15 January 2009

good for the economy*

Well here we are on our holidays and that should be the mark of a cultural and intellectual renaissance here at VVBSea. We have plenty of time for reading, preparation, analysis, insight and good writing.

It's all a little much to expect, though, innit? Go back to the first post: there will be no changing of this leopard's spots, whether considered or quite, quite, arbitrary.

That aside, anyone who can name a blog clusterfuck nation bears a little scrutiny, so I invite you to go ahead and
scrute to your little heart's content. Note you are still singular, I just don't know which one of you you are, if you follow me.

Articles like Kunstler's can make you feel all superior if you so desire: apocalyptic visions tend to have that sort of effect, nicht war? But the more apocalyptic, the more unremitting the vision, the less force the argument has. Lots of the ideas seem eminently sensible: alternative energy sources, mix of energy, more local production, far less consumerist advertising (Madison Avenue references), re-learn self sufficiency skills and so on.

But the impact of technological advances is either ignored or treated as a 'bad': GMOs and so on. That's plain silly as any short gaze around your current environment will demonstrate. Technological advance does not need to be always equated with "growth at all costs."

The article and comments contain some interesting bons mots: the tattooed lumpenproletariat (and aren't there lots of THOSE about nowadays?); the people who are going to grow yams (they should do a little research first).

It's also very very American centric, although one commenter makes the point that most Americans don't understand that other countries and their citizens' lifestyles and ways of doing things are very different. I've never been to the States but I read that the media is very US-centric with little overseas news or programs that would allow people to better understand the rest of the world?

Anyway, give us your views on the apocalypse or not.

I came to that article via
this blog that I have referenced previously. I don't know anything about architecture (but I know what I like, as the saying goes) but a couple of years ago I was involved in a project to do with regional and town planning. It was my introduction to the subject so I learnt a lot of very simple things very quickly, I got an earful (perhaps an eyeful is more appropriate) of contemporary thought and practice without gaining any deep appreciation of the basics. Very dangerous but fortunately my little part was not imbued with the risk of any dire consequences should I have got it not quite right. However my experience on that project did result in my interest in "Sit down man etc etc" and I find it a good occasional read (with nice pictures) and links to fabulously named blogs (with more nice pictures). These blog names: people's ingenuity always blows me away.

We have yet to succeed fully with the new AV gear. I have picture, I do not have sound. It has been suggested to me that the only thing standing between me and my understanding of the technology is my age, and what I need is a 14 year old boy, who will walk into the room, snort, twiddle some buttons and lo! there will be sound. I have been offered the loan of such an animal (and as we've had a male offspring pass through that age, we know all about them)

It's all very frustrating, fortunately we haven't finished all the Christmas wine yet. I also have a brew of ginger beer fermenting nicely downstairs. That's very old technology, but all will be well. I'll get some expert help with the sound.

Finally, while sorting papers downstairs I ran across a hard copy of a George Soros article printed in The Age in December 1998 as the world started to deal with and emerge from the Asian economic crisis. Some nicely selective excerpts:

"A key feature of fundamentalist beliefs is that they rely on either/or judgements. If a proposition is wrong, its opposite is claimed to be right. This logical incoherence lies at the heart of market fundamentalism. State intervention in the economy has always produced some negative results. This has been true not only of central planning but also of the welfare state and of Keynesian demand management. From this banal observation, market fundamentalists jump to a totally illogical conclusion: if state intervention is faulty, free markets must be perfect. Therefore, the state must not be allowed to intervene in the economy. It hardly needs pointing out that the logic of this argument is faulty."

"Market fundamentalism plays a crucial role in the global capitalist system. It provides the ideology that not only motivates many of the most successful participants but also drives policy."

"Another source of potential instability comes from the mutual funds. Fund managers are judged on the basis of their performance relative to other fund managers, not on the grounds of absolute performance."

"If the global capitalist system survives the present period of testing, this period will be followed by a period of further acceleration that will carry the system into far-from-equilibrium territory - if it is not there already."

Hmm, yep, that happened.

*Good for the economy - I'd never heard of it, rather apocalyptic isn't it? Appropriate for the post, then.


Laurie said...

Bloody hell, you've been a busy little blogger, Phil. I haven't had time to scratch meself - it's been a never-ending round of parties at Laurie's open house (or so all my friends think - the freeloading bastards.) I'll try to get back to some kind of normalcy soon where I can catch up on my friends' blogs, post erudite and pithy commentaries on various forums, etc. etc. BTW - nice post, mate.

Sam The Dog said...

Kunstler is the darling of the peak oil brigade, and if you've read clusterfuck it shouldn't be hard to see why.

If you have a read of The Oil Drum, who were in self-congratulation mode when oil was around $150/bar and have now moved onto self-flagellation, you'll see that his name should still crop up in any "doomer's" post, somewhere between the words "We will return to the stone age..." and "...by 2015" in any given post.

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