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Author Topic: The great question of over population
Frustrated Mess
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posted 07 November 2007 06:33 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
We humans face two problems of desperate importance. The first is our global ecological plight. The second is our difficulty acknowledging the first

...

We have to rethink the corporate economic growth imperative. On a finite planet, the physical component of economic growth cannot continue forever (ed: neo-liberalism, notwithstanding) ...
...

We must end world population growth, then reduce population size. That means lowering population numbers in industrialised as well as developing nations
...

Neither justifies hiding the truth because total resource use is the product of population size and per capita consumption. We have no chance of solving our environmental predicament without reducing both factors in the equation.


Discuss


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 22 October 2008 03:46 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Humanity produces its own life, through labour as a conscious social activity. This basic characteristic of our species has two important consequences for a discussion of ecology.

The first is that humanity doesn’t just evolve biologically, as other species do, but also develops itself through history. As it develops, passing through different modes of production, it changes its relationship with the environment and changes the environment itself. That is why our species has such an impact on the environment. The nature of our impact is not fated in advance: more development does not automatically imply more environmental destruction. For example, in some regions agricultural communities probably put less pressure on the environment than hunting communities that used fire as a means of production. The relationship between human development and the environment is dialectical. We have choices. Development does not necessary imply material, quantitative growth. Within certain limits, we can develop while protecting the environment.

The second consequence is that knowledge of homo sapiens’s biological characteristics doesn’t help us to understand any particular problem in the relationship between humanity and nature. On the contrary, the decisive role is played by socially and historically conditioned forms of development. To seek an explanation or solutions for modern environmental crises by studying the history of Easter Island, or the Mayan collapse, as Jared Diamond does in his bestseller Collapse, is pure nonsense. The Neolithic civilisation on Easter Island had no nuclear power, didn’t use pesticides and didn’t burn fossil fuels.

Ignoring history and the concrete mode of production in a discussion of humanity and nature can only lead to a seemingly trite but very dangerous conclusion: that, other things being equal, the more human beings there are on Earth, the more ecological problems we create. That in turn leads to just one question: How many people should there be? James Lovelock, author of the Gaïa hypothesis, says 500 million, others say 3 billion. Who will decide? Above all: with that diagnosis, how can we democratically address an urgent ecological problem like global warming? According to the IPCC, global GHG emissions should decrease by 50% to 85% by 2050. Faced with such a great challenge, obsessive “Population Bomb” thinking can only pave the way for a new barbarism — which is why, while not in the least favoring pro-natalist policies, the left should consider the “overpopulation” debate as an important ideological battlefield....

[C]apitalist ecological crises mainly proceed from overproduction and the resulting overconsumption. Not only does capitalism use more resources, it does so by developing environmentally dangerous technologies. Each capitalist tries to get surplus profit, also called technological rent, by replacing human labour with machines, chemicals, etc., to improve productivity. Among other problems, this race for more productivity, this permanent revolution in production, leads to the development and use of new technologies like nuclear power, new molecules like DDT or PCB, and even new genetically modified organisms.

Climate change must be seen within that framework.

That might seem obvious, but it is not. The IPCC’s reports — which are excellent, especially those from Workgroups I and II — label global warming as “anthropic,” which is misleading. Global warming is not a result of human activity in general but of capitalist human activity. Indeed global warming is the purest and more perfect example of a capitalist environmental crisis: it is a direct result of overproduction. Today’s atmosphere is saturated with CO2, due to the massive burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil, gas — in imperialist countries since the Industrial Revolution. Climate Change is the global inheritance of 250 years of capitalist accumulation.


- ecosocialist Daniel Tanuro

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 22 October 2008 06:23 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Is the author then attributing the economic activities of the old Soviet Union as "capitalist" ? I can see that spin, as the Soviet economy was perhaps not a Marxist one, but a Marxist one in competition with capitalism, which encouraged a less than environmentally friendly result, as we can see today in, for example, the Aral Sea area.

I read Mowat's "Sea of Slaughter" many years ago, and it struck me how poorly capitalism utilizes resources. There's too much incentive, for example, to hunt whales to extinction, sell the boats for scrap and invest the quick profits in, say, clear cutting of old growth forest, then move onto the next resource.

I don't take issue with the author's idea that capitalism is bad for the planet. But when he proposes "ecosocialism" as the solution, what kind of socialism is it? Centrally planned? Or, more where the rubber hits the road, at the local level?


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 22 October 2008 07:39 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've seen old photos of the days of lumber barons in North America. Big rivers overflowing with timber cut by the lumber companies. There was an ocean of logs, just an enormous amount of them stacked up in one picture. They were huge logs, too. The article went on to explain how all of the timber shown in the black and white photo was left in the bush to rot due to low prices at the time, something like a hundred years ago on the west coast of Canada.

U.S. EPA shows estimated CO2 emissions in former USSR peaking in the mid-1980's. I'm not sure if Radio Free Europe propagandists broadcasting into iron curtain countries were promoting catastroika reforms at the time or DisneyWorld economy.

[ 22 October 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 22 October 2008 08:19 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
Is the author then attributing the economic activities of the old Soviet Union as "capitalist" ?
I spent half an hour drafting a reply to your question, but when I tried to post it the stupid fucking babble software ate it and it's gone.

It also ate my first attempt to post a message similar to this, explaining why my original post was eaten.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 22 October 2008 08:26 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Same thing happened to me, M. For longish posts, I've learned to use a text editor like Wordpad and then cut and paste to the babble edit window.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
viigan
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posted 23 October 2008 04:16 AM      Profile for viigan     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"We must end world population growth, then reduce population size."

Right, then we should begin by sterilizing the author and euthanizing the rest of his family, because if everyone is going to aspire to a bitchin' Hollywood/Hummer lifestyle there just isn't enough room for us all.


From: here | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 23 October 2008 05:45 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
We must keep in mind that human population growth is actually decreasing in many regions and decreases with women's empowerment, and economic and social security.

Ecosocialism is strongly concerned with democratic planning. I'll get back to this later if M. Spector doesn't beat me to it; haven't had enough coffee yet.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
It's Me D
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posted 23 October 2008 07:05 AM      Profile for It's Me D     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
We must keep in mind that human population growth is actually decreasing in many regions and decreases with women's empowerment, and economic and social security.

