Embarrassment of Riches-George Monbiot

When it comes to being a voice for our stressed and possibly dying natural environment, George Monbiot’s has no equal.

Please read on. (Hopefully all the links are working as this is a copy, not a reblog. They do work at this end, I checked.)

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Embarrassment of Riches – monbiot.com

Embarrassment of Riches

Posted: 20 Sep 2019 01:22 AM PDT

For the sake of life on Earth, we should set an upper limit on the money any person can amass. (My emphasis)

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian, 19th September 2019

It is not quite true that behind every great fortune lies a great crime. Musicians and novelists, for example, can become extremely rich by giving other people pleasure. But it does appear to be universally true that in front of every great fortune lies a great crime. Immense wealth translates automatically into immense environmental impacts, regardless of the intentions of those who possess it. The very wealthy, almost as a matter of definition, are committing ecocide.

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from a worker at a British private airport. “I see things that really shouldn’t be happening in 2019,” he wrote. Every day he sees Global 7000 jets, Gulfstream 650s and even Boeing 737s take off from the airport carrying a single passenger, mostly flying to Russia and the US. The private Boeing 737s, built to take 174 seats, are filled at the airport with around 32,000 litres of fuel. That’s as much fossil energy as a small African town might use in a year.

Where are these single passengers going? Perhaps to visit one of their superhomes, constructed and run at vast environmental cost, or to take a trip on their superyacht, which might burn 500 litres of diesel per hour just ticking over, and is built and furnished with rare materials, extracted at the expense of stunning places.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that when Google convened a meeting of the rich and famous at the Verdura resort in Sicily this July to discuss climate breakdown, its delegates arrived in 114 private jets and a fleet of megayachts, and drove around the island in supercars. Even when they mean well, the ultrarich cannot help trashing the living world.

A series of research papers shows that income is by far the most important determinant of environmental impact. It doesn’t matter how green you think you are. If you have surplus money, you spend it. The only form of consumption that’s clearly and positively correlated with good environmental intentions is diet: people who see themselves as green tend to eat less meat and more organic vegetables. But attitudes have little bearing on the amount of transport fuel, home energy and other materials you consume. Money conquers all.

The disastrous effects of spending power are compounded by the psychological impacts of being wealthy. Plenty of studies show that the richer you are, the less you are able to connect with other people. Wealth suppresses empathy. One paper reveals that drivers in expensive cars are less likely to stop for people using pedestrian crossings than drivers in cheap cars. Another revealed that rich people were less able than poorer people to feel compassion towards children with cancer. Though they are disproportionately responsible for our environmental crises, the rich will be hurt least and last by planetary disaster, while the poor are hurt first and worst. The richer people are, the research suggests, the less such knowledge is likely to trouble them.

Another issue is that wealth limits the perspectives of even the best-intentioned people. This week Bill Gates argued in an interview with the Financial Times that divesting (ditching stocks) from fossil fuels is a waste of time. It would be better, he claimed, to pour money into disruptive new technologies with lower emissions. Of course we need new technologies. But he has missed the crucial point: in seeking to prevent climate breakdown, what counts is not what you do but what you stop doing. It doesn’t matter how many solar panels you install if you don’t simultaneously shut down coal and gas burners. Unless existing fossil fuel plants are retired before the end of their lives, and all exploration and development of new fossil fuels reserves is cancelled, there is little chance of preventing more than 1.5°C of global heating.

But this requires structural change, which involves political intervention as well as technological innovation: anathema to Silicon Valley billionaires. It demands an acknowledgement that money is not a magic wand that makes all the bad stuff go away.

On Friday, I’ll be joining the global climate strike, in which adults will stand with the young people whose call to action has resonated around the world. As a freelancer, I’ve been wondering who I’m striking against. Myself? Yes: one aspect of myself, at least. Perhaps the most radical thing we can now do is to limit our material aspirations. The assumption on which governments and economists operate is that everyone strives to maximise their wealth. If we succeed in this task, we inevitably demolish our life support systems. Were the poor to live like the rich, and the rich to live like the oligarchs, we would destroy everything. The continued pursuit of wealth, in a world that has enough already (albeit very poorly distributed) is a formula for mass destitution.

