Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 15th, 2012

 Perpetual Growth myth killing US: Paul B. Farrell

In the 19th century, the world population was barely one billion, and Adam Smith and Malthus were convinced that Perpetual Grow in population and production were not sustainable.

The United Nations and Pentagon studies predict population growth (the main driver of all economic growth) will create unsustainable natural-resources demands as early as 2020. 

By 2050, global population will explode to 10 billion. 

And yet, traditional economists insist that “If we can’t survive the short, long-term is irrelevant“. The technology gurus claim that technology can overcome and resolve every conceivable shortage and ailments…

Everything you know about economics is wrong. Dead wrong. Everything. The conclusions of economists are based on a fiction that distorts everything else. Economics is as real as one of the summer blockbusters like “Battleship,” “The Avenger” or “Prometheus.”

The difference is that the economic profession is a genuine threat, not entertainment. Economics dogma is on track to destroy the world with a misleading ideology.

Why? Because all economics is based on the absurd Myth of Perpetual Growth. All theories and business plans based on growth are mythological.


Reuters. A stray dog stands on a rubbish dump at the seafront in Sidon, southern Lebanon.

Economists are master illusionist who rely on a set of fictions, fantasies and forecasts that emanate from a core magical mantra of Perpetual Growth that goes untested year after year.

And, it’s used to manipulate the public into a set of policies and decisions that are leading the American and the world economy down a path of unsustainable globalization and GDP growth assumptions that will self-destruct the planet.

Denial? We’re all addicted to the Myth of Perpetual Growth

Economists are addicted to this ideology. Trapped deep in their denial, can’t see the problem, or admit it, or if they do, they are unable to stop themselves, see past their own myopic world view.

 Economists are mercenaries working for capitalists who pay their salaries, and expect them to support the capitalist’s bizarre Myth of Perpetual Growth.

Worse, the public also bought into the myth. You believe everything you learned in college about economic theories, all the textbooks, everything you read in the daily press, the government reports, all those Wall Street analysts’ predictions relying on studies prepared by economists with credentials.

But everything you think you know about economics … is wrong. Dead wrong. And until economics acknowledge this, the discipline is on a self-destruct path.

Why?

The science of economics is not science. It looks scientific with all the fancy math algorithms and computer models that economists use, but all that’s just window dressing to make the economist look scientific and rational.

They’re not. Their conclusions are pre-ordained, fabricated, based on their biases, personal ideologies and whatever their employer wants to prove to manipulate consumers, voters or investors to buy what they’re selling.

‘What do you call an economist with a prediction? Wrong’

Don’t believe me? Go look at USA Today’s quarterly surveys of 50 economists projections of GDP growth. Invariably off by a large margin. And Barron’s Big Money poll? In past reviews we’ve seen a wide gap in forecasts by the bulls and bears.

Bottom line: Whether it’s Roubini or Roach, Kudlow or Krugman, you can’t trust the predictions of any economist. Ever.

Best warning: That famous Business Week editorial several years ago headlined: “What Do You Call an Economist with a Prediction? Wrong.”

We live in a world of capitalists who thrive on the great Myth of Perpetual Growth, endless growth, ad infinitum, forever, till the end of time.

But driving the economists’ growth myth is population growth. It’s the independent variable in their equation. Population growth drives all other derivative projections, forecasts and predictions.

All GDP growth, income growth, wealth growth, production growth…are driven by Population growth.  These unscientific growth assumptions fit into the overall left-brain, logical, mind-set of western leaders, all the corporate CEOs, Wall Street bankers and government leaders who run America and the world.

Just because a large group of illusionists collectively believes in something doesn’t make it true. Perpetual growth is still a myth no matter how many economists, CEOs, bankers and politicians believe it.

It’s still an illusion trapped in the brains of all these irrational, biased and uncritical folks.

No-win scenario: Damned if we grow? Damned it we don’t grow?

