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The Expanding Island and the Myth of Economic Growth

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Danyl Strype retells the 'bedtime for democracy' story that keeps people working exploitative jobs, and believing that voting the right set of modern asset-strippers into parliament will somehow make it better.

"An innocent fraud is a lie, but it's a lie that's more white than black. It's a lie that makes most everyone happy. It suits the purposes of the powerful because it masks the full extent of their power, and it suits the purposes of the powerless because it masks the full extent of their powerlessness." - Nicholas Carr

Tayando Islands

Imagine the population of our planet are the passengers of a plane which has crash-landed in the ocean next to small island. While the majority of the survivors are still shivering in the ocean, treading water, a handful of survivors have made it ashore, and claimed ownership of all the space and useful resources on the island. Another group have managed to crawl ashore after the first group, and taken up residence on the beach.

In order to avoid sharing the island and its resources, the group on the island (ruling class) tell the group on the beach (middle class) that if everyone else treads water tenaciously enough, the island will get bigger, and eventually there will be enough space and resources for members of the group on the beach to become part of the island group too. Believing this, the beach group stretch the truth further, telling the group in the ocean (working class) that if they just tread water hard enough, the island will grow, and there will be enough space and resources for all of them to be part of the island group. A few of those in the ocean group try to point out there was already enough island for everyone when the plane crashed. The majority of the ocean group ignore them, citing the beach group's attainment of the beach as proof of their superior education and resource management expertise, and tell the 'malcontents' to shut up and focus on treading water so the island can grow, and they can get out of the water.

As time goes by, people in the island group die, are killed, or get banished to the beach, opening up spaces which are quickly filled by members of the beach group. The same thing happens in the beach group, and some members of the ocean group get to come up onto the beach. One or two of those from the ocean group even manage to push and shove their way into the island group, stamping on the fingers of their ocean-dwelling or beach-dwelling fellows even more visciously than those who were originally members of the island and beach groups. These people bring new ideas to the island group, proposing that the ocean around the island is an 'exclusive economic zone', and that those treading water in it ought to pay tribute, perhaps by passing up seafood and other marine resources to the beach group, who could then take their cut, before passing it on to the island group.

Faced with this new indignity, the ocean group ask why they are still in the ocean anyway, despite having been treading water with all their might for ages, and being near exhaustion. The beach group answer by pointing to the lucky few who have made it ashore to fill spaces on the beach, and say "Look, we are making progress! The island has expanded to accomodate these people. Just keep treading water!" and pointing to the even luckier one or two who have made it onto the island itself, saying "Look! The fact that these people have made it onto the island shows that those who began on the island have no real advantage over those who are in the water. If you are good enough at treading water, one day you too could live on the island."

As the ignored malcontents in the ocean group were trying to point out, the only way for the rest of the survivors to get out of the ocean is for the island group to relinquish control of most of their 'property', and share the space and resouces they claimed 'ownership' of when they climbed out of the ocean more equitably. The myth of the expanding island, is like the legend of economic growth. No matter how hard people work, it will not increase the size of the planet, or increase the amount of resources it has to provide. The only way for the working class majority to have more, is for the ruling elite to learn to be satisfied with less.

CC-BY 3.0 NZ (2010)

Comments

Nice parable. Good for

Nice parable. Good for convincing kids. But it doesn't reflect reality at all.

First of all, the island appears to represent a combination of the means of production and productive output. In the parable the island has a constant size. In reality the quantity of the means of production and productive output changes from year to year (generally increasing) depending on a number of factors: principally how well the means of production are organised to create, and sustain the creation of, the things that the inhabitants want.

Secondly, the population of the island appears to represent the population of NZ. In the parable, the population stays the same size and has no interaction with other island populations. Again, in the real world things are different. The population of NZ changes from year to year in size and make-up. People can leave and come to NZ within relatively relaxed constraints.

Thirdly, and most importantly for the purposes of the parable, the population is divided into three classes ("working", middle and upper). Those distinctions are based on some arbitrary system according full rights to the upper class, limited rights to the middle class and no rights to the working class. Although there is some mobility between those classes the central theme is the injustice of the arbitrary and unequal of distribution of rights between those classes.

It's at that point the parable slips from loose analogy into ridiculous propaganda. The forces which divide the classes are unclear. The mechanism by which people move between classes is unexplained. How and why the working class are made to tread water, the middle class sit on the beach and the upper class sip martinis in the cool shade of the coconut trees remain unanswered questions.

In short, the parable is an assertion about how things are and an implied moral judgment on that (asserted) state of affairs. No explanations are offered. And I think that is it's primary failing.

I look forward to discussion. Please refrain from (the usual) abuse.

Clarifications

"I look forward to discussion. Please refrain from (the usual) abuse."

Was this aimed at me? I thought it was pretty obvious the comment about the camel was a joke. Your comments on this site make it pretty clear you are intelligent enough to put 2 and 2 together and get 4, so the either the politics you argue here are naive, or you are playing the devil's advocate, which is fair enough. Not sure that asking you which is the case qualifies as abuse. However, moving on...

Your point about the fluctuation of the NZ population is interesting too. It doesn't really change anything, but sure, let's say the analogy applies to the whole planet, not just this country. The only way that fluctuates is birth and deat. I've accounted for death, and babies are born into the ocean, the beach, or the island, and either stay where they are or scrap their way into a better position, and I've accounted for that too.

Your point about the fluctuation of production is interesting but doesn't really change anything. The island may produce more or less coconuts per year, but there are resource limits to how much production can increase. The recent historical proof of those limit is the boom and bust cycle, which shows the economy has to shrink, the market "correct", and lots of people suffer needlessly, before it can grow again.

Also producing more in the short term is generally done by spending environmental capital (eg fresh water) as if it was income. The dot.com bubble was a chilling of reminder of what happens when an enterprise spends its capital.

More importantly, who gets any extra coconuts produced is still controlled by those who are on the island, keeping everyone else in the water. The economy might grow and contract numerically, but what doesn't change much under corporate capitalism is the share of the products of that economy that people at different levels of the class heirarchy get. This is pretty easily proved by looking at the proportion of total income that the top 5% get, say, every ten years for the last hundred, both nationally, and globally.

In the 90s the income gap grew a lot, which is equivalent to everyone on the beach being pushed onto the foreshore, to be replaced by a bunch squeezed off of the island. That's why there was such a diverse movement against 'neo-liberalism' in the 90s wherever 'structural adjustment' was pushed on people, it was a meta-movement of both working class, AND displaced middle class movements.

Your point about the simplicity of a 3 class model is fair, and reflects the neo-marxist analsysis of class we are stuck with until we come up with a more detailed/ sophisticated one.The difference between the neo-marxist model and this new model will be analagous to the difference between food chains and food webs in ecology, in this sense that the food webs model transcends and includes the partial truth of food chains. What this new class model will not show is that there are no class differences in our society, since it's obvious that there are. Rather it will give a more complete explanation of the economic *and* cultural mechanisms that attempt to keep class heirarchies in place. A few points:

"the central theme is the injustice of the arbitrary and unequal of distribution of rights between those classes."

