Yes my friends. We really don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. I'm sure you all have noticed, but it pays to say these things since we like denial so much. Chris Hedges says it very well in this post: Suffering? Well, You Deserve It
Jim Coffman and I told our version here:Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World.
Wendell Berry was way ahead of us when he wrote The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture
We write, we warn, but few listen. I's wish that meant we are not corre3ct in warning everyone. I can't believe that. Hedges says this:
Those academics who deviate from the central core doctrines, including in economics, are finding themselves defunded. Oversight committees impose quotas on academics and insist that the work conform to what they call disciplinary norms.There is a reason for this and it is connectred with our need for denial. We are addicts of the worst kind and we love our habit. Read on below and I'll tell you more.
“The golden age of the university was in the postwar years, especially in the 1960s,” Offer said. “You saw great expansion. The university thrived under the auspices of the Cold War. But once the Cold War imperative disappears it is no longer as vital to maintain national capacity. Universities could be privatized.”
“The idea of the autonomous scholar is disappearing,” he said. “I am not sure many people even remember it.”
Here is the source of Hedges' comments:
England—The morning after my Feb. 20 debate at the Oxford Union, I walked from my hotel along Oxford’s narrow cobblestone streets, past its storied colleges with resplendent lawns and Gothic stone spires, to meet Avner Offer, an economic historian and Chichele Professor Emeritus of Economic History.
Offer, the author of “The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain Since 1950,” for 25 years has explored the cavernous gap between our economic and social reality and our ruling economic ideology. Neoclassical economics, he says, is a “just-world theory,” one that posits that not only do good people get what they deserve but those who suffer deserve to suffer. He says this model is “a warrant for inflicting pain.” If we continue down a path of mounting scarcities, along with economic stagnation or decline, this neoclassical model is ominous. It could be used to justify repression in an effort to sustain a vision that does not correspond to the real world.
What this means for the future is what we need to look at carefully:
Offer, who has studied the rationing systems set up in countries that took part in World War I, suggests we examine how past societies coped successfully with scarcity. In an age of scarcity it would be imperative to set up new, more egalitarian models of distribution, he says. Clinging to the old neoclassical model could, he argues, erode and perhaps destroy social cohesion and require the state to engage in greater forms of coercion.These folk are focusing on economics. In our book we extend it to all of Western Culture and its reliance on science and Technology. Berry extends it to the relationship between food production and our basic nature. I have been focusing in my diaries here on the systems nature of what we are caught up in. The article by Hedges touches on this:
“One of the unresolved issues in social science is how does the system hold together,” he said. “We have the economic model of the invisible hand, the miracle of the market, but we know it is not true, since government allocates up to 50 percent of output and income. We don’t actually rely on the ‘free’ market for our prosperity. Even the market sector is mostly dominated by entities with large market power.”The system they are speaking about is but part of a much larger and complex system. It includes politics, economics, education, agriculture, science and technology. Each of these facets exist to sustain the system. When they breed new ideas that threaten the system's stability the ideas are either destroyed or absorbed and made a supporting part of the system. Hence the opening quote above is the result.
“We have this model that we are all selfish and somehow this generates the miracle of cooperation,” he said. “But equilibrium is only a truism for the well-off. There is money in the bank. The car is in the drive. The shops are full. The semesters follow each other. There is an overseas conference. The world seems to be OK. But if you look the other way, look at these other people, there is a world of hardship, misery and suffering. These suffering people are not always visible to invisible-hand advocates.”
“Experimental economics has, in fact, demonstrated that when people are placed in experimental situations they do not behave as individualistic maximizers,” he went on. “Some of them do. Some of them do not.”
We are addicted to an idea as well:
“The basic conventions of public discourse are those of the Enlightenment, in which the use of reason [enabled] us to achieve human objectives,” Offer said as we sat amid piles of books in his cluttered office. “Reason should be tempered by reality, by the facts. So underlining this is a notion of science that confronts reality and is revised by reference to reality. This is the model for how we talk. It is the model for the things we assume. But the reality that has emerged around us has not come out of this process. So our basic conventions only serve to justify existing relationships, structures and hierarchies. Plausible arguments are made for principles that are incompatible with each other.”I ask you if he is not talking about the underlying ideas behind what we write here? We are unable to move from this spot and reality becomes more distant as we write and support each other's writings based on these notions. We can not afford to deny any longer. It is too late for us. We need to shake this fix we have and try to deal with a world that is in big trouble. Can we do it?