Monday, April 19, 2010

Economic growth is the Problem, Not the Cure



European Activists Against Economic Growth

Europe has suffered under unbridled capitalism far longer than the United States. Here's what they've learned:

"…degrowth emerges as the only economically viable formula, not just in benefit of nature but also "to restore a minimum of social justice, without which the world is condemned to destruction."

Here in the United States, the growth maniacs are still in control, and economic growth is the elephant in the living room. And it's billed as the main attraction, the only attraction. Stand up in a city council meeting anywhere in the country and question the concept of economic growth and count the uncomprehending stares. You'll be branded as a crank, as unrealistic, as an idealist.

Growth is the water that our economy swims in. We can't see it and we can't know that it is drowning us.

Coming to Grips with a Finite World

Bolivia Climate Change Talks to Give Poor a Voice
Indigenous peoples gather in public talks in Cochabamba to deal with the effects of economic colonialism, disguised as Climate Change.

Meanwhile:

Governments Starting to Worry About Peak Oil
Oil Company executives and government officials gather in secret to figure out how to profit from Peak Oil.

This is the way we accommodate Reality

This beautiful essay Ash Cloud’s Silver Lining Is Leisure Time demonstrates how we (that is, ordinary people other than economists and oil company executives) accommodate day to day reality, and make the best of it.

Despite popular impressions, humans strive for stability, humanity, family and community. Ultra-consumers are highly visible and loudly touted in the media, because the media is supported by the capitalist status quo that thrives on continued economic growth fueled by hyper-consumerism.

Notice how 9/11 and the recent Icelandic volcanic ash cloud resulted in thousands of people released from obligations to rush about in mad consumption, gave them an excuse to relax, read a book, smell the flowers, interact with the neighborhood.

Deep down, we're all family folks, communitarians, true socialists all.

I think it's neckties that do it, choking off blood supplies to the heads of corporate executives and government lackies. Maybe a ban on neckties would release a flood of creative energy, revive our neighborhoods, clear the skies and, once and for all, drive a spike in the hearts of growth maniacs everywhere.