I'm not so sure that this decrease is exactly sustainable... seems to be resulting in an aged population with little productivity and a high intake of resources (health, housing, etc)... imports and immigrants are needed to sustain these demographics.

I guess what I am saying is without capitalist inequalities between developed and developing nations I don't see how our current rate of population decrease could be sustained; the demographics aren't in it.

A solution is tricky and I know that no one wants to question or obsession with longevity and comfort but it seems to me a sustainable human population couldn't skew towards the over 60 demographic on a worldwide level without disasterous results.

Maybe the solution isn't just about birth-rates but also about death-rates; sorry if that suggestion offends.


From: Parrsboro, NS | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 23 October 2008 07:15 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It does offend, because people past 60 are not necessary dependent or unproductive - I'm also including the important role grandparents play, as well as "productive work" in the narrower sense.

I do agree that medical heroics keeping people technically "alive" are an absurdity, and not only due to cost.

The most developed countries are not the only areas where there has been a decline in the birth rates.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
It's Me D
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posted 23 October 2008 08:04 AM      Profile for It's Me D     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
It does offend, because people past 60 are not necessary dependent or unproductive - I'm also including the important role grandparents play, as well as "productive work" in the narrower sense.

But in a world with demographics in the range of 50% or more of the population being senior citizens?

I suppose I am being short-sighted though, within a couple generations super low-birth rates would ensure a more equitable demographic distribution... the problem seems to be limited to this transitional phase, once the currently elderly pass on then the imbalance would be far less severe.

quote:
The most developed countries are not the only areas where there has been a decline in the birth rates.

I was responding to your post above linking economic and social development to declining birth rates; if you have something to add to that post which contradicts it I'm interested to know what it is.


From: Parrsboro, NS | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 23 October 2008 08:42 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I said security, not development. Sure, it requires a certain minimal level of development were everyone is not starving, but not necessarily one of the wealthiest societies. "Human development" as defined by the UN, yes.

The wealthiest countries are not the only regions of the world that have seen falling birthrates.

I think you are concerned about the baby boom bump, and indeed we'll all die off eventually.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
It's Me D
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posted 23 October 2008 09:35 AM      Profile for It's Me D     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I think you are concerned about the baby boom bump, and indeed we'll all die off eventually.

I suppose I am but such "bumps" would occur in any situation where birthrates are substantially reduced from one generation to the next; a "boom" is not strictly necessary and indeed many developing societies are in a "boom" state right now.

Do you have any examples of birthrate decline not linked to economic or social development? I'm quite curious what you are getting at.


From: Parrsboro, NS | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 23 October 2008 02:02 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
I spent half an hour drafting a reply to your question, but when I tried to post it the stupid fucking babble software ate it and it's gone.

It also ate my first attempt to post a message similar to this, explaining why my original post was eaten.


He he. It's been balky and stubborn, of late. Thought it was just me. And yes, when I loose something on line like that, I rarely, if ever, go back to do a re-write.

Anyway, I was flattered you spent time on a response.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
remind
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posted 23 October 2008 02:28 PM      Profile for remind     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Funny, when babble eats my responses, all I have to do is use the page back function and there it is.

To further address lagatta's point of:

quote:
We must keep in mind that human population growth is actually decreasing in many regions and decreases with women's empowerment, and economic and social security.

I concur, and there was a very good news segment on CBC Sunday Night with Carol McNeil and Flora Macdonald about this aspect of women's empowerment in Afghanistan. It was in respect to Flora's charity which is working closely with Afghan women, and villages.

http://www.cbc.ca/sunday/2008/10/101908_1.html

http://www.futuregen.ca/


From: "watching the tide roll away" | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 23 October 2008 03:05 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Funny, when babble eats my responses, all I have to do is use the page back function and there it is.

So what you are saying is that my pathetic attempts to grasp the subject didn't actually merit a response, and M. Spector, was, in fact, being patronizingly kind in concocting a story about why he didn't respond.

I see. That's how it is, is it?

I better add a smiley face on this.

I love to tease, but it looks too terse in this font.

[ 23 October 2008: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ]


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 23 October 2008 03:12 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by remind:
Funny, when babble eats my responses, all I have to do is use the page back function and there it is. [/URL]

No believe you me and Spector, it was a strange sort of script error page sent to our browsers from the server. The error dump said something like, "Ha, you fool! Use the text editor next time", or some such. I'll never be caught like that again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill...

ps: I was able to hit the back button and retrieve my message, but sometimes that doesn't work on some versions of Windows when, for example, the process loaded into memory and running on the CPU that is the browser instance freezes up for some reason. That wasn't the case this time as the problem was on the server side of things. In rare instances, an TCP connection can be broken between your machine and the other end, or even a single instance of one of your browser windows and the other end for whatever reason. But be warned, stuff happens. Use a text editor and save often if youre not crazy about typing and re-typing all that much.

[ 23 October 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 23 October 2008 03:22 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It took quite a bit to get my edit to stick.
From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 23 October 2008 03:41 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Five web sites load at interstellar overdrive speeds for me, except for rabble/babble loading at sub glacial-snail's pace. There's something happenin' here. What it is ain't exactly clear ...
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 23 October 2008 03:47 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Five web sites load at interstellar overdrive speeds for me, except for rabble/babble loading at sub glacial-snail's pace. There's something happenin' here. What it is ain't exactly clear ...Ah! They have flood control activated, or some such. It's a "resource allocation" issue. I'm going across for a bit to attend an orgy. Hold my place someone.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Merowe
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posted 23 October 2008 06:07 PM      Profile for Merowe     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Guess I'd quibble with a couple of points in M.Spector's opening quote....most of which I salute as sensible enough...the author's second point, that knowledge of homo sapiens biological circumstances is irrelevant is palpable nonsense. Our metabolisms require oxygen rather than for example, sulphur and the distinction IS important. Likewise, his dismissal of Diamond's historical methodology is empty hubris. Regardless of the specific qualities of industrial culture, modern human societies are still of a piece with those that preceded it; the Easter Islanders didn't use nuclear power but they still utilized their resource base, either sensibly or not and we can learn from the study of the social forces that controlled this utilization, particularly in terms of the paths earlier cultures took as their environment degraded to a critical level.

