Don’t be intimidated by economics

The economy has invaded almost every aspect of life. Yet the discipline that is supposed to explain its functioning is of little value; worse, it has become an intellectual fraud.

Shortly after the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008, the Queen of England, on a visit to the London School of Economics, wondered publicly how it was possible that nobody had seen the crisis coming. Economists and financial experts looked silly indeed.

Have they improved since?

Not at all. Faced with fresh developments of the crisis, their basic (and incredibly simplistic) story is unchanged: the world economy needs growth, ever more growth.

But what does that mean, and what are the implications?

Growth means that the production of all goods and services offered by industry, commerce and public administrations keeps increasing every quarter, every year.

Note first that economists are not in the least concerned by what is produced:cars, houses, healthy food, junk food, drugs, armaments, religious books, porn videos, etc.

They just compute the market value of whatever is produced, total it all up, and if the total for country X is more than it was a year before (after allowing for inflation) by, say, 2%, then growth for that country is 2%, which is deemed not too good, not like the “performance” of China and India, which managed over 10% in the last years.

Note also that the alleged reasons why growth is a good thing according to mainstream economics are: (a) it creates more things for people, which supposedly makes their lives better, and (b) it creates more jobs.

But what is the evidence?

Starting with (b): job creation, the evidence is that an ever larger share of production, in each sector, is controlled by a small group of multinational companies constantly restructuring their activities (and by ricochet those of their subcontractors, suppliers and distributors) to employ less and less people, at ever lower costs.

The sole objective of these multinationals is to increase their profits; they are not in business to create jobs; it fact most of their management time is spent squeezing jobs (and making presentations to the financial markets).

In consequence, growth can never compensate the constant pressure on jobs that management and economists nicely call “productivity”.

What about (a): more things to make life better? Considering the evolution of society over the last few decades, this is laughable.

The basic “material” needs that must be met for comfortable surviving are well known: food, clothing, housing, perhaps remedies; the rest are additional luxuries.

For millennia, food was collected, grown, hunted or fished locally, and consumed within the community or extended family. And the same was true for materials used to make clothes, build houses, keep warm, concoct remedies, etc. Informal economic activities were conducted in the
context of local ecosystems in which humans, animals, forestry, land, rivers, all lived in some kind of balance.

With the rising dominance of Western civilisation, perennial bonds with the land, and nature in general, were gradually loosened.

Today, you have kids in America, Europe, and elsewhere, who have never seen a potato, a chicken, or a goat. They love chips, but they don’t know that they are made with potatoes, and they they can show you chicken nuggets, but they have no idea what they are made of, let alone how they are prepared.

To meet their basic needs, most people in “advanced societies” are entirely dependent, no longer on their local community, but on a global set-up of sourcing, production, logistics and mass distribution. That huge, anonymous system is managed by people whose (practically only) motive is to make profits.

No attention (other than hypocritical lip service) is paid to the large destruction of ecosystems resulting from industrialisation, resources exploitation, mass tourism, etc.

Nor is there time or compassion for the tens of billions of animals (cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, salmons, and others) who spend lives of intense suffering in the abominable conditions created by the food industry.

Nor is there real awareness of the poisoning and death of land subjected to intensive agriculture (with its millions of tonnes of pesticides and fertilisers, and now its GM seeds). Intensive agriculture employs very few people; the populations that use to live off the land from traditional agriculture have been forced to migrate to urban areas where conditions are very precarious for most.

The top 1% richest people on earth, together with the 5 % below them, “benefit” directly or indirectly from around 70% of all goods and services produced in the world.

But even they, who regard themselves as “privileged”, are largely cut off from nature, and their well being is being rapidly eroded by unhealthy food, commercially driven technical medicine, pollution of air, water, toxicity of components and additives in cosmetics, food, household
products, electromagnetic effects of telecommunication antennae, etc. etc.

The illusion of the consumerist industrial society is torn away before our very eyes. And the dogmatic religion of growth is being exposed.

But the dominant “elites” (the top 1% of the privileged 1%) look intent on holding on to their position, come what may.

To that effect they will resist radical changes, and they will use propaganda and disinformation (vaccination, GM crops are all for the good), censure (do you still hear much about Fukushima?), outright violence (against protesters or marginal groups) to keep their control over society and the economic system.

Isn’t all this crystal clear? The question then is: what can we do?

Remedies are in the spiritual sphere, not in some kind of “fighting” the system in the ordinary sense.

The modern economy, which is a complete dead end for mankind and the planet, is the result of a collective mental trap. A mental trap in which everyone is made to believe things that are 180 degrees from spirituality.

The actions we now need to take must be geared towards helping as many people as possible to free themselves from that mental trap. And the starting point is to free oneself first.

Enough for today. Nice sharing with you.

Fear not, and take care,

Leo

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