Blackspot

The Last Boom-Bust Cycle

Can our planet sustain an economic recovery?

All eyes are on the economy as startling statistics are released daily: the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 35% this year, jobless claims are at a 26 year high in the United States and over twenty-five banks failed in the US alone in 2008.

Given the constant litany of bad news, most people now understand that years of unsustainable growth based upon overzealous money lending and rampant financial speculation have pushed the world into a major economic depression. In other words, the capitalist roller coaster ride has reached the summit of a period of economic boom and we are now racing to the bottom of an economic bust.

Cries for help resound from all sides. But all these urgent calls seem to have one common assumption: that what we need is an economic recovery. Is this necessarily the case? I wonder whether an economic recovery is really in our collective best interest or whether it will simply mean the resumption of a period of unsustainable growth in anticipation of another (even worse) economic collapse.

And then there is the question of whether our weary, devastated planet can even sustain another period of economic growth.

Is it time we stopped calling for an an economic recovery and started demanding an economic rethinking?

Micah M. White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. Micah is currently writing a book of philosophical meanderings into the future of activism. He lives in Binghamton, NY with his wife and two cats. www.micahmwhite.com

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30 comments on the article “The Last Boom-Bust Cycle”

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Anonymous

it's become abundantly clear that industrial society is wholly detrimental to the psychophysical health and wellbeing of human and nonhuman communities. why would want to keep running it?

Anonymous

it's become abundantly clear that industrial society is wholly detrimental to the psychophysical health and wellbeing of human and nonhuman communities. why would want to keep running it?

Anonymous

"it’s become abundantly clear that industrial society is wholly detrimental to the psychophysical health and wellbeing of human and nonhuman communities. why would want to keep running it?" Because, for now, most people identify with the system more than they identify with the natural world, humanity, wild animals, pets, their families. Even themselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSa9tyuIdkI As Derrick Jensen puts the fourteenth premise of his Endgame series: "From birth on—and probably from conception, but I’m not sure how I’d make the case—we are individually and collectively enculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate wild animals, hate women, hate children, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we could not allow our homes—and our bodies—to be poisoned."

Anonymous

"it’s become abundantly clear that industrial society is wholly detrimental to the psychophysical health and wellbeing of human and nonhuman communities. why would want to keep running it?" Because, for now, most people identify with the system more than they identify with the natural world, humanity, wild animals, pets, their families. Even themselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSa9tyuIdkI As Derrick Jensen puts the fourteenth premise of his Endgame series: "From birth on—and probably from conception, but I’m not sure how I’d make the case—we are individually and collectively enculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate wild animals, hate women, hate children, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we could not allow our homes—and our bodies—to be poisoned."

mikezephyr

it's encouraging that articles like these are coming to the fore and that you too have encountered jensen's work. i suppose identifying with wage-slavery, getting one's food at a store and so on is an outgrowth of dispossessing the majority from the commonwealth- it is all that people have known, me included, and have more or less come to see as an unalterable fact. but of course, another world is possible.

mikezephyr

it's encouraging that articles like these are coming to the fore and that you too have encountered jensen's work. i suppose identifying with wage-slavery, getting one's food at a store and so on is an outgrowth of dispossessing the majority from the commonwealth- it is all that people have known, me included, and have more or less come to see as an unalterable fact. but of course, another world is possible.