Capitalism itself is at a crossroads. Growth is capitalism’s sacred cow. It’s “grow or die” theory doesn’t work anymore.

With us since 1776, “grow or die” theory is being challenged by a “new god of reality” that’s flashing warnings of an emerging new reality from critics, contrarian and eco-economists. This war is pitting old and new economists:

Grow OR Die.

Traditional economists (pro-capitalism): We’re told we need 3% GDP growth to support the next batch of 100 million Americans. We believe it on faith. Drill Baby Drill. Buy stuff. Get new jobs to fuel growth. We’re out of control. Exploding growth fuels demands as the rest of the world adds 2.9 billion new humans, all chasing their “American dream.”

Grow AND Die.

New eco-economists (environmentalists): They see Big Oil’s destruction of our coastal economies, the rape of West Virginia’s coal mountains, the unintended consequences of uncontrolled carbon emissions and they ask: “When will economists, politicians and corporate leaders stop pretending Earth’s resources are infinitely renewable?”

Our world is at a crossroads, facing a dilemma, confronting the ultimate no-win scenario, because the “Myth of Perpetual Growth” is essential to support the global population explosion.

All this “Growth” is also killing our world, wasting our planet’s non-renewable natural resources. “Eternal Growth” is suicidal, will eventually destroy Earth.

We’re damned if we grow. Damned if we don’t.

Future economists will be forced into a No-Growth Economics

Will economists change as long as they’re mercenaries in the employ of Perpetual Growth Capitalists? No.

It will take a new mind-set. The difference between the mind-set of traditional economists and the new eco-economists is simple: Traditional economists think short-term, react short-term, pursue short-term goals. New eco-economists think long-term.

Initially this may seem overly simplistic, but fits perfectly. Here’s why:

Old traditional economists — short-term thinkers: Traditional economists are employees and consultants for organizations with short-term views — banks, big corporations, institutional investors, think-tanks, government.

They all think in lock-step, driven by daily returns, quarterly earnings, annual bonuses. Short business and election cycles are more important than what happens a decade in the future. Their brains are convinced: If we can’t survive the short, long-term is irrelevant.

Environmental economists — long-term thinkers: New eco-economists see, think and plan for the long-term. They know traditional economists’ and capitalists’ thinking is setting America up for more and bigger catastrophes than the Gulf oil spill and the last meltdown.

The “Avatar” film is a perfect metaphor: Soon capitalism will exhaust Earth’s resources forcing us to invade distant planets searching for new energy resources.

Actually something more immediate will force change much sooner. You are not going to like it: United Nations and Pentagon studies predict population growth (the main driver of all economic growth) will create unsustainable natural-resources demands as early as 2020 with global population exploding from seven to 10 billion by 2050.

So expect Depression Era austerity, unemployment and a new no-growth economy.

Will we change? In time? Plan ahead? No, we won’t wake up without a collapse.

We know the Myth of Perpetual Growth is pure fiction.

But we also know our leaders, capitalists, economists and politicians all live in a collective conscience that must believe in this bizarre myth in order to justify everything they believe about the future, about progress, about income and wealth increasing, about a better life.

Should we just all hang on … until a catastrophe shocks our world, forces us to wake up and let go, newly aware of the absurdity of the Myth of Perpetual Growth on a planet of finite resources?

And it will happen sooner than you think.

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“Unbearable reality of Israel and Palestine can only be changed from within”: Ilan Pappe

Ilan Pappe (note 4) published The Case for Sanctions Against Israel: Sanctions and boycott of Israel can work.

“I have been a political activist for most of my adult life. In all these years, I have believed deeply that the unbearable and unacceptable reality of Israel and Palestine could only be changed from within.

This is why I have been ceaselessly devoted to persuading Jewish society—to which I belong and into which I was born—that its basic policy in the land was wrong and disastrous.

