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Nothing’s Going to Happen.

Written By: - Date published: 3:00 pm, October 11th, 2016 - 104 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Deep stuff, quality of life, useless, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , , , ,

You and I, and just about everyone, knows that capitalism’s going over the cliff.

When it does, the various institutional memories and purposes that make up current political, cultural and economic realities, that together by the way they inform and interact with one another give capitalism systemic integrity, will all be gone. Everything those institutions give rise to and all the meanings they provide will be gone. Anyone who remains psychologically tethered to any of these soon to be disappeared or irrelevant institutional and systemic norms will essentially be gone too. How that might manifest itself at an individual level is anyone’s guess, but its probably safe to say many people will be exhibiting a distinct lack of vibrancy and healthiness.

Yet oddly, in this space we occupy between inevitability and actuality, this time we could be using to identify those things that are going over the cliff, this short time we have in which to disentangle ourselves from those things – we’re spending it throwing grappling hooks and pulling closer to everything we should be abandoning.

Capitalism’s going over the cliff, and yet we want to pay our mortgage. Capitalism’s going over the cliff and yet we want to work longer in a better paid job to pay our mortgage and save for retirement. Capitalism’s going over the cliff and yet we want to put some money aside for our children so they get a head start in life.

Seriously. What’s wrong with us?

We know that no change will come from any institutional quarter. We know that the only game in town from the perspective of institutional preservation, is pretend and extend. And we know that game’s going to end very badly. We also know that many of the people occupying positions of influence and power within our major institutions are the self same people (the 10% of us who produce 50% of our carbon waste or the 50% of us who produce 90% of our carbon waste) who are doing many more of the things than most that we shouldn’t be doing at present – not unless we want to guarantee a bleaker future for us all with the distinct possibility of an impossible future for many of us thrown in as some kind of sauce topping. We know that the sense of entitlement and the privilege these people enjoy is very much tied to us all continuing to do as we do. We’re not doing anything differently and we’re not demanding that things be done differently.

Many of us want a blue print, a plan, a map of the way forward, and so delay acting, or excuse doing little or nothing, while perhaps imagining some messiah or committee made of prophets, awesome dudes and wise dudettes putting The Thoughts down on paper that will show us where to go and how to get there.

There is no messiah. There are no prophets, no wise ones, no awesome ones. There is the option to act; to get out the way. It just means stopping. It just means dropping a lot of psychological shit in the dirt and moving on. It’s not difficult.

Alternatively, there is going over the cliff and being mangled with the rest of the wreckage. That’s not to deny that if we are intelligent we might get mangled in some other way anyway. That’s just how it is. So maybe in light of that, we’d rather bide our time and wait for some optimum moment to be on us before we act? There is no optimum moment. There is only a series of increasingly sub-optimal moments from now on in – there will not be any time as good as the present coming around again in the life time of anyone alive on the planet today.

But we’ll do nothing. We’ll all just keep on waiting. Nothing’s going to happen. Not tomorrow, next week, or next year. Nothing’s going to change.

I can almost see us all, knowing full well that the future doesn’t stretch away in some seemingly endless grassy vista before us in every direction, clinging to whatever familiarity we can muster, staring like bewildered snotty nosed children into one other’s faces plaintively exhorting each and all to offer comfort as we join the rising wail and bellow of the herd repeating – “Say this ain’t so. Say this ain’t so!”

104 comments on “Nothing’s Going to Happen. ”

  1. Stuart Munro 1

    And if California slides into the ocean
    Like the mystics and statistics say it will
    I predict this hotel will be standing
    Until I pay my bill … Warren Zevon.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Right with you Bill. I’ve just chucked the job in and I’m coming round to your place to stay. That OK? 🙂

    • Bill 2.1

      Just fine.

      Now, if others with some assets want to cash them in and get something from a sensible shopping list while there’s still time – solar panels, building materials, maybe some serviceable pumps, tools, water storage capacity etc…

      If others want to bring engineering skills, various building and horticultural or animal husbandry skills and skill-share what can be shared…

      If others want to bring whatever human and social contributions they have…

      Of course, no need to bring all or even any of of that here. Do that where-ever you can locate enough sane people with enough invested in the current set-up that they have the ability to convert what material wealth they have into useful shit for the future.

      It all comes down to a huge psychological shift away from the extremely dangerous but currently considered normal or necessary behaviours and ambitions of today’s world. And it just isn’t that difficult a thing.

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        I just knew you’d call me on it …. 🙂

        • Once was Tim now no longer

          Just so you know @ RedL, I’m calling you on it as well.
          You can crash here (or on the property) if you’re homeless as long as you contribute to your best in whatever way you can. At least it’ll give you and address. AND as long as you can find a way of anonymous contact that doesn’t affect the wider family in ANY way.
          If you’re on P, or a total pisshead – you’ll be required to get clean. You may actually have to sleep on a comfortable couch for a few days, and if you rip me off: Once bitten, Twice outa here.
          You’ll also have to pay for your own unlimited minutes, but the fast fibre, ISP-less connectivity is a buzz.
          Not such a big deal though with summer coming on – so maybe we’ll leave it till next June when the frog’s tit’s will be feeling it.

          Seems like an OK deal to me, but then if you’re a poor little rich boy, it’s been my experience that you couldn’t ekshully handle it (going forward)

          Really the problem is: next;next;next

          I won’t hold my breath, cos I’d give you about a week or two

          • RedLogix

            Very generous offer thank you Tim. Given that I’m going to spend much of the next four months about 160 km north of the Arctic Circle, I’ll have to politely decline.

            I’ll write and let you know how the frogs tit’s are at -55 degC.