Likewise, in his eagerness to condemn capitalism he misses completely the fact that it is industrialism that lies at the heart of our current material consumption patterns and the dangers our societies confront. Obviously the two are linked...but are most emphatically NOT the same thing.

I think he strains too hard to make a special case for capitalism, whereas history is littered with local examples of non-capitalist human societies exceeding the carrying capacity of their resource base. Slash and burn agriculture practiced on the scale of modern industrial culture would have a demonstrable effect on atmospheric CO2, I should think.

I'm no lover of capitalism, but I don't see what purpose is served in setting it on some sort of pedestal, in order to freight it with a lot of righteous condemnation. IMHO...


From: Dresden, Germany | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 23 October 2008 08:15 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Merowe:
Guess I'd quibble with a couple of points in M.Spector's opening quote....most of which I salute as sensible enough...the author's second point, that knowledge of homo sapiens biological circumstances is irrelevant is palpable nonsense. Our metabolisms require oxygen rather than for example, sulphur and the distinction IS important.
The fact that we require oxygen rather than sulphur tells us what, exactly, about the cause of the current ecological crisis?

I suggest you read the whole article, and not just the portion I quoted. Tanuro explains very well why capitalism is responsible for the crisis.

Tanuro is refuting the idea that biology is destiny – that there is something in “human nature” that makes us destroy our environment. He is saying that humans have evolved not just biologically but socially, and that trying to draw conclusions about our relationship with nature today, based on our relationship with nature in earlier, less evolved societies (as Diamond and others seek to do), is fallacious, since that relationship has changed so radically.

If you read the whole article, you will see how Tanuro explains the qualitative difference between the ecological crisis of capitalism and the crises of primitive societies:

quote:
Pre-capitalist modes of production produced use-values, quantitatively limited by human needs. Labour productivity was low, and growth occurred very slowly. Social crises involved shortages of use-values.

Capitalism produces exchange-values, not use-values as such. Its only limit, as Marx said, is capital itself. Over-production and over-consumption (the first conditioning the second) are inherent in this highly productive system, which is based on ever more profit and ever more growth to produce profit. Social crises involve overproduction of commodities — that is, of exchange-values.

These basic differences shape very important distinctions between present and past ecological crises.

Previous ecological crises, in so-called primitive societies for instance, mainly involved low production communities looting natural resources as a response to food shortages caused by droughts, flooding, or wars.

Capitalism also loots nature, but in a very different way: capitalist looting aims to obtain and sell exchange values, not to satisfy needs, so it causes more environmental degradation than previous societies.


quote:
Originally posted by Merowe:
Likewise, in his eagerness to condemn capitalism he misses completely the fact that it is industrialism that lies at the heart of our current material consumption patterns and the dangers our societies confront. Obviously the two are linked...but are most emphatically NOT the same thing.
“Consumption patterns” are not the primary cause of the ecological crisis, because overconsumption is itself a consequence of overproduction. And overproduction is an inseparable part of capitalism.

“Industrialism” is not something counterposed to capitalism. Industrialism is the most advanced form of productivity, and is used by capitalism to maximize productive capacity in order to maximize profits. It is made possible only by the discovery and use of concentrated energy sources such as fossil fuels.

Industrialism does not necessarily, of itself, imply overproduction. It is only when industrialism is overlaid on a capitalist economic system that it becomes a tool for the overproduction that is inherent in capitalist political economy. The solution to the ecological crisis is not to smash the machines but to smash the capitalist system that uses them to impoverish the earth.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 24 October 2008 04:53 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Like I was saying earlier, after reading "Sea of Slaughter", it lead me to think that "primative" societies, hunter gatherers, etc, wouldn't hunt something to extinction, but rather husband the resources for the next generation. Which lead me to wonder if communal ownership of a resource, whether it's cod or trees etc, is the best model for us.

But maybe other stuff is going on. Maybe this model only works when people have the ability to range far. It all seems to break down when post ice age Europe's empty spaces got filled up. And maybe it would have happened in the America's too-- perhaps on the verge of happening-- when the Europeans interupted the process.

Maybe capitalism is the response and not the cause? A symptom of a deeper problem?

While I did read the whole article, I may not have absorbed it all. I think most would think that the Soviet Union was not a capitalist economy, but yet it has no shortage of Soviet era environmental catastrophes. I saw no mention of that.


What I'm getting at is that large, centrally planned or controlled economies, whether on a capitalist model or Socialist one, is bad for the environment.

Bad for all but a few.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
G. Pie
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posted 24 October 2008 05:20 PM      Profile for G. Pie     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
Like I was saying earlier, after reading "Sea of Slaughter", it lead me to think that "primative" societies, hunter gatherers, etc, wouldn't hunt something to extinction, but rather husband the resources for the next generation. Which lead me to wonder if communal ownership of a resource, whether it's cod or trees etc, is the best model for us.

The Easter Islanders were a communal society and it didn't seem to stop them.


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: Sep 2008  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 24 October 2008 05:42 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What if by bringing about another great extinction through over consumption of the planet's resources and the incumbent waste, we are merely fulfilling our species' biological destiny? What if we are genetically programmed to do exactly what we are doing?
From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
G. Pie
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posted 24 October 2008 05:50 PM      Profile for G. Pie     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
FM, I like to think that we can exceed our biological destiny.
From: Vancouver Island | Registered: Sep 2008  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 24 October 2008 06:00 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
While I did read the whole article, I may not have absorbed it all. I think most would think that the Soviet Union was not a capitalist economy, but yet it has no shortage of Soviet era environmental catastrophes. I saw no mention of that.
I'm composing this offline, so if the babble server eats it I can try a second time.

