Tag: Capitalism

Climate ChangeEconomics

Rent, Profit, and Degrowth – A Postscript to “Capitalism and Climate Collapse”

In Capitalism and Climate Collapse, I argued that catastrophic climate collapse cannot be avoided under capitalism because capitalism requires economic growth, economic growth requires energy growth, energy growth requires extensive burning of fossil fuels, and extensive burning of fossil fuels causes catastrophic climate collapse. To avoid collapse, we need to shrink the economy – that is, degrowth – to a sustainable level with respect to energy requirements, and then switch to a steady state economy to stay at that level. What exactly that sustainable level is is debatable, but regardless of whether it’s closer to one third of current closer...
Climate ChangeEconomics

Capitalism and Climate Collapse

The claims that capitalism is the cause of climate change and that catastrophic climate collapse cannot be avoided under capitalism are as obvious to some people as they are nonsensical to others, but really they are neither. They are probably true, which implies that they are not nonsensical, but their (probable) truth is not obvious. They are not obvious, because these claims depend on four other claims that are themselves non-obvious: (1) capitalism requires economic growth; (2) economic growth requires energy growth; (3) energy growth requires extensive use of fossil fuels; and (4) extensive use of fossil fuels causes climate...
BuddhismPhilosophy

A Buddha Land in This World (New Book)

My new book, A Buddha Land in This World: Philosophy, Utopia, and Radical Buddhism, has just been published. Here is the abstract/back cover blurb: In the early twentieth century, Uchiyama Gudō, Seno’o Girō, Lin Qiuwu, and others advocated a Buddhism that was radical in two respects. Firstly, they adopted a more or less naturalist stance with respect to Buddhist doctrine and related matters, rejecting karma or other supernatural beliefs. And secondly, they held political and economic views that were radically anti-hegemonic, anti-capitalist, and revolutionary. Taking the idea of such a “radical Buddhism” seriously, A Buddha Land in This World: Philosophy,...
Philosophy

Uchiyama, Marx, and Gramsci on Ideological Superstitions

In 2019 typhoon Hagibis destroyed part of the railroad that leads to Hakone, a small town near a volcanic lake in Japan that has a long history as a resort town. One of the stops on the line that can no longer be reached by train is Ōhiradai. About fifty meter south of the station there is a small and inconspicuous temple named Rinsenji. In 1909, during the railroad’s construction, the police searched that temple. They found dynamite used for building the railroad that was temporarily stored there. They also found an illegal printing press under the main altar. That...
Climate ChangeSocial Issues

Lessons from the Ongoing Disaster (for the Next One)

Presumably, you are aware that we’re in the middle of a disaster. That’s unpleasant – to say the least – but it’s also quite instructive. There is much we can learn from the ongoing disaster and humanity’s responses to it. But whether we can use those lessons to avert the even bigger disaster looming on the horizon is questionable. Rather, it seems that the most important thing that we can learn from the corona crisis is that we as a species may very well be incapable of avoiding catastrophy. ignore and deny For months, the general attitude of most governments...
Climate Change

The Lesser Dystopia

(This is part 3 in the No Time for Utopia series.) In On the Fragility of Civilization, I argued that due to the slowly compounding effects of an increasing number of relatively localized “natural” disasters caused (directly or indirectly) by climate change, a vicious circle of failing disaster management, economic decline, civil unrest, and hunger will trigger a cascade of collapsing societies, eventually leading to global societal collapse in roughly 25 to 30 years from now (give or take a half decade). The world during and after collapse will be very different from what most of us have ever experienced,...
Economics

Rent, Debt, and Power

In 2009 Rolling Stone published an article by Matt Taibbi about Goldman Sachs. Taibbi writes: “The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” The statement is rather unfair to vampire squids, but aside from that detail the characterization is quite appropriate and, moreover, equally applicable to the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector as a whole. In Killing the Host, Michael Hudson describes the FIRE sector as parasitic. He writes that “instead of creating a mutually beneficial symbiosis with...
Social Issues

You Are a Zombie

For reasons that are somewhat mysterious to me, zombie movies remain fairly popular. There has been a notable change in the genre, however. A few decades ago, zombie movies were probably best classified as a sub-genre of horror, while nowadays they seem to be a variety of disaster movie – particularly, a variety of end-of-the-world disaster movie. Picking up on this subtle, but telling genre shift, Brad Evans and Henry Giroux write in Disposable Futures, a book on the role of (depictions of) violence in contemporary society, that the zombie figure “speaks to a future in which survival fully colonizes...
Economics

A Toy Model of Production Costs and Supply

In Economics as Malignant Make Believe I showed that the derivation of the supply curve in mainstream (neoclassical) economics is nonsense because production costs are nothing like they are assumed to be. This made me wonder, however, what would happen if you’d use a more realistic model of production costs – What would production and supply look like then? This isn’t that hard to model, so I built a simulation model on a free afternoon. In the following, I will first explain the model and after that I will discuss the results of running the model at different settings as...
PhilosophySocial Issues

The Hegemony of Psychopathy (Excerpt)

This is an edited collection of excerpts from my book/pamphlet The Hegemony of Psychopathy that was just published. (It can be purchased in paperback or downloaded for free in PDF format at the publisher’s website.) * * * The Holocaust has received surprisingly little attention from social and political philosophers. This is surprising because the scale and extent of the atrocities involved in the Holocaust should be impossible to ignore. If we humans can do that, then that makes a difference — or should make a difference — for our beliefs about the ideal society, for example. At the very...