      • alwyn 2.1.2

        That wasn’t really the reaction I expected from you.
        The original post sounded so unhappy that I expected you to welcome him but rather more along the lines of this song.

        All is collapsing.

      • Anno1701 2.1.3

        “Now, if others with some assets want to cash them in and get something from a sensible shopping list while there’s still time – solar panels, building materials, maybe some serviceable pumps, tools, water storage capacity etc”

        ammo, lots and lots of ammo……..

  3. Pasupial 3

    Nothing’s Going to Happen

    maybe all the aunts in the world
    will sip sweetly at their trough of tea
    and almost say one word of anything
    but what they’ve learnt from all the uncles
    who raise; horses, laughs, or hopeful stiff pricks,
    in the general direction of anywhere but home…

    maybe all the children in small rooms
    will fall silent at a wall or window
    and forget to breathe for just one minute
    because of some beauty
    that has not been; altered, damned, or pointed out,
    by the clumsy dark oafs who train them…

    then again, all the time:
    every minute; neverending,
    unrelenting, all around us
    without pausing, endless
    all pervading, movement motion
    this way that way their way our way
    ticktock freefall love kiss make do be
    is was I me be
    i think nothings going to happen ….

  4. roy cartland 5

    It’s a bit like striking isn’t it? It’s absolutely useless* when one or two do it, but when EVERYONE does it, it can move mountains.

    (*except for inspiring others, which isn’t useless at all, just lonely)

  5. Red 6

    Wow, take a happy pill Bill

  6. vto 7

    I agree but am not so certain it will be as doomed as you suggest…

    certainly in some parts of the planet it will be hell

    but I can’t help but wonder at the human condition and what about driverless cars?

    • Bill 7.1

      Materially there will be some places less affected than others and so on.

      But the post, rather than being about any effects of climate change, was about how we seem to be the dangerous position of being psychologically locked in to certain behaviours, expectations and modes of inaction that mean we continue to cause climate change.

      • vto 7.1.1

        Yes I understand and agree completely regarding being locked into certain behaviours. This seems to be a standard human behaviour, especially when there are so many billions of us and there are so many individuals with a lot of power and a lot at stake in their short lives – getting the required change is near an impossible ask..

        But, there is in fact a slight sea-change pointing in this direction I think. Various people within our circles see and acknowledge these same points and wonder at the vacuousness of so much of our daily choring.. and have begun to openly talk about “giving it all away”. Moving to action this is another step but at least the talk has begun.

        I also consider that a tipping point to behavioural change that is required may nto come from a direct source such as waves crashing over the dunes at Omaha, it may in fact come from an indirect source… that indirect source being a collapse of the financial system. That is what will really blow things apart imo. When people lose their kiwisaver, their bank savings, when the banks offload so many mortgagee sales that people simply walk away, when they ignore the IRD and government, and give the finger to the traffic officer directing the traffic …….. when the crown brings it soldiers out to protect its buildings (not us) ….. when people get very scared about others scouting their neighbourhoods at will ………

        it will be social breakdown that will do it, not waves crashing over the dunes


        and it will prove again the old saying “always follow the hippies”

      • Jones 7.1.2

        Agree completely. James Howard Kunstler coined the term “psychology of previous investment” to reflect this… https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology_of_previous_investment

  7. Ad 8

    Do you consider yourself a survivalist?

    • Bill 8.1

      Jeesus Ad, you don’t half come out with them sometimes. No.

      (I seem to remember quite liking that 70s series from the UK, ‘The Survivors’ though 😉 )

      • weka 8.1.1

        (Which should have prepared us psychologically if anything did but probably helped cement in denial for some).

    • adam 8.2

      Comments like this mean I won’t comment on any of your posts Ad. I think, I’m not alone.

  8. bruce 9

    Well I thought I’d be proactive and get involved with promoting the idea of eating insects, high quality food source with minimal environmental impact, A meal of bugs per week results in a saving of 650000 litres of water per year. ( https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=297486593973398&set=a.296023507453040.1073741828.100011361795485&type=3&theater) sorry just a facebook source,
    But not proving to very easy seems very few are ready to change behaviour.

    • roy cartland 9.1

      See I can’t see what’s so bad about insects… I’ve never eaten them before, but the thought doesn’t even bother me – grind ’em up, and some salt/sugar or whatever and bake ’em into biscuits. How is that worse than, say, chicken nuggets?

    • dukeofurl 9.2

      Do you really believe this sort of fanciful stuff.
      Are running a My Bug bag food delivery? 4 million people having 750g of bugs a week comes to 3000 tons per week. Cockroaches are 0.1g each.
      Minimal environmental impact ?
      A barely thought through farrago which provides more problems than answers ( bugs eat stuff too)

      • roy cartland 9.2.1

        Well, a few euro companies are experimenting with farming them. Is it cheaper and easier than meat? Quite possibly.

      • bruce 9.2.2

        How about 75 gms feeding a family of 4 once a week, there’s a lot more protein plus more iron, calcium, omegas and B. Around 6 times more efficient than cows at converting feed to food , I mentioned the water,the feed can be the bits of veges we don’t eat, heard of worm farms, and 45 to 60 days life span. 80% of non -western countries consume bugs, the FAO supports edible insects. Low cost set up most suitable small scale solution for subsistence farming. gee who needs employment any way easier working for mac d.
        Hey but its easier to just make up fanciful bullsh.t, like the stuff your drinking in Havelock North

    • Thinkerr 9.3

      Our biology teacher at school taught us how to distil our own urine into fresh water using a large pan, a smaller pan, a plastic sheet and a rock. Never thought I’d need to use the knowledge until this article. He also said there is food value in dehydrated faeces, but I could never work out how to keep them dry while swallowing, so promised myself there would surely be something of nutritional value nearby that was easier to get down.

