The nightmare if we don’t make friends

Suppose IDS leaves office in disgrace using ‘Dynamic Benefits’ against him; Zac Goldsmith joins the Green Party, and is welcomed, because the Citizens’ Basic Income enables him and the Green Party factions all to make friends with each other. If all of the above happens, there is still a chance that democratic governments would be allowed to manage the transition to a sustainable society in a way tolerable to whole populations. This wouldn’t be cause and effect exactly, though anyone who has read my book or some of my blogs might recognize that these improbable developments would be indications that the necessary culture shift was taking place.
I use two sources this week: a nightmare scenario from David Flint, and an FT Alert by Martin Wolf: “A climate fix would ruin investors”.
The two together offer a formidable, bleak, but all too likely a view of the more probable near future where none of the above happen. In case the FT link does not work, the gist of the article is that even existing investments may become ‘stranded’ if policies to limit climate change are implemented, but there are already studies which might give potential further investors in conventional fuel sources cold feet. There was a comment which I found particularly sobering. (This is now lost on my own link to the FT article). It gave chapter and verse as to how investment advisers and fund managers stick to what they know, are very ‘herd’ driven, and cannot see discontinuities coming. But above all, for me the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ runs through this discourse brought sharply up to date.
I fear that David’s scenario of the USA and/or China making an 11th hour reversal, and imposing some unpleasant, but planet-saving measures on the whole world, is already on the way to being formed. Governments and the media are already acting as though under the control of a powerful elite. I differ from with those I criticised in my last week’s blog only in seeing capitalists as a part, albeit a major part of the problem. There is still the tyranny of countless individual decisions based on a consumerist mind set, on which the capitalists feed.
But the elite, the capitalists and the people who vote for them with their money still have a growth oriented culture. If that can be changed, there is hope for all sorts of positive outcomes. If it doesn’t, then either Easter Island or David Flint offer the best guide as to what to expect. Oddly enough, David’s blog gave me another idea. On the face of it, the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) is designed to consolidate the grip of the elite against any attempts to introduce ecological measures. But TTIP could equally be used to enforce such measures if those in control changed tack. Could it after all be intended as part of a coherent, sane, if unpleasant plan? I have mentioned in earlier blogs, and in my book, that there is a school of thought which says democracy will have to be abandoned, because it will keep making the wrong decisions as the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ looms.
Nevertheless I remain naïve enough to believe that a degree of public consensus is possible, and that the more consent is freely given, the more successful (and less nasty) the necessary policies will be. Some in the controlling elite are already beginning to mention the Basic Income principle. At least they are aware of Robert Skidelky’s advocacy of the Basic Income. As I have said before, whether or not those in power are likeable, they are probably intelligent enough to worry that if climate change does prove to be a threat, investments in the wrong technology will be stranded anyway. Despite their strident denials, they may already accept that their long term interests would be better served by avoiding the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, and that the Citizens’ Basic income could have a role in this. At least the culture change – for the population world-wide – not just the few in control, and the clues I started this post with, would become possible.

2 responses to “The nightmare if we don’t make friends

  1. Democracy is making the wrong decisions? How could we know when we haven’t tried it yet?

    • We have, sort of. Please read the links to the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, and the way it was played out on Easter Island. The first serious recognition of global limits was Stockholm, 1972. How many failed conferences do we need? But have I made my own basic point clear? I want to preserve democracy, or if, as I personally fear, it has already been quietly taken from us, to restore as much public participation as possible.
      I suppose your point is that we haven’t got democracy. Whilst that has always been true in a sense, the trouble is there is still the semblance of democracy, but even if there was true democracy, the ‘Tragedy’ would ensure that the public wouldn’t vote for eco-policies in time. What could so easily happen is what happened in ancient Rome – they actually had a sort of democracy for several hundred years before Julius Caesar.

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