Ilan Pappe (Photo: Paula Geraghty)

The options for me were clear: I could either join politics from above, or counter it from below. I began by joining the Labor Party in the 1980s, and then the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash), when I declined an offer to join the Knesset.

I focused my energies on working alongside others within educational and peace NGOs, even chairing two such institutions: the left-Zionist Institute for Peace Studies in Givat Haviva, and the non-Zionist Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies.

In both circles, veteran and younger colleagues alike sought to create constructive dialogue with our compatriots, in the hope of influencing present policy for future reconciliation.

It was mainly a campaign of information about crimes and atrocities committed by Israel since 1948, and a plea for a future based on equal human and civil rights.

For an activist, the realization that change from within is unattainable not only grows from an intellectual or political process, but is more than anything else an admission of defeat. And it was this fear of defeatism that prevented me from adopting a more resolute position for a very long time.

After almost 30 years of activism and historical research, I became convinced that the balance of power in Palestine and Israel preempted any possibility for a transformation within Jewish Israeli society in the foreseeable future.

Late in the game, I came to realize that the problem was not a particular policy or a specific government, but one more deeply rooted in the ideological infrastructure informing Israeli decisions on Palestine and the Palestinians ever since 1948. I have described this ideology elsewhere as a hybrid between colonialism and romantic nationalism.[1]

Today, Israel is a formidable settler-colonialist State, unwilling to transform or compromise, and eager to crush by whatever means necessary any resistance to its control and rule in historical Palestine.

Beginning with the ethnic cleansing of 80 percent of Palestine in 1948, and Israel’s occupation of the remaining 20 percent of the land in 1967, Palestinians in Israel are now enclaved in mega-prisons, Bantustans, and besieged cantons, and singled out through discriminatory policies.

Millions of Palestinian refugees around the world have no way to return home, and time has only weakened, if not annihilated, all internal challenges to this ideological infrastructure.

Even as I write, the Israeli settler State continues to further colonize and uproot the indigenous people of Palestine.

Admittedly, Israel is not a straightforward case study in colonialism,[2] nor can the solutions to either the 1967 occupation or the question of Palestine as a whole be easily described as decolonization.

Unlike most colonialist projects, the Zionist movement had no clear metropolis, and because it far predates the age of colonialism, describing it in that way would be anachronistic.

But these paradigms are still highly relevant to the situation, for two reasons:

1. First reason is that diplomatic efforts in Palestine since 1936 and the peace process that began in 1967 have only increased the number of Israeli settlements in Palestine, from less than 10 percent of Palestine in 1936 to over 90 per cent of the country today.

It seems that the message from the peace brokers, mainly Americans ever since 1970, is that peace can be achieved without any significant limit being placed on the settlements, or colonies, in Palestine.

True, settlers have periodically been evicted from Gaza settlements and some other isolated outposts, but this did not alter the overall matrix of colonial control, with all its systematic daily abuses of civil and human rights.

The occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the oppression of the Palestinians inside Israel, and the denial of the refugees’ right of return will continue as long as these policies (occupation, oppression, and denial) were packaged as a comprehensive peace settlement to be endorsed by obedient Palestinian and Arab partners.

2. The second reason for viewing the situation through the lens of colonialism and anti-colonialism is that it allows us a fresh look at the raison d’être of the peace process.

The basic objective, apart from the creation of two separate states, is for Israel to withdraw from areas it occupied in 1967.

But this is contingent upon Israeli security concerns being satisfied, which Prime Minister Netanyahu has articulated as the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and the rest of Israel’s political center has articulated as the existence of a demilitarized future Palestinian State only in parts of the occupied territories.

The consensus is that, after withdrawal, the army will still keep an eye on Palestine from the Jewish settlement blocs, East Jerusalem, the Jordanian border, and the other side of the walls and fences surrounding the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Whether or not the Quartet, or even the present US administration, seeks a more comprehensive withdrawal and a more sovereign Palestinian state, no one in the international community has seriously challenged the Israeli demand that its concerns first be satisfied.