      I think the prescribed English text that year was Lord of the Flies, which gave me hope for a brighter future than the one our biology teacher spoke of.

      Bill, it may give you hope, too.

  9. Draco T Bastard 10

    Some quotes from the beginning of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein:

    Because what the “moderates” constantly trying to reframe climate action as something more palatable are really asking is: How can we create change so that the people responsible for the crisis do not feel threatened by the solutions? How, they ask, do you reassure members of a panicked, megalomaniacal elite that they are still masters of the universe, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

    The answer is: you don’t.

    And rather than twisting yourself in knots trying to appease a lethal worldview, you set out to deliberately strengthen those values (“egalitarian” and “communitarian” as the cultural cognition studies cited here describe them) that are currently being vindicated, rather than refuted, by the laws of nature.

    Moreover, a growing body of psychological and sociological research shows that the AGU respondents were exactly right: there is a direct and compelling relationship between the dominance of the values that are intimately tied to triumphant capitalism and the presence of anti-environment views and behaviors. While a great deal of research has demonstrated that having politically conservative or “hierarchical” views and a pro-industry slant makes one particularly likely to deny climate change, there is an even larger number of studies connecting materialistic values (and even free market ideology) to carelessness not just about climate change, but to a great many environmental risks.

    In short, we have not responded to this challenge because we are locked in—politically, physically, and culturally. Only when we identify these chains do we have a chance of breaking free.

    We need to stop listening and catering to the greedy pricks and start making an effort to create a liveable and sustainable society.

    If we keep listening to them we will destroy ourselves.

    • Ant 10.1

      “We need to stop listening and catering to the greedy pricks and start making an effort to create a liveable and sustainable society.”

      You’d be surprised how many have done just that.

      Tired of trying to bring about change through the ballot box, weary of waiting for politicians to engage in constructive action, disillusioned by the MSM’s mantra of “more chaos, conflict, things to buy, scandal”, unprecedented numbers of people are forging micro-destinies of their own. The operative word is cooperation and the mobilization of talent. Globally, and right here in NZ, we have Time Bank, Food Bank, Learning Exchange, Street Bank, Baby Bank, Menz Sheds, Rata Foundation, Food for Thought and countless others that have been ticking away in the background for years.

      Two things happen when offering talent to a group; you get swept up by long-forgotten enthusiasm and contribute to the dissipation of gloom through “the expulsive power of a new affection.”

      True the world may be lost in an irredeemable spiral of destruction. But at least, why not recapture some sunshine during the twilight years? And then (just maybe), if sufficient numbers catch the light…..

  10. We can never recover an old vision, once it has been supplanted. But what we can do is to discover a new vision in harmony with the memories of old, far-off, far, far-off experience that lie within us.
    — D.H. Lawrence

    All things are full of gods.
    — Thales

    “Humanity will not change its fate through action. Not through the actions of governments and companies, not through the actions of mass movements, and certainly not through the actions of a handful of disgruntled anarchists. Humanity’s fate is sealed. The world it has known for 10,000 years will not last. It is foolish and vain to try to predict the nature of its collapse or to picture the world that will follow. Will it be good? Will it be bad? It does not matter. It will occur and humanity will be forced to respond to it. Perhaps human society has a future in some other form. Perhaps humanity will be extinguished entirely.

    The path has always been clear to those who choose to see. We must shun civilisation and the things of civilisation. In our hearts if not in the wild world itself, we must go into the forest and never come out. We must reunite our souls with the souls of the trees, the rocks, the streams, the dirt. We must meditate on our place in the cosmos. In doing so, we will not change the fate of this world but we will be, at last, true to our nature once again. The world of the Paleolithic hunter gatherers is gone for good. We cannot return to the past. But the gods that we once knew are still waiting for us in the wild places of the world. If we go to them, they will embrace us.”


  11. esoteric pineapples 12

    Meanwhile where I live everyone is buying huge four wheel drives and SUVs in truckloads and going off to the Gold Coast or a Pacific Island just for the school holidays. I think to myself – this is the last generation that will ever do this and their kids will bear the brunt of the shite that is about to hit the fan – and yet they don’t seem to be able to comprehend this.

    • Garibaldi 12.1

      Alas these are the true Rogernomes. My guess is you are in a ‘better’ part of Auckland or perhaps Tauranga. We are all going to bear the brunt of this.
      I’m in my 60’s…. I used to think our grandkids will be in the shit, then about 20 yrs ago I thought our kids are going to cop it, now I realize we are going to see huge changes in our generation. But you are right ,the population at large can’t seem to grasp it.

  12. Colonial Viper 13

    Our leadership class are busy kicking the can down the road to 2050 or 2100 or whatever the next do-by date is.

  13. Adrian 14

    If this page was able to be posted on at anytime in the last 4000 years it would still read the same.
    Every piece of writing that has survived the eons has been pretty much a ‘woe is us ‘ number, ” If we don’t do this we’re all going to die, starve or be slaughtered.”
    Doomsday scenarios are as old as time itself.

    • pat 14.1

      “Doomsday scenarios are as old as time itself.”

      so 4.5 billion years then?

    • KJT 14.2

      Most of them were right.
      Trojans, Aztecs, Romans, Easter Islanders.

      If Clinton keeps poking the Bear, it may all be of only academic interest to a small number of survivors.

      • Murray Simmonds 14.2.1

        I posted this link to a critique of mainstream economic policy, which first appeared on the “Burning Platform”, on another well-known NZ Blogsite earlier today. I think its worth re-posting here:

        Although written from the U.S. perspective, it applies equally well to NZ, in my opinion.

