Where to begin

22 04 2011

I was initially wary of beginning a record of writing on the web as I feared it would wind up being a scatter of loosely related thoughts. However, a number of global political and economic events in our recent and very recent history have brought home to me how interconnected almost all the major problems of the world are. The most interesting aspect of this is how little we understand of our world despite the multitude of information available.

More precisely, I want to explore the impact all these historical and future events will have on our western ideas of economic and democratic utopia. The society in which we live in today was shaped by the turbulent events of the first half of the twentieth century. War, European imperial decline and economic collapse all brought about new global systems of governing the movement of money and power. To a great extent, institutions such as the European Community achieved what they set out to do, that is to bring stability to relations in Europe through trade and dialogue. The Bretton Woods conference in 1944 and subsequent international treaties set out to manage the world economy, all with the crash of 1929 still fresh in their memories.

These institutions, all created in the mid twentieth century, are now failing to maintain their purpose. However, they are not alone. The whole economic and political way of life that was created in the second half of the last century is decaying.

Democracy cures all these ills though doesn’t it? The voting power of the people gives us leaders with new and progressive ideas to replace the old discredited mantras. If only this were true, for there is something rotten in our democracies. Our political leaders from Barack Obama to David Cameron are not men of vision or of action. In reality they are career politicians who have reached the zenith of their professional lives. Their big idea was to get into the top job in the land, they never really knew what they would do once they were there. Of course they have various ‘policies’ but in later posts I want to show that these are essentially nice fuzzy sounding ideas that sound great, but have little basis in reality.

Why can’t things continue on as they were? There are many reasons for this which I will explore in later posts but here are a few:

The onset of peak oil. That is where oil production reaches its zenith, and then falls thereafter leading to a price that can only go one way. Oil is the most economically important substance on the planet, without it our modern world would not be what it is today. But today our most prized black gold is a economic leech on the world.

The domination of global finance. In economics banking has a clear purpose, it the fundamental lubrication for money in an economy, but global finance no longer serves that purpose. The brutal reality is the financial world is a millstone around many nations necks. But profit is their business, and business is good.

The governance of the strongman. While western political rhetoric talks of spreading democracy, this is not a western political goal, economics invariably trumps political idealism. Democracy is dangerous, the people may not vote the way you want them to.

A falling standard of living. From the end of the second world war onwards, citizens worked hard and raised families in the true belief that their children would have a better and more assured start than they did. Many social guarantees were set in place in this period to make it a reality. Admirable political philosophy this may have been, but for business this was a barrier to trade. Something which had to be dismantled in order for the market to operate efficiently, and again it worked. Maybe not for you but it did for that mythical and most holy of modern western citizens, the “wealth creator”.

I will return with more detail.

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