Tanuro did talk about the soviet experience:

quote:
Third, it is obvious that climate change challenges the socialist alternative. May I remind you Lenin once defined socialism as equal to soviets plus electricity? It is crystal clear that this formula as such is no longer valid. But what kind power is needed? Green power or nuclear power? How will it be it produced? How much is needed? What are the ecological consequences? These are basic questions, and we know from history that a non-capitalist society won’t automatically find the answers — so the socialist alternative must be profoundly redefined in a non-productivist way.
This is a huge challenge to socialism, but a complete revision isn’t needed. There is a concept in Marx’s writing that can help us...etc. etc.
The Stalinist perversion of socialism led to bureaucratic central planning without regard for ecological consequences. Ecosocialism envisions democratic planning of production at both central and local levels.
quote:
What I'm getting at is that large, centrally planned or controlled economies, whether on a capitalist model or Socialist one, is bad for the environment.
Capitalist economies are not centrally planned - they are anarchic and driven by greed, with a built-in imperative towards overproduction, waste, duplication, and externalization of costs (particularly environmental costs).

There is no reason why a planned and co-operative system of production, democratically controlled and free of "productivism" and the necessity to maximize profit that drives capitalism, cannot be developed to ensure that environmental impacts are minimized, accounted for, and corrected through restorative activities. As Tanuro says, this is a huge challenge for socialism, but it is not impossible in principle.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 24 October 2008 06:12 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
By what I understand of state-socialist Soviet economies, they weren't driven by supply and demand so much as they ruled by constraints of raw materials and man/woman power. Of course, neither are western economies driven much by supply and demand so much as speculative bubblenomics. Our two old line parties in Canada dove into the neoliberal voodoo like few other countries for the last 28 years.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 24 October 2008 06:19 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The Easter Islanders were a communal society and it didn't seem to stop them.


Ah, they had no room to move about, did they?

Sorry, M., I must have missed or not understood what he was getting at with the Soviet example.

With things like the World Bank and other organizations, and how-- especially now-- governments are marching in lock step to the current economic concerns, capitalism looks increasingly-- to me at least-- centraly planned.

At any rate, it's certainly well beyond local control.

Which brings me to the topic heading, and the elephant in the room in environmental discussions.


There's too many people on the planet. We can't move-- like other animals-- to give the land a rest.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jerry West
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posted 24 October 2008 06:20 PM      Profile for Jerry West   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks, MS, for the link. Some preliminary comments. If I have time to go through the entire article I will make more.

quote:

The first is that humanity doesn’t just evolve biologically, as other species do, but also develops itself through history. As it develops, passing through different modes of production, it changes its relationship with the environment and changes the environment itself. That is why our species has such an impact on the environment. The nature of our impact is not fated in advance: more development does not automatically imply more environmental destruction.

I agree with this. However, development isn't the problem, consumption is. Development without increased consumption is neutral, development that reduces consumption is positive.

quote:

The second consequence is that knowledge of homo sapiens’s biological characteristics doesn’t help us to understand any particular problem in the relationship between humanity and nature.

Crock of BS. Should be obvious without comment.

quote:

Population Bomb thinking can only pave the way for a new barbarism

More BS. Would be more accurate if the word only was replaces with might or could. Addressing an overpopulation problem does not have to result in barbarism. That is, of course, unless merely mentioning overpopulation is considered an act of barbaraism.

quote:

Capitalist ecological crises mainly proceed from overproduction and the resulting overconsumption.

Yes, but not all environmental crises are capitalist ones. By narrowing the environmental problem to a capitalist one we overlook much of the problem.

Overconsumption and greed lie at the root of the problem, and although capitalism may be organized greed, it doesn't have a monopoly over either greed or overconsumption.

quote:

Global warming is not a result of human activity in general but of capitalist human activity.

A religious statement, not a scientific one.

quote:

Today’s atmosphere is saturated with CO2, due to the massive burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil, gas — in imperialist countries since the Industrial Revolution. Climate Change is the global inheritance of 250 years of capitalist accumulation.

Although 250 years of capitalism have accelerated the accumulation of GHGs, the process has been going on for 8000 years and can be correlated to the advent of agriculture and subsequent human development.

From what I have read it seems Tanuro is doing a disservice to the case against capitalism by making arguments against it in a way that mixes valid points with unsupportable claims.

[ 24 October 2008: Message edited by: Jerry West ]


From: Gold River, BC | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 24 October 2008 06:29 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
What if by bringing about another great extinction through over consumption of the planet's resources and the incumbent waste, we are merely fulfilling our species' biological destiny? What if we are genetically programmed to do exactly what we are doing?
As I noted above, Tanuro refutes the idea that biology is destiny – that there is something in “human nature” that makes us destroy our environment. He does so by reminding us that we are the product of social, as well as biological evolution.

The argument from biology is really a non-starter. There is nothing in our genome that says we must destroy rainforests to make giant oil-palm plantations, or clear-cut forests in Alberta in order to strip-mine bitumen. These and thousands of other insults to the environment are caused by the way we organize our society - or more accurately, the way our society has evolved as a class society dominated by the capitalist mode of production. As Tanuro puts it, "Global warming is not a result of human activity in general but of capitalist human activity."

Consider our closest biological relatives - chimpanzees, with whom we share 96% of our DNA. There is no sign that they have any biological imperative to destroy their environment.

Moreover, we have the intellect and the power to overcome any negative biological imperatives we may have. The very fact that we are revolted by what is being done to the environment demonstrates that ecological devastation is profoundly contrary to our human nature. We have conscious will, we have societies, we have state apparatus that can be used to curb antisocial behaviour if necessary. All we need is the will to use our human abilities to restore our equilibrium with nature. To do this we must get rid of capitalism.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Jerry West
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posted 24 October 2008 06:34 PM      Profile for Jerry West   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

Moreover, we have the intellect and the power to overcome any negative biological imperatives we may have.

True, we have the intellect to find non-barbaric ways to limit our population size to one that can be sustainably supported without degrading other living communities.


From: Gold River, BC | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 24 October 2008 06:45 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Moreover, we have the intellect and the power to overcome any negative biological imperatives we may have. The very fact that we are revolted by what is being done to the environment demonstrates that ecological devastation is profoundly contrary to our human nature. We have conscious will, we have societies, we have state apparatus that can be used to curb antisocial behaviour if necessary. All we need is the will to use our human abilities to restore our equilibrium with nature. To do this we must get rid of capitalism.