A meaningful strike in defence of the living world is, in part, a strike against the desire to raise our incomes and accumulate wealth: a desire shaped, more than we are probably aware, by dominant social and economic narratives. I see myself as striking in support of a radical and disturbing concept: Enough. Individually and collectively, it is time to decide what enough looks like, and how to know when we’ve achieved it.

There’s a name for this approach, coined by the Belgian philosopher Ingrid Robeyns: limitarianism. Robeyns argues that there should be an upper limit to the amount of income and wealth a person can amass. Just as we recognise a poverty line, below which no one should fall, we should recognise a riches line, above which no one should rise. This call for a levelling down is perhaps the most blasphemous idea in contemporary discourse.

But her arguments are sound. Surplus money allows some people to exercise inordinate power over others, in the workplace, in politics, and above all in the capture, use and destruction of natural wealth. If everyone is to flourish, we cannot afford the rich. Nor can we afford our own aspirations, that the culture of wealth maximisation encourages.

The grim truth is that the rich are able to live as they do only because others are poor: there is neither the physical nor ecological space for everyone to pursue private luxury. Instead we should strive for private sufficiency, public luxury. Life on earth depends on moderation.

http://www.monbiot.com

42 thoughts on “Embarrassment of Riches-George Monbiot

  1. sherazade

    Condivido il tuo incipit che vi sono ricchi molto ricchi e sono persone per bene.
    Un ‘piccolo’ ricco parte da una liquidità di 300-500 milioni : qui si parla di miliardi Ed io credo che ci debbano essere tassazione sui patrimoni altissime oltre il 60%
    Tuttavia Il proverbio dice ‘soldi chiamano soldi’ e anche quel piccolo residuo che resta produrrà altri soldi e se sono stati fatti – ripeto – correttamente diventa problematico puntare il dito.
    Penso che un compito importante sia l’educazione al bene comune che è la terra in tutte le sue componenti dopodiché siamo organizzati in Nazioni, gruppi politici ed è a loro che noi cittadini deleghiamo l’assoluzione di queste grandi questioni.

    Una buona settimana cara Sha ‘Tara

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Grazie per il tuo commento, Shera. Non sono sicuro di seguire abbastanza la tua tesi. Sono socialista per filosofo e no, personalmente non sono per niente ricco. Credo che l’economia della Terra sia terribilmente squilibrata e terribilmente ingiusta nei confronti della stragrande maggioranza. Gli antichi hanno detto che il denaro è la radice del male. Credo che.

      Reply
      1. sherazade

        Forse la traduzione non aiuta ma io stessa credo che ” l’economia della terra sia terribilmente squilibrata” e ingiusta per la maggioranza dei popoli/ individui : questo lo dicono le percentuali degli studiosi.
        Il mio status mi permette lavorando di stare economicamente bene ma non mi impedisce di essere (stata) comunista e oggi di sinistra e partecipativa.
        Buona notte

  2. Hyperion

    Oh boy. This should make the One Percenters nervous. I would expect many of them to issue a public announcement through their protocol office that we should eat cake. Then of course, the Butlerian Jihad will begin.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Interesting you should mention the Butlerian Jihad against the thinking machines. I just finished my second re-reading of “Sandworms of Dune” by Kevin Anderson in which the remnants of humanity finally confront their nemesis on a world called Harmony, and defeat the machines’ “ego” and a bridge of understanding and mutual support is built. The point here is, as I’ve always maintained, what appears to be an end is but a new beginning. Man’s patriarchal society, or civilization, is doomed. It will collapse due to internal corruption, mindless violence, and lack of goal or direction. Mentally crippled Earthians who remain faithful to their status quo will die in the chaos of their civilization. But there will arise the true “Kwizatz Haderachs” or Avatars who will assist a new race of mindful mutants to create a whole new way of interaction with each other and their natural environment, minus gods, governments and gold. Such a thing is not going to manifest overnight – think centuries at least, my guess being one millennia to achieving this new level of humanity.

      Reply
      1. Hyperion

        I know you are correct in your prescient vision. I meet young men and women regularly that are not the wasted breeding energy among mindless twits for parents. They will rise to meet the challenge. Many are seeing the futile destruction caused by the evils of an inherited patriarchy and they have the skill, will, and teaming of like minds to effect a positive change when the time is right. I’m not talking of the idiots who mount the streets

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        These youngsters… if they teach themselves (no one can do this for you) to rely upon and work with self empowerment; if they learn early on never to rely on the force of numbers, nor upon close friends and certainly never to trust lovers- that being a key point – they as individuals they will demonstrate a power never seen before. Such power will not prevent to total debacle and final collapse of Home Sapiens’ civilization but they, or their progeny, will become those changed mutants who will create (or invent, same thing) a new civilization completely at odds with all aspects of the old one. Und jetzt Freunde, wir warten auf die Auflösung.(A line from an old WWII movie loosely quoted).

