Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The View from Brittany: The impotence of politics

Even those who officially support degrowth are forced to disguise it as progress, lest they lose whatever small support they have. There is no way to support extensive public services without an industrial economy, yet degrowthers feel obliged to claim the contrary because most of them come from the left and being on the left here means maintaining that state funding for your lifestyle is an inalienable right.

Should a left winger (or anybody else for that matter) state the truth — that is, that the years of affluence are nearing their end and that we, as a people, are going to have to live with far less — he would be immediately branded as a dangerous extremist and an accomplice of whatever conspiracy is fashionable at the moment.

In fact, politicians' options are far more limited than laymen's.

Acting openly to prepare for the future is impossible – we would be quickly out of a job. We can, of course, prepare covertly for the future. I am persuaded that a few leaders, and at least some services, do this. The problem is that the changes needed to adapt to the end of the industrial society are so drastic that one cannot implement them stealthily. Moreover, even a gradual implementation is likely to be met with fierce resistance... and there would be no shortage of would-be presidents to capitalize on that.

What, then, have they been doing? When conspiracy theorists in the U.S. typically about covert preparations in the U.S., they are referring to martial law, internment camps, and so on. So if these leaders are not doing what is necessary to decentralize power, then what other preparations could they be doing, uless it's stockpiling resources. Perhaps there are leaders at the local level who are aware of how bad things are, and they are the ones who are muddling through. But those who have more power? I doubt it, and I don't see any reason why the few who know cannot do much cannot at least use the office to make the public more aware of these issues. Why else would they want to have the job? Unless they are biding their time and hoping that when things get really bad, they will have more power. Or, they just like having the title.

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