        Apologies for the longish quote, which comes from near the end of the article.


        “The common theme from ancient obfuscators during the time of Adam Smith down through the ages to the current gaggle of sophists is that economics is too complicated for the average person to understand; therefore they should not even attempt to follow the reasoning or judge the merits of asinine voodoo economic tripe sold by arrogant Ivy League academics on behalf of the establishment . . . . . Their sole concern is for their reputation and personal gain from peddling false narratives on behalf of crooked politicians and wealthy bankers.

        Despite overwhelming factual evidence that crackpot Keynesian spending machinations; debasing the currency; interest rate manipulation; globalization; perpetual war; incurring unpayable levels of debt; making $200 trillion of unfunded welfare promises; scorning and ridiculing those who propose living within our means; record levels of wealth inequality; stagnant wages; the loss of good paying jobs; and permanent recessionary conditions for 90% of America; has created a seething anger across the land, Hillary Clinton and her establishment flunkies propose doubling down on those same failed policies.”

        The entire article is well worth a read; and I’m look forward to the appearance of Part 2 . . . .

  14. Macro 15

    The Capitalists Creed

    By Ian Christie

    We believe in the one Market, The Almighty,
    The maker of Heaven on Earth,
    Of all that is Priced and Branded,
    True Growth from True Growth,
    Of one being with the Economy
    From this all value is added.

    We believe in Deregulation, once and for all,
    The only way to Prosperity
    For us and our salvation
    Reagan and Thatcher were elected
    And were made gods
    In their decade they legislated
    To take away our economic sins
    The were crucified by the liberal media
    But rose again in accordance with their manifestos
    They ascended in the polls
    And are seated on the right hand of Milton Friedman

    We believe in the Invisible Hand,
    The river of economic Life
    It has spoken through our Profits
    It proceeds from the Law of the Deregulated Market.
    And with the Market is worshiped and Glorified.

    We believe in One Globalised Economy.
    We believe in one key business driver
    For the increase in Gross Domestic Product
    We acknowledge one Bottom Line
    For the Measurement of Wealth
    We look for the resurgence of Executive Compensation Packages
    And the life of the Financial Years to Come


  15. Cinny 16

    Is any of it real? I mean, look at this. Look at it! A world built on fantasy!

    Synthetic emotions in the form of pills, psychological warfare in the form of advertising, mind-altering chemicals in the form of food, brainwashing seminars in the form of media, controlled isolated bubbles in the form of social networks.

    Real? You want to talk about reality? We haven’t lived in anything remotely close to it since the turn of the century.

    We turned it off, took out the batteries, snacked on a bag of GMOs while we tossed the remnants in the ever-expanding dumpster of the human condition.

    We live in branded houses trademarked by corporations built on bipolar numbers jumping up and down on digital displays, hypnotizing us into the biggest slumber mankind has ever seen. You have to dig pretty deep, kiddo, before you can find anything real.

    We live in a kingdom of bullshit, a kingdom you’ve lived in for far too long…

    • Draco T Bastard 16.1

      Real? You want to talk about reality? We haven’t lived in anything remotely close to it since the turn of the century.

      Capitalism itself is a delusion and so reality needs to be refuted at all costs. From This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein:

      Steven Shrybman, an international trade and public interest lawyer who has worked with a broad range of civil society groups to defend against these trade challenges, says that the problem is structural. “If the trade rules don’t permit all kinds of important measures to deal with climate change—and they don’t—then the trade rules obviously have to be rewritten. Because there is no way in the world that we can have a sustainable economy and maintain international trade rules as they are. There’s no way at all.”
      This is exactly the sort of commonsense conclusion that has the Heartlanders so very scared of climate change. Because when people wake up to the fact that our governments have locked us into dozens of agreements that make important parts of a robust climate change response illegal, they will have an awfully powerful argument to oppose any such new deals until the small matter of our planet’s habitability is satisfactorily resolved.

      And the WTO is far from the only trade weapon that can be used in such battles—so too can countless bilateral and regional free trade and investment agreements.

      Heartlanders is, of course, the Heartland Institute that does everything it can to prevent governments from moving on climate change.

      This also proves my assertion that FTAs are free-trade agreements but forced-trade agreements.

      It’s also these agreements, including the WTO, WB and the IMF, that are preventing governments from moving on climate change. The corporations use them to close down the development of alternative energy sources.

  16. jcena 17

    What a load of crap. You assert that capitalism is going over the cliff but offer absolutely fuck-all evidence or argument that it is. In fact capitalism and free trade has been dragging the third world out of poverty and improving quality of life everywhere. Meanwhile in places which cling to socialism there is nothing but misery and disaster – you only need to look at Venezuela as an example.

    Oh, have I insulted a “writer”? Ban me then. If this is what The Standard regards as quality writing then The Standard deserves it’s reputation as a sewer and as an echo chamber for the looney Left.

    [lprent: It appears that you haven’t read the post, because you seem to have completely missed the point of it. Perhaps you should read it again setting aside your idiotic dogma and concentrating on why Bill thinks that capitalism is doomed.

    Because you appear to be quite deluded about what an ‘argument’ is, I’ll give you a hint. He is effectively saying that we are living on a small island (called Earth) which has a limited carrying capacity which is being exceeded. Increasing population or raising living standards both increase resource usage – which in his argument simply means that the inevitable population crash simply happens earlier. Now personally I happen to disagree, and I may find some time to say why later.