Not quite. Rather, the unequal distribution of critical life-supporting resources. If it was purely a matter of rights, I could march off with some friends and found a new society with a different way of distributing rights. But to do that I need land, water, ideas and various other things that have been (or are rapidly being) turned into private property, and tradable commodities, all across the planet.

"The forces which divide the classes are unclear."

Not quite. The main force is the myth that the expanding island can give everybody the life that those on the island have by sharing it's entire resources among an elite. That's the carrot. Of course, at times that myth loses its power, so there are other forces like police to keep the working class off the beach, and courts to keep the middle class off the island. That's the stick, and you're right that I didn't work them into the story. That's because it's main point was the environmental limits to economic growth.

"The mechanism by which people move between classes is unexplained."

Again, not so. From paragraph 3:

"As time goes by, people in the island group die, are killed, or get banished to the beach, opening up spaces which are quickly filled by members of the beach group. The same thing happens in the beach group, and some members of the ocean group get to come up onto the beach. "

Money is not an absolute measure of wealth, especially since currencies became tradable commodities whose values fluctuate on a daily basis. I don't necessarily have to get *more* money to become part of the rich elite, I just have to make sure that most people have *less* money than me. That vastly increases the relative buying power of my money.That's why the NatACTsis of evil are putting through so many different policies that increase the amount of money the rich have relative to everyone else (eg income tax cuts, GST increases, ACC cuts, 'user' pays etc).

Key, Leith and other such smiling parasites got rich by making sure they got a higher proportion of the income generated by their workers than any of the workers did. The next part of that paragraph...

"One or two of those from the ocean group even manage to push and shove their way into the island group, stamping on the fingers of their ocean-dwelling or beach-dwelling fellows even more visciously than those who were originally members of the island and beach groups."

... was especially for them.

Thoughts?

The monetary system employed

The monetary system employed around the world could be described as four things, compound interest, fractional reserve banking, infinite growth and fiat money. The perfect description of a pyramid scheme which feeds on the myth that there is such a thing as infinite growth built with the mythical resources of infinite energy.

Capitalism naturally

Capitalism naturally centralises wealth because the wealthy are the ones that can afford to and do own the modes of production.

"The return" is exploited from the difference in the value of a resource (as determined in the end market) and for how much that resource can be gained. Colonisation offers a great profit margin. Stolen land can be sold for $1 an acre and you've still made an 80c profit (once you've invested 20c to permanently fucking up the native population). Slaves have a good "return" also.

Capitalists can accumulate wealth (and run political campaigns, aye rodney?!) or they can declare bankruptcy and/or they can have their assets hidden, either way, they seldom end up worse off than when they started. The same can't be said for those who've been exploited in the process.

The monetary system employed

The monetary system employed around the world could be described as four things, compound interest, fractional reserve banking, infinite growth and fiat money.

Interest is compound by nature because of the ability to reinvest at maturity. Fractional reserve banking has its critics, but do you have a better solution for controlling money supply?

I'm not sure where you're coming from with infinite growth, but we certainly have a ways to go yet. And Capitalism thrived as much under pegged currencies, like the gold standard, as under fiat money.

In any event, those complaint aren't complaints against capitalism. They are complaints against the international monetary system. They are two differnt things.

Capitalism naturally centralises wealth because the wealthy are the ones that can afford to and do own the modes of production.

That's simplified to the point of being wrong. Even those of modest means can pool their capital to acquire and own the means of production. This can occur directly through partnership ownership of creation of a closely held company (where control is generally retained). Or it can occur indirectly, by purchasing shares in a widely held, publicly traded company (where control is diluted to the point of being non-existent).

You also criticise limited liability and bankruptcy law. While there are aspects that could be improved, the central tenet is sound. If it weren't for limited liability people wouldn't take business risks and no-one would want to own the means of production because of the risks of being the business going downhill and being saddled with debt for the rest of their lives.

While we are on the subject

While we are on the subject of parables, how about considering this one? Capitalism and democracy may not be perfect by any means, but it's better than any of the alternatives.

"Capitalism and democracy may

"Capitalism and democracy may not be perfect by any means, but it's better than any of the alternatives."

This is an article of faith. Have you have even considered any alternatives? ANd I don't mean the Soviet Union or Maoist China. You might be surprised to learn that most of the people that post on this site loathe such state-communism even more than you do, which is why we're so disturbed that things like the Proceeds of Crime Act, Operation 8 raids, the Search and Surveillance bill, are turning this country into more and more of a police state.

I'd like you to explain to me is how capitalism and democracy are compatible, when the former is about the accumulation of capital (and therefore power over economic decisions) in the hands of an elite of capitalist, and the latter is about everyone having the ability to have a say in making economic decisions?

This is how I see the

This is how I see the compatability of capitalism and democracy. One fits over the other like a neat glove.

Capitalism is not about the

Capitalism is not about the accumulation of capital. It's about private ownership of the means of production and using markets regulate economic activity. This ties risk with return and through automatically adjusting incentives attempts to achieve the most efficient use of resources. Sure, people can accumulate capital under such a system, but they can lose it just as quickly.

Democracy is about putting political power in the hands of the people. In a democratic system political power has precedence over the economic system. That is why the government levy's taxes, regulate commercial and corporate activity and, if you want, you can vote for the communist party or create your own party.

There is no theoretical linkage between the two. But capitalism is the economic system our democratic political system has chosen. Why? Because that is what people want because it works well enough to keep people happy.

Nice summary, Lentil.

Nice summary, Lentil. Although I would add that there must be a moral element involved in the exercise of political power. In the case of the economy, the government ought to intervene to address any gross injustices arising from any unequal distribution of wealth that necessarily arises as a result of capitalism.

This doesn't mean that a market-based economy and private property is bad per se. Only that there should be limitations. We should have concern for the needs of the poor while equally trying to mitigate the negative effects of greed.

But capitalism is the

But capitalism is the economic system our democratic political system has chosen

See I would have thought the mixed economy was the economic system in play here.

Ironically though, capitalism, mixed economy, or whatever, is a bit like the Titanic in a number of ways. Firstly is the false belief by the masses that its unsinkable, secondly the middle and upper decks of the Titanic love it, while it is loathed by the lower decks - parallels the way the classes love/hate relationship exists concerning this countrys economic system, thirdly it has already hit an iceberg and like the Titanics slow sinking, is collapsing under its unhinged and insane dependency on oil as the catalyst of production and maintenance, and lastly the same level of denial exists between passengers and crew of the Titanic, and promoters and glorifiers of the system of capitalism, that the ship is sinking.

Democracy

Like I said, if the working class hate our current system so much they can vote in an alternative - we live in a democracy.

That has happened. Go figure.

"if voting changed anything

"if voting changed anything they would make it illegal."

 

the purpose of the demockracy is to keep the working class from achieving real and lasting economic change.  political freedom is empty without economic freedom.  rights are what are demanded, fought for, and won from elites.  elites share the wealth in direct proportion to the degree people struggle to force their hand.  they will not give up their wealth willingly.  the west is more free than the third world because of generations of struggle in the streets and workplaces to achieve better conditions.

 

"another world is possible.  on a quiet day I can hear her breathing"

arundhuti roy

 

More parables and

More parables and analogies...The problem with the Titanic symbolism is that it rests on questionable assumptions.

