharkov, Simferapol, Odessa Lugansk and Kerch, is currently unknown. Russia currently insists that  its forces have not left their Crimean bases (25,000 Russian troops  are permitted in  the Crimea as part of the Ukraine /Russia lease  agreement)  and that  all  pro-Russian forces on  the ground in  Ukraine are pro-Russian Ukrainians – a statement disputed by  the EU and the U.S.

Given the tragic history  outlined above, it would appear the only  rational  solution to  the problems exacerbated by  foreign  state  actors, is negotiation.  In the 1990s the 55-state member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (the OSCE) was created  to deal with détente in Europe and emerging post-cold war problems . The OSCE offers a unique and relatively non-partisan   pathway  to  a negotiated settlement of the complex issues facing Ukraine.  The alternative, despite the huff and puff from  NATO and the US,  may  well be  the secession of some part of what  is now Ukraine to form  a Russian  speaking autonomous or semi-autonomous state, unless the  power and hostility of  the far right groups opposed to ethnic Russians in Ukraine can be controlled.

References:

Ukraine after Yanukovych: 50 shades of brown – Autonomous Workers Union

Russia Debates: The Crimea Crisis

Meet the (real) new authorities in the Ukraine, example #1 

Are Ukraine’s Jews Screwed?

Russia, Crimea and the Consequences of  NATO Policy: Ukrainian Hangovers

Trotsky on Ukraine (1939)

Russian Sponsored Territories

Ukraine Through Putin’s Eyes-McClatchy

Between Revolution and Tyranny; a fluid and highly permeable line

 In the cat-bird seat

Propaganda, lies and the New York Times: Everything you really need to know about Ukraine

Revolution, lecturing and life in western Ukraine

Roman Shukhevych: Wikipedia

Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev

Ukraine agrees to  50% gas price hike amid IMF Talks

Seven  Decades of Nazi Collaboration- America’s Dirty Little Secret

How Vladimir Putin Became Evil

The New World Order-Richard Falk

Tour of Ukraine -Russia Border Finds No  Sign of a Military Buildup- 31st March 2014

We Cannot Still Ignore the Perils of Intervention-Patrick Cockburn

What are Russia’s real motivations in Ukraine? We need to understand them

It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war: Seamus Milne

Six Mistakes the West  Has Made in Ukraine

Pew  (U.S.) Public Opinion  Survey  Undertaken in Ukraine by Region:  April  5-23rd 2014

Conflicts Forum 25th April-2nd May: Alistair Crooke

 

 

 

 

 

“The Government and the police have a duty to protect the public and our national security”- from truth

In the latest  absurdity upon  absurdity in this  fictitious “war  on  terror”, the UK Police have defended their actions in holding and interrogating for 9 hours  Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda on the grounds that Miranda was suspected of terrorism  because  he may  have been relaying truthful  information about  a wide range of Western governments’  illegal   spying on   its citizens.

As the headline above notes; the UK Police’s rationale for the infringement of Miranda’s rights,  was that they  “had a duty to  protect the public and our national  security ” (from  such unwarranted journalism).  With  both  the UK and US police forces being increasingly accused of both corrupt  and violent behaviour, it is little wonder the public  in  those countries feel  a sense of betrayal by  the state.  Who are their police and armed forces in  fact  protecting?

Certainly the deliberately manufactured farce of  muslim  terrorism ( funded with enthusiasm  by  the CIA, and various other “intelligence” western  agencies around the globe- not to mention our “allies”-  the Saudis), is providing an ever more thinly stretched excuse for heavy handed enforcement behaviours,  surveillance and the  erosion of civil  rights.

Who and what  is  it all for?

DublinBaysmallIt would appear that much of this deterioration in  rights and freedoms is simply to  improve the profits of those international  corporates ,  whether media, arms manufacturers ,  energy  companies telecommunications or security companies that  are able to buy the required  influence in  western  “democracies”.

As it becomes increasingly clear  that  we  are nearing the end of the free capitalistic lunch-with  the remainder of  the world’s  natural  resources  being rapidly frittered away for a few quick  bucks  – the corporate billionaires are rushing for the exits, and trampling us “little people” in  the stampede.

 

Sustainable Agriculture: It is possible

Over the years, there have been many discussions about the  potential to  create large-scale organic  farming enterprises to  replace the disastrous  impacts of chemical farming.

