When the man in charge of the soundness of our money supply (Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Allan Bollard – PhD in Economics no less) goes to the “Jobs Summit” and comes out saying such headline grabbing rubbish (namely that the current global recession is the “biggest destruction of global wealth ever”), it is no wonder we are in trouble. Yes, he may well be correct that the nominal dollar value of the assets “destroyed” is the greatest ever. It may even be that the nominal dollar value of assets “destroyed” is the greatest ever in relation to the size of global GDP. But really, what does that mean?
Monthly Archives: February 2009
In The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability, environmentalist Gus Speth makes fundamental connections between capitalism and environmental destruction. He writes:
Most environmental deterioration is a result of systemic failures of the capitalism we have today and … long-term solutions must seek transformative change in the key features of this contemporary capitalism.
The shock that Speth generates in making such a statement is not so much in what he says: many others have said much the same. The shock is felt more because of who says it. Very, very few mainstream environmentalist leaders in the developed world are willing to discuss capitalism, let alone question its relationship with the natural world, challenge its core assumptions or acknowledge the need for transformative changes to our economic system.
It’s time many more environmentalists followed Speth’s lead. Capitalism is the elephant sitting unacknowledged in the environmentalist’s living room.
The present New Zealand government is currently engaged in the widely expected post-election neoliberal hatchet job and I for one am very happy that the Green Party of Aotearoa went nowhere near a role in this government. But even when governments around the world are at their progressive best, their social, economic and environmental reforms are, from a green perspective, generally rather modest. They do very little to promote social justice, rein in corporate power, or institute real sustainability.
When your vision for the future is radically different from the present state of affairs, you have to ask: Are such modest reforms actually of any use at all?