Do you feel it in the air? A change in the wind? A new age with new ideas on the horizon. After decades of holding on, the age-old ways of doing things are beginning to crumble and fall apart and the old world is in a panic-stricken fight for survival. Mass produced throw-away products are less desirable than ever, and a new generation of consumers demand environmentally friendly ways of living and aren’t fooled by attempts to re-brand the old as the new. A breaking point is fast approaching and giants will fall into the abyss. Hallelujah.
Hyper Consumer Capitalism
The premise of industrial capitalism began with noble aims of handing over repetitive menial labour to factories housing machines as to free the populace to engage in more high level and intelligent pursuits. A growing population required feeding and housing and recreation and other essentials and these could be produced faster utilising technology and processes. We have now descended into production of limited lifespan products to ensure repeat business. Consider your phone which is continually updated and gradually slows down over a pre-determined period of two years to encourage you to upgrade. Instead of producing the highest quality products, capitalism now produces adequate products which last for a while.
Competition, they say, drives down prices and drives up quality but as we know, all phone manufacturers are in the same game and playing by the same manufactured rules. Without repeat business, the economics of phone production break down the companies fail. This is the world of hyper-consumer-capitalism, essentially capitalism for the sake of capitalism. We over produce throw-away products to create jobs and wealth instead of producing the best and most serviceable and repairable products. A phone which lasted 10 years and could be upgraded with new CPU’s and memory upgrades would be unsustainable but better.
And, to add to theses problems, advertising has evolved from quirky attempts to catch the eye of the buying public toward an aggressive and targeted approach where customers are viewed as flawed idiots who need products to help them live a satisfying and fulfilling life. We have realised a system which is by far the most wasteful and environmentally unfriendly vision of commerce. And we are trapped because technology continually replaces jobs and people need jobs in our current western paradigm to survive.
When the Oil runs out
Prior to the industrial revolution, over-production of goods was unthinkable. Every product required human labour to make and distribute. Unlike machines, humans can only work at a human rate and can only work for a certain number of hours, a machine can work 24/7, 365 and never complain. A machine does not require holidays or renumeration or working rights. From the Victorian industrial revolution right up until today, oil makes possible over-production. We of course now have entire factories which run on electricity but to build such a factory requires heavy earth moving equipment and cranes and diggers which all run on diesel and of-which there is no electrical alternative. When the oils is gone, and be-assured… it will go, over-production will become a thing of the past and the insanity of making throw-away products will reveal itself. Regardless of whether the climate changes to our detriment, the amount of oil is continually changing and, to state the obvious, is reducing rapidly.
With this illumination of the obvious certainty that oil is finite and therefore our oil-powered-capitalism is also finite, a change is clearly coming, and this isn’t a distant-future change like space-commerce and teleportation but instead an immediate and fast approaching change. Once the production rates of oil begin to decline, and they essentially are already, the prices of oil-per-barrel will go up and up and up forever more and the economics of oil dependent business will break down one by one until the whole thing collapses into history. It would therefore make sense for us to pre-empt this change and adjust now prior to the impending crisis of collapse.
We can realise energy abundance through utilising renewable energy such as the sun but at present we cannot sustain our current energy requirements with existing technology so we must reduce our energy overheads. The idea that everyone must own a car a drive to work 5 days per week is unsustainable. Communication technology can better connect people over distances and thankfully runs on electricity and has relatively low power requirements. And the very idea of work must evolve as we move beyond an over-production paradigm and return to building lasting and serviceable products.
There are countless ideas to reduce and eliminate our fossil fuel dependence and become sustainable but we cannot wait until the oil runs out, we must change now and we cannot continue with hyper-consumer capitalism as, aside from its unsustainability, it is clearly madness. Let us change before crisis and utilise this opportunity to re-think our society and build a future proof system which is guided by a moral and virtuous relationship with our planet and each other.
Too big to bail
In 2008 the great western citizens bailed out the failing banks and we free-market capitalism ended. We now live in a quasi-socialist banking paradigm where the working populace own the banks but the banks keep the profits. Much has been written about the reasons why the banking system collapsed but inevitably, the need for continual growth at any cost is the primary reason. Had we allowed the banks to fail, following a few years of adjustment we would have returned to sanity and the value system would have corrected and we would still be living in reality. Alas, we kicked that can down the road and delayed the inevitable and necessary societal change.
The banks are not too big to fail and fail they must. The idea that we should make money out of money and that this is itself an industry and a measure of progress and success is archaic nonsense. Every recession and every financial crisis and every boom and bust cycle is a result of banks trying to make money out of money. It is social engineering and the engineers have no authority to engineer our society. We vote our leaders in and they are bestowed with the authority to steer our nations future. What is a democratically elected leader to do if greedy bankers crash the economy once again?
Life, Death and Rebirth
Good news though, the wizard behind the curtain can hide no more. No longer shall we trust banking wizards to steer our society and when the edifice of banking falls it will fall forever and communication technology will fill the void. Reborn from the ashes economic manipulation will rise a phoenix of rationalism, kindness and sanity. A system built for people and not profit. Undoubtably what we all want; a fair world.