    On the other hand, your argument appears to be that you are an acrobatic wanker who fetches your self-referential arguments from sucking your own genitalia – because how else could you explain your lazy and pointless points that simply ignored the content of the post? ie you display all of the narcissism of a Trump. Or it could just be that you were too stupid to understand what was written in the post? ]

    [Bill: No point in maybe finding the time later to disagree with something I’ve never said Lynn ;-). The time scale for hitting dangerous levels are warming are such that arguments revolving around resource use (apart from fossil) or population increases are red herrings. I’ve argued that many times on multiple threads.]

    • weka 17.1

      It was notable to me that there were no links in the piece, and it says a lot. I’m sure you don’t know what it says but Bill appeats to have touched a nerve.

    • Bill 17.2

      What do you think is going to happen to our productive capacity and our ability to distribute whatever we ‘re able to produce in a world with a markedly higher average surface temperature than we’ve seen before?

      You haven’t insulted me. Your idiocy only insults yourself.

    • Pasupial 17.3

      The scientific consensus on climate change is well established – I’ll leave it up to you to educate yourself on that score. Bill’s argument largely stems from the fact that our current version of capitalism is incompatible with a depleted world. I would say that it is even simpler in that; nothing endures forever and that the only constant is change, so the future will be different than the present and many will be unable to adapt.

      What we call capitalism now, is not the capitalism of the 20th century, and both differ from that of the 19th century. Venezuela’s main problem was not socialism, but putting too many eggs in the high oil prices basket (which I guess does make their New Bolivarian revolution a basket case).

      [edit; I see Bill is on this already (should refresh before submitting comments)]

      • weka 17.3.1

        I’m not sure though that even amongst people who accept that climate change is real and here now and going to change things hugely that that means the end of capitalism/civ/teolawki.

        • Bill

          When the scientific community – hardly known for doomsaying – seems fairly uniform in contending that 4 degrees is not compatible with any type of integrated global community, then who really cares what uninformed ‘believers’ think?

          And yes, I’m asserting that they’d have to be uninformed to think a global market economy will function in a world heading towards the temperatures we’re heading for right now (over 3 degrees if all Paris commitments are honoured and continued past 2030)

          • weka

            “then who really cares what uninformed ‘believers’ think?”

            Given that we all depend on those people, literally, I would have thought caring about that was an imperative.

            • Bill

              So point them in the direction of the relevant info instead of giving their belief any credence.

              • weka

                I’m not giving their beliefs credence any more than I’m giving credence to your belief that we shouldn’t care about them.

                • Bill

                  Uh huh. I didn’t say anything about not caring for anyone. I said that I didn’t give a fuck about their belief and merely questioned why anyone else would, given the existence of an entire scientific community seemingly talking from the same page on the matter.

                  • weka

                    I was referring to caring about their beliefs. I’ve already explained why I think caring about them is important. We are all dependent on them changing, so of course they are important.

                    Most people don’t live their lives based on what the scientific community says. Not even scientists.

      • Draco T Bastard 17.3.2

        Bill’s argument largely stems from the fact that our current version of capitalism is incompatible with a depleted world.

        Actually, history proves that any form of capitalism is incompatible with a living world. It is always unsustainable.

    • Cinny 17.4

      Yeah capitalism is great for third world countries… yeah.. nah not really.

      It comes in and rips cultures and communities apart. Extracting a countries natural resources, making promises to charge the economy albeit for a handful of carefully chosen entities, meanwhile they rape the land, kill species, poison the water, destroy the ecosystems and leave whole communities homeless.

      Capitalism is great until the next idea happens, and let’s face it technology is moving at a massive pace, so the next big thing happens often. The big corporations move out to work on their next big money making scheme leaving ghost jobs, ghost towns, ghost houses.

      Would have been interested in a discussion if you hadn’t added in the looney left label. Which leads one to believe you are probably a right wing capitalist yes?

  17. Cinny 18

    Every day, we change the world, but to change the world in a way that means anything, that takes more time than most people have. It never happens all at once. It’s slow. It’s methodical. It’s exhausting. We don’t all have the stomach for it…

    • Bill 18.1

      We don’t all have the stomach for it…

      Physics doesn’t care about that. And physics is bringing about a change that’s anything but slow. We really should be caring a whole lot about that and acting accordingly.

      But apparently we’re much more concerned with some weird Kiwi Dream to do with home ownership, and whether the economy will grow or not ,and the strength of the kiwi dollar against the US, and interest rates and Mrs fucking McTavishes hand bag that wot got nicked the other night and a 1001 other irrelevances that loom large on TV screens, newspapers and magazines.

  18. weka 19

    Bill, I’m curious why you think that most people know capitalism is about to go over s cliff. I’d say most people I know don’t believe that (which is the problem, one of them).

    • Bill 19.1

      Aw, good god Weka!

      It’s a turn of phrase, like, y’know? http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/leonardcohen/everybodyknows.html

      In reality it would take me about five minutes to run across an idiot who wouldn’t know what capitalism is – never mind have an opinion about its viability.

    • lprent 19.2

      Capitalism has several inherent problems. But at present it is showing all of the signs of being a victim of its own success.

      One major problem is that capitalism is inherently founded on long-term growth. Either growth of population, or growth in living standards. At present this is running directly into long-term carrying capacity issues and into a global slowing of population growth primarily due to increased living standards as manifested in better education – especially of women.

      The latter is starting to cause economic issues that haven’t been widespread since the last big dieback of the Black Death in the 14th and 15th subsequent centuries when there was a severe drop in world population. I had a disturbing half year looking at the economic effects of that many years ago, and I think that the demographic shifts now in places like Japan (low birthrate and immigration) reflect that same set of economic problems.

      However I suspect that Bill is mistaking the effects of the population stabilisation and decrease for the effects of the climate change. As far as I can see there are no significiant current negative effects of climate change.

