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« Watching the Global Economic System | Main | Rememberance »

July 29, 2012


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I think it is Old Yeller time for growth capitalism. I used to think it wasn't worth voting, but have recently come to think the best thing is to pick the candidate that will bring the system down the fastest and hence compassionately. Though I may not remember him quite right, Jean Baudrillard talked about fighting absurdity by being more absurd, which is sometimes fun to try in social situations where politics. Growth capitalism (absurdity) can only be fought with the most extreme forms of capitalism, so as to end it as fast as possible. And I think Romney (an extremely absurd candidate) fits the bill this election. Though unlike the Old Yeller story, I hope there are no little growth capitalist puppies in our descendants future.


George, I assert that the political system (militarist-imperialist rentier corporate-state) IS working just as it was transformed and designed to work by the Anglo-American, German, Dutch, Swiss, and Milanese rentier Power Elite by, for, and of the rentier Power Elite. It is not a "conspiracy" but the result of self-selection, self-preservation, and evolutionary fitness under the given circumstances made possible because of the unprecedented surplus of fossil fuel net energy surplus (and high exergetic equilibrium for resource consumption per capita) during the peak Oil Age era since the 1870s-80s.

George and all, please consider the chart data at the links below (these data are largely unknown by the mainstream economics intelligentsia, ARE known by the national security community and well-connected Wall St. and City of London types, and considered incendiary to the status quo messaging by DC and Wall St. and thus are virtually verboten, so view the data while you still can):


Japan and China:

Equities and bonds:



How will we (Boomers and older Xers) handle our losses?

So, the question again is - what will you do when the contagion hits your neck of the woods? How will you react to the devastating losses that are forced on you by natural developments and by human actors? There are certainly ways to prepare and insulate onself from these risks, many of which have been discussed on TAE, but no one can ever be certain that they will avoid the worst of it.

P.S. George, FWIW, my post to the previous thread, "Watching the Economic System", disappeared or did not appear.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

It's hard to add value to the debate George - you've covered it so comprehensively. I can't see how anyone with more than one functioning (and reasoning) brain cell could disagree with anything you've said here.

Looking around at other sites tackling the same issues, I often see references to preparing for the collapse. In particular, some people believe that stockpiling food and water makes sense. (I won't bother your readers about those pseudo-humans who "think" that stockpiling weapons is the answer.)

In my opinion, this stockpiling of resources is absurd. No one could hoard enough to survive for long enough - possibly decades if not indefinitely. If somehow they could amass huge stocks, they would simply be a huge target for have-nots using overwhelming force. Although you have referred in previous posts to the laudable concept of setting up remote communities of proto-true-sapients, this is untenable in most other countries such as where I am, where there is no place to hide out amid congested land masses.

The sapient response would be to keep a form of painless death to hand, I presume a lethal pharmaceutical concoction - and sufficient doses for all members of the household/communal group. Sapients wouldn't choose to go around killing others for their stockpiles, unless they have relinquished the mantle of sapience and reverted to crude animalism.

Until food and water scarcity brings the onset of starvation, let's keep on keeping on and watch the show. Maybe something unexpected will intervene to avoid collapse and starvation. But let's not deceive ourselves that survival via stockpiled resources is in any way feasible.


FWIW, a reposting from the previous thread (automation of jobs, smart systems, networked science, end of human labor and wage/salary income, intelligent-systems society, energy accounting, energy distribution card, social dividend, etc.):

The loss of trend US real GDP growth since '00 is nearly 20% and counting, and a loss of 27% per capita that would have otherwise occurred had the long-term real GDP and per-capita rates continued at 3.3% and 2.1% respectively.

Had the US economy grown at the long-term trend rate before '00, the US would have 20 million or more jobs at this point. At the compounding rate of deceleration of post-'00 growth of real GDP, the US will have lost 40% from the long-term GDP growth trend by '20 (where Japan is today from the peak in '89-'90), resulting in 35-40 million fewer US jobs with a population growth rate of 0.7-0.8% in the meantime.

The acceleration of technological advances, including smart systems with embedded algorithms and increasingly robust decision-making capacity, is occurring at a rate and scale which is now well beyond the ability of established organizations and the labor market to adapt. Virtually every job that can be fully automated will be in the next 5-10+ years, including accounting, finance, real estate, title insurance, banking, taxes, logistics, inventory, production, retail, gov't, systems programming, education, medical diagnostics, architecture, graphic arts, music, animation, and on and on.

