Friday, 15 August 2008

Morbid Speculation

There was an interesting and (as usual) depressingly uncritical investigation into oil trading on BBC radio 4 last night. That and a superficial, inconsequential and thoughtless Grauniad article gave rise to the following rant. If you ignore me I might go away.

Capitalism is a great way of amassing and concentrating wealth in the hands of a powerful clique whose self-interest may or may not be served (good old contingent circumstance) by re-investing and re-distributing that wealth in projects condusive to the common good. When it suits the rich (and that includes us) to thus deploy their largesse, capitalism is the most powerful engine of promisary, exchangable wealth yet conceived - undeniably. Whilst we in the west have had a massive pool of exploitable labour and resources in the global south in nations that facilitate but are excluded from high comsumption lifestyles , it has been possible to pretend that it all makes sense. Once there is no one to exclude - no one to pay the externals (and this happens with the abandonment of racist and fascist ideas that have permeated western history)- then the cracks become wide enough to drop a planet through. We all have to factor in the externals, and this means a collective responsibility which inevitable places limits on personal license. If that is not to become a blanket suffocation of individual liberty (in a resurgence of Imperialist or totalitarian brutalism) we must all engage in the process of dismantling - of re-imagining a technological, economic and social infra-structure that we can live with. Does it have space for the freedom of millionaires to push up the price of staples beyond the reach of millions - plunging them into crisis, starvation and death? Who would say yes to that? And if there are those who will say yes to that - what does that imply? Who are these people? The truth is that we live in a society that accepts, applauds and rewards such behaviour - and we have a big job ahead of us to turn that around. All the religious, social, scientific, philosophical and political insights of humanity through the ages have been directed at either advancing or countering this widespread human behaviour. It's the constant battle -the internal dialogue of our species - the individual versus the collective. There are no simple answers, no messiahs, no "cheats", no single system get-out-of-jail-free cards.
Capitalism is not the answer. Engage

Ooh, hark at him! On his high-horse again. Who asked ya?
Ho hum - back to the knob gags....

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