I agree with this. Very well said, M Spector. And now I will add that I agree with Karl Marx. There are many aspects of capitalism, or shall we say U.S. and western world technological developments, that are worth keeping at the same time an excessive way of life is scrapped and a new set of rules put in place. A lot of it was made possible by taxpayer funded research anyway. No more plastic shower curtain liners manufactured and using hundreds of gallons of fresh water in the process though. Architecture and mechanical-industrial engineering schools in Europe and Asia, I believe, are now teaching intelligent design methods for a greener way of life.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
500_Apples
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posted 24 October 2008 07:00 PM      Profile for 500_Apples   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The long-term solution is to develop technology to colonize planets around other stars, and maybe expand the capacity a little in this solar system.

On shorter time scales (50-500 years) we'll need to reduce consumption and discourage large families.


From: Montreal, Quebec | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 24 October 2008 07:03 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
we have state apparatus that can be used to curb antisocial behaviour if necessary.

State aparatusses are the very font of anti-social behavior.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 24 October 2008 07:39 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Moreover, we have the intellect and the power to overcome any negative biological imperatives we may have.

So why don't we? Why haven't we? Why are humans still subject to the maddening phenomenon of adolescence? Why do humans still produce even when unable to feed ourselves? Why do humans still consume well past our needs even though our actions will be catastrophic? Why do humans still engage in acts of mass homicide pouring across borders like ants over rival nests? Why do humans still treat each other with extreme brutality and barbarism if our intellect can raise us above our biology?

Human intelligence may be what brought us to the top of the food chain, but it has not divorced us from our biological selves nor from whatever natural purpose for which we've been programmed.

It is the denial of our own nature that prevents us from being able to overcome it, in my view.

[ 24 October 2008: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 24 October 2008 08:11 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
So why don't we? Why haven't we? Why are humans still subject to the maddening phenomenon of adolescence? Why do humans still produce even when unable to feed ourselves? Why do humans still consume well past our needs even though our actions will be catastrophic? Why do humans still engage in acts of mass homicide pouring across borders like ants over rival nests? Why do humans still treat each other with extreme brutality and barbarism if our intellect can raise us above our biology?
You are lumping together all these rhetorical questions as if they are all about how we are slaves to our biology. In doing so, you are begging the question. You are also overgeneralizing about us.

Humans don't go to war because of human nature. And many humans do not treat each other with extreme brutality; if it were in our genes, everyone would do it.

We can create societies where production is socially planned and not motivated by private profit, where the labour of the many is not exploited for the enrichment of the few, where production of goods is ecologically sustainable, where people are not brutalized, but valued and respected, and have their health and educational needs taken care of. Cuba has been working towards that kind of society since getting rid of capitalism 50 years ago. Imagine what a wealthy country like Canada could do.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Jerry West
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posted 24 October 2008 08:18 PM      Profile for Jerry West   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

MS:
....if it were in our genes, everyone would do it.

You are assuming that everyone is genetically identical?


From: Gold River, BC | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 24 October 2008 08:34 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
We can create societies where production is socially planned and not motivated by private profit, where the labour of the many is not exploited for the enrichment of the few, where production of goods is ecologically sustainable, where people are not brutalized, but valued and respected, and have their health and educational needs taken care of. Cuba has been working towards that kind of society since getting rid of capitalism 50 years ago. Imagine what a wealthy country like Canada could do.

So why don't we? Cuba has been building that society for 50 years within a human history of how many years?

Inasmuch as humans must evolve beyond the infantilism of religion, humans must also acknowledge their biological truths and limitations. We can't progress until we do so, otherwise we rationalize, intellectualize, and create ideologies around our biological excesses rather material, sexual, or social.


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 24 October 2008 08:48 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Tell me what our biological truths and limitations are.

Or at least, just the ones that are standing in the way of our liberation.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 24 October 2008 08:55 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
We have biological imperatives, would you agree? Food, water, shelter, clothing, reproduction.

So what if we are genetically programmed to gorge and hoard? How would that manifest itself in an industrial society?

I don't pretend to know exactly what our genetic programming is. I do know that we are biological creatures with biological imperatives and I believe that we are genetically programmed for self-preservation and reproduction. And I think that colors everything we do, perhaps not as individuals, but as a species.

But maybe you have a better explanation as to why, as a species, we can't stop producing and over consuming despite our intellectual ability to predict the future should our behaviour continue unabated (and it shows no signs of radical change from what I can see)?

I'm open to ideas.


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 24 October 2008 08:56 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
Why do humans still produce even when unable to feed ourselves?

The spark of life is part of the devine nature of nature itself to proliferate.

quote:
Why do humans still consume well past our needs even though our actions will be catastrophic?

It's capitalism. Before industrialization, the economy played a lesser role in most people's lives. The economy once served man. Ideologues have since attempted to embed man in the economy and make all else subserviant to exponential growth based on debt-driven capitalism.

quote:
Why do humans still engage in acts of mass homicide pouring across borders like ants over rival nests?

War capitalism is very, very profitable. Capitalist economies sometimes stop growing for lack of energy and raw materials. If there was no plunder and empire building, capitalism would consume itself.

quote:
It is the denial of our own nature that prevents us from being able to overcome it, in my view.

[ 24 October 2008: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]


Some humans still live outside of and do not live to serve an ideology and have done so for tens of thousands of years. Whatever the society in history, we have lived by certain religious faiths. New world explorers once thought that indigenous people were savages without spirituality(and ppl like Dick Pound). North American indigenous people tended to take what they needed from nature and no more, harvesting fish and game where and when plentiful and moving on in times of scarcity. We seem to be losing faith in a supreme being somewhat. Our faith in money is somewhat less today. Faith in capitalism in countries like France is on the wane among even conservatives nowadays.

[ 24 October 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 24 October 2008 09:02 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Some humans still live outside of and do not live to serve an ideology and have done so for tens of thousands of years. Whatever the society in history, we have lived by certain religious faiths.


