Sunday, September 4, 2022

Capitalism Has No Solution To Ecocide: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix — Caitlin Johnstone

Sunday Sermon. Time for the red pill. Amen. 

Caitlin Johnstone reiterates a theme I have been harping on since I wrote an MA thesis on social and political philosophy in the early Seventies. The sine qua non of positive social change is raising the level of collective consciousness of humanity. 

The problem is with the foundations of the present world system. The level of collective consciousness must rise for humanity to create a system capable of addressing the emergent challenges. The foundation rests on culture (informal) and institutions (formal). 

Only a change in the level of consciousness can provide the ground on which to build a new solid foundation capable of avoiding the considerable downside of the present system and seizing a yet untapped upside.

A rise in the level of collective consciousness means an expansion of appreciation of universality and a decrease in narrow self-interest and class interest, which are the basis of economic liberalism as it is presently understood. This doesn't require achieving altruism culturally, but rather only enlightened self-interest. This is doable, I think. The question is whether it is doable in the time-frame before the tipping-point is reached, in that not only is a rise on collective consciousness necessary but it must also be scaled physically in redesigned institutions and entire industries. This is a daunting challenge.

Some relevant Keynes quotes:

"Some of the most important work of Alfred Marshall-to take one instance-was directed to the elucidation of the leading cases in which private interest and social interest are not harmonious. Nevertheless, the guarded and undogmatic attitude of the best economists has not prevailed against the general opinion that an individualistic laissez-faire is both what they ought to teach and what in fact they do teach…"

John Maynard Keynes (1926)

“It is not true that individuals possess a prescriptive ‘natural liberty’ in their economic activities. There is no ‘compact’ conferring perpetual rights on those who Have or those who Acquire. The world is not so governed from above that private and social interest always coincide. It is not a correct deduction from the Principles of Economics that enlightened self-interest always operates in the public interest. Nor is it true that self-interest generally is enlightened; more often individuals acting separately to promote their own ends are too ignorant or too weak to attain even these. Experience does not show that individuals, when they make up a social unit, are always less clear-sighted than when they act separately.”

J. M. Keynes (1926)

"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease ... But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight."

John Maynard Keynes, 1930 
Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Section II
Published in Essays in Persuasion (1932).

1 comment:

Peter Pan said...

There are no solutions to predicaments. Ecological overshoot is a predicament.