The US BLS estimates that 60% of the fastest-growing occupations will be in "health care", i.e., medical, dental, therapy, veterinary, etc. But this sector makes up 17-18% of GDP and has grown at a rate TWICE that of GDP since '00-'01, putting it on course to become 50% of GDP by the mid-'20s to 100% of GDP by mid-century. Clearly, the sector cannot continue to grow at the expense to profits, payrolls, and gov't budgets.

The author(s) of Design in Nature make the case that the natural hierarchical system of flows and increasing efficiency of movement of larger masses along the planet's crust via tree-like distributional structures is all good. But the distribution of income and wealth is just the opposite flow in the existing system on a finite planet: Gains from efficiencies flow from current and future after-tax labor product to the top of the hierarchical system of income and wealth distribution and power relations, reducing resources per capita at the lower levels of extraction and labor product; this in turn will reduce future flows to the top and result in a decline in overall systemic exergetic equilibrium per capita.

Smart systems, RFID, surveillance, etc., will only exacerbate the negative scale effects to firms, gov'ts, academic institutions, the labor market, and households hereafter, and then concentrate further gains to the top of the hierarchy.

The response by economists, policy makers, and politicians to date is trillions more fiat digital debt-money reserves for banks, upper-income and payroll tax cuts, encouraging more student loan debt and transfers to the costly "health care" system, and unsustainable spending and deficits to GDP and receipts; that is, more flows to where income and wealth concentration is already extreme, depriving the rest of society with no mechanism to reverse or redistribute more equitably the flows per capita.

Yet, Jeremy Rifkin argues that "lateral power", "renewable energy", "smart grids", and EVs will save us, creating "green jobs" and turning every home into a micro-generator of "clean energy".

Of course, what he means by "energy" is electricity, but it is not at all apparent that there will be a net increase in GDP such that there is an associated net increase in employment given the aforementioned effects.


My comments are the usual (just waitin' for the big leg down in the collapse), so i'm gonna submit this instead for George and all his dear readers:

i'm sure most of us are as creative in this endeavor as anyone else, so give it a try (ie. illustrate your perspective on the financial sector, or anything else you might like to comment on).


Why is everyone so obsessed with growth? You might think "Why can't we just live in a 'steady state' that is indefinitely sustainable?". I think there are three main reasons:

1: We're constantly using up non-renewable resources. If we stood still, our resources would decline over time and we would become steadily worse off. We have to keep growing our resource base even to just keep pace with the decline. Very few resources are genuinely and completely inexhaustible.

2: Population always tends to increase - if there is no growth in resources, then population will be curbed by poverty and starvation, and no-one finds that acceptable. So, our resource base keeps increasing because population keeps increasing, and vice versa.

3: Everyone wants their life to improve - things which were once luxuries become things we believe we're entitled to, and their absence makes us feel deprived. Therefore even if population isn't growing, our resource consumption and waste production will still tend to grow.

I don't really see any way out of this without changing several completely fundamental aspects of human nature, which doesn't seem likely. We can perhaps imagine a 'sapient society' which has solved all the problems but it's not one that most people would welcome living in. We would have to give up essentially all of the comforts and conveniences of modern life, become happy with a high level of infant mortality, accept rudimentary or virtually non-existent healthcare, and eschew anything much beyond (or even including) stone age technology. As soon as we start to exploit anything beyond the very few inexhaustible resources in the world, our existence becomes unsustainable. Here in England we left the neolithic because metals became available, but to make anything useful out of metals you need heat, which means you have to cut down more and more trees, or dig up coal... and you're on the treadmill of growth, using up finite resources faster and faster (such as coal), or using up resources faster than they can be replenished (such as trees).

It's in our nature as the products of evolution to always want more and better, and to want to fill the world with our offspring. I don't see that changing.


Icarus, yes, well said. Now what?

For centuries, every 50-60 years or so, states and empires dealt with the overproduction and localized overpopulation issues with mass violence and destruction of life and property, and by expropriating resources from conquered foes. Over time, we exploited increasing supplies of cheap fossil fuels and raised the exergetic equilibrium to today's unsustainable plateau per capita.

Again, now what?

Human scientific and technical knowledge, interconnectivity, and net energy surplus are becoming increasingly embedded in smaller devices and at increasing scale, which is about to displace labor product on a scale scarcely imagined, subsuming with it trillions of dollars in labor income, benefits, and consumption.

We have reached the log limit bound at the terminal deceleration rate of increase of, or contraction of, net energy, debt-money, cheap liquid fossil fuels, wages, tax receipts, and real GDP per capita, even though we are likely to see continuing growth of biotech, nanotech, genomics, interconnectivity/interoperability, and robotics replacing labor across sectors at an accelerating rate over the next 5-10+ years.

