Written By: - Date published: 10:56 am, February 11th, 2014 - 45 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, community democracy, democratic participation, economy, Environment, global warming, political alternatives, sustainability - Tags: climate change, global warming, government
Modern western governments have been about essentially, two things. On the one hand they have ensured an environment favourable to the operation of the market economy. On the other they have been known to serve the interests of citizens by protecting us from the worse excesses of the market. That’s a simple but good enough brushstroke version of governance within a market context.
But the balancing act of governments, whether weighted this way or that, has run into some problems. The problems are such that governments can’t continue with those roles through the near and unfolding future. Obviously, one way or another, there isn’t going to be a market economy. But without a market economy to manage, what remains for government to do?
It would take a particularly enlightened government to ease us away from production and distribution based on market economics and, well…people who seek power don’t tend to be the most enlightened or smartest of people. You may disagree with that and think that they are indeed among the brightest and smartest while some even possess an ability to inspire. If you’re right, then we can expect some serious shifts of focus coming from government, erm…20 years ago. That was when the need for a radical shifts in focus became urgent. That said then, it’s probably safe to predict that we’ll persist with a market economy until climate change par boils it or whatever.
Back to the inconvenient truth whereby reality is dictating that the traditional role of government is now defunct. The inability to acknowledge that has set both them and all of us in society down a path of auto destruct. There is less than no point in seeking to preserve market conditions when overwhelming external factors dictate that the market can’t be preserved. For the same reason, there is also no need for government to protect us from the market beyond the very short term.
Meanwhile, they’ve got us by the short and curlies, insisting that we stay standing on this here railway track, even though the debatable source of light at the end of a tunnel has transpired to be a hell thundering through the cold grey light of dawn.
So what should or could governments do? There is still a need for short term protection from the effects of the market. Beyond that, there is a need to help lay the groundwork for what comes after the market and for what must come in the face of climate change.
To my mind, that entails government removing both the market and themselves from social/political and economic spaces and encouraging us to fill those vacated spaces in order that we can develop our own, new institutions, that will allow us to make the necessary decisions and to take the appropriate actions that flow from those deliberations.
If they don’t willingly begin to aid us, and if we can’t force them to, then the future is one of totalitarianism amid diminished resources and capabilities in a world ravaged by climate change.
Don’t take my (sometimes hyperbolic) word for it. Listen to almost any of the serious thinkers or analysts from any number of disciplines – the future’s looking bleak.
Now, how about you don’t parody the inertia of government by just sitting back to watch the show? (It will be televised).