How can we be held to ransom like this?

Given the perilous state of the EU and the world economy as a result of Italy now being at the mercy of a very small number of individuals within credit rating agencies and money-lenders (whom even entire Governments cannot control), I am re-posting this item from my old Earthy Issues blog (on 28 July 2011): Is global Capitalism heading for bankruptcy? You will have to take it on trust that I am no Marxist, because Marxism is just industrialism without the free market economics; and what Karl Marx called “money fetishism”, Herman Daly called “growthmania” and, whereas Marxism prioritises production; Capitalism prioritises consumption (Goodin). Therefore, both result in the unsustainable consumption of finite resources.

It is not Rocket Science but...

... can we reach Escape Velocity?

However, for the sake of argument, even if we ignore the Limits to Growth issues, we still have a problem because debts cannot be repaid without growth and, make no mistake, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, debt is a problem: Global Capitalism may be the dominant social paradigm – and it may be generally held to be beyond reproach (Jacques) – but that does not change the fact that, as Harvard economists have pointed out, when debt gets above 90% of GDP, it limits growth and promotes inflation. Let’s face it; the debt crisis in the USA is not going to be solved in a week, a year, or even 50 years: How can any country pay back a debt bigger than its GDP? Again, ignoring the possibility that perpetual growth within a finite system may be our ultimate problem (Daly), at a modest level of 2% growth a doubling of income will take 35 years. However, only a fraction can go towards debt repayment; hence clearance of the debt is a very distant prospect indeed. Therefore if the USA has a problem, then that of Greece, Ireland, Portugal etc must be even worse. The apostle Paul once said that “the love of money is the root of all evil” and, you have to say, he chose his words well: Money is not the root of all evil; but the love of money is… Money was invented to make exchanging goods easier but, when money is robbed of its inherent exchange value and, instead, pursued solely for its instrumental value (as an end in itself rather than a means to an end), take it from St Paul, you are in big trouble. Therefore, Government exercises to try and determine what makes us happy are a complete waste of time: Even if we could eliminate mass media advertising (which makes money out of making people feel dissatisfied and unhappy), what we really need is prosperity without growth. However, unless and/or until Countries learn to balance their budgets in the same way that households do (or at least should); such a sustainable solution will remain a utopian fantasy. Unfortunately, that does not make it any less necessary to guarantee a future for anything like the Earth’s current human population; and the avoidance of mass extinctions of non-human species. —— References: Goodin, R. (1992), Green Political Theory. Cambridge: Polity Press. Jacques, P. (2009), Environmental Skepticism: Ecology, Power and Public Life. Farnham: Ashgate.


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Capitalism, Civil Disorder, Consumerism, Economics, Financial Crisis, Growthmania, Liberalism, Modernity, Money Fetishism, Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to How can we be held to ransom like this?

  1. Pingback: Alessio Rastani said it all | Anthropocene Reality

  2. pendantry says:

    Have you read Prosperity without Growth by Tim Jackson, Rick? I recommend it — and wish that more economists would read it (especially Those In Power). I am now going to write out 100 times “the love of money is the root of all evil” so it sticks*… * damn these machines to hell and back: copy/paste is far too seductive!


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