1. You assume that "class" exists in our society (specifically three classes: upper, middle, and working class). While I would agree that there are characteristics that define rich and poor people (speech, values, tastes, etc), these are difficult to pin down with any certainty. People are all different. What evidence is there that people in a certain "class" identify with it? Many supposedly "working class" people would not consider themselves as such. You might say that this is because they have been duped by the "system", But what if they haven't? How can you demonstrate conclusively that your view is correct?

2. You assume that the "system" (based on your assumptions regarding class) is collapsing. What do you base this on? Yes, we are in the midst of economic hardships, but such periods are common in history. It does not mean that society will "collapse". I've noticed that this vision of social collapse is widely held by left-wing activists. Why are you so keen on this violent fantasy? What good could come of it?

If you are going to offer an analogy, it needs to adequately explain what is wrong with the status quo and demonstrate a viable alternative. Your Titanic story, in my view, fails to do this.

You assume that the "system"

You assume that the "system" (based on your assumptions regarding class) is collapsing.

No its not based on a class analysis, although that is a part of it.

Yes, we are in the midst of economic hardships, but such periods are common in history. It does not mean that society will "collapse".

What do you base this on? What other period in history matches this one?

If you are going to offer an analogy, it needs to adequately explain what is wrong with the status quo and demonstrate a viable alternative. Your Titanic story, in my view, fails to do this.

Quaint, the analogy stands, no need for another explanation.

I've noticed that this vision of social collapse is widely held by left-wing activists.

Firstly no left wing activists should be envisioning the idea of societal collapse, however society as we know it always changes, and the collapse of the world wide economy as we know it today will have the onflow of local catastophy whether you like it or not.

Why are you so keen on this violent fantasy? What good could come of it?

I think the idea that people on the left are keen on it is your fantasy my friend. What good could come of that, we well are here today, you defending the sinking Titanic and the rest of us trying to make lifeboats from the deckchairs.

However economic collapse is the name of the game. I used to have this same debate with the convinced proponents of pyramid schemes. Their defense is no different to the defense put up today concerning the worldwide economy.

To give you some idea, the world economy and the monetary system like the downlining matrixs of pyramid schemes, require infinite growth to be sustainable over a significant period of human history and development. Oil is the base energy the modern economy was built with and is sustained with, and oil has peaked. So to do the math, infinite growth x finite resources = ?

There is no other energy source in the world that can replace oil, no other mass source of energy can match the BTUs in a gallon of gas no is there an energy source that can be adapted so cheaply for human modes of manufacture and agriculture, therefore because all the bottom apples on the oil tree have now been picked (there goes another analogy) we are now in a transition phase from a world wide economy and monetary system that exists because of oil, to one that will be without oil in the next 100 years or so.

We are at the point in human history where the infinite growth paradym has collided with something that is more powerful than what money is, finite resources coupled with infinite growth, now lets apply the second law of thermodynamics....

no left wing activists should

no left wing activists should be envisioning the idea of societal collapse, however society as we know it always changes, and the collapse of the world wide economy as we know it today will have the onflow of local catastophy whether you like it or not.

OK, so you say you don't expect social collapse, but then go on about economic collapse. Tomato/tomatoe.

We are at the point in human history where the infinite growth paradym has collided with something that is more powerful than what money is, finite resources coupled with infinite growth, now lets apply the second law of thermodynamics....

That might be true, but it would mean ignoring the effects of innovation and productivity. In other words, improvements in technology mean that the economy gets more efficient at using the scarce resources available. You also ignore the potential benefits of alternative sources of energy.

Look, I'm not denying that things need to change in our society. We could do so much better. But I don't buy into the left-wing revolutionary arguments. We can improve our world, we don't have to destroy/overthrow the status quo and replace it with something else. Left wing activists are very good at pointing out the problems and injustices in our society, but they also consistently fail to offer any viable solutions. Look at the guy who posted the clip of a wave destroying a city. How is that meant to help?

OK, so you say you don't

OK, so you say you don't expect social collapse, but then go on about economic collapse. Tomato/tomatoe.

Human society will survive, it just won't look the way it does now. The global economy that exists now cannot survive in its current absurd bloated form. Tomato/Dinosaur.

That might be true, but it would mean ignoring the effects of innovation and productivity. In other words, improvements in technology mean that the economy gets more efficient at using the scarce resources available.

The problem is that the so called improvements in technology are all based on the longevity of easily extracted, processed and available oil. Those days of availability are already behind us.

You also ignore the potential benefits of alternative sources of energy.

I don't ignore it, I completely intentionally negated it for the reasons I already stated. There is no other fuel source in the known world that can compete with what oil used to give, in terms of cost of extraction, processing and the BTUs gained from burning this fossil fuel. The entire economy exists because of the mass existance of this fuel, and it will decline as the availability of the cheap forms of this fuel source also decline. Name one other source of energy that can be harnessed at the same cost as oil, and is just as available as oil used to be. And worst of all, can be harnessed without the use of masses of oil to do so.

Left wing activists are very good at pointing out the problems and injustices in our society, but they also consistently fail to offer any viable solutions.

Left wing activists have been the only ones offering solutions to this problem since it was first concieved. Where do you think ideas like permaculture came from, as an example. It is the center right often at times mascarading as center left, that has been in the seat of power for too long creating systems that allow private unaccountable corporations to drive countries resources and economies to their enth degree while denying the probability of where this is all going to end.

As resources became scarce all this lot have done to temporarily alleviate the problem, is to expand into a global market thus prolonging the inevitable, but yet doing nothing at all to prevent the inevitable.

Look at the guy who posted the clip of a wave destroying a city. How is that meant to help?

Looks like sarcasm to me.

Its a clip from 2012 movie

Its a clip from 2012 movie where the USS Enterprise II aircraft carrier rolls over the US White House ending the US Govts reign of terror.

Oh right, how constructive.

Oh right, how constructive.

Ah, so its contructive you

Ah, so its contructive you want, ok try this then
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CWWh9mphxk

Peak oil.

The problem is that the so called improvements in technology are all based on the longevity of easily extracted, processed and available oil. Those days of availability are already behind us.

The great thing about a market economy is that as oil becomes more scarce it will become more expensive. While this makes oil more valuable it also makes it less desirable and people will search for alternatives. Once viable alternatives are commercially developed and brought to market then we will have the cure for your social/economic collapse scenario.

People invented the internal combustion engine. They can invent its replacement too. It doesn't necessitate change in economic system.

The key to a viable

The key to a viable alternative or combination of alternatives are that it must be at least on par with oil in the areas of availability, quantity, cost to refine or to make it ready for consumption and BTUs per area of space in storage i.e. per gallon.

The third law of thermodynamics basically says that things break down, and in every energy transaction, some energy is always lost. Of the available energies in the world, oil presents the best percentage of production cost to energy to burn ratio....at current cost producing 120,000 BTUs of energy for every gallon of petrol.