Isn't a religious faith a form of ideology? Don't they share in common absolutes and dogma? Can you provide an example of a society that "still live(s) outside of and do(es) not live to serve an ideology"?

quote:

New world explorers once thought that indigenous people were savages without spirituality(and ppl like Dick Pound).


So some still do think it? So what? Isn't that argument merely the rationalization of a human excess (war and plundering)?

quote:

North American indigenous people tended to take what they needed from nature and no more, harvesting fish and game where and when plentiful and moving on in times of scarcity.


So prior to the white man, there were no extinctions as result of human activities in North America?
quote:

We seem to be losing faith in a supreme being somewhat. Our faith in money is somewhat less today. Faith in capitalism in countries like France is on the wane among even conservatives nowadays.

I'm not sure that matters. Industrial capitalism is not dependent on faith.

I'm off. See you tomorrow.

[ 24 October 2008: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 24 October 2008 09:21 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess
Isn't a religious faith a form of ideology? Don't they share in common absolutes and dogma? Can you provide an example of a society that "still live(s) outside of and do(es) not live to serve an ideology"?

I was thinking of bushmen of the Kalihari, that tribe in Africa from which everyone else is said to be related to by some mitochondrial DNA link or some such. They risk losing their tribal lands to nature preserves and industrial farming etc. Some have had gasoline poured up their anuses and kidnapped by bounty hunters and park rangers, but they've lived there at peace with nature for a long, long time. Some American Indians subsist on $350 dollars a month while mining and energy companies siphon-off the natural wealth from under their feet. For the most part, those human beings are not active participants in the capitalist economy.

Some aborigines of Australia live in the most desolate part of the country inland, but not by choice since whites arrived some time ago. They've even had to discover alternate spiritual symbols to replace the one which whites took as their own, Ayers Rock.

quote:
So prior to the white man, there were no extinctions as result of human activities in North America?
]
I didn't say that. Just that at one time, it might have taken one Buffalo herd several days to pass around native settlement. Whites put bounties on Buffalo, and thousands of people travelled west to shoot them from trains and any way they could. It was an act of genocide against both the Buffalo and the people who depended on them for sustenance.

Whitey has since threatened the existence of every living thing on earth including himself with nuclear weapons, mechanized farming, industrial pollution, and overconsumption. We must consume more and more according to the monetarist setup around the world. Those are the rules leading up to this global in scope 1929 deja do-over.

quote:
I'm not sure that matters. Industrial capitalism is not dependent on faith.

If faith in money and a vicious empire's ability to back it up wanes, there goes the capitalist system as we're observing today with money markets floundering, banks collapsing, and thousands of people losing their jobs today said newscasters. Damn Soviets stabbed them in the back with ceding the cold war, and now there is no legit evol empire to make cold war with. Europeans have lost faith in the need for military backup from our democracy-loving neighbors and are now witholding payment of protection money.

[ 24 October 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Jerry West
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posted 24 October 2008 09:52 PM      Profile for Jerry West   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

Fidel:
It's capitalism.

Then how do you explain the same thing in other species that consume and reproduce until they have over extended the ability of the environment to support their numbers?

Maybe our drive to over consume and etc. is part of natures plan to feed microbes?

quote:

War capitalism is very, very profitable.

It is, but war existed before capitalism, will probably exist after it. Our desire to savage each other from time to time can not be exclusively blamed on capitalism.

I would say that capitalism is an expression of certain traits that we already have.

quote:

North American indigenous people tended to take what they needed from nature and no more,

Like the Wooly Mammoth and Sabre Tooth Tiger?


From: Gold River, BC | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 24 October 2008 09:53 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
I don't pretend to know exactly what our genetic programming is.
Why don't you get back to us when you have some actual scientific fact to back up your speculation? Like maybe a greed gene, or an exploitation gene...

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
viigan
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posted 24 October 2008 10:16 PM      Profile for viigan     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"Maybe the solution isn't just about birth-rates but also about death-rates"

Nothing like a few tsunamis, wars and viruses to clear up those pesky over populated areas, right?When you envision a less crowded freeway, void of traffic, do you include yourself in the picture or did they let you drop off at sixty instead of giving you a bypass?
Contemplating or advocating the death of millions or the denial of an oportunity to a life of choice, while nestled in a heated space, on a plastic computer, is profoundly disturbing and offensive in my opinion. It's a perverse dogmatism akin to human purges of the past that were based on religious grounds, but far worse in scope and intent.
I suggest that those advocating such ideas be the first to take the plunge (off the nearest balcony perhaps), and free up some room for the rest of us that still might aspire to having children with the hope that we might live long enough to see them grow up and have kids of their own.

[ 24 October 2008: Message edited by: viigan ]


From: here | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 24 October 2008 10:33 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Jerry West:
[qb]Then how do you explain the same thing in other species that consume and reproduce until they have over extended the ability of the environment to support their numbers?

I thought I was on a roll until you stepped in, Jerry.

Okaybut, what about dinosaurs? (and no idea where I'm going with this) Didn't they live on the earth for 120 million years or so? I think that's some kind of record.

quote:
Maybe our drive to over consume and etc. is part of natures plan to feed microbes?

I'm somewhat convinced by Linda McQuaig's book, All You Can Eat, that we weren't always this destructive wrt consumption. Polanyi said that industrial capitalism was an attempt to place the economy on a pedastal above all else. The new private property laws in England was a successful attempt to legalize primitive accumulation. The "new" Liberal capitalism, with its rules for deregulation and globalization of laissez-faire made new again was legalized by IMF, WTO and World Bank with military backup. 1990's Russia was a tragic renewal of primitive accumulation to create a supremely rich investor class in country which had none.

quote:
It is, but war existed before capitalism, will probably exist after it. Our desire to savage each other from time to time can not be exclusively blamed on capitalism.

Agreed. But it was a lot less exciting without nuclear weapons. However, I think that in some ways, nuclear weapons have been a deterrent. Fromm what I've been able to fathom, capitalism in the U.S. has relied on DARPA, a few hundred or so engineers and scientists working for the public, to create new and exciting technologies which were handed off to private enterprise or "the market" for marketing and profiteering. The Soviets did the same efforts oriented around military research but had no capitalists to hand-off new tech developments to for manufacturing and marketing.

quote:
I would say that capitalism is an expression of certain traits that we already have.

