We have that delightful vision of an anthropologist trying to talk economics. This works about as well as that oft seen accountant trying to talk economics.
Peter Sutoris is an anthropologist of development and the environment, and the author of Educating for the Anthropocene
Not that I’d want to make this a hard diagnosis but much of the vague lefty wibble that used to infest economics has moved over into anthropology. I assume because economists have had to actually accept the real world evidence of the world out there getting richer, of lives getting better. You know, all those pretensions to being a science and thus testing hypotheses.
That one’s difficult to explain by the idea that socialism makes the people rich for example.
So, the woo is relegated to anthropology, where actual facts aren’t quite so important.
Our society has come to believe that technology is the solution. Electricity from renewable sources, energy-efficient buildings, electric vehicles and hydrogen fuels are among the many innovations that we hope will play a decisive role in reducing emissions.
Well, yes. Because in those original predictions of there being a problem at all that’s what was found. That if we continued to have this capitalist, free market and globalised economy but powered it without fossil fuels then that would produce the best result. Fewer, richer people without climate change in fact. It’s possible to be Protestant about this and read the Ur Text. A1T – globalised free market capitalism with fewer fossil fuels, it works.
Our civilisation is underpinned by extractivism, a belief that the Earth is ours to exploit, and the nonsensical idea of infinite growth within a finite territory.
Ah, yes, not understanding what is economic growth at all. The limitations to the system are physical, all are agreed upon that. There are only so many copper atoms around, we cannot use more than that number. But economic growth is not the processing of raw materials, it is adding value to them. So, what is the hard limit to the value that can be added to a copper atom? Quite – so, what’s the hard limit to the value that can be created in our economy?
What does this look like in practice? Changing the collective mindset of a civilisation calls for a shift in values. It means educating our children about humility and connectedness, rather than vanity and individuality. It means changing our relationship with consumption, breaking the spell of advertising, manufactured needs and status. It means political organising, generating demand for a politics that sees beyond the nation state, and beyond the lifespan of the currently living generations – Wales has already started, with its Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.
Ah, yes, there we go. You will be poor peasant and we’ll have a world government to ensure that.
Anthropologists, of course, still get to sit at the front of the ‘plane. They’s important folks, you know…..