There is no other source of energy in the world that matches the current cost efficiency of oil conversion into petrol, plastics, and the chemicals that are extracted from oil and natural gas for example that become the base of the fertilisers that are used in the worlds industrialised food production. An example of this is that it would cost $11 NZD of electricity at todays rate, to produce 120,000 BTUs of hydrogen to match the BTUs of a gallon of gas (thats taking into account that these great inventors you speak of come up with a form of electrolysis or other that is 100% efficient).

Whether high density solid fuels like aluminium air, liquid fuels such as ethanol, or low density gas fuels like gaseous hydrogen, the energy needed to produce and extract from those sources make them unviable. For example it takes more oil to produce ethanol than the energy you get from burning it because of the fact that the very industry that produces ethanol is completely dependant on oil, the agri industry.

The production cost of alternative energy sources rises as the cost of oil rises, and their production levels drop as oil becomes more scarce due to the dependency on oil to produce these alternative sources of energy. eg. 120,000 BTUs of energy from a gallon of gas will skyrocket in price causing the cost of producing 120,000 BTUs of hydrogen to rise as well and never will the two prices meet due to how much more inefficient it is to convert alternative energies into hydrogen.

So it goes on and on, through every facet of the modern worldwide economy. The alternatives that are being investigated to date will only replace a tiny percentage of the energy needs that currently exists because of oil and at many times the cost.

As an example you brought up 'internal combustion engines', there are 800 million vehicles that are powered by normally aspirated homogeneously charged engines (internal combustion engines) currently on the planet that all depend on oil every day to run. It takes that much more barrels of oil to produce that many vehicles and maintain them as well i.e it takes 7 barrels of oil to make just one tire. Even if you could find an alternative fuel that was cheap to produce to combust in the engine, it still needs many billions of barrels of oil every year to produce and maintain the vehicles and engines.

Once viable alternatives are commercially developed and brought to market then we will have the cure for your social/economic collapse scenario.

Therein lays the problem, first you need to look at the long term sustainability of the commercialisation of anything without oil, commercialisation exists today as an idea because we are swimming in peak oil. An economy that requires infinite growth cannot survive in its current form, or even a resemblance of its current form when that growth is 100% dependant on finite resources whether oil or some new alternative that exists only in the minds of science fiction hopefuls.

Lesso:That goes for Canadian

Lesso:
As you pointed out to me on chat earlier, that also goes for Canadian tar sands as well which is too costly to produce where even at its cheapest to produce now, would still be more expensive than the price of oil post depletion.

Strype:

The myth of the expanding island, is like the legend of economic growth. No matter how hard people work, it will not increase the size of the planet, or increase the amount of resources it has to provide. The only way for the working class majority to have more, is for the ruling elite to learn to be satisfied with less.

The story could be continued that once resources had been depleted on the Island the ruling elite then turned to the resources available in the area of water being treaded by the working class.

I guess I am referring to some linkages between the examples Lesso, myself and others are bringing up here about the unsustainable growth demanded by the ruling class's economies, the depletion of available resources to sustain their economies, and the affects on the working class as these economies fail.

All over the world economies are collapsing. In Godzone NZ, which has never really been a relevant financial centre, and even less now as NZ corporations look more and more to Australian markets to bail them out. But what this country does have plenty of, is fresh water, which China needs in order to prolong its eventual collapse.

In the US the insolvency of the FDIC is coming, the Federal Reserve will also soon be insolvent, and will go bankrupt, T Bill defaults are on the way, California and Michigan are essentially bankrupt, Ohio is shutting down services left right and center, tent cities are springing up all over the US, even billionaires are getting crashed and burned and eaten alive.

In the rest of the world, Britain is an absolute basket case, the economic crash in Dubai, China is running out of fresh water for its cities and agricultural irrigation water in farming areas, there is a curtain of despair descending across eastern Europe, theres a revolutions in Greece, drug violence in Mexico, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the people that are conducting this little capitalist show are losing control as the monetary system and economies fail.

Lentil:

People invented the internal combustion engine. They can invent its replacement too. It doesn't necessitate change in economic system.

Hope is a beautiful thing isn't it ;)

Have you considered the impact on human life if these people whom you put your hope in, fail to do so before oil depletion.

An economy that requires

An economy that requires infinite growth cannot survive in its current form, or even a resemblance of its current form when that growth is 100% dependant on finite resources whether oil or some new alternative that exists only in the minds of science fiction hopefuls.

Very true. Also remember that electricity is not a source of energy. In most countries it is mostly produced by burning fossil fuels or in nuclear fission reactors. Solar and tidal generation will certainly provide limited electricity to areas that are coastal or have large tracts of desert, but like nuclear generation, all are contingient on the existance of masses of cheap oil for their infrastructures to be manufactured and to be also maintained.

Oil is one of the few

Oil is one of the few resources that is not subject to the normal fluctuations of the market ie demand does not respond in the same way to rises in the price...Eco 101

1) because of the world economies dependance on it   

2) Oil is scarce and difficult to extract and refine, so you cant just go drill in your backyard for abit of the old black gold and whack that in your mazda

And anyway who knows what the true price of oil is. Every year, despite pulling x billion barrels outta the ground the reserves increase!! 

When the market gives me a full electric powered car im hella taking off to the bush with my home made wind turbine and never paying a dime to travel when and where i want again...i wouldn't be surprised if i'm not the only one

Electric car, hitting the

Electric car, hitting the market from this year.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car

We have fission power at the moment:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power#Nuclear_fusion

But fusion power is better, but further away:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power

For NZers though, those are not options because of the political bias against nuclear energy. That means that we will have to continue relying on:

you are CEO of Energy

you are CEO of Energy On-line!!!!!  You nuke-loving capitalism-loving capitalist!  either that or you share all her opinions.

Innavation is needed - start "at home" and save instead of waste

The planet has limited resources, whether we like it or not.

Whether nuclear fusion will ever be a possible energy source that can be used by humans, remains to be seen and maybe too far away in the future.

The least that can and should be done is to bring in radical technological innovation to use the energy resources we do (still) have available with maximum efficiency.

In NZ we could already save enormously by building new energy efficient homes and by renovating and altering the ones we already use to minimise energy waste. Houses in NZ are largely immense energy wasting units!

Some links to websites with some innovative ideas can be looked up under:

http://www.passiv.de/English/PassiveH.HTM

http://www.passivhaus.org.uk/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-energy_building

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6242591.stm

http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/06/net-zero-energy-technology-breakthrough...

Cars can and will be run on hydrogen. Energy can also be generated from methane gas (affluents, etc.).

Fertilisers are excemented by us all and by animals we keep and use every day.

Old metals, plastics, glass, paper and so forth can be re-cycled. What we do now is only kids-stuff. Other countries are way ahead, but we keep counting beans every year, borrow overseas money, pay dead money in high interest and export our educated and intelligent people overseas, because we are too backward-thinking to develop incentives here.

Just thrown in as a challenge to enhance more debate. Capitalism or alternative social forms, we will have to address these issues for sure. The sooner we do so, the better our chance to manage well in future.

I hate (1) Capitalism (2) the Government (3) Pop music (4) blah

The planet has limited resources, whether we like it or not.

Correct. So to maximise the use of those resources we need the system that uses them most efficiently. Capitalism has demonstrated that by tying the risks of ownership with the potential benefits, and by using markets to allocate resources, it does a better job of that than any other system that has been tried.

