Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Smoke and Mirrors

Politicians, media pundits, economists and business leaders are blowing a lot of smoke up society’s collective ass in their attempts to perpetuate the myth of economic recovery. Almost no one understands (or pretends not to) that this time around there won’t be one. Even the so-called economic experts, from Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Robert Reich on the left to John Boehner, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin on the right, seem to miss the big picture; the global economy is on the verge of collapse because of a growing scarcity of cheap energy and other vital resources that fuel economic growth. Industrial Capitalism is dying, as inevitably it must, and the economy we once knew is never coming back.

What does the future a decade hence look like?

If the future you visualize is filled with flying cars, cheap gasoline, frequent air travel to exotic destinations, lavish lifestyles for the masses, vast domed cities and all the other claptrap favored by futurists of the corporate class, you’re in for a big surprise. And bitter disappointment.

Ponder this:

When today becomes yesterday, it will be tomorrow.

If (having pondered) your vision of the future is still distorted by wishful thinking, perhaps a change in perspective can help you see things as they are. Juliet Schor’s Yes! Magazine article, Less Work, More Living, describes her vision* of a future that could become reality, providing we survive the current round of Democratic cowardice and short-sightedness and Republican stupidity, intransigence and obstructionism. Oh, alright—and rampant greed.

When today becomes yesterday, it will be tomorrow. Exactly what does this mean? It means that when our present—our now—looks more like the 1890s (with certain social, fashion and technological improvements) than the 1950s, we can be certain that our sustainable future has arrived. Ms. Schor presents a pretty clear vision of what our future could be like.

As it turns out, it’s not so scary after all.

*Her thinking on the subject of building a sustainable society closely mirrors mine.