According to McQuaig, capitalist economists around turn of the last century desired to make economics a science for study in universities everywhere. And they noticesd that the mathematical formulas and equations derived to measure and describe economic phenomenon tended work much better when only one human characteristic is included as a variable, self-interest. Of course, POlanyi and other market socialists realized that this was bad science, and that people are capable of much more than just self-interest. Focussing on and rewarding self-interest as a motivator of people acting within the economy tends to not only distort human nature, Polanyi said, it must distort results as well.

quote:
Like the Wooly Mammoth and Sabre Tooth Tiger?

Hey didn't cats rule the world for something 40 million years? Saber tooths the size of cows, and little kitties hunting rhinos that were quite a bit larger than today's model. We've been here for five measly million trips around the sun, Jerry. Will we make it to six even? Some educated opinions have said it would be a miracle. I think we will need a technological miracle - something that will address at least some of those major issues you've talked about, like enough potable water and something along the lines of a Wow! technology in agriculture.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Jerry West
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posted 24 October 2008 11:17 PM      Profile for Jerry West   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

Fidel:
I'm somewhat convinced by Linda McQuaig's book, All You Can Eat, that we weren't always this destructive wrt consumption.

Maybe we didn't always have the ability to consume so much?

Technological progress on one had ramps up the ability to provide things to consume, and population growth provides more consumers. Of course since we live in a closed, zero sum system, what is being provided isn't new resources, just more of what we have, faster.

quote:

We've been here for five measly million trips around the sun, Jerry. Will we make it to six even?

I think we should be concentrating on the next one or two centuries at most.

The basic formula remains. Sustainable resources divided by population equals how much there is for everyone, and everyone has to include all life forms since we are a web depending on each other.

If consumption of sustainable resources exceeds the rate at which the resources can regenerate we reduce the size of the population which it is possible to support.

At present the world is consuming beyond its ability to regenerate. Two thirds of humanity is consuming more than the sustainable average

Increased consumption either individually, or collectively through population increase, means less for everybody on average and puts us on a track that takes us below the minimum resources per individual required for survival, never mind any kind of living standard more than merest subsistence.

Conversely, as we decrease population base the more resources there are to lift everyone to higher levels of sustainable consumption.

None of this is an argument for mass die offs, but that will be nature's solution if we do not put the brakes on consumption and species reproduction.


From: Gold River, BC | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 25 October 2008 12:03 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Jerry West:
Maybe we didn't always have the ability to consume so much?

Technological progress on one had ramps up the ability to provide things to consume, and population growth provides more consumers. Of course since we live in a closed, zero sum system, what is being provided isn't new resources, just more of what we have, faster.


We definitely didn't have the ability. But I think that technological progress and what is driving our consumption are two very different things, unless we get into a Ralph Nader discussion of how corporations began to attempt to increase their influence on and direction of basic research beginning in the 1980's with the Bayh-Dole bill.

And then there is this capitalist monetary system. Rabble's Duncan Cameron mentioned how the general perception created by capitalists is that governments can do no good wrt handling powers of money creation and credit. Since late 1980's, and 1991 in Canada, western governments, rulers of the universe and of the most consumptive economic models in the world, began to deregulate and release the "power of capital" What it meant was the end of interest-free government-created money. "The market" would, from that period on, decide sovereign economic policies to a larger extent than ever before. Since 1987 or so, trillions and trillions of dollars were floated around the world in the great casino economy. Meanwhile there are nearly seven billion people around the world, and the large majority of them living in grinding poverty still.

As it turned out, the power of capital was unleashed on the world. Democratically-elected governments have said they have no real power to make capital do what they want it to, or as we would like things to be. A relative handful few bankers and money speculators around the world became masters of the universe without anyone actually voting for them - a coup d'etat carried out against their most long-time hated institution, democracy.

quote:
The basic formula remains. Sustainable resources divided by population equals how much there is for everyone, and everyone has to include all life forms since we are a web depending on each other. ...//...

None of this is an argument for mass die offs, but that will be nature's solution if we do not put the brakes on consumption and species reproduction.


Oh I'm not one of those babblers who thinks you are arguing for mass die off. Not like Prince Charles talking about the need to "cull the herd" so to speak. But we have to stop aspiring to be cold war era versions of homo economicus and living like mini-me millionaires with miniature mansions, not so modest individualized transportation, and miniature rich people in general. Less me more "us" line of thought. And that will be difficult considering how much emphasis was placed on the boy culture for owning stuff instead of on education and allowing more people to figure out for themselves just how wrong this emphasis on satiating personal, individual desire really is. That way lies the road to serfdom for humanity. And I think it is crazy that developing countries are caught in a vicious cycle of debt driven capitalism. They must work within WTO and IMF diktats and allow multinationals to clear cut forests and bring in agribusinesses to overwork the land or face a well orchestrated smear job by capitalists followed by vicious trade sanctions amounting to medieval siege. Some of the poorest African nations have repaid original IMF loan principals three times over due to the magic of compound interest. Some people, like Canada's William Krehm, say we need a greater percentage of interest-free money in circulation and sovereign powers of money creation restored to democratically elected governments. Jack Layton did mention that there are better uses for the Bank of Canada, but that was during the 2004 election and hasn't mentioned it since. I think marauding, deregulated capital will be our downfall, I really do, Jerry. And I think we need more human lottery tickets so to speak in play in order to win those wow technologies. It won't be one or two people but a series of discoveries piggybacked one on top of another. China's top third of highest IQ's numbers as many people as we have in North America. We need sovereign powers of money creation to make information and access to higher ed more affordable to more people. We need to buy more human equivalent 6/49's, hope for the best and expect the worst. There's a poor kid in El Salvador who could represent a ticket to the cure for cancer, or a better method for agriculture. But he can't print his own name today because he goes to his designated job cutting sugar cane or picking coffee beans in tropical heat from sunup to sundown. We probably need to cease with this religious conviction that "shock" markets are the answer, and start having faith in and betting on ordinary people. I think people are the way out of this mess not dollar democracies. Einstein wrote that predatory capitalism is a phase progression from previous periods of human development: imperialism, feudalism, colonialism. We must advance to global socialism or forget about evolving into a type I civilization on the Kardashev scale. cheers Jerry

[ 25 October 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 25 October 2008 06:53 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Why don't you get back to us when you have some actual scientific fact to back up your speculation? Like maybe a greed gene, or an exploitation gene...