Anonymous

The thing that annoys me most about capitalism is that I agree with it. Like getting a pair of socks for my birthday. A pair of dull and itchy socks reducing life to a hideous shade of grey, but i still grimace and accept their practicalities. It works very well as a way of organising an economy and creating wealth for a society, putting heat in our homes, clothes on our backs, and running our busses. Capitalism as a system facilitates that transfer to the consumer of goods and services much more efficiently than barter or centrally planned production. My laptop I’m writing on, this chair that I’m sat on and the ham sandwich that im about to eat. These were all bought with money earnt from selling my labour to employers. I value these items, and the people who worked to produce them value my purchase. Indeed without these items i couldn't survive as i can't grow vegetables and have no room for a sheep/cow/goat. Anyway, even if i did have room, it wouldnt make sense for an entire society to grow their own, completely impractical, and thats the beauty of division of labour. Yes but The worlds resources are depleting, oil will be running low by 2050, co2 ppm will reach dangerous levels by 2050 and Scientists are in agreement that the world is warming due to man made emissions. Society mass produces items, some of which are essential and some of which are essentially useless but at the same time the externalities arising from this mass production is threatening our planet. The reason the country is currently shitting itself economically is because of one statistic: GDP is shrinking. ie the total market value of all goods and services in the UK and indeed the rest of the world is a percentage point lower than it was last year. At the moment Gordon browns reason for existinance is to get GDP growing again, which in turn depends on you and I going to work at the same time each day, earning a wage, helping to produce these goods and services then spending our income on goods and services that some other labour bound man or woman has produced. Whats the alternative? Any ideas? Governments need GDP to ever increase to provide public services, schools, hospitals and arms spending. And people need their wages to afford a roof over their heads and to put food on their tables. Wage slavery isn't utopian but i would argue that being a wage slave in this day and age is safer (no shifts down coal mines), warmer (dont have to have a bath in the garden) and more entertaining (travel opportunities, clubs and pubs) than at any time in British history. Capitalism has a lot to thank for in my opinion. It is currently in noones interest to discourage profit as discouraging profit could jeopordise the system that feeds, warms and clothes us. What is the solution? we need to improve capitalism, not destroy it. intelligent progressive green taxation, carbon taxes, personal quotas and new laws to promote the greening of companies and corporations. the boring truth, is that profit will reign supreme for a long time to come as workers need jobs, managers need growth and the MP’s need tax revenues.

Anonymous

The thing that annoys me most about capitalism is that I agree with it. Like getting a pair of socks for my birthday. A pair of dull and itchy socks reducing life to a hideous shade of grey, but i still grimace and accept their practicalities. It works very well as a way of organising an economy and creating wealth for a society, putting heat in our homes, clothes on our backs, and running our busses. Capitalism as a system facilitates that transfer to the consumer of goods and services much more efficiently than barter or centrally planned production. My laptop I’m writing on, this chair that I’m sat on and the ham sandwich that im about to eat. These were all bought with money earnt from selling my labour to employers. I value these items, and the people who worked to produce them value my purchase. Indeed without these items i couldn't survive as i can't grow vegetables and have no room for a sheep/cow/goat. Anyway, even if i did have room, it wouldnt make sense for an entire society to grow their own, completely impractical, and thats the beauty of division of labour. Yes but The worlds resources are depleting, oil will be running low by 2050, co2 ppm will reach dangerous levels by 2050 and Scientists are in agreement that the world is warming due to man made emissions. Society mass produces items, some of which are essential and some of which are essentially useless but at the same time the externalities arising from this mass production is threatening our planet. The reason the country is currently shitting itself economically is because of one statistic: GDP is shrinking. ie the total market value of all goods and services in the UK and indeed the rest of the world is a percentage point lower than it was last year. At the moment Gordon browns reason for existinance is to get GDP growing again, which in turn depends on you and I going to work at the same time each day, earning a wage, helping to produce these goods and services then spending our income on goods and services that some other labour bound man or woman has produced. Whats the alternative? Any ideas? Governments need GDP to ever increase to provide public services, schools, hospitals and arms spending. And people need their wages to afford a roof over their heads and to put food on their tables. Wage slavery isn't utopian but i would argue that being a wage slave in this day and age is safer (no shifts down coal mines), warmer (dont have to have a bath in the garden) and more entertaining (travel opportunities, clubs and pubs) than at any time in British history. Capitalism has a lot to thank for in my opinion. It is currently in noones interest to discourage profit as discouraging profit could jeopordise the system that feeds, warms and clothes us. What is the solution? we need to improve capitalism, not destroy it. intelligent progressive green taxation, carbon taxes, personal quotas and new laws to promote the greening of companies and corporations. the boring truth, is that profit will reign supreme for a long time to come as workers need jobs, managers need growth and the MP’s need tax revenues.

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