Thought Control in Economics

The Delusion Revolution

The future we have been dreaming of is not based on reality.
The Delusion Revolution
Mike Mills, Let's Be Human Beings, 2003, Photo: Todd Cole

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Imagine you are riding comfortably on a sleek train. You look out the window and see that the tracks end abruptly not too far ahead ... The train will derail if it continues. You suggest the train stop immediately and the passengers go forward on foot. This will require a major shift in everyone’s way of traveling, of course, but you see it as the only realistic option. To continue barreling forward is to court catastrophic consequences. But when you propose this course of action, others – who have grown comfortable riding on the train – say, “We like the train, and arguing that we should get off is not realistic.”

In the contemporary United States, we are trapped in a similar delusion. We are told that it is “realistic” to yield to the absurd idea that the systems we live in are the only systems possible or acceptable based on the fact that some people like them and wish them to continue. But what if our current level of first world consumption is exhausting the ecological basis for life? Too bad. The only “realistic” options are those that view this lifestyle as nonnegotiable. What if real democracy is not possible in a nation-state with 300 million people? Too bad. The only “realistic” options are those that view this way of organizing a polity as immutable. What if the hierarchies our lives are based on are producing extreme material deprivation for the oppressed and dull misery among the privileged? Too bad. The only “realistic” options are those that view hierarchy as inevitable.

Let me offer a different view of reality:

(1) We live in a system that, taken as a whole, is unsustainable – not only over the long haul but in the short term.

(2) Unsustainable systems cannot be sustained.

How’s that for a profound theoretical insight? Unsustainable systems can’t be sustained. It’s hard to argue with that. The important question is whether or not we live in a system that is truly unsustainable. There’s no way to definitively prove such a sweeping statement, but look around at what we’ve built and ask yourself whether you really believe this world can go forward indefinitely … or even for more than a few decades. Take a minute to ponder the end of cheap fossil energy, the lack of viable large-scale replacements for that energy and the ecological consequences of burning what remains of it. Consider the indicators of the health of the planet: groundwater contamination, topsoil loss, levels of toxicity. Factor in the widening inequality in the world, the intensity of the violence and the desperation that so many feel at every level of society.

Based on what you know about these trends, do you think this is a sustainable system? If you were to let go of your attachment to this world, is there any way to imagine this as a sustainable system? Considering all the ways you understand the world, is there anything in your field of perception that tells you we’re on the right track?

The important question is whether or not we live in a system that is truly unsustainable.

To be radically realistic in the face of all this is to recognize the failure of basic systems and to abandon the notion that all we need to do is recalibrate the institutions that structure our lives. The old future – the way we thought things would work out – truly is gone. The nation-state and capitalism are at the core of this unsustainable system, giving rise to the high-energy/mass-consumption configuration of privileged societies that has left us saddled with what James Howard Kunstler calls “a living arrangement with no future.” The future we have been dreaming of is not based on reality. Most of the world’s population – who don’t live with our privilege – has no choice but to face this reality. It’s time for us to come to terms with it.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity and All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice.

150 comments on the article “The Delusion Revolution”

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perceptiventity

"... people must be forced to do the "right thing")." total dictatorship and control (USSR,USA) but how about - educating people not to do the bad thing in the first place (open,dialogue based,self-organised communities of near future)

perceptiventity

"... people must be forced to do the "right thing")." total dictatorship and control (USSR,USA) but how about - educating people not to do the bad thing in the first place (open,dialogue based,self-organised communities of near future)

Anonymous

"We have 6.3 billion people, what system can provide the essentials of life and allow individuals an ability to pursue happiness?" -Nature is the only thing that can provide the 'essentials of life' "Revolutions are great to propose, but usually entail destroying the old system before getting serious about creating a new one" I disagree. As more and more people discontinue their support of the status quo, a new system is automatically formed. -"My position has never been to 'smash the state'. My position is to create a new state, and we'll see which state burns out first" - Ian Mackaye