I do have scientific backing. It is called the "Selfish Gene". You can read all about with the use of your intelligent credit card, here: http://www.amazon.com/Selfish-Gene-Richard-Dawkins/dp/0192860925

And certainly, as theories go, it is far more grounded in reality and study than the wishful thinking that somehow humans have escaped their biology and behave as they do because ... because it is intellectually rational?

You're offering the same wishful thinking and delusions as have historically been offered by religion.


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 25 October 2008 10:38 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
Five web sites load at interstellar overdrive speeds for me, except for rabble/babble loading at sub glacial-snail's pace. There's something happenin' here. What it is ain't exactly clear ...

It's the transfer of threads from the old site to the new. It's affecting our e-mail too. Server issue. Sorry!

And sorry, M. Spector. That's happened to me before too, and it makes me want to throw the laptop at the @#%$$%#^ wall.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
rabble-rouser
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posted 25 October 2008 10:51 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ah! It's the old transfer of threads from one swerver to another swerver trick again. Tweachuous twicktstas! hehehehe

[ 25 October 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 25 October 2008 03:52 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I wouldn't use the example of ice age animal extinctions in North America for even speculation. Explanations and "evidence" for the cause-- man or climate-- change yearly, it seems.

I put much stock in evolutionary psychology. But, I temper it with the late Stephen J. Gould's observation that they can be "just so stories", or post hoc hypothesis put forward to rationalize this behavior or that.

But, there's little doubt that we have behavoirs that are inherited. That a good deal of what we previously credited to our wonderful human "reason" is, in fact, instinctive.

We have had the technical ability for some time now, for large passenger jets to take off, fly and land in total automation. So, why do we still have pilots? Obviously, because we cannot program a computer with every conceivable contingency, particularly when there are inconceivablities to take into account.

Similarly, a strategy for successfull genes would include programed behaviors-- but with a "manual overide" function. This we can call "reason" in our case if you like. And, in the case of many other species, too.

I don't like reading or writing long posts, but I think it's unavoidable here, sorry.

Consider this in conjunction with kin selection, and the fact we are a social animal. Wouldn't it be handy to have people born with certain "presets" in various behaviors, "presets" that were different from their cousins, brothers and sisters? It would make a clan more able to face the inconceivable. And, if the environment or experience could temper those presets, so much the better.

People who are disturbed by the ideas that evolutionary psychology present believe it reduces us to automatons. I tend to think it supports the idea that we are all very unique individuals.

I also think that it means that a healthy society needs "leftists" and "rightists", born sceptics like me need the new age guillable. For a healthy society, we may even need people currently regarded as mentally ill-- like psychopaths and sociopaths.

I think this all has to be accounted when we talk about economics and the environment. There are no shortages for economic models. And they all work. The question is, for how many do they work, and for whom?


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 25 October 2008 04:20 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:

I do have scientific backing. It is called the "Selfish Gene".

I've read that book and I own a copy of it. If you read beyond the title you will find that it is not an apologia for human greed and exploitation. In fact, Dawkins agrees with me that humans can use their intelligence to overcome whatever genetic characteristics they may have inherited that have anti-social consequences.
quote:
Among animals, man is uniquely dominated by culture, by influences learned and handed down. Some would say that culture is so important that genes, whether selfish or not, are virtually irrelevant to the understanding of human nature. Others would disagree. It all depends where you stand in the debate over 'nature versus nurture' as determinants of human attributes. - p. 3
And at the end of Chapter 11:
quote:
The point I am making now is that, even if we look on the dark side and assume that individual man is fundamentally selfish, our conscious foresight -- our capacity to simulate the future in imagination -- could save us from the worst selfish excesses of the blind replicators. We have at least the mental equipment to foster our long-term selfish interests rather than merely our short-term selfish interests. We can see the long-term benefits of participating in a `conspiracy of doves', and we can sit down together to discuss ways of making the conspiracy work. We have the power to defy the selfish genes of our birth and, if necessary, the selfish memes of our indoctrination. We can even discuss ways of deliberately cultivating and nurturing pure, disinterested altruism -- something that has no place in nature, something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world. We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our own creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
George Victor
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 14683

posted 25 October 2008 04:52 PM      Profile for George Victor        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

I think this all has to be accounted when we talk about economics and the environment. There are no shortages for economic models. And they all work. The question is, for how many do they work, and for whom?


The solution, of course, is to narrow the choices to one only. That is surely the lesson to be learned from the frantic movements of the greedy around the globe today?


From: Cambridge, ON | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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Babbler # 214

posted 25 October 2008 05:24 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, the current economic "meltdown" will solve itself eventually.

It's all "tit for tat", and all the models of this behavior predict that those that exploit do very well, for a while, but end up losers, in the end. It is inevitable that there will be a "comeupance" for those few you mention. When and how is the only question. I suspect the longer the when, the uglier the how.

The models predict that those who cooperate with those who cooperate with them, do best.

Good news for socialists of all stripes.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5594

posted 25 October 2008 06:06 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
Well, the current economic "meltdown" will solve itself eventually.

EU Commissioner Sarkozy said: "Le laissez-faire, c'est fini"

Maybe this belongs in a bless me w your fierce tears thread:

Laissez-faire capitalism, 1900-1929

The "New" Liberal Capitalism 1980-2008, RIP


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 214

posted 25 October 2008 06:29 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh, but no one's driven a stake in it's heart yet.
From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5594

posted 25 October 2008 06:42 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I almost forgot the regenesis experiment conducted in a human rights vacuum in Chile, 1973-1985, RIP. And then in the 1990's, western leaders cheered on Boris Yeltsin to "have the courage to be a dictator", like their rightwing Chilean protege and los Chicago boys before. They want to dice this one up and bury it in the four corners for all time.

[ 25 October 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged

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