More hits on my weblog this week, but no challenges to my claim that: the basic income is a catalyst to help save the ecosphere.
Has Jem seen my last weblog post? He adds to the comments stream, but I fear my contributions are lost among the crush.
Humans started expanding, slowly, but exponentially, nearly 200,000 years ago, As with a bottle of milk, limits to exponential expansion come relatively suddenly, but habits which have been successful for generations persist.
Guppies solved this problem of how to keep their numbers sustainable by eating exactly the right number of babies. Sapiens is capable of more sophistication, but reducing numbers would not work for humans, because more numerous tribes will normally win any conflict for resources. So instead, humans started farming, which was much harder work than hunting and gathering.
Quite recently money, leading to the agricultural revolution, then Capitalism and the industrial revolution were grafted on to the growth-oriented culture. Technology would now outwit ecological limits.
Population increase world-wide is slowing, though there are still hotspots, and socialists tend to conflate concerns with population with oppression. That that oppression is still happening does not mean that the Earth can support limitless population. Fear of being overwhelmed by foreigners now manifests itself in hostility to immigration.
Depletion of resources, and pollution are still increasing – exponentially
Another bedevilling factor is that no one, individual, business, or nation, can opt out individually. Even as mere competitors, never mind enemies in battle, if you do not win, you have no say when, not if, the exponential principle strikes. The Tragedy of the Commons has struck before, but this is the first time it might destroy the entire ecosphere. In his book ‘Collapse’, Jared Diamond gives an account of such a Tragedy on Easter Island
But there are two continental sized examples, which were slow moving enough to allow a change in culture. Europe evolved Feudalism, and India the caste system.
My misgivings on reading Deep Adaptation were not that Jem was wrong, but that the outcome will not be amenable to discussion. But unlike mediaeval Europe or India, the universal basic income (UBI) is already almost in the mainstream, albeit for a different reason. (I thoroughly approve of social justice, and (some) use of artificial intelligence).
But most minds seem to miss the potential for the UBI to allow a mind-set change to observing ecological limits, and actually voting for governments which propose such limits.
The Deep Adaptation forum mentions grief counselling over our predicament. For me this is as bizarre as grieving because the house is on fire. I am angry I am angry with ExxonMobil, who used the script written for ‘Smoking does not cause cancer’ to bring us to this pass.
I am angry with one ‘sympathetic’ critic who wonders whether petrolheads, if given spare cash, will simply buy more petrol. They probably will, to begin with. The UBI is dangerous because unless firmly tied to ecological\ taxes, it will encourage indiscriminate growth. In time there will (I believe) be the same generational shift as there was over drink driving, and which Greta Thunberg has already started over the climate.
But my anger against Rupert Read. may not be fair. He has probably already joined the elite who receive too many emails to answer more than a tiny fraction, but I would like Rupert’s response to this proposal (Jem Bendell’s would be even better):
The UBI although not related to the ecosphere, will be useful mitigation of the catastrophe whatever state it reaches. It is now too late to avert the collapse by downsizing, but a UBI will be a necessary part of any recovery. Unlike mediaeval ways of staying within eco-limits, with a UBI there will be no need to trap anyone in a lowly class or caste. Everyone will be guaranteed needs, and if you are bright, you will proser – within sustainale limits..
Rupert. Jem. anyone?? If the threat is as dire as we think it is, wil someone please explain why the universal basic income, or something toguarantee necessities, however improbable, is not a part of the enarrative?