      Sure there are going to be significiant effects from climate change relatively shortly in the future in the coming decades (speaking in historical and geologic timescales). However most of the effects will also be on decadal timescales that generally won’t affect most of the world population. Quite simply the inundation, flooding, direct extreme weather, etc will affect insurance rates and the costs of living in coastal and riverine plains. But they are mostly likely to cause a certain amount of natural selection against human stupidity rather than any fall of capitalism.

      The one effect that will affect large numbers of the world population will be the increased uncertainty of food production with more extreme weather patterns. How that plays out is a different matter. However in my view that is more likely to cause a more capitalistic economic system rather than a reduction in it. Capitalism is damn good at pricing current or short-term scarcity and thereby providing an incentive to alleviate it.

      What capitalism is ridiculously bad at doing is to prevent long-term causation of the source of scarcity. It works when there are alternatives in scarcity. But it isn’t good when it hits something that is outside its very limited time horizons (ie 3-5 years). Which is why we have the state managing things with longer time horizons like decadal increases in a societies education levels
      or pensions systems of the long lifetime of humans.

      In the case of climate change, only a severe and early regulated limit to capitalism will succeed in preventing a run-away effect caused by capitalism raping the commons and not paying the full price of its pollution. Costly restrictions (probably mostly on plundering fossil carbon reserves) are (in my view) likely to cause the required levels of innovation to figure out alternate ways of achieving the same effects.

      • Bill 19.2.1

        Forget population growth or people in developing countries getting all consumerist on it. Those things have absolutely no impact whatsoever on any 2 degrees scenario. The reason they don’t have an impact is because we don’t have the timescale that allows them to have an impact.

        We’re on track for something between 3 and 4 degrees of warming if all Paris commitments are honoured and if governments continue to act beyond 2030. (Paris only applies until 2030).

        The scientific consensus is that at such temperatures, there will be no recognisable integrated global community…obviously that’s much broader in scope and effect than mere capitalism. .

        But put all of that aside. Capitalism requires growth. Energy use tracks alongside growth. The energy we use is predominantly fossil and burning that is what’s causing climate change. We cannot change our energy supply systems fast enough to avoid 2 degrees of warming. So we have to cut energy consumption. That’s where capitalism stumbles and falls.

        Or, we do nothing and continue burning the fossil required to fuel growth and wait for physics to put paid to capitalism.

        Either way.

        • weka

          If/when the global economy collapses, why would capitalism not function on the regrowth that would then take place? Even if we all end up in localised economies, I’m not sure why capitalism would’t function then in the places where everyone is socialised into working in that way.

          • Bill

            It’s not that the global economy collapses so much as that everything the global economy relies on goes to hell in a hand basket. That’s the crucial bit.

            • weka

              Yes, and as you know I am aware of the connectedness of everything in our lives with dependence on the global economy. That doesn’t answer the question though. Leaving aside a sudden collapse that leaves everything in serious chaos, why would NZ for instance not keep using capitalism to rebuild, albeit in a different form? I’m not saying we should, just that I’m not sure it’s inevitable that we wouldn’t.

      • weka 19.2.2

        @ Lynn, So do you think that the kind of capitalism we have once serious cc effects kick in, e.g. food shortages, will be like what we have now or morph into a new kind?

        With regards to runaway cc, do you not think that ecosystems are in danger of collapse beyond a certain point? By collapse I mean what is recognisable in human time frames e.g. if commercial crops are failing due to drought, we could see forests die as well, especially if we are panicking and raiding, which then affects local water cycles etc. I’m not so worried about commercial crops, because I know that we have plenty of sustainable agriculture tech to take its place, but those techs still rely on a relatively stable ecosystem.

      • Draco T Bastard 19.2.3

        But at present it is showing all of the signs of being a victim of its own success.

        At present our capitalist society is showing all the signs a top heavy hierarchy that’s in terminal decline. The same signs that Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt all showed before their collapse.

        Considering the growing poverty that’s a direct result of capitalism I really don’t think you can call it a success.

        One major problem is that capitalism is inherently founded on long-term growth. Either growth of population, or growth in living standards.

        Actually, it’s predicated upon growth in population to sell to. Without that growth in population to grow demand then more and more people end up without employment as productivity increases. This is what drives the need to ‘open up markets’. You’ll note that the people being exported to tend to see a decrease in living standards as more people become unemployed and wages decrease – just like we’ve been seeing in NZ over the last couple of decades in fact.

        Increase in productivity is what drives an increase in living standards. People can work less and more products can be produced from the same level of population. But capitalism usurps that process and delivers all the benefits to the capitalists which then forces those who do not benefit from the increased productivity to work harder driving ever higher export requirements.

      • Garibaldi 19.2.4

        lprent, Imo if you (re your last paragraph ) expect technology to save us ,I fear you may be let down badly. I just don’t think Capitalism can handle what lies in store . To put it bluntly , humans are too greedy .

      • pat 19.2.5

        capitalism is reliant upon an ordered and lawful society…..both conditions could reasonably be considered under serious threat.

  19. b waghorn 20

    ”Capitalism’s going over the cliff, and yet we want to pay our mortgage. Capitalism’s going over the cliff and yet we want to work longer in a better paid job to pay our mortgage and save for retirement. Capitalism’s going over the cliff and yet we want to put some money aside for our children so they get a head start in life.

    Seriously. What’s wrong with us?”

    I’m willing to keep doing all the above because ;
    A It may not play out as badly as you predict.
    B I like my comforts .
    C I need to fill my days in somehow. (i’ve lived close to an agrarian subsistence life once and it sucked.)