The peace process only requires a change in the Palestinian agenda, leaving the Israeli agenda untouched.

In other words, the message from abroad to Israel is that peace does not require any transformation from within.

In fact, it even leaves Israel room for interpretation: the Israeli government, apprehensive of the reaction of hardline settlers, was unwilling to evict them from isolated posts in the occupied territories.

Even the weak Palestinian leadership has refused to accept this rationale and that has allowed the Israelis to claim that the Palestinians are stubborn and inflexible, and therefore that Israel is entitled to pursue unilateral policies to safeguard its national security (the infamous “ingathering policy,” as coined by Ehud Olmert).[3]

Therefore, it seems safe to conclude that the peace process has actually deterred the colonizer and occupier from transforming its mentality and ideology.

As long as the international community waits for the oppressed to transform their positions, while validating those upheld by the oppressor since 1967, this will remain the most brutal occupation the world has seen since World War II.

The annals of colonialism and decolonization teach us that an end to the military presence and occupation was a condition sine qua non for meaningful negotiations between colonizer and colonized even to begin.

An unconditional end to Israel’s military presence in the lives of more than three million Palestinians should be the precondition for any negotiations, which can only develop when the relationship between the two sides is not oppressive but equal.

In most cases, occupiers have not decided to leave. They were forced out, usually through a prolonged and bloody armed struggle.

This has been attempted with very little success in the Israel-Palestine conflict. In fewer cases, success was achieved by applying external pressure on the rogue power or state in the very last stage of decolonization.

The latter strategy is more attractive. In any case, the Israeli paradigm of “peace” is not going to shift unless it is pressured from the outside, or forced to do so on the ground.

Even before one begins to define more specifically what such outside pressure entails, it is essential not to confuse the means (pressure) with the objective (finding a formula for joint living).

It is important to emphasize that pressure is meant to trigger meaningful negotiations, not take their place.

I still believe that change from within is key to bringing about a lasting solution to the question of the refugees, the predicament of the Palestinian minority in Israel, and the future of Jerusalem, and other steps must first be taken for this to be achieved.

What kind a pressure is necessary?

South Africa has provided the most illuminating and inspiring historical example for those leading this debate:

1. While, on the ground, activists and NGOs under occupation have sought nonviolent means both to resist the occupation and to expand the forms of resistance beyond suicide bombing and the Qassam missiles from Gaza.

2. Generalizing the boycott process against Israel occupation of territories

These two impulses produced the BDS campaign against Israel. It is not a coordinated campaign operated by some secret cabal. It began as a call from within the civil society under occupation, endorsed by other Palestinian groups, and translated into individual and collective actions worldwide.

These actions vary in focus and form, from boycotting Israeli products to severing ties with academic institutes in Israel.

Some are individual displays of protest; others are organized campaigns. What they have in common is their message of outrage against the atrocities on the ground in Palestine. And the campaign’s elasticity has made it into a broad process powerful enough to produce a new public mood and atmosphere, without any clear focal point.

For the few Israelis who sponsored the campaign early on, it was a definitive moment that clearly stated our position vis-à-vis the origins, nature, and policies of our state.

In hindsight, it also seems to have provided moral sponsorship, which has been helpful for the success of the campaign.

Supporting BDS remains a drastic act for an Israeli peace activist. It excludes one immediately from the consensus and from the accepted discourse in Israel. Palestinians pay a higher price for the struggle, and those of us who choose this path should not expect to be rewarded or even praised.

It does involve putting yourself in direct confrontation with the State, your own society, and quite often friends and family. For all intents and purposes, this is to cross the final red line—to say farewell to the tribe.

This is why any one of us deciding to join the call should make such a decision wholeheartedly, and with a clear sense of its implications.

There is really no other alternative.

Any other option—from indifference, through soft criticism, and up to full endorsement of Israeli policy—is a wilful decision to be an accomplice to crimes against humanity.

