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The viability of Planet Earth to sustain human civilization in its present form is now being questioned. We are heading toward a cliff. The fall will not just be painful; it could spell the end of Homo sapiens. For a start, we urgently need to examine the rational undergirding our Capital Market system. Certain elements of that system, laboriously pieced together over the centuries beginning with the bronze/iron agricultural age and then energized during the Industrial Revolution are now working against us. This examination will require a questioning of the dark side of our neurotic/psychotic weakness.

The expression “Homo economicus” is commonly used today as a reference to those individuals in our modern society who are secular and materialistic. Money and profit take precedence. Some say this is “good” for society. Some say it is “bad.”

The questions we will attempt to answer here are the following: What part of the brain cage is driving this secularism and materialism? Does it amount to neurotic/psychotic deficiencies or strengths? Is everyone this way, or just a few? Does this apply to the peoples in all nations at all levels, rich and poor? How deeply engrained is it? Is it a serious human deficiency with ecological ramifications that could cause the end of our species? If it is a deficiency, with a bit of brain cage tweaking could those secular materialists who emphasize money and profit save us?

Such a discussion must necessarily cover both the strengths and weaknesses of our modern day Capital Market system, and the public acceptance of those governmental structures dependent on that system.

First we need to understand that the exchanging of goods and services most likely was a part of our nature long before this Axial Age. Although there is no direct empirical evidence, anthropologists assume that Homo sapiens from the time that they were fashioning arrow points and beads most likely were trading them within their communities. A recent example of this possibility is an assortment of such artifacts found in the Blombos Cave in South Africa. (It showed the possibility of near humans trading as early as 140,000 BCE)

We need to recognize that any solution to our ecological problems must recognize this part of our nature. Non market solutions that deny our being Homo economicus have in the past failed, with Marxist Soviet Communism being a prime example. We can, however, point to others having success such as those seen from time to time in religious and other kinds of communes. But they have succeeded only when limited to small numbers of people.

Our Industrial Capital Market system is now testing the biophysical limits of Planet Earth. The reason is that Planet Earth’s natural resources are not unlimited. Many are renewable but only over very long periods of time even extending into the hundreds of millions of years. As our industrial society continues to reconstitute and absorb the earth’s resources, there are no technical processes able to eliminate the entropic aspect of such resource depletion and reconstitution. All so called “technocratic fixes” now being widely discussed such as an aerosol blanket in the atmosphere upon examination turn out to be no more than dangerous pipe dreams. Their problem arises from the fact that the cure can be worse than the disease.

This is leading to a questioning of the efficacy of the foundations of the Capital Market system and the dependence on it today of over seven billion humans. (Many are saying that the planet can only support two billion at a medium standard of living)

Given the assumption that capital markets have become a primary cause of our ecological malfunction, the time has come for these markets to be placed under some form of control that acknowledges the deficiencies rooted in our secular and materialist mindset. A way to achieve this is to factor in external costs (externalities) measured and priced in up front so as to encourage, discourage, temper, or at the extreme eliminate the trade itself.

Organic and inorganic resources must be internally priced at the moment of investment decision and subsequent market entry so as to prevent their exploitation and damage to the planet. And these resources must be inclusive of every human planetary exploitive economic activity. At the same time; positive incentives that advance the higher values of humanity; ranging from the opera house to the athletic field to the hospital must be built into every investment decision and subsequent market entry. Economic outcomes with positive social value need to be recognized.

In short; every investment decision must be internally priced to reflect its socially constructive or destructive outcome. At present, this is not being done.

Implicit in this assumption is that only economically disinterested parties can be in a position to recognize negative external costs and positive incentives. This is not what we have in our world today. At both the investment decision and political decision level neurotic/psychotic self-interest prevails. Kleptocratic millionaires and billionaires manipulate markets. Politicians, some too very rich, under Kleptocratic control are manipulated. There is nothing new about this. We saw it in Rome. We saw it in Feudal Europe. We see it all over the Middle East today. We see it in Russia. We see it in China and India. We see it in “so called” American Democracy.

Throughout human history, even before the bronze/iron agricultural age, the manipulation and exploitation of Nature was considered a “given.” There was plenty of animate/inanimate Planet Earth to go around; both eagerly waiting to satisfy Homo economicus’ desires. Most of the religious gods agreed to this; particularly the Abrahamic. Then later on with the Industrial Revolution, Adam Smith’s “hidden hand” even for some seemed to have a god-like beneficence. Many in our world today continue to believe this.

The viability of Planet Earth to sustain human civilization in its present form is now being questioned. We are heading toward a cliff. The fall will not just be painful; it could spell the end of Homo sapiens. For a start, we urgently need to examine the rational undergirding our Capital Market system. Certain elements of that system, laboriously pieced together over the centuries beginning with the bronze/iron agricultural age and then energized during the Industrial Revolution are now working against us. This examination will require a questioning of the dark side of our neurotic/psychotic weakness.

Sources:

From Growth To Degrowth: A Brief History
by Geneviève Azam —July 10, 2017
http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/07/10/from-growth-to-degrowth-a-brief-history/
David Anderson brings together a wide range of interests in his writings, namely; theology, history, evolutionary anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, and economics.

He has written three books. A fourth is near completion. It can be seen on

http://www.inquiryabraham.com/new-book.html

David is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Hawaii (Harvard Asia Pacific) Advanced Management Program. Over a thirty year career he was an international risk manager and senior executive at several of America’s premier multinational institutions. During that period he became increasingly aware of the underlying cultural, institutional and religious causes of past and present civilizational dysfunction and conflict.

2 Comments

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    The concept of ‘ home economics ‘ should start from individual level to global level in ecological conservation practice. Careful management of scarce resources to effective results is the art of home economics

  2. animalogic says:

    Capitalism generally, & neoliberalism in particular are enemies of the human race.
    The so called “market” is ever increasingly a space upon which the strong can exploit the weak.
    You can not expect a system which openly admits it has NO values other than “share holder” value to care about the fate of this planet.
    Working people of the world have the choice of uniting in a drive for Socialism, equality & justice or watching the planet be destroyed by greed & imperialism & war.
    Don’t try to temporise & hedge: the choice is that simple & that stark.