Friday, July 29, 2011

Toward a Post Growth Society

This is an important concept, well articulated in the article: Toward a Post Growth Society.

Economic growth is viewed as the ultimate panacea for civilization. Grow or die; if you're not growing you're stagnating. No other species on the planet lives this way or can possibly live this way. Any species that outgrows its resources declines and ultimately dies. There's no way around it.

Continual economic growth in a world of finite resources is impossible. At some point, human growth must stop. And yet, human societies seem bent on pushing this natural limit, well... to the limit.

A truly rational and sane species, such as Homo sapiens is supposed to be, equipped with a brain, supposedly capable of projecting the consequences of our actions into the future, able to contemplate our own demise,  would indeed see the inevitability of natural limits to economic growth and would rationally decide that enough is sufficient and by golly, we'd better find a way to develop a steady state economy before we destroy our ability to exist on this, the only planet we have at our disposal.

For many very complex cultural reasons, the dominate human societies on this planet are caught up in a story of how to be a functioning human being that is radically dysfunctional in the real world we inhabit. This story tells us that we are disconnected from the natural world, that there are no consequences to our actions, and that we can continue in this state indefinitely.

This turns out not to be the case.

There are indeed limits to human growth. The resources on which we have built human societies are finite and limited. There are consequences to human actions in this world, consequences that will turn on humans if continued much longer.

It may be possible for humans to develop a steady state society that can continue into the future without destroying it, but I see no reason for optimism on that score.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Anarchy: Democracy Taken Seriously.

In a July 24 Commentary, Mark Dalton mistakenly compares anarchists to Tea Party opponents of raising the debt ceiling. This is as much a disservice to members of Congress as it is to anarchists and the theories of anarchism.

Anarchy means no rulers, not no rules. Anarchism is the body of political thought and writing calling for an end to authoritarian centralized rule, not government. An anarchist society is a society in which the people enforce common rules, rather than giving over their power to a central authority.

Anarchy is not chaos. Those who practice violent destruction in the name of anarchy are not philosophical anarchists, but opportunistic vandals, capitalizing on the popular impression of violent anarchism for their own political gain. If the world today were dominated by anarchists in anarchist societies, it would be much more peaceful. There would be no imperialism, no invasions of other countries to steal their oil and resources, no billions in profits to be gained by dominating the central government. We would look out for ourselves, our families and our neighbors, live within local cycles of resource availability, produce locally for local consumption and stop trashing the planet for corporate profits.

There is no single Anarchist Manifesto, as anarchism is not a centrally ruled doctrine, such as American Republicanism. Anarchism is the various ways people live, in their own communities, in their own bioregions, in maximum freedom of choice, assembly, and cooperation, giving each person, family, neighborhood and community maximum opportunity for free expression.

Democracy is indeed messy. We should try it in the United States some time. Real Democracy, not this faux Democracy Light of barely disguised corporate oligarchy.

Anarchism is democracy, rule by the people, taken seriously.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Environmental Regulation Doesn't Prevent Environmental Abuse

It’s taken me many years to swallow the bitter pill of the reality of government regulation. After 40 years of environmental activism I’ve finally come to the following conclusions.

Regulations do not stop environmental abuse, pollution, habitat destruction, species extinction...what have you. Regulations only regulate, that is, allow these things to continue in a controlled manner. NEPA does not stop pollution, it regulates it. The Clean Air Act does not stop air pollution, it allows it to continue… regulated. The California Coast Act does not prevent coastal development… it regulates it.

You get the picture. Corporations, and people, will always pollute, develop, destroy habitat. Non-humans species will always be displaced by human growth and development. Regulation doesn’t change this, it just puts it in the realm of human notice. Regulation is the bureaucratic excuse for business as usual.

The only way to stop corporate abuse is to rein in corporations, put them on a short leash and dissolve them when they don’t live up to their charter. The only way to stop people from polluting is to remove the economic incentive to throw things "away."

Humans create corporations to do good. Humans can uncreate corporations when they fail to do good.

Humans create pollution out of habits encouraged by an economy based on consumption and unlimited growth. Humans can develop habits of conservation and preservation rather than profligacy.

Rather than waiting for the government to regulate an out of control growth economy, we can start right at home, right now.

We're from the neighborhood. We're here to help everyone!

Monday, July 11, 2011

We're from the Government. We're here to arrest you.

This kind of article:  Trickle-Down Cruelty and the Politics of Austerity has become all too common on progressive web sites these days. Even though the story is not new, it's increasing repetition is worrisome.

The Obama administration has proven to be no friend of those seeking peace, equality and justice in the United States and the world. Despite the campaign rhetoric, the current government pursues increased crack downs on those who point pout the lies and deceit that characterize this administration. It's becoming increasingly clear that the US public were lied to, deliberately and cynically, in order to retain the power of corporations and the Pentagon in control of the government of the United States.

What are we to do as average citizens trying to make a good life for ourselves, our families and our friends and neighbors? Where do we turn when our government turns against us and actively prosecutes those who publicly reveal that the Emperor has no clothes?

We admire those brave enough to carry on the opposition, to stand in solidarity in the streets, to speak out in public about what they know to be true. When do we draw the line and admit to ourselves that opposition to tyranny is more important in the long run than responsibilities of jobs family and put ourselves on the front lines to be abused, arrested and incarcerated for the crime of speaking the truth.

It has traditionally been those without such responsibilities, students and the retired, to carry the banner of dissent, to march in the streets on a work day, to risk arrest and all the social and community sanction that accompanies, to demonstrate unequivocally our displeasure with the activities of the government that professes to represent us.

Perhaps it is time for this to change. We can't wait until the next election, even if it were to be a clean, open and honest election devoid of electronic manipulation. It's time to speak out, each of us who is aware, in public, where all can hear, where all can learn of the actions of the government of the United States against it's own people, the people the government is formed to defend.

If not now, when?