Excerpted from “Ignorance by Consensus” posted by David Korowicz at FEASTA,
But, very briefly and acknowledging some contention, the conditions for concern might be summarized as follows.
We are trying to comprehend our world within the world-views and economic orthodoxies developed over an extra-ordinary, two-hundred year period of compound economic growth. This growth was coincident with increasing wealth, complexity and globalized integration. Part of our dominant consensus is that this trend will continue. Much of what is important to us, how we live, our expectations, what we value and hold dear, was shaped by this process. And we, the global 10%, have done well out of it.
The fringe view is that this growth is over – we are at the limits to growth, now. At issue is the stability of the globalized economy. We are moving into a deepening global deflationary depression, interspersed with dangerous and possibly irreversible shocks to the systems that support our basic welfare. We will lose much of what we take for granted and things we have come to call our own. We are entering an era of real danger and unpredictability.
This is because we are at an historic point of convergence. Firstly, we have reached the limit in the credit backing of our financial, monetary and banking system. We are at the same time hitting profoundly destabilizing ecological limits preeminent at this time is that we are almost certainly at the peak of global oil and food production. Put another way, we are at the limits of the system of trust and solvency that underpins the trade upon which we depend. We are at the limits of the least substitutable energy source that, by the laws of physics, is necessary for economic maintenance and growth. We are at the limits of our most fundamental human sustenance. They are the three most critical structural pillars of the globalized economy. Like a three-legged stool, the whole system can become destabilized by the buckling of just one.
In addition, and almost completely unacknowledged is that the changing nature of the globalized economy – increasing integration, complexity, speed and inter-dependence – has made us very much more vulnerable to this convergence. Further, such complexity makes it very difficult, or even dangerous to try and ‘fix’ its parts.
If we were to acknowledge such a fringe view we would be urgently preparing for profound change – for when real change is forced upon us we may have much less room for manoeuvre. We would be embracing austerity because of its inevitability, and in doing so, transform it. From top to bottom, we would be working on our food security, the resilience of critical services such as sanitation, monetary systems, governance, and re-working work. We would have begun the personal and collective psychological processes that might allow us avoid some of our species most destructive passions that can emerge in a time of crisis, and instead use it as a source of creative and positive change.
Of course, no detailed explanation for such a fringe view has been provided here. For most though, none is needed. They already know this view is nonsense. Why worry, it’s a fringe view… why with shale gas, technology, markets, stopping austerity, green growth, changing the monetary system, getting rid of the ‘wrong’ people….so many options! Anyway haven’t people been saying such stuff since the time of Malthus, and they’re still wrong! Aren’t the experts in control?! But an economist said…! Quite….quite.