Collectively, if we're paying attention to any of this, or have even the foggiest of notions what is going on, we're like a deer staring into the bright beam of headlights from an oncoming auto. Most of us are utterly clueless about what is happening in the techno-scientific sphere that risks quite literally eliminating not only our livelihoods and incomes but putting our individual, household, and societal survivability in peril.

Many cavalierly claim that such talk is evidence of paranoia, seemingly unaware that it is happening at a blistering pace right under their noses; or perhaps so far out ahead of their noses that they will never perceive it until it is established and fully functioning.

Imagine a world in which one robot or a few GODSS (Global Operative Distributed Smart Systems) can perform the work of millions of brains, arms, and hands for a fraction of the cost per unit and per capita, rendering human labor utterly obsolete for the vast majority of functions.

Then imagine billions of humans made unemployable at any wage and without income to secure debt-money to purchase necessities, thereby resulting in a society and division of automated labor using solar- or hydrogen-based energy that not only does not require humans but is so efficient in self-replication, self-maintenance, and self-awareness that nearly all humans are a nuisance and burdensome cost to the Brave New World of robotic production and management in service to the rentier top 0.1% and a necessary techno-scientific elite to manage the system for their benefactors.

I have little doubt that this is the path we are already on and on which technological advances are accelerating and leaving virtually the whole of the human ape species behind in its wake as modern humans left behind Neanderthals, and Iron Age and Oil Age humans accelerated passed hunter-gatherers and nomadic, pastoral societies.

There will soon be no place on Spaceship Earth for us neo-Neanderthals.

Robin Datta

Thank you, Dr. Mobus, for so assiduously turning over the humanure. But a wise person had once advised me that it is sometimes better to leave the bucket undisturbed: the more you stir it, the more it stinks.

The paradigm shift out of "growth" will not come easy. As Francis Bacon said about greatness, some will be born into it, some will attain it through their achievements, and upon some - the rest, the multitude - it will be thrust. Sink or swim. 

Aboc Zed


when i first started surveying landscape of people on the Internet that are "concerned about the fate of humanity" i searched a lot

your last post reminded me of the material at

i think if not in substance at least in style you may find that material in some ways "satisfying"

BTW, i do not endorse the material as particularly useful; i merely share an observation that your recent post reminded me of that material

and for the question you often ask ("now, what?") my answer has been: just keep on going with whatever makes you happy at this particular moment or will make you happy in the near future.

the best anyone can do is to make himself happy so that people around him or her can benefit from this happiness

because happy people have no problems

and to be happy one just needs to realize that "alive" = "happy", the rest in our minds (fears, desires, emotions, ego, pride, "what we think we know when in fact we know nothing", and-so-on-and-so-forth) is just an illusion which we can always turn off at any time we feel like it


'. . . to be happy one just needs to realize that "alive" = "happy", the rest in our minds (fears, desires, emotions, ego, pride, "what we think we know when in fact we know nothing", and-so-on-and-so-forth) is just an illusion which we can always turn off at any time we feel like it'

AZ, therefore, "to be happy" is likewise an illusion no less so than similar or counterpart emotions.

Similarly, desiring "to be happy" when all around most of us are not for myriad reasons is certainly understandable, but also fraught with risk of being disappointed and thus being unhappy.

That said, letting go of (or experiencing detachment or no one or "no-thing" to let go of any-"thing") desiring happiness and escaping from the desire to be happy reveals the infinite space within which there is "what is" (or "all what exists" from the site to which you refer).

What we think we perceive as "real" (objects, emotions, "self", time, the thinker, "mind", etc.) are but illusory holographic projections from the remarkable spongy mass inside our skulls, which is limited to biochemical/bioelectrical processes occurring within a few cubic millimeters at any one moment.

So, yes, to your point, every "thing" the brain constructs and projects is an illusion, including the thinker thinking he should be happy and thus consciously or otherwise wiring the brain to construct a "reality" based on desiring to "feel" or "be happy".

Bodhi Chefurka

Bruce, you ask the crucial question: "Now what?" We each have our own answer to that, of course. Mine has become "Wait and see what unfolds."

Here is a series of questions-cum-invitations I've been extending to myself recently:

- What would it be like to move past the usual behaviors of clinging to the past, judging the present and fearing the future?

- What would it be like to lay down all expectations and belief, and simply live with What Is?

- Might this radical approach open my heart and calm my mind sufficiently to let me see opportunities that my normal closed behavior hides from me?

