System Failure

What we call the modern world system is disintegrating rapidly; on this there is hardly any dispute. By the modern world system it is meant the epoch of collective human experience that leveraged continuous technological advancements on one hand and polarizing social existence on the other. This era began about half a millennium ago, just before the arrival of Europeans to the Americas. The main organizing principle of the modern world system was and still is, the incessant exploitation of natural resources, supposedly to better the human condition. Its core economic pillar is the capitalist mode of production or capitalism for short. Currently this system dominates the totality of human life on the planet!

One of the main tenets of the capitalist system is its innate drive for perennial expansion or everything that comes under the rubric ‘growth’, non-stop growth at that! In all rational systems the concept of growth is always circumscribed to specific objects within a given time frame in a localized setting. There cannot be indefinite growth when the inputs for continuous growth are finite. By and large the sink is also finite as well. Unfortunately our prevailing economic regime refuses to accept the rationality and continues to push the idea of unremitting growth on this precarious little planet. This insanity is, without a doubt, one of the irrationalities of the modern world system! On top of that the system was founded on one of humanity’s basic vices, namely greed. The distilled wisdom of the prevailing global regime seems to be; activities based on individual greed will ultimately yield collective good. This might have served the system well when ethical, environmental, etc., considerations were not the utmost priorities. The system’s operating principles, mostly based on competition and utter selfishness, have become increasingly untenable in light of modernity’s immense complexity, but humanity is not very much in the habit of heeding obvious warnings, if they are deemed inconvenient to temporal life! Since our phrasing ‘Ivy Idiots’ has now become mainstream, we can cite likeminded individuals on such matters.

Half a century ago (1972) concerned intellectuals presented (to the whole world) their fundamental thesis on the ‘Limit to Growth’. This document warned about the consequences of unbridled consumption and waste that were already threatening life on the planet. Proposals to mitigate the dire situation were systemically ignored by the reigning dominant system. Thanks to this intransigence the world is now actively experiencing adverse conditions all over. It is unlikely the prevailing system will consider serious proposals to assuage and hopefully arrest some of the deleterious effects that humanity brought onto itself. The global economic system or the global political economy is politically driven, hence is propagated by politicians and their paid intellectuals including academicians of all cues. Of course such useless amalgam (Ivy idiots) cannot inspire much confidence. This destructive ideology fully supported by the status quo is closed to serious inquiries from outside the box/system, since revealing the honest truth about it can disrupt the socio-economic positions of entrenched operators and manipulators the world over.

The limitation or undesirability of aspects of the prevailing techno-sphere is also something the status quo is not willing to interrogate. As a result, humanity is flirting with palpable ecocide! The problem with the techno-sphere is; it doesn’t take into consideration the totality of human nature and its very short worldly experience. It tends to have its own imperative of reproduction and expansion outside of life and life support systems. The techno-sphere doesn’t stop to ‘think’ or ‘reflect’ what its progression entails to the living planet. According to the logic of techno-sphere, modern life must be organized around it and not around life, including human life! The political ramification of this unexamined belief is now unfolding. The manifestations are all over to see. In the world of politics we have disruptions taking place in the industrially advanced countries. From Brexit to Trumpism, from the ascendance of Le Pen (France) to the Five Star movement in Italy, from Syriza (Greece) to Podemos (Spain), etc., movements all over are questioning the merit of neoliberalism, the latest phase anchoring the modern world system. The rich techno oriented countries (OECD) are in societal flux! Same scenario and sentiments are also encroaching the peripheries and semi-peripheries.

When the operations of complex systems, like nuclear power plants for example, are essentially based on the old greed system, consequences can be fantastically catastrophic. Applying the prevailing logic of the modern world system, builders and operators of such complex entities want to make money, first and foremost. What can happen when the plants become old is not a direct concern of these companies. Disposing nuclear wastes with half-lives of thousands of years is not the responsibility of these companies. Such massive problems are left to posterity via the compromised state. Ditto air pollution, ocean acidification, species disappearance etc., etc.! The past fifty years saw the decaying of the capitalist system, as its obsession with growth and profit precluded life support systems on which its very successes were predicated. The attempt to revive it, (by entrenched interests; massive credit/debt, deregulation, privatization, blatant externalization of cost etc…) resulted in a more socially polarized and technologically unviable world system, from which escape might not be easy. The visible shift in global politics is a clear sign that times-are-a-changing! “Revolutions dawn when an appreciable number of the ruled realize their rulers are intellectual and moral inferiors.” Good Day!