    By the way capitalism isn’t bad in itself it just needs more regulation to guide it, and a healthy bit of socialism to balance it out , yin and yang

    • weka 20.1

      I think those three reasons probably apply to many people. Looking at the exchange between Bill and Red above, I would say that a big feature here is that people hang onto their privilege, and when you have much less it’s easier to be willing to make the transition.
      Those three things are resolvable or in need to challenge though.

      “A It may not play out as badly as you predict.”

      Given what is at stake, the precautionary principle is the most sane thing surely. Are you willing to gamble on this?

      “B I like my comforts.”

      We still have time to transition to world that is comfortable. But that depends on what you mean by comfort. You don’t strike me as someone who wants a new iPhone every year, but there are plenty who are scared of a scenario where they can’t have one and what that would mean. So what it is you think you might lose?

      “C I need to fill my days in somehow. (i’ve lived close to an agrarian subsistence life once and it sucked.)”

      Agrarian subsistence takes many forms, some good, some bad, some in between, but in many places/times it’s been a good life. It does require community though, which is the big problem we have right now. Bill would argue that community will form if we act, I remain less convinced. As for needing work, there will be plenty of work to be done, but from what you have said in the past I think you mean you need the structure of a job, right? I can’t see any reason why that can’t happen, but again it requires community/other people.

      Perhaps the initial step is people being more selective in how they choose jobs (those that have a choice). We need a user friendly auditing system – to what extent is this job contributing to AGW? etc

      • b waghorn 20.1.1

        ”Given what is at stake, the precautionary principle is the most sane thing surely. Are you willing to gamble on this?”
        I have been voting and hoping for a proactive gov for 4 out the last 5 elections and will carry onto vote that way , (i voted winny in08 as kneejerk against what i saw keynco doing)
        I’m not a big consumer or emitter ,but like a lot of low income earners i also can’t afford the eco lifestyle. if i won lotto tomorrow i would have a fully off the grid sustainable farm inside two years
        What would i lose . if i was to drop out like Bill suggests i would lose that little bit of spare cash for small pleasures like a few drinks on occasion ,a trip or a nice meal or a laptop and the internet.
        I’ve done poor and I’m not cut out for it , although i earn way under the median so some would class me as poor.
        ”We need a user friendly auditing system – to what extent is this job contributing to AGW? etc”
        Only leadership from the top can cut out the jobs that do damage.
        Personally it’s my view that science is the only chance we have of stopping the cc train

        • weka

          IMO waiting for leadership from government or business is a false hope. No-one is coming to save us, it’s up to us. Government will follow.

          I don’t think being off-grid and self-sufficient etc is necessarily the way to go anymore, although people that have the resource to do that, good on them if they are also demonstrating something that will help others change or are sharing the resource. And I would guess that you would do some important things with the land.

          The value in personal choices is it enables all of us to change. Someone intentionally not choosing promotion into a job that comes with support for high CC emissions is doing as much as someone who goes off grid. Someone choosing to retro-fit a house instead of building a new one (even a ‘sustainable’ build) likewise. It’s about moving in the right direction. I don’t think dropping out in the sense of quitting your job and going on the dole is useful (from what I’ve heard you say), but you probably do still have some choices. We all do.

          • b waghorn

            ”not choosing promotion into a job that comes with support for high CC emissions is doing as much as someone who goes off grid”

            Someone would take that job ,so while turning it down might give a good feeling it won’t change a thing.
            Would it not be better for someone with cc awareness to take it that job so they can mitigate some of the effects.?

            • weka

              It would change everything if enough people do it. That’s the point. Everyone wants someone else to solve the problem, instead of us doing it.

              “Would it not be better for someone with cc awareness to take it that job so they can mitigate some of the effects.?”

              I guess it would depend on the job and the person and how much influence they have, but in general I think we are past that point. I was referring to people taking promotions for their own career. I know this is very unfashionable, but we have to give things up. This doesn’t mean we all have to live in drudgery and poverty, but we seem stuck on this idea that if someone else does the right things we can carry on as per usual. I just don’t think that is real.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Only leadership from the top can cut out the jobs that do damage.

          Nope. That’s what we’ve been hoping for for the last few centuries and it never materialises. It’s always been the grass-roots that has brought about change.

          So, what we actually need is full information about a company available to everyone so that they can decide if the company and it’s products should be allowed to be here.

          And, yes, that is free-trade. The basis for free-trade is willing buyer, willing seller. We’d be making the decision, as a community, if we’re willing to trade with that company.

          • b waghorn

            I guess the pressure has to come from the bottom in a democracy ,but change on a big enough scale to make a difference can only come from the top.

            • Draco T Bastard

              The people decide, the administrators implement it.

              Parliament is the administrators, we’d no longer have a government.

    • Draco T Bastard 20.2

      By the way capitalism isn’t bad in itself

      Yes it is. History has proved that time and time again.

  20. bruce 21

    Like the developer who told me that cutting down the virgin forest; that had provided for generations, to provide decking for his shit box houses that it was good for those indigenous folks because now they had jobs in a sawmill, until the forest was gone and they were left to pick their noses on a barren wasteland until hunger made them move to city slums and work for mac d , capitalism ,endless growth is unsustainable

  21. Bill, I’m all ears for suggestions of what to do. But per your comment at 19.2.1, it seems there’s nothing meaningful I *can* do. So yeah … I’m going to keep worrying about the mortgage (because I’m fortunate enough to have one, and because I need somewhere to live) and making “good” consumer choices where I can (because again, I am fortunate to have disposable income) and yes, I will keep living my “normal” life and going to my “normal” job and doing what I can to push progressive politics.

    Because the idea of “we all need to just give up on the system RIGHT THIS INSTANT in a single collective action” is simply not going to happen, and frankly if our time on this planet is finite I’m going to live as meaningful a life as I can. But maybe that’s not what you’re suggesting. In which case … all ears.

