More Secondary Leadership

green_lib This “degrowth” special pleading is really getting to be a massive wipe-out. Green liberals who’ve spent their entire lives avoiding dangerous ideas are now preaching to all of us to give up our insistence on perpetual economic growth. The gentleman at the left is but the latest purveyor of the half-baked, half-informed trope.

The word “capitalism” is, as always, very conspicuously, if not studiously, absent from this man’s supposedly “deep green” writing about “degrowth.”

Meanwhile, the blame for never-named capitalist behavior is nevertheless held to belong to all of us together:

But degrowth is not just a rallying cry or a trivial idea. Degrowth is an important, natural concept that our society needs to understand, whether we call it Degrowth, Limits to Growth, Costs of Complexity, Overshoot, Carrying Capacity, Metabolic Costs, Diminishing Returns on Innovation, Entropic Limits, “The Meek Shall inherit the Earth,” or “Richer lives, simpler means” as Arne Naess said.

The problem for our society is not that these ideas are too complex or wrong, but that they are annoying and inconvenient for the wealthy and powerful. Everyone wants more. Millionaires want to be a billionaires. The more that individuals grab and horde, the less there is for everyone.

See? Capitalists are merely us writ large, and we are they, writ small. We are all equally covetous. The rule of billionaires is one and the same thing as Joe or Jane Sixpack making toast in the morning and going to work. See? See? Shame on us all!

And here is what passes for the relevant underlying sociology/anthropology among these degrowth preachers:

Naturally, people resist the idea of limits on their consumption. The instincts to grow were forged in natural evolution, but those instincts don’t make limits disappear.

This whopper, this sophomoric howler of a claim that capitalist greed goes all the way back to hunter-gatherer times regardless of institutional and historical context, comes not just anywhere, but in an article about the politics of contemporary, 21st century economic growth and “consumption,” in an essay that never once mentions capitalism or marketing or advertising or institutional power of any kind!

As for solutions, other than collective shame, we get this, from a would-be leader who cautions his audience against “wishful thinking”:

If our social, political, and economic planners actually understood ecosystems, we might avoid a lot of problems we face.

ROFLMFAO! Dude, what planet are you living on? Not only are “our” planners not “ours,” they don’t give a flying fuck about ecosystems. Their system doesn’t permit it. Christ, look out the window, man! Read a newspaper. Pull your head out.

I have to say, the whole thing, the blind, craven special pleading toward power and the baseless insults and burdens cast upon the little people, brings to mind Theodor Adorno’s analysis of Nazi ideology, and its reliance on “a regressive repersonalization of impersonal, detached social powers.”

Often peddled by people aspiring to become “great little men” or “secondary leaders,” the hallmark of such “repersonalization” was a combination of upward sycophancy/sociological blindness and downward elitism/arbitrary, personalized blame:

Hitler’s famous formula, “Verantwortung nach oben, Autorität nach unten,” (“responsibility to overs, authority to unders”) nicely rationalizes this character’s ambivalence. The tendency to tread on those below, which manifests itself so disastrously in the persecution of weak and helpless minorities, is as outspoken as the hatred against those outside. In practice, both tendencies quite frequently fall together.

German folklore has a drastic symbol for this trait. It speaks of Radfahrernaturen, bicyclist’s characters. “Above they bow, they kick below.”

Sound familiar? There may not be as much turf between facsism and modern liberalism as we tend to think.

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Luis Cayetano
9 years ago

I wonder what these liberals will do after the revolution. But I do know that they’d better get the fuck out of the way, because they’re getting to be such a drag on humanity that I doubt that the upsurge, when it finally comes, will have much time for their whiny, cretinous hides. Liberals seem to me to be even more blinkered than conservatives. At least the latter know that they’re for a system built by arseholes for arseholes, and proud of it. Liberals try to make class society more palatable in the name of some nebulous ”fairness” and ”justice”,… Read more »

James Keye
James Keye
9 years ago

Growth in species presence and impact is an extremely difficult matter, in large measure because certain ?favored? human beings have habituated the consequences. Billions of others have paid the price for the material attainments of the favored ones. I think that some who make the no-growth argument avoid speaking of capitalism as the central issue because even if capitalism as a method of material and wealth distribution were to be replaced by some system devoted to equity, justice and biophysical reality, we would still be faced with human reproductive momentum and the incredible biological success of our adaptations, i.e., growth… Read more »

James Keye
James Keye
9 years ago

Offering people a more physically demanding life with fewer material enticements is a hard sell. People need to see the present economic contraction as the beginning part of a process, not just as the rich stealing from us – we need to see it that way also. If we only see our lowering economic standards of living as the consequence of wealth concentration, the reality that there is an overall movement to be adjusted to is lost. I can see a French Revolution moment being necessary, but it would be extremely disheartening if the masses could only see a restarting… Read more »

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