Ian Welsh • VS with Jay Ackroyd

One of a series of conversations exploring climate change, security state, revolution,

Rerun Jan 2, 2014 - Ian's been raising a bit of ruckus these days. You can read about his history of the failure of the netroots to influence Democratic politics and therefore US policy makers, which engendered a number of reactions.  This week, though, we discuss the issues embodied in three of Ian's recent posts:



Baseline Predictions for the next sixty years

A New Ideology 

How to Create a Viable Ideology

The most disturbing part of this discussion for most people is the hard reality that the way we live in the OECD right now is not sustainable.  While you often hear people say that, it's said in the spirit of the Poland Springs'  initiative of smaller caps on the half liter bottles of water they sell by the case. Ian on the next 60 years:

Climate change will continue to show up as more and worse extreme weather events, like the nasty hurricanes we’ve been seeing hitting further and further north.  We are going to also see changes in rainfall patterns, these will continue to devastate agriculture.
Aquifers are being drained dry, in ways that permanently damage them.  This is happening in China, the US, India and other places. This water will not come back.  Large areas that are currently agriculturally productive will not be, independent of climate change.
We will see huge dust bowls form, including in India, China and the US.
There will be widespread hunger, because agriculture is going to fail.  Period.  Right now hunger is due to distribution issues: we grow more than enough food to feed everyone, we just don’t care about feeding everyone.  In twenty to thirty years this will not be the case: we will just not have enough food.
Water will be as precious as hydrocarbons, which is, in part, because creating hydrocarbons requires water.  Expect much of the world not just to be hungry but thirsty.
All of this is baked into the cake: we are past the decision points on all of these items—they will happen, they can no longer be stopped.  Even if you take the most optimistic scenarios we would need to act radically, right now, and we aren’t going to.

Facing this is hard.  But we do so, in this discussion.  

Ian also reminds us that actually having competitive market requires strong government intervention, and that business people abhor free markets: 

What is oddest about modern ideology is what is oddest about virtually all ideologies: it contradicts itself.  We do not have either free or competitive markets, and not one in a hundred free market ideologues could define a competitive market, nor would they want one if they could, since an actual competitive market reduces profits to nearly nothing.  Free markets cannot exist without government coercion, yet we have come to assume that it is government which makes markets unfree, which is a half truth at best: governments often make markets most unfree when markets make governments unfree by buying government, and the first thing any good capitalist does upon winning a market is try to eliminate the free market, since an actual free market threatens a monopolist or oligpolist.

It's particularly weird to the finance sector commanding so much of the proceeds of the nation's economic activity. Finance is supposed to be transparent,with competitive pressures driving margins down, lubrication rather than parasitism.