- Might it allow me to live more deeply and richly even as I am buffeted and spun by the forces of change?

- How would I prefer to face my inevitable death - filled with awe and wonder, or brimming over with bitterness and regret?

- What would happen to Me if I chose to live as a fully human being? What does that idea mean to me?

It's exhilarating to limn the possibilities of an inherently unpredictable future. Those of us who try may legitimately congratulate ourselves on our perspicacity and bravery. But perhaps even our careful, courageous, clear-eyed analysis doesn't (and even can't) describe it all.

Can we allow ourselves to leave some small chink through which the unexpected might appear? Would we recognize it if it did?


Bodhi, you describe far better than I can my own experience of self-inquiry in recent years and going back 20-25 years by now.

As for the unexpected, while it's a cliche now, I have been conditioned for well over half my life to "expect the unexpected" as "the norm", even while recognizing that "reality" conforms rather more closely to what is sometimes referred to as "chaos", i.e., "ordered randomness" within fractal dimensionality.

One's life course is much more deterministic than we in the West would prefer to believe, or want it to be given our having been socialized to hyper-individualism (atomization) and that each of us can "be whatever we want to be".

I share most of what I do on this (and other) forum (fora) because (1) I have a knowledge-seeking and sharing personality type, for better or worse, and (2) it is my experience that most of us are not aware of the biophysical, economic, financial, social-demographic, and political structural frame or limits facing us as individuals, which in the aggregate renders most of what we perceive as "reality" or "solutions" utterly irrelevant to what is immediately ahead of us.

Of course, "knowing" is not by itself being prepared to adapt successfully, if such a thing is even realistically possible. Knowing that one knows one might not be prepared is a first step to a fuller understanding and experiencing of "What is" and being resolved in it.

Bodhi Chefurka

Bruce, like many others on this board - including our generous host - I share your thirst for knowing and your desire to share. One of the things I appreciate about Dr. Mobus is that he has not succumbed to emotional reactivity in the face of this knowledge.

Giving in to the toxic combination of knowledge and fear creates a particularly unhelpful sort of Cassandra impulse - one I call, "Quick, everybody wake up and kiss your children goodbye!" Of course it's hard to communicate the enormity of this perception without sounding at least a little florid - my own web site is an unfortunate testimony to that impulse.

On the other hand, I'm convinced that the growing awareness of limits and tipping points is acting as a springboard for many. It seems to vault some people into deep self-inquiry in an effort to come to terms with the intense feelings the knowledge can generate. Down in that well of self-inquiry many people are finding an interesting sort of liberation - holding the paradox of human potential and objective finality can do that to you. I'm convinced that this particular brand of moksha can take the lock off whatever unexpressed sapience we might have as individuals.

On the third hand, I find myself becoming less enamoured of knowing and doing these days, and thirsting instead for stillness. Partly this is because I feel that knowing and doing have a poor track record - they're what got us into this pickle - and partly it's from feeling that what's really needed right now is to find the center.

Aboc Zed

bruce and bodhi,

can i ask you to check out the material on "unification theory" that i posted above

since you like learning and sharing it would be interesting to hear your comments on the language employed by the author of the material

he uses energy+information to explain all systems from micro to macro, including Universe

he talks about i-level superorganisms to be made of 3+1 fractal, cellular networks of i-1 superorganisms

a part that i find interesting is the perspective on evolution of the humans that flows out of such way of talking

humans either will organize into superorganism or go extinct

and in the view of the author the extinction is succession by other species that continue to evolve and take over the energy field of species going extinct

the author thinks it will be intelligent machines, he/she calls them "ani-metal"

i bring up this material as an example of how there can be many ways of talking about one reality

i have no doubt that the author is intelligent but for many if not all in the mainstream he probably appears as crazy man

before i end, i wanted to mention that when i read about bodhi's transition into "more stillness, less knowing/doing" i could not help thinking about the stages of our life (birth, growth, maturity, decline, death) and the level of physical energy and knowing that correspond to them (high energy/little knowing ===> low energy/ a lot of knowing)

Bodhi Chefurka

AZ, despite its name, the approach you point to seems quite reductionist to me. That way of understanding What Is is not useful to me at the moment, but it may be very helpful to someone else. Not that I necessarily prefer holism - or even monism - in any absolute way. I simply try to choose the mental tool appropriate to the task at hand and the inner and outer results I wish to obtain.

He is modeling What Is in the best way he can, given who he is right now.

