Tuesday 8 November 2011

Economic Growth: Stick It To The Greens

It's never really been in question with the mainstream parties: but now the drive for economic growth has moved decisively centre-stage.

Who is it, then, that opposes economic growth ? Ans: the Greens. And, I'm willing to hazard, a fair number of the great unwashed assembled outside St Pauls. These, from the Green Party's website:

"money drives growth, which drives consumption, which uses oil, which damages the planet"

"Other political parties strive for ‘economic growth’, which may sound impressive, but ... in a world of finite resources, it cannot make sense to depend on economic growth. Only the Green Party seeks an economic system which recognises the limits of the natural systems of the planet"

And this from Occupy LSX:

"Why do we rely on a global economic system based on infinite growth ... leading humanity and the environment to destruction [?]"

OK, we all
understand the arguments: but we need to remind everyone just who's on which side of this fence. Can we perhaps get Miliballs to preach the usual vehement Pro-Growth sermon to the representatives of the 99% on the steps of St Pauls ?

And of course the Greens would rather like to keep their heresy quiet just now, and Caroline Lucas is careful to advocate "growth-in-the-green-economy" whenever she's on Newsnight.

There are rather a lot of battles to be fought just now. But perhaps, when time permits (and if it doesn't look too much like bullying poor Dr Lucas), opportunities might be found to drive a decent-sized wedge between her and the St Pauls brigades on the one hand and, well, everyone else on the other. That's - the whole of mainstream of western politics.

Footnote: Dr Lucas' absence from the encouragingly measured Parliamentary debate on shale gas was noted by her fellow members of the E & CC Committee ... low-profile time, is it ?



Steven_L said...

I'm writing to you from Dr Lucas's constituency ND. You don't know the half of it. Down here the public sector unions are all run by her sympathisers (trots that call themselves 'eco-socialists').

There are so many of them, that when I wind them up on the UNISON forum at work, they all reckon I'm the one with 'alternative views'.

Bill Quango MP said...

Mrs Q's sister is down your way Mr L.
She recently moved from private to public sector.

This former media chick has now got an allotment and would no more dream of working on a bank-holiday than she would voting Tory. She once missed part of her own brother's wedding because she had an early meeting Saturday morning.

Mind you, she was always a bit hippy. She loves the place.

I hope not to give her name away but she used to be employed as a PA to a Shaman.{A Shaman ..Not THE Shaman}
Only in London-on-sea would you have a Shaman. And a Shaman that was busy enough that she needed a PA.

Budgie said...

I long ago realised that Marxists became anti-materialists because their system was such a failure at improving the lot of the working man, which is what it was ostensibly set up to do.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Sorry Budgie - have to disagree with you here. In philosophical terms Marxism is quite literally materialism... Marx is all about the "materialist conception of history". Which is why having been brought up as a good Catholic I instinctively loathe these people (don't practise these days but I am grateful for the education - they made me want to read a lot of books I would never otherwise have touched).

Marxists don't like inequality of outcome, which of course means ultimately they have to oppose individual freedom and curb, control & direct the populace. This means they always end up opposing markets which in turn leads to impoverishment, but this should not be confused with being anti-materialist. Since communism was discredited they have to find another justification for getting rid of free markets and Green twattery fits the bill beautifully. What they really are is freedom-hating, subconsciously racist, Malthusian bigots. As P.J. O'Rourke put it: "overpopulation means just enough of us but way too many of them"... "them" of course being the masses of black, brown and yellow people in Africa and Asia.

If you really want to have fun accuse a lefty Malthusian of being a subconscious racist. They go absolutely apeshit. Which is not surprising since PC-anti racism has so taken over modern expression that we have reached the point where a footballer can say he is not a bad guy because he didn't call a fellow player "a f***ing black c**t", just a "f***ing blind c**t". The former will get him prosecuted but the latter is apparently alright.

Budgie said...

SW, I don't think you are disagreeing with me. I am well aware that Marxism is dialectical materialism.

But my point is that Marxism failed in its avowed aim of redistributing wealth (material wellbeing) from capitalists to workers. And then in a sort of paradox, instead of Marxists saying 'oh, Marx was wrong' they have made a 'virtue' out of necessity.

