Ok … Let’s tear apart these concepts and analyse their component properties & functions, but first let’s look at the relationships between them:
- PROPERTY is the idea that you go out into the world, take some little chunk of it, and say “this is mine”;
- So the more you have of things that are scarce, the greater value you have in TRADE;
- BECAUSE each unit of scarce property you have, gains the maximum quantity of units of other resources in trade;
- THEREFORE the concept of property motivates you to:
- Find something which is scarce, and spend the least amount of resources hoarding it, &/or;
- Find something that is not scarce, and make it scarce, then do the same as above;
- THEREFORE having concern for the CONSEQUENCES of how you acquire those resources is an additional cost, and therefore a disadvantage;
- THEREFORE the concept of property motivates and nurtures ecological & social harm;
- CURRENCY is merely a medium of exchange, and thus an extension of this principle, making it even easier for people and organisations to dissociate their actions from the consequences of those actions;
- In all cases, the poor, the weak, the vulnerable, and particularly other species, their ecosystems & habitat, pay the price of these consequences, while the human beings are often oblivious to the impact of their actions.
Historically, this was not an issue for most of the evolution of our species, as our numbers were no greater than any other species, we had no significant technology, and the planet was vast & robust enough to pay that price on our behalf without us noticing (especially if you were wiling to be wilfully blind to it) … BUT, then something changed, something happened … the industrial revolution.
When our species learned to utilise fossil fuels & build machines, all of a sudden our capacity for growth and the consumption of resources started its exponential climb to the heights we see today … and therein lies the problem, for we already had a kind of systemic demon in our midst, and this capacity brought on my machines, began to let that demon loose. The capacity for money to drive human behaviour, allied with the capacity of machines & fuels to magnify our capabilities, saw the start of the end of the world.
For many years, even this accelerated rate of destruction was largely hidden from most people’s minds, for what their eyes saw, their ears heard & their noses smelled, was dismissed by the new luxuries brought about through technology.
NOW … I have nothing whatsoever against technology, nor against luxuries, in fact I like them myself when I can get them … but the problem comes back to how money, trade & property drive consumption, and how value is linked to scarcity. What our economic world started doing, was manufacturing more & more things, even unnecessary things, brainwashing people into wanting them, and even designing them intentionally to be flawed (see: inbuilt obsolescence), so they will need to be replaced more often.
You may hear economists argue that “market forces” will regulate our consumption, because if our consumption is not sustainable, the market will recognise this and adjust … this is pure nonsense … if such were the case, we would not have seen the extinction of so many species & the destruction of so much habitat, and the pollution of so much air, water & land, that we now also see the collapse of entire ecosystems. This has gone on for decades, the market did not adjust, it accelerated … it was driven to do so by its own fundamental nature & mechanics.
In the presence of technology, the concepts of property, trade & currency are lethal to the stability of the biosphere.
Let me now explain to you how ecosystems work:
- Any system can be defined as an arbitrary boundary encapsulating a range of elements & their interactions, and which interfaces with the next largest system (aka – the external environment);
- So an ecosystem is an encapsulation of species, and various non-living elements, which have interactions;
- If we consider the entire planet as one big ecosystem, comprised of many subsystems & other elements, we can easily see a simple set of boundaries in which to encapsulate everything:
- The Earth’s crust-mantle interface forms a lower boundary;
- The Earth’s ionosphere forms an upper boundary;
- In this way, we have encapsulated all life, which lives in the air, oceans, or in/on the land;
- At the lower boundary, we can define system losses in terms of the subduction of crust into the mantle;
- At the lower boundary we can define system gains in terms of lava flow, volcanic gases, and geothermal heat;
- At the upper boundary we can define system losses in terms of gasses taken by the solar wind, plus the dissipation of heat into space;
- At the upper boundary we can define system gains in terms of asteroid impacts & solar energy;
- MOST OF THESE SYSTEMIC INPUTS & OUTPUTS remain relatively constant within a variable range over vast periods of geological and astronomical scales of time … ie – the biosphere system is stable, but fluctuates within a range of average change according to very long time period cycles;
- What this means is that species can evolve & grow with reasonable security;
- What it also means is that if you total these inputs & outputs, ignoring the possibility of interplanetary society for the moment, SUSTAINABILITY can only be defined as operating within that range of variability.
On a smaller scale, each individual ecosystem on the planet operates basically the same way, but over different time scales, with different localised system states, and with different localised variability.
So, what has this got to do with currency & property? Simple: there is not one single thing inherent to the nature or mechanics of property, trade & currency, which requires anyone to concern themselves with these system limits; to the contrary the economic system drives maximum consumption of the ecological system … and you can make all the efficient light bulbs and other technologies you want, but no matter what resources you save in one area, they will only be chewed up and spat out in another.
Because currency has no inherent property requiring such moderation, it must be artificially imposed by external regulation through law & the enforcement of law … but here again we have a problem, because:
- Creating the law doesn’t change the motivation, it merely adds to it “don’t get caught”;
- The law is imperfect, inconsistently applied, and only fractionally effective in any regard;
- Money is power, and thus incentivised and empowered to buy and corrupt both law and enforcement.
So even when we want to protect things, it’s an absolute shit fight to achieve the barest minimum protections.
Some people would argue we need to shift industries toward such things as ecotourism, and to some extent I agree, but this has its own ecological consequences, as it is still driven by and entirely intertwined with the entire rest of the system, and the same foundational flaws.
- In a currency trade & property based economic paradigm, no other species or object gets any say at all;
- Only a proportion of people get a say, and only a fraction of those get a significant say;
- No matter who does get a say (in what goes on), the system will ALWAYS drive the maximisation of consumption;
- No single planet can sustain this indefinitely;
- No benefits of such an approach outweigh the costs;
- This is unfixable within this paradigm, as it is inherent to it.
So … what do we do about it?