Just thrown in as a challenge to enhance more debate. Capitalism or alternative social forms, we will have to address these issues [of energy efficiency and sustainable energy production] for sure. The sooner we do so, the better our chance to manage well in future.

Spot on. But energy efficiency etc is really a side issue.

At the end of the day, monetary and economic systems are just methods of organising the production of things that people need and want. Capitalism and the international monetary system have shown that, in practice, it can deliver . I'm not saying that it's perfect, because it's not. But no-one here has suggested a comprehensive alternative or explained why (in theory) it would work better than the status quo. I'm not holding my breath.

Capitalism has demonstrated

Capitalism has demonstrated that by tying the risks of ownership with the potential benefits, and by using markets to allocate resources, it does a better job of that than any other system that has been tried.

Like the titanic, the ship called capitalism and its monetary system have that same rudder that is too small to steer the ship away from its greatest nemesis that of the iceberg called the end of oil, and as we enter the bumpy plateau of peak oil you can still hear the upper deck passengers and crew reassuring themselves of how unsinkable the ship is supposed to be.
    What we should be planning for is a change to a new paradym that can support life in a world without oil and planning to survive the transition. A start would be to observe countries that have survived oil crash already and how they are organising themselves.
    Localising food production is the beginning of this and food production without industrial machinery or oil based fertiliser would be the obvious starting point.

capitalism and competition

capitalism and competition are both corrupt and wasteful.  do we really need gas stations, dairies, liquor stores every other block?  effective organisation is the opposite of free market, mixed market, neoliberal or neoconservative capitalism.  there are human needs and then there are the activities which turn a profit.  fuck the rich in their overfed arses.  fuck oil and fuck civilisation.  we are all stone-aged babies and will wake up one day without electricity and that is the day we take our power back. fuck the bribes fuck their privileges fuck their bread I want the entire bakery.

Every one of those sources of

Every one of those sources of energy are completely interdependant on oil for trucking and processing coal, cables and pylons to transport AC from wind and fossil fuel power generators, for the construction and maintenance of those facilities, pipes to transport natural gas and all the equipment and machinery involved in the extraction and distribution of gas right to the consumers house. The very reason they can even be considered as alternative energy sources is because of oil gluttony. Unless you can construct and maintain infrastructure that is not oil dependant then none of these alternatives will survive the end of oil.

So these little hopeful solutions turn out to be a bit like listening to Abbot and Costella arguing about whos on first.

Sorry what?

So, sorry...

Why under a different system would oil not be important (the commies used plenty of oil, as did the fascists)?

And how, if oil prices rise, will that sound the death-knell of capitalism?

Communism, or as we call it,

Communism, or as we call it, soviet styled communism would suffer the same fate as any system that obtains its power base and infrastructure from industrial agriculture and manufacturing because these things cannot exist without fossil fuels, in particular, oil.

And how, if oil prices rise, will that sound the death-knell of capitalism?

Rising oil prices are just the first phase. This has been described by peak oil activists and researchers for many years beginning with the obvious rise in oil prices in a growth curve until the oil reserves seriously deplete at which point destruction of demand would probably take place through localised economic collapses. Following that it is suggested that there will be further recoveries and increased rises in oil prices until you collide again with finite oil, and fossil fuels pass their peaks and become scarce as well. This see-sawing action would continue for some time.

Like we witnessed in Cuba when it went through its oil crisis when the USSR came apart, resulting in its oil imports dropping to under a quarter of its original levels and Cubas economy going into free-fall from 1989 to 1993, eventually their infrastructure ran down as oil importation dropped to record levels. Cuba's export and import markets dropped in exact amounts as the reduction in the import of oil, something like an 80% drop.

Buses stopped running, factories closed, small businesses shut down, food became scarce and people nearly starved. Cuba then was forced to make drastic moves to alleviate at least the food shortage aspect of this crisis yet it stands as an artificial example of what can happen on a much more global scale.

The mortal blow or "death-knell" to industrialised civilisation will happen when the scarcity of oil prices cause it to spike so high that nobody can afford to buy it. At that point the greatly reduced global and local industry will most likely shut down.

The death knell to capitalism will probably come from the survivors of the end of oil choosing a new series of organisational ideas from the ashes of capitalism that involve living within our means, producing food locally and sustainably, community based solutions that reflect the values of cooperation, conservation and curtailment.

until the oil reserves

until the oil reserves seriously deplete at which point destruction of demand would probably take place through localised economic collapses.

In our market driven system, the greater the price of oil, the greater the incentive to shift to alternative energy sources. And any sustained increase in average oil prices will occur as a result of dimishing reserves will occur gradually. This will give time for the market to adjust.

Like we witnessed in Cuba when it went through its oil crisis when the USSR came apart, resulting in its oil imports dropping to under a quarter of its original levels and Cubas economy going into free-fall from 1989 to 1993,

Cuba is a poor analogy.

It's "economy" collapsed because it lost its only significant trading partner and the benefactor of huge amounts of what was effectively foreign aid. It did not run an open, market-economy that could have adjusted to that change in circumstances. And the loss was sudden and the timing (although not the event itself) was unexpected.

None of those factors appear today. Further, Cuba's problems have less to do with oil scarcity than they do with an isolated, centrally planned economy losing its main sponsor to the political and economic realities of communism.

In our market driven system,

In our market driven system, the greater the price of oil, the greater the incentive to shift to alternative energy sources.

What other alternative energy source is there that can replace oil? For now there is oil, so the development of the electric car, hydrogen fuel cells, solar induction devices, and various biofuels exist because of oil driven industry to produce them. How will the end of oil affect these industries when there is no other market viable method of producing enough oil to maintain the current infrastructure let alone meet the demands of the exponential growth culture.

What other alternative energy

What other alternative energy source is there that can replace oil?

There is no other alternative energy source to replace oil. The industries that have materialised because of the widespread availability of oil will expire once oil supplies are exhausted. EOC

What other alternative energy

What other alternative energy source is there that can replace oil?

All forms of available base energy are finite. There is no other energy that is on par with oil unless you are counting on science fictions solutions like energy from the void to step out of of the realm of fiction into reality. It is always at this point in the discussion where 'pro-capitalism's longevity' hopefuls turn to faith in the unknown to give them a false calm that it will be 'alright on the night' and to keep plowing ahead full steam...

Heres a rewording, "ours is a market driven ship, the greater the icebergs on the surface, the greater the incentive to shift the ship out of the way of the submerged bergs with our surplus alternative large rudder we hope we have in storage....to replace the really small one we have now...oh what was that, there is no other rudder than the small one currently mounted at the stern? Hard-a-starboard, Hard-a-starboard.....fuck, whats that graunching noise???? Dam those anarcho commies, they were right....but I wont admit it though...gurgle...glug...glug" ;)

Jump ship then.

Right, and anarchism/communism is meant to solve the problem of finite energy... how exactly?

To expand your poor analogy even further, whether it's the fine scooner "SS Capitalism" or the leaking junk "MV Anarchism", society still needs a ship, and there will still be icebergs.

The question is simple: which boat would you rather be on?

There is no other ship and

Well, ok, to continue the analogy....

