The pickle we’re in.
Eric Hobsbawm (who do I think I am critiquing EH for fates sake… but anyway free speech yada yada….) has an interesting article in the Grauniad on the subject of the failure of the two great philosophies/theologies/behaviour rationales of the 20th century.
I like a lot of what he says but i feel that I have a few thoughts that have not been seen any where else. I have been ruminating on this subject myself for a while and want to get them out of my head and into the void of the blogosphere where the sound of an unread blog is not heard falling.
There is an interesting thesis that posits that both capitalism and communism needed the threat of the other to keep them from completely abusing their people. Capitalism gave into workers demands so as to forestall revolution. Communism actually produced some butter (as opposed to all guns) under similar pressures cf the Prague Spring.
Regardless, Communism failed because it was not able to exploit the earths resources as aggressively as capitalism, it was inefficient and not able to juggle as …….. Capitalism seems on the verge of collapse, not because of this current financial debacle but because it has exhausted the capacity of the planet to tolerate its rapaciousness.
Hobsbawm thinks this financial crisis is some form of final collapse but to me it is just another in a long line of crises from the South Sea Bubble onwards. There will be a realignment as always and eventually the lessons learned would be forgotten and another boom and bust would follow.
What is different this time is twofold.
Firstly, we have been on an accelerating curve of energy usage (and abuse). This is about to come to a grinding halt because as the low hanging fruit (oil) runs out.
Secondly, capitalism and communism were methods of managing the dissemination of a very scarce resource, information, throughout a society/culture/economy. One used prices as a messaging system and the other tried to plan/coordinate the whole thing. Both have had spectacular failings.
We are now in the information age rather than the energy age. We can focus on moving the electrons as opposed to the protons, as per Amory Lovins. Information is virtually free, in both the ‘libre’ and ‘gratis’ senses, for the first time in history.
I still haven’t figured out how this is going to help with replenishing the resources and the damaged environment or feed the non-wired billions.
I’ll get back to you on that one…..