Thursday, January 31, 2013

Crisis of Civilization.2

Notice: This blogpost is a direct followup to my last post, so if you're lacking context, start there.

This book [Nafeez Ahmed's A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization] is still solid gold.

It argues (author Nafeez Ahmed argues), similarly to Jensen, and I quote:

  1. "Global crises [several of which mentions earlier and later in the book and which form the framework of the tome itself, and which can be found in my last post] are not aberrations from an optimized global system which require only minor adjustments to policy; they are integral to the ideology and logic of the global political economy.
  2. "Therefore, global crises cannot be solved solely by such minor or even major policy reforms - but only by drastic reconfiguration of the system itself. Failure to achieve this will mean we are unable to curtail the escalations of crises.
  3. "Conventional expert projections on the impact of global crises on the political, economic, and ecological continuity of our civilization are flawed due to their view of these crises as separate, distinctive processes. They must be understood holistically, intertwined in their causes and hence interrelated in their dynamics" (6).
So what's the problem? He'll defend it pretty handily through the book, but here's your thesis:

"neoliberal capitalism [has an] inability to recognize long-term human costs as opposed to short-term profits [and relies] on the coercive powers of the state to mobilize against resistance to neoliberal policies" (10). If any of these concepts are new to you, ask me about 'em.

Similarly, the global economic recession "took place in a global political economy whose structure is built not only on the systematic generation of massive global inequality through the exacerbation of Southern impoverishment and Northern overconsumption, but also on the creation of profit through the systematization of debt" (11). Here 'Southern' and 'Northern' refer to the earth's hemispheres generally and replace for him the progressive political/societal concepts of 'Eastern' and 'Western.' 

I'm excited and sad as Ahmed extraordinarily convincingly talks about the ideological causes and effects of and the deep interplay between i) climate change, ii) energy scarcity, iii) food insecurity, iv) economic instability, v) international terrorism, and the tendency of those in power to vi) militarize to keep their power. More to come.

In the meantime, I'm also reflective. My minister asked me over dinner the other night what I would do if I lived without fear. I answered something about living a radically different lifestyle (which I can expound upon for those who are interested) - all well and good. But today, while reading during my lunch break, I realized what my biggest fear actually is. I've lived through some emotional pain. I've never experienced terrible physical pain, but I get a taste now and then. My biggest fear, at least today, is not physical discomfort or losing my existing loved ones and never being loved again. It is instead that as I eventually discover my own voice and confidence and start to speak out about the truth as I understand it, that people will
     a. tell me they already know AND
     b. tell me that they've chosen to live without compassion, to live on top while they still can

Ostriches with our heads in the sand.

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