Friday, October 10, 2008

It's not about money; it's about democracy

It's the interconnectedness that's pulling us all down: the centralisation of money and power has made us vulnerable. As I said in December:

I think the themes of diversity, dispersion and disconnection will grow in importance over the coming years, in politics and economics. As with some mutually dependent Amazonian flowers and insects, efficiency and specialisation will have to be balanced against flexibility and long-term survival.

Life on Earth has survived because it is not like a clock. Mechanistic systems must fail sometime, and the larger they are, the greater the damage they will cause.
After all this is over, we will need to refresh democracy and its controls on those who seek power, in whatever form. Bertrand Russell's book "Power" suggested that it comes in three forms - political, financial and religious, if I recall - and the American Constitution was devised to bell these cats; except, it seems, insufficient attention was given to the potential of money to destroy the community.


sobers said...

I think the main thing that will come out of all of the current events will be a sort of protectionism or revertion to the nation state. Governments (and electorates) will see the benefits of self reliance within their own borders. Though this time (as against the 1930s) it could be bloc vs bloc, rather than every nation for itself. EU vs USA vs China vs Oil/commodity producers.

I foresee much more emphasis on energy self reliance (ie nuclear/renewables), a return to manufacturing in the west, and a reduction in living standards too. It will be necessary to rebalance the cost of labour vs capital if manufacturing is to return to the post-industrial societies, and to reduce the costs imposed upon such activity. We in the west have exported our exploitaion of labour, and environmental damage, to the far east, far away from prying eyes. The dark satanic mills may have to make a return to the UK. Which ever way you cut it it will mean a reduction in living standards, either financial or physical, or both.

Fortunately for the UK, we are well placed to thrive in this new environment. We can feed ourselves, with a modern agricultural sector, we have fishing rights (if we get them back from the EU), we have coal, some oil and gas left. We have access to open seas. We have Armed Forces that can protect our nation and its surroundings. We have the legacy of a manufacturing sector which is not dead yet. Given the right environment it can revive, as long as we do it soon. Skills are being lost - all the machinists I know are nearly retired for example. We will still be one of the main global financial centres. We just need a politician with the balls to tell us the truth, give us a sense of national purpose and lead us out of this mess. Any volunteers?

Sackerson said...

Sobers, I agree: we have the chance to save the situation.