- Capitalism and Alternatives -

A rose by any other name...

Posted by: Frenchy on January 11, 19100 at 10:48:40:

In Reply to: And no bull, either. posted by Farinata on January 10, 19100 at 14:49:05:

: : : : Food for thought; could the inhabitants of Easter Island been saved IF they had access to oil?

: : : Unlikely. The fact that they used up all the wood without actually trying/succeeding in regulating their consumption leads one to the inevitable conclusion that the ongoing process of supporting their society was more important to them than long-term survival; thus oil would just have been another form of wood for them to consume and deplete.

: : : In the strict historical sense, the society might have lasted long enough to be colonized by the West and then achieve independence as the tiny Pacific nation of Alongwaiawai, but at the bottom level, they were locked into an unsustainable mode of consumption to support their society.

: : : They couldn't realistically cut down on their consumption of wood without societal collapse; and long-term societal collapse from resource depletion was always further away from their minds than short-term societal collapse from not exploiting their natural resources.
: : ))))))))))))))))))OK, that's all very nice. I'm duly impressed.
: : But you again have suceeded in allowing your own brilliance to blind you to the point, namely that the Easter Islanders had no idea of oil.

: Not at all.

: I'm saying that the Easter Islanders took what natural resources they had and used them as if there was no tomorrow.

: It's more sensible to assume that they would have done exactly the same with oil if they had had it than otherwise. They would have dug out the oil and used it until there was none left; and the society would have collapsed just the same.

: Would you say to someone; "Well, you crashed your bicycle, so let's put you in a car, maybe you can handle that instead"?

: It's not the wise thing to do; if someone crashes a bike through careless handling, why assume that they will suddenly become careful car drivers?

: The Easter Islanders used their resources unwisely; and screwed up their future; there's no reason to believe they wouldn't have done the same thing with oil or nuclear power, had they had it.

: : Just as the people were blind to the discoveries of oil and it's uses, what makes you think we, today, are not equally as blind?

: Oil is finite, just like wood. Once you burn it, it's gone.

: If you treat it like a resource to be consumed without thought for the future, then it will go exactly the same way as the Easter Islanders' wood did.

: Like I said, the Easter Island civilisation reached its high point just before the collapse. They managed to raise the famous statues; a colossal task; and lived better than any before them had lived on Easter Island. When it came to the crunch, they were living unsustainably, and died out because of it.

: (snip)

: : : The first step to getting people to favour the long-term and short-term equally is for them to recognize and admit that there are long-term consequences involved; this is difficult enough; especially when there are powerful groups who are financially interested in things staying the way they are.

: : : If people have at least got the information to make an informed choice, rather than a blind one, that's something. 'Jam today' is always going to be more attractive than 'more jam tomorrow' to the uninformed; it's only by education as to the benefits of 'more jam tomorrow' that you can get people to choose it.

: : : Spending is more fun than saving, as any kid will tell you; but limiting your short-term personal consumption in the name of greater returns is the more profitable strategy in the long term.

: : : That's the fundamental basis of ecology; by limiting your personal consumption now, you make the end return for everyone greater.

: : Put this way, it sounds good, really, I'm not pulling your leg or setting you up.
: : But lot's 'o luck on trying to convince others who live in third world despotic shit holes that they shouldn't do the very same things that we here in the First World (or as I like to say, the good 'ole USA) have been doing for a century and a half.
: : Your going to see a lot of middle fingers.

: Of course you are. Not least because Hollywood is transglobal. People all over the world see the American way of life held up as the ideal state of being; they want their MTV.

: However, as I've said before, the world has consumed an estimated 50% of total global raw material resources since the end of World War One. There simply isn't enough in the way of raw materials to give the entire world a Western lifestyle.

: : I mean, that's part of the deal with 'carbon credits' now. The third world wants to pollute the air and water and everything inbetween at the expense of the industrialized nations. That means me, the tax-payer. I say screw that.

: What the Third World wants is a Western lifestyle; long life, luxuries and a comprehensive infrastructure. They have comparatively few pieces of fairly old equipment providing things like power and production; these pollute and are inefficient.

: However, the US-produced pollution still outweighs by a fair margin; since there are a lot of lower-pollution sources in the US as opposed to a few high-pollution sources in places like Kenya. The USA is responsible for over a fifth of the world's pollution, despite having about 6% of the global population.

: There simply isn't enough raw material to support the entire world on the US mode of consumption; that much is just physics and mathematics.

: So what do you say to the Third World countries that want to live Western lives?

: "Sorry, but you can't live as we do, because there isn't enough to go around" - while beaming Hollywood glamour into their countries.

: It's fundamentally dishonest.

: The First World is currently polluting the air and the water and everything else in between; extracting oil from places like Nigeria and Colombia, exporting it to the USA and burning it to support the Western world.

: All that the Third World wants is a slightly better standard of living; and in material terms, it is easier for the West to cut our consumption and give them a hand-up than it is for them to do it by themselves.

: Frenchy, you say you want the entire world to accept the American way of life as the best one. Are you prepared to pay them for it?; or are you saying that they should just tighten their belts and somehow generate an efficient infrastructure and a fair society with no capital expenditure?

: It's castles-in-the-air to expect the Third World to somehow become a better place without the massive injection of funds; and even then, the world pollution production would increase 500%; which would in turn result in large portions of the Earth becoming health hazards.

: : Besides, do you think a lot of those 3rd world despots are going to allow their people to be educated by Westerners?

: Those Third World despots are frequently supported by First World companies; check out Mobutu Sese-Seko of Zaire, Gen. Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Gen. Noriega of Panama, Gen. Pinochet of Chile, President Suharto of Indonesia and Pol Pot of Cambodia; all of which were supported by the West.

: (It wasn't just companies, either; Ronald Reagan donated $85 million to the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot between 1980 and 1986).

: : How long would they stay in power if their populace were in the know about nifty things like jury trials, and a free press, and private ownership?

: Not very long. However, it would damage the First World just as much; since the First World economies are now primarily service economies; they do not produce many raw materials for industry. The First World needs raw materials produced by cheap labour in the Third World; and doing things like educating people in the Third World pushes up the price of raw materials for the West.

: As such, it makes fiscal sense to the West to keep the producers in the Third World ignorant, undervalued and impoverished; because it means cheaper products for us.

: And that isn't right in my book.

: Are you willing to take a hit in your wallet if it means that other people have access to sanitation, education and human rights?

: If you aren't, how do you expect democracy to spread around the world?

Yeah, right, nice article. It states that the Khmer Rouge were included in peace talks because they were to big to be left out; they had numbers. Once they were let into the bargaining process they refused any elections and took power forcefully. And let's not forget about other countries being involved in the 'aid' to Pol Pot; Sweden, Singapore etc.
Foreign relations are complex and although it's tempting to reduce complexities to "It's Reagan's fault!" that only shows an intellectual dishonesty.
If the way the third wolders are being treated is really bugging you, you ought to do as Mother Tereasa did, or as the Nike commercial says, "Just do it". Stop pestering people with your sense of self-righteousness.
Where's your revolutionary sense of international comradery?

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