There is no other ship and 'we' have already struck the iceberg at full steam (peak oil), the stoleaways from the lower deck have seen the folly of the greedy rich bastards and fortunately had taught ourselves a thing or two about making lifeboats and oars from deckchairs. But before the lower deckers and stoleaways embark on that last resort exercise, some thought they might just have a crack at overunning the bridge, tossing the captain and his ilk over the side, shove the ship into ahead dead slow making it easier to get into the lifeboats, while we make as many liferafts as poss and pop them into the water so as many as possible can piss off to the nearest land mass.

Rather that, than wait around for the ruling class while they sit around denying that this could ever happen, then come to their senses as oil industries fail and there is no replacement energy source, then try to save their own arses at the last minute leaving the working class locked down in the lower decks to drown and in the engine room stoking the fossil fuel boilers until the ship goes arse up.

Right, and anarchism/communism is meant to solve the problem of finite energy... how exactly?

The 'solution' is that there is no solution to preventing the collapse of an economy that is completely enslaved and emersed in oil gluttony. Oil will run out, and industries and any machinery and technologies that exist because of lakes of oil will eventually seize up.

Is the solution for a heroine addict who is out of drugs to wait around for someone to find them an alternative drug to transfer their addiction to? Or is it time to get off drugs that will inevitably kill you and find an alternative high that does not involve shooting chemicals under your eyelids. The same then also goes for looking for alternative sources of energy to continue the unrealistic addiction and dependency on.

The best anyone can offer no matter which political bent they come from are methods and concepts to ease the pain of the inevitable transition to an oil and fossil fuel energy free world. However there needs to be a realisation first that there is a serious problem before people can begin to shift to another paradym to prepare for transition.

tossing the captain and his

tossing the captain and his ilk over the side, shove the ship into ahead dead slow making it easier to get into the lifeboats, while we make as many liferafts as poss and pop them into the water so as many as possible can piss off to the nearest land mass...

I can't believe I'm entertaining this nonsense, but here goes...

Why, after you so mercilessly shoved the captain and "his ilk" over the side to certain death, would you immediately follow them overboard?

Wouldn't it be better to stay on the ship and see how far that gets you before you abandon the safety and comfort of the cruise liner for a risky gambit involving untested lifeboats, a freezing sea and an unknown destination?

I can't believe I'm

I can't believe I'm entertaining this nonsense, but here goes...

Believe me the feeling is mutual my right feathered friend.

The key is this:
have already struck the iceberg at full steam

I know it is easier to stay onboard the sinking unsinkable ship, much like the economic system today which reached its event horizon when after oil discovery peaked in the 1960s and global reserves peaked in 2004 - people living in its illusion believe we should just ride with it until its ass goes skyward and it sinks. I guess all seems well with the sinking Titanic while its not perpendicular to the water, especially from the top deck...but it is much easier to get into lifeboats while the ship is still sitting flat with the water rather than as you put it....

stay on the ship and see how far that gets you before you abandon the safety and comfort of the cruise liner for a risky gambit involving untested lifeboats, a freezing sea and an unknown destination?

Why, after you so mercilessly

Why, after you so mercilessly shoved the captain and "his ilk" over the side to certain death, would you immediately follow them overboard?

I get the feeling you have taken this part of Ks homology quite personally Lentil yet you show no emotion for the aspect of the story about the lower deck workers locked in the engine room by the captain and crew, forced to continue shovelling coal into the burners as the ships boilers explode and eventually the ship sinks. What if this parody of sorts was a reference to a rejection of capitalism, of centralised Government, of hierarchy and dominant hegemony, rather than the literal tossing human beings responsible for the pointless deaths of thousands into the ocean, would that help?

Why does every debate here

Why does every debate here get sidetracked from the issue at hand to some personal criticism about the people involved? Of course, I feel for the people on "the lower decks". But I don't see how they're any better off in a leaky lifeboat in the middle of a freezing ocean going God-knows-fuck-where with Captain Fuck-wit and second mate Shit-for-Brains at the helm.

If you were really concerned about social justice and the working class you would make an effort to understand their needs and wants. You would suggest realistic solutions to address social inequities. Instead you spout misguided and poorly understood radical philosophies in an attempt to justify their own validity. That is lazy and self-serving and of no use to anyone or anything except the temporary delusion that peak oil will spell the end of Capitalism as we know it. ("Thank fuck", your probably thinking, because we all know you don't have the brains or the balls to do it yourself).

Besides all of that, this parable of no substance. It simply bears no relationship to real life. The social and economic dynamics are just not modeled. All it does is cast your "hegemony" in terms of the artificial construct of a child's bed time story.

Of course, I feel for the

Of course, I feel for the people on "the lower decks". But I don't see how they're any better off in a leaky lifeboat in the middle of a freezing ocean going God-knows-fuck-where with Captain Fuck-wit and second mate Shit-for-Brains at the helm.

In that example their choice is not between the lower decks of the Titanic and a leaky lifeboat, its the choice between waiting to be drowned on the sinking Titanic or making a go of it at sea in the lifeboats, theres a key difference.

That is lazy and self-serving and of no use to anyone or anything except the temporary delusion that peak oil will spell the end of Capitalism as we know it. ("Thank fuck", your probably thinking, because we all know you don't have the brains or the balls to do it yourself).

I do not see the problem with making observations and people should feel free to be able to make them even if they do not meet your stringient criteria. I can imagine how the end of the grease of industry, oil, could put pay to something you seem to hold dear to yourself, and are an ardent defender of, the economic system of capitalism, and I can see that any talk of its possible demise due to the followin affects of oil depletion is making you angry, but I am more concerned myself with the human tragedy that is to take place if societies do not start to seriously prepare in the next 10-20 years before oil ends.

All it does is cast your "hegemony" in terms of the artificial construct of a child's bed time story.

Yet to me it strikes me as lite comical relief from reading your right-wing pro-capitalist my way or the highway hegemony that has saturated these discussions "The Real Lentil".

Jonas, I see the symptoms of

Jonas, I see the symptoms of post denialism in the Lentil soup. You really can't blame people for their reluctance to face up to the impact of peak oil and where this might lead. It's an unpleasant concept and it can strikes fear into one's heart. Similar to the process of grieving, coming to realisation about peak oil often transpires in stages. Firstly denial which we have seen here already, then anger which is the stage we are at, then bargaining, followed by depression, and finally acceptance.

Have your peak oil, then.

Have your peak oil, then. It's pointless arguing about whether the four horsemen are readying their steeds. Especially by reference to some self-serving analogies to boats and islands. If you think society is going to collapse, good for you. Meanwhile I'll be getting on with my life, as markets, technologies and societies adapt to changes in the ways that they have for the 50 years.

Irony of the week

@ Lentil

"Why does every debate here get sidetracked from the issue at hand to some personal criticism about the people involved?"

Probably for the same reason that rather than patiently arguing your case, or just switching off the computer and going out for a walk, you resort to statements like:

"Instead you spout misguided and poorly understood radical philosophies in an attempt to justify their own validity. That is lazy and self-serving and of no use to anyone or anything except the temporary delusion that peak oil will spell the end of Capitalism as we know it. ("Thank fuck", your probably thinking, because we all know you don't have the brains or the balls to do it yourself)."