A lovely article by  Tom Philpott of Mother Jones outlines  one  attempt by  some US farmers to break  the  dead-end cycle of spraying,  tilling and loss of environment caused by commercial  farming, using no-plough methods and winter “cover crops”. While this method does not completely eliminate  the toxic impacts of spraying ;  it does go  a long way  to  develop  large-scale sustainable  farming practice.

Another “new” farming concept is  is the use of charcoal  in  soil.  Native american indians used Terra preta in pre-Columbian times to  create long term sustainable gardens in  environments where high  rainfall  leaching should have made sustainable agriculture impossible.

The ShortcutGiven  that  at  least  a third of commercially produced food is wasted, it would seen perfectly feasible to  create food sources closer to  food  consumers, allowing less wastage in  transit,  and better targeting of food production to  need.

We dont need the environmental  destruction that is touted as necessary  by  agribusiness to  create sustainable  global food production. We don’t need to  keep  killing our essential  insects   with  insecticides, spraying weedicides to  control  the plants we dont want,   constantly digging up  the soil to  destroy  its structure and life, and  destroying more and more natural  environments  and the plants and animals that live there, for short-term gain. We can live a  wonderful  sustainable and more joyful life through  living instead of buying.

 

Peddling Over the Cliff

George Monbiot in  his blog “The Great  Unmentionable” once again  powerfully articulates the insanity of consumerism -the relentless drive by  governments, media and corporates to encourage us all  to not only maintain  our spending on  foolish things, but to increase it.

Monbiot points out that it is not  heating lighting and transport which  are the predominant carbon  emission culprits-it is the “stuff’  we buy – which  increasingly is produced for “us’  Westerners by  ‘those’ people over there.

In its quest  for economic   growth  and more wealth  for the wealthy, corporates attempt to  even commodify nature; where would we be for instance without our little sticky labels on  our fruit and veges, not knowing  which  international  conglomerate had marketed that piece of produce?

But by far the most insidious aspect  of consumption of  “stuff” is the central part it plays in the relentless destruction of  the natural world- the loss of natural habitat, the annihilation of species after species, for  more pieces of short-lived pieces of ‘stuff ‘ that no human will want in  a  year  or so.

The environment may be able to be resurrected  after the factories have been pulled down, as some artificial and dumbed-down version of true nature -but without the ever-growing list  of  extinct  species that  can never return to us.

SAM_2053
Maple Trees in Autumn

 

As our species becomes more and more urbanised, we lose our  awareness of our indelible link  with nature; our capacity to just  watch  and listen  and wonder at  the glorious  real world around us ;  our heads  down  watching  ‘smartphone” screens or  plugged in  to our latest preference for noise on our mp3 player. We become  immune to the beauty  and randomness and unexpectedness of nature of which  we are an integral  member-and  have blinded ourselves to that reality.

Instead of being open  and alive to  new and unexpected events and situations, we increasingly self-select our perception of the world from  an ever-narrowing mechanical IT menu driven by  our past experience.

We lose our connectedness to  the world around us-our inherent knowledge that we are transient fragile beings like all  other sentient things on this planet: that  we are different-but no better-  than all  the other species we live with.

_______________________________________________________________________

Postscript:

A great little article on  international  debt and how it fuels the crazy  cycle of “growth”  by Dinyar Godrej at the New Internationalist

Debt – a global scam

The standard response to the current financial crisis has been to punish the presumed debtors. Are the creditors blameless, then? asks Dinyar Godrej.

It’s almost a reflex. Think about debt and we think first about something owed. Then come secondary considerations of whether it ‘should’, ‘ought’ or ‘must’ be paid back, how this should happen, and whether possible.

Large outstanding personal debts – say a mortgage taken out during a housing bubble – can turn even the stoutest of us into ‘quivering insomniac jellies of hopeless indebtedness’ (as Margaret Atwood so accurately puts it). Debt is, we feel, whatever the rights or wrongs, ‘our own fault’.

We can’t help it, we are socialized to take such a moral view of debt.

 

“Not with a Bang” or “Peak Capitalism”

T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men alludes to the end of the world coming “not with a bang, but with a whimper..” However the end of capitalism  will not be the end of the world; far from it.  It will be a glorious new beginning for humans and the other species on this planet.

