Who is right, Sandy or me?

Sandy Irvine tells me I am wrong, and he is one of a chorus who cannot see how the universal basic income (UBI) could have forestalled ecological meltdown, and even now could ameliorate the worst effects. Why pick on Sandy? he is the only one who takes me seriously enough to ask me to shut up.

I do have some support – thank you Roger Lewis – but none from anyone with a media presence. I have a narrative, which to my unusual brain remains sound, and questions which Sandy has not answered to my satisfaction.

This has suddenly become urgent, as next Tuesday (I write on Sunday) I shall try to convince a Citizens’ Assembly of the case for the UBI, as part of an XR action in central Leeds. Do I have a crucial insight, or am I suffering from a psychotic delusion?

There is circumstantial evidence for the latter: Caroline Lucas is aware of my narrative, and so is someone close to Greta Thunberg, though she may not be, but as I have heard nothing back from George Monbiot, David Attenborough, or Kate Raworth among other lesser (in the media) figures, I can only draw my own conclusions.

The narrative is simple. Living within ecological limits means less economic activity than continuing to ignore them. A steady state, aka ‘recession’ must become the norm. Technology, including ‘Green’ solutions will continue to push the boundaries, but many ideas will fail the new sustainability test. They must not (for example fracking) be desperately needed to prolong growth.

I remain traumatized by my conversation in 1973 with a founder member of the Green Party, who admitted that Martial Law might be needed in the transition. Is it irrational to fear that Martial Law is the least we can expect when, not if, governments panic? The UBI could be used to promote growth, so it is dangerous, but it seems a pity if the public has not even been made aware of the ecological case for the UBI.

The Tragedy of the Commons has two aspects: unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary, humans are averse to short term loss; and in a competitive situation (growth) no one can allow themselves to be at a disadvantage. The UBI is not a panacea, but something is necessary which allows less economic activity to be thinkable.

The wider principle is that the strategies which were optimum for growth persist long after the exponential principle suddenly rendered them the worst possible. To me, the history of Easter Island is a neat example of exactly this. Sandy Irvine dismisses this explanation.

Sandy re-phrases the Tragedy as a tragedy of small decisions by millions of individuals. To me the two aspects of the Tragedy account for how humanity fell into this trap.

Next Tuesday I risk making a fool of myself. Who is right, Sandy, or me?

 

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12 responses to “Who is right, Sandy or me?

  1. Hi Clive, You are both right and both wrong depending on your Starting assumptions its a question of double hermeneutics.

    My view is that a set of assumptions defining the principles of a new Deal is necessary. My criticism of XR and Not enough time is that they accept the assumptions of finance Capitalism and would be much better served to reject them and to start from scratch with Distributism and a different model for the pricing of credit and the time value of money, this necessity of positive interest rates is a huge part of the GROWTH NECESSITY. The other is the inherent overcapacity and overproduction in Industrial Capitalism which leads to massive waste.

    AN energy based unit of exchange measure would also help and Dr Tim Morgans work is well worth getting into Clive. The greens and assorted Tree huggers are terrible at Maths and finance and actively avoid the subject as difficult to communicate in all the “Climate Change communication ” courses, This is a mistake as it encourages dumbed down thinking and argumentation. The Green party is not serious about your real concerns and striving for solutions Clive I am afraid they are drunk on a whiff of a share in power and the neoliberal finance capital cool aide. Keep going you are more correct than Caroline of Bartley for instance, But I think you could bring your finance game up to snuff with the help of some reading over at Doctor Tim Morgans Blog.

    https://surplusenergyeconomics.wordpress.com/

  2. Thank you again Roger. I shall certainly read the link to Tim Morgan, but not now. I have to be up early tomorrow and may get arrested for blocking bridges