Alredy in the lifeboat

USA oil production peaked in the 70s. Every country that didn't have the military-industrial might to duke it out with the USA for a slice of the rest of the world's production faced the prospect of becoming an economic neo-colony of one of the one's that did, or manning (or womanning) the lifeboats. Most of the communities in the developing world have been in the lifeboats since then.

The New Zealand state attempted to have a bob each way with Think Big, trying to carve off their section of the oil Titanic and make it float as a separate ship. Then the 80s came, our barely floating boat got bought up by (mostly USA-based) transnationals, and we ended up back on the sinking ship as a neo-colony of the USA.

Now the USA is clearly going down. It's going to happen slowly, but sooner or later the choice will come - go down with them, or find a lifeboat. There will be a place for Lentil, and others like him, in my lifeboat, but I will struggle not to say I told you so.

Global peak oil has come and

Global peak oil has come and gone. There are no more large oil fields left to tap in the world. The worlds monetary system is the greatest ponzi scheme ever. It has come to saturation based on its inability to continue to expand because the gas tank (literally speaking) is heading to empty.

The global economy exists in its bloated state because of rampant oil extraction and production, the ability for example to grow a coffee bean in one country and sell it in another exists because of this artificial mode of exchange. You cannot have one without the other, as oil declines the global economy will decline along with it, as the masses will be forced back to producing their own food, capitalism will become less and less relevant.

Along with peak oil, all other energy sources like coal, natural gas, uranium and others are also all finite fuels that will have a peak point as well because the world is consuming all these resources at something like 10,000,000 times the rate that they are being produced in nature.

It is time for the world to consider crossing the rubicon in advance of the end of fossil fuels and possibly avert the inevitable catastrophy that will come if we do not.

and you'd still be using oil

and you'd still be using oil when u get yur electric car repaired or your wind turbine maintained etc., etc.,

 

smash the factories!

 

www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/

The relevance of oil.

This discussion is about capitalism. It's not about oil. The two are separate issues.

Capitalism is about the private ownership of the means of production and using markets to efficiently allocate resources. Oil might be an important resource, but it is not a necessary element of that system. Capitalism existed before oil became important. And capitalism will survive well after oil becomes irrelevant.

Arguing that capitalism is doomed because oil production is declining is like saying that the Sun won't rise because you haven't paid your power bill. The thing that's missing is logic.

The end of oil will mark the

The end of oil will mark the end of capitalism, the sun will still rise, and there will be no power bills.

Begs the question.

The end of oil will mark the end of capitalism

Why?

Why is the left fielders

Why is the left fielders name.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfmvkO5x6Ng

Dodger.

Typical. Dodge the question you can't answer. Divert to a funny Youtube clip.

I would have taken "I don't actually know, but I heard it once in an anarchist discussion forum/film night, so it must be true" as an answer.

Ok how about, "I don't care

Ok how about, "I don't care to state the obvious to you". Does that help?

No. A thing does not become

No. A thing does not become true just because you assert it to be so.

Nothing is obvious

Kia ora

The whole idea of 'the obvious', 'common sense' etc ignore the fact that different cultures, different languages etc frame meaning in entirely different ways. I highly recommend learning a second language, or spending a few months or years in a situation where you are in the cultural minority, to fully understand this (as an alternative to doing a double degree in cognition and linguistics).

Nothing is obvious. Even the words we use are just labels for clusters of meaning, not signposts with simple location on a fixed semantic landscape. A word like 'capitalism' has any many definitions as there are people using it (although they too tend to fall into clusters, often along polarised lines or pro vs. anti). To have a meaningful discussion, we need to be patient with one another, resist the temptation to resort the name-calling or power plays (who the hell are you to say that/ post on this site etc), and be willing to understand and use each other's definition for the sake of argument.

I started to reply to this thread, and it got so long I decided to post it as a separate article, under the title 'Peak oil - the end of capitalism, or the beginning?'

Ngā mihi ki a koutou katoa

right on.

Very well said.

See:

People should try to make

People should try to make more effort than a one word question, then I might make more effort to reply to their queries. Apart from coming across as not giving a shit, your one word question had the hallmarks of you being a patronising ass Lentil. All I did was match your effort.

aaa

No offence, but you made a blind assertion that the end of oil means the end of Capitalism. I don't think it was unreasonable for me to ask why. And given the lack of analysis you provided, it was pretty difficult for me to give a fuller response.

nic (real lentil) is out

nic (real lentil) is out 2nite lucky for the fat cats among us

IRYR

I reject your reality.

Capitalism or free market dream chants are for imbeciles

The concept of "capitalism" truly does most of all appeal to the "small minded people" of all sorts. It is like: I am better than you, so get off my turf and let me live MY life as I please. Also I have 'earned' my living, you do "not deserve the same", because you cannot bloody bother "work for it".

If a successful person may otherwise manage extremely well in applying his managerial and entrepreneurial skills to succeed in so-called business, then decides, I am not in this for the money, hence I give it away for others to do something better with it, then we have a borderline case of someone who may not fit the strict criteria of a "capitalist". Maybe Bill Gates fits that criteria?

Otherwise we have a very different and diverse society compared to the early days of the industrial revolution and "capitalism".

There are even some arguing we have "democratic capitalism" because of the shareholding in companies representing some form of "democracy".

These are all forms of organisations and companies that irritate though. Ultimately we have the haves and have-nots. That needs to be addressed disregarding all said before.

The status quo is that a few rule and direct us all and we all have to adapt and bloody well shut up. That applies to workers and beneficiaries, like I am at present.

As a beneficiary I was today reminded of the ruthless approach taken by Work and Income. They follow stringent rules and guidelines. Social justice is NOT what they have on their minds. So you may feel you got an inflation adjusted rise as off 01 April, like every year. Little would many know about "thresholds" and other particulars, so in the end, having a 'Special Benefit' also, that may suddenly be reduced more than the supposed "inflation adjusted" increase as of 01 April, which leaves a person dollars less off than before.

Is there any logic in this? Not really, but it is the bureaucratic nightmare that department enforces on many of us.

If I could help it I would have NOTHING to do with that kind of almost fascist outfit. Sadly I need their support at present. So I have decided to be a thorn in their sides for the rest of my life. I have copied in a number of MP's on the case and expect answers and corrections. If that does not happen I will take it to the Health and Disability Commissioner and further.

As common people we should be able to live a life in peace and solidarity, concentrating on bettering a dysfunctional society. Day by day I learn more about the dysfunctioning that goes on and that incapacitates people. This country has long ago lost its way. Let us fight to get it back to some reasonably humane society.

 

So if "Lentils" of sorts wish to distract us and go on indulging in their littler battle grounds and petty arguments, we will need to show them their boundaries and tell them to bloody well "f*** off" and "scr** themselves". They have nothing better to do, that is why they are here to harass and bs us all the time. Good night Kameraden!

Yeah, Ok. But how will you do

Yeah, Ok. But how will you do better than Capitalism. How will the means of production be allocated? How will the fruits of everyone's labour be allocated? What methods of controlling decision making will be implemented? Without central authority how will you control crime?