In  a  blink  of evolution’s eye, capitalism  has done more damage to  the planet we co-habitate, than any meteorite strike or cataclysmic galactic event. The destruction of species is occurring at  phenomenal  speed, the  changes to  our climate through  gaseous emissions, the poisoning  of much  of our planet for millenium… and for what?- a bank balance with lots of numbers?, some pretty things that  self-destruct in  your hands after a year or two?, the capacity to  tell  your friends about  all the places you have seen?; merely “Dust in the Wind”  as the band Kansas would say..

To change the direction of  this juggernaut of self-destruction requires more than political  will,  a mass movement or  a United Nations declaration; we are all of on board this juggernaut -whether we are up there in  the driving seat, or hanging on for dear  life on the roof desperately  trying  to  claw our way inside to the easy seats while it hurtles towards oblivion.  We all  have an investment in  ensuring  that this insane model  of “progress” continues;  we are “locked in”  for the ride. .. (the university degree that  you  spent all  those  years sweating over  so you could get the job of your dreams,  the expensive house you spent years slaving away  at a  horrible job to afford, or simply the years you spent at the factory so  your kids could get  an education…)

However some have a greater investment in it than others.

John Peterson from the Arlington Institute  argues it this way:

It’s almost as though there is a “coefficient of adaptation” associated with human societies that varies with the relative level of “development” (whatever that means) which describes the amount of change that a social system can effectively assimilate without becoming unstable. It’s not just quantitative, but also qualitative, having clear hot-button issues (often related to women and the role of government) that, if pushed too hard, accelerate the movement toward state change.

What also happens, of course, is that the powers that be, regardless of the particular discipline or sector, see the abrupt change as a threat and, like white corpuscles rushing to staunch a wound, leap forward in defense of the status quo – regardless of the relative merit of the new proposal. This is where I get hung up. It’s as though the “system” embraces the status quo, even though things are clearly not working very well and treats thoughtful new proposals as mortal threats, even as people die and suffer because of the present policies. And it’s not just that they defend the status quo, but that they leap to attack the new ideas in very non-rational and sometimes inhumane terms

Does all  this imply we should all be living as medieval peasants in  some country idyll?

Kelp
Kelp seaweed

 

No ,  but we can, if we have time,  start to turn the wheel, take the foot off the accelerator and truly experience the scenery-instead of watching it whipping past in  a blur. Imagine if the money  and hype that is now put into selling this or that useless product,  was instead put into showing you how to  work alongside your neighbour,  how to create living spaces around us instead of neat  and tidy  ones, how to co-exist with the other species we live alongside, how to avoid conflict  and promote peace, how to  stop and just  enjoy these brief moments we all have in  this life.

Yes, we surely need good sanitation,  clean water, cheap healthy  food and good shelter. There is plenty to  go  around  for all  the billions of humans on  this planet right now. Yes we  will need to  learn how to  consume less and enjoy more; there are plenty of tools out there to do that right now if one cares to look.

We cannot afford to have  people  control  this world and its resources whose only interest is the production of power and money  for themselves and to hell  with everything and everyone else. Those fools are dragging us  to oblivion , the point at  which literally this planet  becomes a hell-hole. Poisoning  the world and its living things, paving over the  living earth, killing our  fellow species, for a few cheap  baubles -that is truly insane. Sadly we are all  “locked-in”: -we cannot see the madness.

But, there is a saving grace to this. While Lovelock has reneged on   his  view of the Earth  as a living entity “Gaia”- this planet has not!  We are rapidly reaching the point as humans where we are opening our eyes to  the damage we have caused;  where the cost  of “improving’  or maintaining our standard of living becomes too great-we have reached “peak  capitalism”.

And just  as with “peak oil”,  the point of optimum utilization of a particular process  is invisible to the onlooker;  the  forces change and adapt. The price of oil rises inexorably year by year  but we only notice the ebbs and falls; the capacity to  pump  oil crude out of the ground wanes, but production stays with demand  as we develop  more costly and more environmentally damaging  processes  like shale oil… and  consequently economies begin  their progressive  wilt under  the ongoing pressure….

The fundamental flaws in  the capitalist  system become ever-widening abysses into the unknown; and we have the opportunity now to create something wonderful for ourselves as human beings and for  our fellow species on  this planet.

That opportunity is neither capitalism or communism  or any other “ism” created to  capture or -redistribute the “wealth” of this planet. It is an understanding that we are not the guardians of this planet, (we have made the most appalling job of trying to do that!);  we are simply co-habitators whose guidance will  come from listening and valuing everything around us.