The closing of the public mind in Israel, the persistent hold of the settlers over Israeli society, the inbuilt racism within the Jewish population, the dehumanization of the Palestinians, and the vested interests of the army and industry in keeping the occupied territories—all of these mean that we are in for a very long period of callous and oppressive occupation.

The responsibility of Israeli Jews is far greater than that of anyone else involved in advancing peace in Israel and Palestine. Israeli Jews are coming to realize this fact, and this is why the number who support pressuring Israel from the outside is growing by the day.

It is still a very small group, but it does form the nucleus of the future Israeli peace camp.

Much can be learned from the Oslo process.

There, the Israelis employed the discourse of peace as a convenient way of maintaining the occupation (aided for a while by Palestinian leaders who fell prey to US–Israeli deception tactics). This meant that an end to the occupation was vetoed not only by the “hawks,” but also the “doves,” who were not really interested in stopping it.

That is why concentrated and effective pressure on Israel needs to be applied by the world at large. Such pressure proved successful in the past, particularly in the case of South Africa; and pressure is also necessary to prevent the worst scenarios from becoming realities.

After the massacre in Gaza in January 2009, it was hard to see how things could get worse, but they can—with no halt to the expansion of settlements, and continuing assaults on Gaza, the Israeli repertoire of evil has not yet been exhausted.

The problem is that the governments of Europe, and especially the US, are not likely to endorse the BDS campaign. But one is reminded of the trials and tribulations of the boycott campaign against South Africa, which emanated from civil societies and not from the corridors of power.

In many ways, the most encouraging news comes from the most unlikely quarter: US campuses. The enthusiasm and commitment of hundreds of local students have helped in the last decade to bring the idea of divestment to US society—a society that was regarded as a lost cause by the global campaign for Palestine.

US students have faced formidable foes: both the effective and cynical AIPAC, and the fanatical Christian Zionists. But they offer a new way of engaging with Israel, not only for the sake of Palestinians, but also for Jews worldwide.

In Europe, an admirable coalition of Muslims, Jews, and Christians is advancing this agenda against fierce accusations of anti-Semitism. The presence of a few Israelis among them has helped to fend off these vicious and entirely false allegations.

I do not regard the moral and active support of Israelis like myself as the most important ingredient in this campaign. But connections with progressive and radical Jewish dissidents in Israel are vital to the campaign. They are a bridge to a wider public in Israel, which will eventually have to be incorporated.

Pariah status will hopefully persuade Israel to abandon its policies of war crimes and abuses of human rights. We hope to empower those on the outside who are now engaged in the campaign, and we are empowered ourselves by their actions.

All of us, it seems, need clear targets, and to remain vigilant against simplistic generalizations about the boycott being against Israel for being Jewish, or against the Jews for being in Israel. That is simply not true.

The millions of Jews in Israel must be reckoned with. It is a living organism that will remain part of any future solution. However, it is first our sacred duty to end the oppressive occupation and to prevent another Nakba—and the best means for achieving this is a sustained boycott and divestment campaign.

Note 1:  Hind Awwad “Six Years of BDS: Success!”

Note 2: This article is an original extract from The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, published by Verso on 15th May 2012, in which a cast of international voices argue for boycott, divestment and sanctions. The book features contributions from: John Berger, Slavoj Žižek, Angela Davis, Mustafa Barghouti, Ken Loach, Neve Gordon, Naomi Klein, Omar Barghouti, Ilan Pappe and many more.

Note 3: The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, Audrea Lim (Editor)
Publication: 15th May 2012
ISBN: 978 1 84467 450 3
Price: £9.99
256 pages
Publisher: Verso Books

Note 4: Ilan Pappe is a professor of History at the University of Exeter. His many books include The Ethnic Cleansing of PalestineGaza in Crisis (with Noam Chomsky) and, most recently, The Idea of Israel.

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