Hence nowadays people who are clearly Marxist or perhaps neo-Marxist are perforce 'anti-materialists'.

hovis said...

To play devil's advocate is Tim Morgan at Tullet Prebon a malthusian in new clothes?

Anonymous said...

According to leading lights of the communist party of Great Britain, infiltration of the Green movement was essentially Gramscian - i.e. they realised that by infiltrating a popular movement like the Greens they could shift its focus away from protecting the environment and endangered species and move it towards anti-capitalism, taking its followers with it. It has been quite succesful up until now.

Of course, they are inherently wrong becuase fiscal growth can occur simply because more money has been injected into the economy in order to ensure liquidity - this is regularly done by central banks for this reason. Real productive growth may not result in real growth in consumption of raw materials (i.e. we buy more expensive TVS but maybe they don't consume more materials in their manufacture). Most real growth occurs in poor countries as the population finds their situation encourages them to push very hard for a standard of living that allows them to live longer, healthier lives with less struggle.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

@Budgie, don't disagree with your general point, I am just being a pedant & enjoying a bit of nitpicking (forgive me - it's a serious character flaw and I can't help myself). Being materialistic should not be confused with Materialism, which is a different thing.

Israel Hands was a pirate because he wanted "their pickles and wines and that", so he was clearly materialistic as he was concerned with acquiring stuff, but since Materialism holds that human beings must provide their everyday needs by their own productive physical labour rather than being a parasite on the labour of others, Lenin would have had him shot as objectively counter-revolutionary even though he was taking from the rich. Marxist-Leninism was never really about making poor people richer, it was about eliminating those classes who did not survive through their own productive labour and ensuring equality of outcome. So the great unwashed outside St Paul's, moaning about bankers, are fully in the tradition of Marxist dialectic materialism. If it was 1917 I could forgive them, but now it is 2011 and we all know about the gulag archipelago and the objective failure of communism you'd think they'd pack it in. Personally, as soon as the cleaners found shit in the cathedral, I'd have called in the water cannon to hose the bastards down.

@Hovis - I confess I'm not aware of Tim Morgan, though I have heard of Tullet Prebon. Has he said something interesting?

alan said...

The Greens/socialists have bastardized some of the ideas for their own agenda.

The discussion about zero growth started at least as far as back in 1972 when a book was published called "Limits to growth". Which was based on an early computer model looking at world population growth and available resources.

Also Albert Bartlett has discussed growth/non-groth and is famous for stating.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."


The subject is too long to for a comment. Books on the subject are

"Limits to growth"
"Hubberts Peak" by Kenneth S. Deffeyes
"The Party's Over" by Richard Heinberg
"Shoveling Fuel for a runaway train" by Brian Czech

A great web resource is theoildrum.com

As meat eating capitalist it is critical to understand these fundamental issues. I don't subscribe to all of the conclusions above, but the official retort to such issues misses the point completely.

hovis said...

@SW: the research section at Tullet Prebon has several papers by Tim Morgan. Essentially he's been stating things cannot go on exponentially and we are in energy economy which is in essence unsustainable. He is not a peak oiler but takes note of it. You mat wish to dismiss it as old fashioned protectionism with a soupcon of Malthusianism, however that would be to not confront the issues raised.


Nick Drew said...

our inability to understand the exponential function

indeed, Alan - and conversely, as Einstein may (or may not) have said

compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe

the trouble is, folk like Brown and Balls have an inkling of what that means ...

Sebastian Weetabix said...

The trouble with extrapolating beyond the curve is it doesn't lead to the right conclusions - my favourites being (paraphrasing & exaggerating) the Victorian one that London would be 12ft deep in horse shit by 1950 due to the exponential growth in horse drawn traffic and the president of IBM who said the world market for computers would never be more than half a dozen.

We may be at peak oil, I don't know if we are or not. If we are then we'd better crack on with building those thorium reactors. Human ingenuity will find the answers. For example, we only use petrol to drive our cars because in 1890 no-one knew what the hell to do with it; it wasn't useful like bitumen or heavy lubricating oil, it was far too volatile and flammable and there was loads of it... so it was dirt cheap.

I have faith in the inventiveness of mankind. I distrust those who think the answer to all our environmental problems is fewer people. Historically those sorts of views have led to - ahem - fewer people.