    • Bill 22.1

      So 19.2.1 was basically only pointing to the positive and negative scenarios of collapse.

      We either use the agency we have and cut those fossil emissions by 10 -15% p.a. and adapt our ways of life as we go (the Free Petrol posts touched on that).

      Or we wait for CC to hit and react as best we can to ongoing emergency situations/crises.

      Thing is, according to all the scientific data, if we want to employ any agency, we have to do it now.

      The answer to Redlogix at 2.1 touched on the kind of direction we could take if we’re looking to get into some type of useful space materially. I’ve written more extensively about that kind of scenario before – the possibility of forming intentional communities that allow us to straddle the here and now and some nascent form of our necessary futures.

      But this post was far more about a general psychological shift (or lack of). That provides a background signal that influences decisions and actions.

      This is just a personal perspective. But if I had a reasonably well paid career position, then I’d look to cash it all in and get out. I’d look for others who were thinking somewhere along the same lines and, using knowledge and lessons learned from previous experience in intentional communities, invest in community (psychologically and materially). People have done that successfully before and there is no real reason why it can’t be done again. (It’s also been done disastrously btw 🙂 )

      That aside, and bearing in mind I have fuck all in the way of material/cash assets, all I can do is adapt where I live now as best I can with a well tuned ‘oily rag’ mentality and keep an eye open for opportunities on the collective/community front while plugging away at the edifice of inertia that government/society presents.

      • Colonial Viper 22.1.1

        Or we wait for CC to hit and react as best we can to ongoing emergency situations/crises.

        Well, it’s already here. Even while man turns a blind eye, mother nature’s intelligence is not fooled for a second.

        I know someone connected to pest eradication who sees reports from all across the lower South Island.

        And he says that new kinds of bugs in new kinds of numbers are appearing all across this territory, infesting all kinds of industries and households which never used to have these particular problems.

        The number of ant infestations being dealt with in Dunedin though still low compared to the North Island has noticeably risen in the last couple of years, for example.

  22. I dream of a change in conciousness as a people power movement sweeps the world but I can’t wait for that. We do what a can with what we’ve got. From informative blog posts and discussion to the everyday habits we change. For instance we (4) + dog and cat are about to move into our tiny house. For all the expected reasons and to get us to think differently about things, to be creative and clever and original – traits that I think will be helpful in the future. Start now, avoid the rush.

  23. mauī 24

    Zero interest rates, Skyrocketing house prices, global growth built on $200 trillion of unpayable debts. Biggest news coverage and public interest goes to an all black in a toilet. Most people have no connection to the food they eat or their local environment, they’re either driving or on a screen. Situation normal, everythings fine.

    • Colonial Viper 24.1

      Well, zero interest rates have turned into negative interest rates (both nominal and real) in many parts of the world. They are pushing this game of pretend and extend to the very cliff edge.

  24. infused 25

    This site needs the depression hotline information in the corner or something. Jesus christ.

  25. NZJester 26

    The problem is the most devious of the capitalists stay at the end of the pack till everyone else has gone over and use their dead bodies as a soft landing, scavenge whatever they can from the corpses and the climb back up again using climbing tools fashioned out of the corpses of those who did not make it.
    They then kickstart the system all over again.

    • Colonial Viper 26.1

      There will be no kickstarting the system this time as there are no more new lands and new resources to exploit again. Any rebuild will have to be done by scavenging from the wreckage of the previous civilisational arrangements.

  26. jcuknz 27

    Rather than the forecast of doom and gloom I prefer to end my days believing that there is a solution which is a meld of right and left…. which I was delighted to read in B Waghorn’s comment.
    Slagging off John Key maybe fun for some but to me it is just plain stupid …. like those who equate Labour with Clinton purely because maybe she is to the left of Trump … or so they believe.
    Actually I believe Key is some way left of Clinton, a pragmatist who knows what the majority want …it is the rest of the crowd who are the problem.

    • jcuknz 27.1

      But we can hope as there are signs of some bending to common sense like English talking about building rather than selling and Woodhouse limiting immigration.
      Too little too late but hopeful signs to me.

    • Draco T Bastard 27.2

      a pragmatist who knows what the majority want

      He may know what the majority want but he seems determined that they shouldn’t get it. The only people getting anything from Key and National are the rich and often the foreign rich.

      • jcuknz 27.2.1

        What a load of blinkered nonsense Draco 🙂
        Typical left-wing tripe which is dragging the party down … but sure this is the place for it.

        [if you want to argue about left/right politics and/or slag people off, go to Open Mike. Your comments here need to be on topic. – weka]

        • jcuknz

          Sorry Weka but I thought I was on topic and with capitalism failing in its current form I proffered my solution which is a combination of left and right rather than simply jumping from one staggering horse back to the other.
          Changing horses in fear of the disaster looming is a poor solution. The market with responsible controls could be a way of easing carefully along the cliff edge and avoid the ending Bill forecasts ?
          If Labour gets control in 2017 I suspect that is what will happen rather than bringing some miraculous cure. But unfortunately NZ is not an Island and the change needs to be world wide.

    • b waghorn 27.3

      ”a pragmatist who knows what the majority want …”

      That’s one of the things i slag key for the most , a true leader finds a way to give the people what is needed not what they want, he could have done so much with his popularity and all he did was make the wealthy richer, and even that might be an illusion that’s about to end.

  27. s y d 29

    If this post is about about choosing ignorance, then Blaise Pascal nailed it..

    “We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it”

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  • Statement on The Speaker and Annual Review Debate
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  • Celebrating New Zealand’s firefighters this International Firefighters’ day
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