Anonymous

"We have 6.3 billion people, what system can provide the essentials of life and allow individuals an ability to pursue happiness?" -Nature is the only thing that can provide the 'essentials of life' "Revolutions are great to propose, but usually entail destroying the old system before getting serious about creating a new one" I disagree. As more and more people discontinue their support of the status quo, a new system is automatically formed. -"My position has never been to 'smash the state'. My position is to create a new state, and we'll see which state burns out first" - Ian Mackaye

Anonymous

One of the responders to this article characterized this as "Vague, simplistic ramblings"....I agree that the article is a little vague but it is well thought-out article. Just because something is vague doesn't necessarily make it wrong. Again though, as I seem to be mentioning in all your articles regarding economics, why doesn't anybody point their finger at those who CREATE MONEY OUT OF THIN AIR?! The Federal Reserve Bank and the other central banks around the world are the real creators of inequality. It is also the reason why the earth gets raped and pillaged to the extent it does. If you had stable currencies, you couldn't have the vast global inequalities like you have now. The US couldn't buy up all of Saudi Arabia's oil because it would bankrupt the country and impoverish everyone....Sweat shops in China making vast seas of plastic shit wouldn't be around. Countries would think twice about invading a foreign country because they would have a lot more to lose. Money is nothing more than a unit that represents labor and there is way too much of it. If you control the production of money you effectively enslave the labor pool and the populous. The key to a stable world is a return to a stable currency...a currency that couldn't be mass produced based on the whim of a central bank. Savings would be important and as technological efficiencies developed, prices might even decrease while people in the US would actually produce items that will be consumed and used here. Less consumerism and people would have to work together. The problem is not capitalism and it is not democracy. The fact of the matter is that we currently have neither. We live in a false reality where consumerist con-men,media moguls and central bankers run the show!--Lloyd Pitcher--

Anonymous

One of the responders to this article characterized this as "Vague, simplistic ramblings"....I agree that the article is a little vague but it is well thought-out article. Just because something is vague doesn't necessarily make it wrong. Again though, as I seem to be mentioning in all your articles regarding economics, why doesn't anybody point their finger at those who CREATE MONEY OUT OF THIN AIR?! The Federal Reserve Bank and the other central banks around the world are the real creators of inequality. It is also the reason why the earth gets raped and pillaged to the extent it does. If you had stable currencies, you couldn't have the vast global inequalities like you have now. The US couldn't buy up all of Saudi Arabia's oil because it would bankrupt the country and impoverish everyone....Sweat shops in China making vast seas of plastic shit wouldn't be around. Countries would think twice about invading a foreign country because they would have a lot more to lose. Money is nothing more than a unit that represents labor and there is way too much of it. If you control the production of money you effectively enslave the labor pool and the populous. The key to a stable world is a return to a stable currency...a currency that couldn't be mass produced based on the whim of a central bank. Savings would be important and as technological efficiencies developed, prices might even decrease while people in the US would actually produce items that will be consumed and used here. Less consumerism and people would have to work together. The problem is not capitalism and it is not democracy. The fact of the matter is that we currently have neither. We live in a false reality where consumerist con-men,media moguls and central bankers run the show!--Lloyd Pitcher--

Anonymous

Vague is not necessarily bad but it is not very useful. I mean, you'd think that adbusters would make the most of the opportunity they have and the publicity they have by publishing articles that are of utilitarian value, that cite evidence and mention solutions, rather than being vague. I agree with you on the Fed and Central. We are all working for them. They have enslaved humanity and the state is there to protect them from us because we outnumber them.

Anonymous

Vague is not necessarily bad but it is not very useful. I mean, you'd think that adbusters would make the most of the opportunity they have and the publicity they have by publishing articles that are of utilitarian value, that cite evidence and mention solutions, rather than being vague. I agree with you on the Fed and Central. We are all working for them. They have enslaved humanity and the state is there to protect them from us because we outnumber them.

perceptiventity

Just shut up and pay your taxes! Make sure your children and grand kids are also appropriately framed to fulfill their christian duty for the sake of our sacred statUS quo. You are being farmed not to think or ask questions. Rupert Brain Murderoch

perceptiventity

Just shut up and pay your taxes! Make sure your children and grand kids are also appropriately framed to fulfill their christian duty for the sake of our sacred statUS quo. You are being farmed not to think or ask questions. Rupert Brain Murderoch

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