  3. I find it bizarre you pick on me. I am only a local activist with no natiional profile so there are plenty of bigger names for you to discuss. I have never – not once – told you to ‘shut up’. I have said that there are other issues to analyse and other policies to propose. There is no sinlge policy that transcends all others. A steady-state economy is not an economy in recession. That is a fundamental misunderstanding. It has overall boundaries burt within them some things could grow providing other things shrink, maintaining an overall balance with the life-sustaining ecosphere. Some of those growth areas would, most likely, be labour-intensive ones replacing activities heavily dependent on inputs of exosomatic energy and other resources
    I also disagree with your crude caricature of human nature for whioch there is little psychological evidence. Humans actually do tolerate loss. It is revealing thast poor people tend to give a higher % of their monies to charity than rich people, for example. In wartime, people have willingly put up with huge losses. People bear losses on a more everyday basis, not least activists who make all kinds of sacrifices for the ’cause’ as do parents for their children. Overall human nautre is far more complex.
    There have been many repudiations of what you say about Easter Island. The tragedy dynamic is also more complex than you allow and is not just about loss/disadvantage. Many people like to drive their cars for all sorts of reasons but if too many do at the same time on the finite space of raodways the result is congestion. It is a tragedy because no-one intended that negative outcome. You do not explain how generous level of CBI could be funded in a shrunken economy.

    • “You do not explain how generous level of CBI could be funded in a shrunken economy.”

      One word Distributism, Not re-distributism.
      We can learn a lot from the Swiss referendum on Citizens Income as discussed here.
      ´However, the nearly universal misunderstanding of money is a major obstacle. For too long we’ve allowed a small coterie of bankers and “court economists” to hold the secrets and “tutor” us. So, it’s time for total openness.
      First, regarding the claim that the Swiss proposal would’ve been too costly, what’s entirely omitted from the discussion is that the proposal (and similar proposals elsewhere) appear to call for re-distribution of existing money—taking money from certain sectors through taxation and re-allocating it to the people-at-large.
      The implication is that the money supply is basically static and that re-distributing limited funds would require tough budget decisions—sparking tax hikes and associated spending increases in several areas; hence the claim “costs too much.”
      But a successful basic income plan can and must be based on the creation of new money, or “distributism,” not on reshuffling existing money, which is “re-distributism.” That’s the “state secret” that no one wants to touch.´´
      http://leconomistamascherato.blogspot.com/2016/07/basic-income-lets-name-real-problems.html

      • This is really bad ecology. Money is only a claim on resources. A one planet economy will only sustain limited economic wherewithal, much lower than what temporarily seems available in our 3-planet economy. Climate breakdown is but one symptom of its transgression of ecological limits. Printing money does not change the finite nature of the Earth. Printing more and more money would be fuel to the fire.

  4. I would add that there is nothing odd about not getting replies from the people mentioned above. The same would happen to me. I hold no office in any organisation. I have a microscopic media profile (a few sporadic interviews on local broadcast media and in local press). The only books I ever wrote speedily ended up on the remaindered shelves. In short, I am not a ‘name’ so I could hardly blame extremely busy people with a zillion commitments if they failed to reply to a communication from me. Actually, they would be right to be suspicious since there are all sorts of malicious individuals, from hack journalists to political opponents who will be trying to trip them up somehow. So a non response is no comment on you personally (“psychotic delusions” etc).

    • Reblogged this on RogersLongHairBlog and commented:
      Why “Incremental Change” Is Worse Than No Change At All

      Another reason why the so-called “centrists” pose such a grave threat to our world is because their platform of slow, moderate, incremental change is actually worse than no change at all.

      https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/07/15/why-incremental-change-is-worse-than-no-change-at-all/#comments

      I would argue with your premise on the basis that it is predicated on a Change to something Else which, it is assumed will provide an improvement. Unless of course, you are saying a change to something far worse, is better than no change at all.

      By Calling the Neo-Liberal Washington Consensus view, ( Centrist). I think you do another disservice to the required level of political consciousness-raising required to get the ( Excluded Middle, Silent Majority, Precariat) to move to action through the Ballot box from the local level up.

      Chesterton’s fence is the principle that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood. The quotation is from G. K. Chesterton’s 1929 book The Thing, in the chapter entitled “The Drift from Domesticity”:

      Chestertons fence https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Chesterton%27s_fence

      In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”[1]

      Chesterton’s admonition should first be understood within his own historical context, as a response to certain socialists and reformers of his time (e.g. George Bernard Shaw).

      As usual, you make a large assumption regarding “The Settled Science” this is an issue for Environmentalists such as myself, and # WrongKindofGreen, in that the envisioned something else in the Green New Deal and Modern Monetary Theory is Authoritarian Command and Control Based. In yesterday article you put it this way.

      Clive Lord is a founder member and current Member of the Green Party of England and Wales, Two recent blog posts of Clives deserve attention on this point.