World Financial Crisis - for example ...

The world finacial crisis wiped out trillions of dollars of value of "balance sheets". Aggressive advertising between competitors costs millions if not billions worldwide every day and week. We as consumers pay for "competition" by commercial advertising by the included costs in our retail prices we pay. Have you ever watched early morning TV, or TV around lunchtime in NZ - full of BS crappy brainwashing commercials on tv space that you, I and others pay for by paying for the products we buy, whether we watch the crap or not. Then think about government institutions pre-occupied with harassing and chasing down people supposedly avoiding taxes, being allegedly "un-motivated" beneficiaries not able to find a job, the competition amongst states with following their individual strategies by building up armies against one another, the high expenses on secret services spying on each other, the cost of companies competing to levels as low as bankrupting each other. Now, would a common agenda, for the common good, for a joint effort and for the benefit of at least most of human kind not do better than waste enormous amounts of money on such nonsensical agendas? If Lentil 1, 2, 3, 4, 999 has something more to argue and say, be welcomed to raise your capitalist and egotistical nonsense as a "better plan" for us all. Yes, competition against one another is supposed to be the betterment for us all, is it not??? I accept that some sporting competition amongst capable and healthy individuals will forward the collective and a socially minded society in the long run, but I am against competition for competitions sake to destroy social fabric. Take this and reply Mr Smart Cooky!

International Council for Co-operation and best suggestions

We have a dysfunctional body called UN. It is dysfunctional because every member country follows own agendas and does mostly all sorts of things that are against the ideal and principles of the UN. It is more hypocrisy. The more powerful countries dictate to the less powerful what should or should not be done. The original idea of the UN was something quite different: To be a forum for international co-operation to advance peace and better relations amongs peoples and nations. What is left of it? If we would all accept on basic principles and true co-operation it may work. We would have to agree on basic human rights, democracy, an economic order that can be established to be fairer and serve more, even perhaps one day all. It is not wanted though by the large powers, that includes US, Europe, Japan and also China, Russia, Brazil and India, that all have their agendas to follow. They again do all COMPETE! As long as they compete and do not co-operate to advance the common good of their populations we cannot advance. So the Communist International sets examples. We are condemned as workers of all countries to work together. If the capitalists do not see eye to eye with is that is no bloody surprise, is it. Hence there is only one solution, that is global revolution that will also take hold and replace every corrupt and anti-worker regime in every country. Those who cannot follow, read the Capital and more! But then some Lentilians will never get it, because to them it is like the garlic for the vampire, is it not?

Calm down Radical

@ Filos Radical, this sort of chest-puffing rhetoric does nothing to convince people that there are viable alternatives to capitalism - as leftists the word.

Have a read of my comment about people using the same word to mean different things. Imagine someone had been brought up by brilliant but eccentric parents, who raised their child to think that every word meant its opposite. If you offered to hug him, he might think you were offering to kill him, and vice versa.

This is analagous to our situation with Lentil, His comments show that he genuinely cares about truth and justice, but he's come to hold precisely the opposite definitions of the terms 'capitalism' and 'socialism' that leftists do. In trying to convince him to oppose capitalism, you are effectively trying to convince the poor child in the first example that a hug is something he wants, even though he thinks it will kill him.

In this situation it's best to abandon such problematic terms for the sake of advancing the discussion, and talk about specifics, using day to day language.

@Lentil, for alternatives to state-corporate complex (what the lefties call capitalism, and what you would call fascism or maybe communism/ socialism), I could recommend you a whole range of sites, One of the more detailed models of life after capitalism is offered by the Participatory Economics movement:

http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/topics/parecon

Revolutionary regards, Filos Strypey

Ok. Since you appear to be

Ok. Since you appear to be proposing an alternative to capitalism: What is it and how will it work? Why do you think well be any better off under that system?

VVVVVVVVVVVVVVOOOOOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDDDDDDDDDDDD

VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVOOOOOOOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDDDDDDDDDDDDDD to be filled by enlightenment. Or does nobody see any light (and answers) at the very, very invisible, dark end of the long, long tunnel???????????

Leon and Lentil

This is all a bit simplistic, but it is a simple attempt to prove that alternatives are and must be possible:

The only way a truly fair and just society can be created is by legally socialising and humanising the economic, social and environmental realities we have to face.

That can be done in different ways.

First of all a new and improved body of law is essential. Ultimately human rights must be the essence of all law and legal principles, which can only be compromised by ensuring economic well-being for all and by also safeguarding the protection of the environment to ensure a sustainable and healthy living space for all humans, animals and plants.

It may help to get the people with a "spiritual inclination" to be included and supported by including in such constitutional and basic law elements of "natural law", "natural justice" and so-called "common law principles". They could also be served by offering a concept of a "higher power of existence" not to be ruled out and to be acceptable.

Yet the system must fundamentally be a non-religious body of law and generally based on material and scientific, factual findings and ideas.

There should be a degree of "entrepreneurship" allowed, but it must always be subserviant to the "common good" and "common welfare". Hence any collectives, which would be the ideal organisation of enterprises, or "state owned enterprises", possibly some individual operations of acceptable smaller scale have to abide by laws and regulations that ensure that there is no profit oriented activity that goes against social principles. Hence any supposed gains or "profits" must be socialised either by re-investment into the enterprise to deliver better and more services, or they must be rendered to a government of a state.

As the idea of "anarchism" is one base on principles that no state is either desirable or wanted, that concept of society is to my conviction not practicable enough to manage, administer and uphold any kind of sophisticated society. You would for instance face challenges like the individual or collective anarchist wanting some product like a mobile phone, which though would have to be made and supplied by another anarchist entity. Question is and must be disproven, whether any "anarchist" entity of any kind is capable of "organising" activities like producing efficiently such a sophisticated product.

Maybe anarchism works well in a basic kind of society, where no high tech and sophisticated organisation of sorts is needed or even wanted?

That though is for most of us an option few of us "modern" humans would even want to consider.

So the "state" is to me an essential type of social organisation that will be and must be upheld - at least for some time to come.

Ultimately states, like enterprises, collectives and over-arching international organisations can and should be run like "councils". You may call them "worker's councils", enterprise boards or councils, regional councils, urban councils, state councils (or parliaments) or international boards of councils or whatever.

On an international scale the elected and nominated delegates of states would be able to assemble to address international issues like trade, exchanges of populations (migration), co-operation, environmental issues of global scale, and so forth. Disputes can and must be dealt with fairly and peacefully.

All this can be developed further and analysed into details. It is just a concept and idea, but I am sure that we can do better than with what we have now. Representation will be based on "per capita" scales at each level of representation, that would be democratic. Different organisations or parties could compete, but they would be bound by common basic laws and rules that have the interest of the general public on mind at all times.

This is not an easy feat, but it could offer an alternative to the purely competitive, elitist and often hostile approach taken by the organisations, companies, multi-nationals and states to date.

So anybody comment further re this, because this is what Lentil and others obviously ask for and challenge on us.

I see no solution in constant and continual over-diversifying in "ism-movements" where we really have "petty bourgeois" elements only try to bring in their individual aspects and try to divide us all again.