Aboc Zed


i did not suggest his approach as suitable for you or anyone else

i understand that each of us employs the language that reflects our path to this very moment when we happen to communicate

i understand that you may be reluctant to express your opinion or criticism beyond noting that the material is not how you would say it

maybe i ask for too much when i ask for words

maybe silence is the best we can do

Bodhi Chefurka

It's not reluctance so much as disinterest in that style of thought. I intend no judgment against words or for silence, it's just that I'm the wrong person to ask right now.


AZ, I tend to agree with Bodhi's impression that the author's approach is reductionist, but I don't perceive it as detracting from the presentation. After all, he, Sr. Carlos (?), is attempting to apply scientific logic, which can be quite elegant to those of us of the more geeky persuasion.

Beyond that, as I have related here in past posts, I am persuaded that the accelerating techno-scientific advances are occurring at a virtually incomprehensible rate for absorption and practical synthesis of the overwhelming pct. of the population, even those of us in the so-called advanced societies. Biotech, nanotech, genomics/genetic engineering, semiconductor physics, molecular/quantum computing, smart systems/networks, and algorithmic computational schemes are technologies that are so far beyond the knowledge and understanding of the typical human ape as to be practically incomprehensible, i.e., "magic", akin to a Stone Age human being given a scientific calculator and asked to solve differential equations.

IOW, increasingly advanced human and machine knowledge and computational power is running so far ahead of our hunter-gatherer evolution to date as to risk rendering the overwhelming majority of humans and our supporting institutions, division of labor, and system of resource, income, and wealth extraction, allocation, and distribution quite literally obsolete within a generation.

Those with the cognitive capabilities, socioeconomic position, access to surplus net energy per capita, and institutional embeddedness are educated, socialized, allocated, and rewarded for continuing the process of "humachine" evolution, if you will; but they are not rewarded to concern themselves with the larger consequences of their discoveries and so-called "disruptive technologies" and their effects on the rest of society; they serve the interests of the corporate-state (descriptive, not a value assessment), the values and success with which they self-identify.

No human being at the hunter-gatherer level of evolution can hope to compete for his subsistence with an algobot or effective slave laborer working for a few dimes per hour and himself being forced to compete with the emergent sub-species of "humachine".

"Humachine" knowledge and capabilities are currently the manifest driving force of conspicuous evolution of the techno-scientific elite "sub-species" being enabled by the increasing wealth and income concentration to the top 0.1-1% of the hierarchy of social, economic, political, and techno-scientific power relations.

But, again, this IS manifestly the process of evolution. What is not pleasant to perceive for the vast majority of us and our progeny, having failed to win the genetic and socioeconomic lotteries, is that it is conceivable that the evolution of the "humachine" does not require more than a tiny fraction of us biological humans to be successful hereafter.

For the sake of the vast majority of us, let's hope that those with the capability to do so isolate the human compassion and sapience genes in order to genetically engineer the traits into the "humachine" genome so that the species will be more likely to dispatch with us efficiently and compassionately when the time comes.

Speaking of elegance, the reference to humans existing in the dimension of light has both a scientific/physical and metaphorical basis. "Humachines" will likely similarly function, at least initially, on the basis of renewable solar energy at a level of efficiency of work per energy unit per time no human can possibly match.

Therefore, it follows quite logically that that which illuminates the way to successful human evolution is the energy of the Sun, efficiently utilized by "humachines" in much smaller numbers than humans today within a hierarchy of renewable flows.

P.S. In the context of what is perceived as normative expectations by the vast majority of us, this kind of thinking is most definitely "crazy".

Aboc Zed


i knew you would pick up on the theme that is 'close to your heart'

i am interested in your perspective onto evolution of sociality and the final stage of it for any species being eusocial superorganism

i find that perspective informative and think that if 0.1% of "humachines" somehow knowingly implement extermination of the rest of us but fail to simulteneusly achive eusociality they will not be the last word in the book of life

to me this is the avenue of thought that does not get enough attention

and i also think that sapience is necessary and sufficient condition for eusociality in genus homo

in other words anything that is less than eusociality cannot be sapient


AZ, good points, as always.

Would you care to relate what requisite conditions you perceive as necessary for eusociality at some given hierarchical scale? The ant colony or bee hive is often presented as an exemplar or ideal type WRT structure, division of labor, waste disposal, etc.

Then there's the "Borg" and "The Matrix" in popular science fiction.

Taken to the (bio)logical extreme, one can envision a "humachine" entity (or network of interconnected entities at smaller scale) so energy and waste efficient and capable of self-regeneration that it becomes biologically symbiotic with the ecological system of the planet, i.e., "One" with Spaceship Earth.

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