      AN OPEN LETTER TO GEORGE MONBIOT
      07/07/2019 · by Clive Lord

      https://clivelord.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/an-open-letter-to-george-monbiot/

      I listened to the founder members explaining the MIT report Limits to Growth. The gist was that although economic growth had given us the modern world, it had to stop, before it trashed the ecosphere. I agreed with every word.

      But I had a discussion with one of the founders before I left, which went as follows:

      Me: You are proposing a recession, possibly deep, and possibly long term. Recessions produce hardship. What if people riot because of shortages?

      Founder Member: We shall call it a steady-state economy. But if necessary, Martial Law. You have just come 100 miles to agree with us, right? So do you agree that if we have to shoot a few people in the street to get through the transition, that will be rather less nasty than what will happen if we do nothing? If you have a better idea, you had better come up with it fast.

      and this one just yesterday.

      WHO IS RIGHT, SANDY OR ME?
      https://clivelord.wordpress.com/2019/07/14/who-is-right-sandy-or-me/
      14/07/2019 · by Clive Lord · Bookmark the permalink. ·
      Sandy Irvine tells me I am wrong, and he is one of a chorus who cannot see how the universal basic income (UBI) could have forestalled ecological meltdown, and even now could ameliorate the worst effects. Why pick on Sandy? he is the only one who takes me seriously enough to ask me to shut up.

      I do have some support – thank you Roger Lewis – but none from anyone with a media presence. I have a narrative, which to my unusual brain remains sound, and questions which Sandy has not answered to my satisfaction.

      This has suddenly become urgent, as next Tuesday (I write on Sunday) I shall try to convince a Citizens’ Assembly of the case for the UBI, as part of an XR action in central Leeds. Do I have a crucial insight, or am I suffering from a psychotic delusion?

      https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/07/13/mainstream-centrists-pose-the-greatest-ideological-threat-to-us-all/#respond

      “A movement towards true health will look like everyone waking up to the reality that we’re all being driven toward extinction via climate collapse or nuclear war by a ruling class who used propaganda to trick us into thinking that its suicidal trajectory was the moderate path. Obviously, when we create our new model we won’t all agree with each other about the best direction to take it, but we’ve got to overhaul the old one first.”

      “Extinction via Climate Collapse “, This Statement is much weaker this one “Or Nuclear War” The New Cold War which is uncomfortably close to the perpetual war in 1984 described by Orwell in 1984, between, Oceania, Eurasia and East Asia.

      SO Caitlan I say this to Both You and My friend, Clive Lord.

      You are both right and both wrong depending on your Starting assumptions its a question of double hermeneutics.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_hermeneutic

      Reblogging as Comment at CLive Lords Blog, My Comments have mixed success in clearing moderation or the WWW- Spam-realargumentation Filters.

      • Thank you again Roger for your qualified support, but there are bits I may have misunderstood. Can I really be interpreted as thinking the neoliberals are centrist? Nor am I necessarily proposing ‘slow incremental’ change. Rather, my guess is that the UBI will remain under the mainstream radar, and then (possibly) suddenly go viral.
        Chesterton’s fence reminds me of the destruction of traditional commons on the spurious grounds that privatization would work better. Powerful interests removed ‘gates in roads’ because they could, purely for their own profit.
        None of your arguments conflict with my central theme – the persistence of strategies suitable for growth long after the onset of the exponential principle has rendered them toxic

  5. I see Roger Lewis has already come to my defence A point by point ‘refutation’ would not work – we just have different minds, but the reason I see the UBI as having a crucial role is its potential as a catalyst, or lubricant for the mind set change potentially leading to the more obvious answers. These were as obvious to me following the 1972 MIT report, but to me it is equally obvious with hindsight why they have never happened without such help.
    Just off for the XR night shift on Victoria Bridge, Leeds

  6. Without point by point discussion, it is impossible to have a debate. People don’t have “different minds”. They have different experiences, assumptions, attitudes and goals, all of which can be tested by reasoned argument and robust evidence. What you say rules out all possibility of democratic debate.

  7. What distresses me is how close Sandy and I are., but if I am right, why is no one else screaming blue murder about the non-use of the UBI, which I think is a fire hydrant to stop the planet burning?

  8. Sandy is right to criticize me for wondering if I am suffering from a psychotic delusion. But if my conviction that saving the ecosphere requires everyone to feel secure whatever the state of the economy is right, why is no one else strongly of the same mind?

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