      3. Hyperion

        I can definitely say with confidence that the new intelligensia that is replacing stuck in his ways Fred in the hard sciences and analysis are not subscribers to the horrific constraints imposed by our socio-religious past. They eschew the false prophets and politics that has a death grip on weak minds that like thrilling lies. They are making amazing headway with gene manipulation, creating functioning human systems like hearts, brains, lungs, and other micro level discoveries of how the human mind works at the atomic level and how to replicate that with AI and to actually change entire programming such as instincts of mice. Recently, mice were given human intelligence but that sucessful experiment was stopped due to ethics questions. If the mouse is sentient, should it not be granted human rights? Such gross stupidity will take time to eliminate and we will have our mutants with supreme intelligence and no need for government or religion in order to function at levels never seen before. Indeed the Auflösung is only a decade away. We just have to keep the conspiracy theorists, religious, and moralists out the pie until its fully baked. I call it March of the Cybrids. Muwaaaa haaaaa haaaaaaa! 🧛🏻‍♂️ sounds like great science fiction, eh?

      4. Sha'Tara Post author

        Great science fiction coming into our reality… I’m going to have another glass of wine to celebrate that! Thanks for the good news, Daniel.

      5. Hyperion

        I absolutely cannot find the words to adequately say, you are/were right. I can see the altruistic goals in many of these efforts, but of course, there is always the outer ring of nebulous chicanery with boundless energy to corrupt a good plan. Still, once we cross the line of departure, there is no coming back. I work with a young man that is the equivalent of a humble and quiet Einstein, if that can be imagined. He is the brains behind some of the most amazing advancements and because he is such a likeable person, he wins the admiration of his peers, superiors, and frog minded administrators which has the wonderful effect of uniting people for a common cause. Of course we are constrained to move at the speed of government, but none the less, we are moving ahead. This is the only reason I haven’t taken my few remaining marbles and gone home for good.

      6. Sha'Tara Post author

        Ah yes… I’m happy for you that you still find enjoyment and challenge in your work. At 65 (2011) and due to retire after 42 years I was asked if I would consider another 5 years, being healthy and knowledgeable and all but I knew I had reached the end of my time as my work was being displaced by semi-intelligent computerized equipment which I didn’t want to deal with. Spending my time replacing defective, outdated or burned-out boards? I had better things in mind and I’m doing them now, a second lease on life if much more demanding physically.
        Quote: “Self love is quite anticlimatic by comparison but you rarely lose your body parts and don’t need therapy afterwards, so I recommend self over all the other options.” I certainly endorse that option!

      7. Hyperion

        I’m actually quite happy for you in making that decision to live for yourself while the living is good. I’m getting pressured to work until I’m 70 to finish some worthy projects. I told them point blank they were out of their minds and my replacement sits next to me in the cubie farm. Time to give him some real work to do and pay him for his sacrifice. I’m with you. I want a few years to take off my public decorum jacket and put on my faux rodent fur Daniel Boob hat, prominently display my Dora the Explorer membership badge, and go commune with the flora and fauna before it’s all gone. I’ve got my copy of H. D. Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” and Dune collection to guide me. I may not be the Kwisatch Haderach but I can be the Queezy Squatch Hatrack and have a damned good fun time until age related dementia relegates me to a confined space watching the Shoppers Network on tv 24/7/365. The fine thing is it will be my choice and I’ll go out of this world with a toothless grin and a dirty diaper. That’s the way it is and I like it that way. 😊🐻

      8. Sha'Tara Post author

        When I die I want to go like my grandad, quietly, in my sleep, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car…

      9. Hyperion

        Oh my gawwwd! That was snort laugh and fart funny and I do hope you were kidding, otherwise I’ll feel a bit crude. 🤣

      10. Hyperion

        Whoops! Dang fingers pressed the go button too soon. Anywho, I was blaspheming the mindless hordes that seek attention without a true cause or slight understanding of the world or even their own neighborhood. They are doomed to test the patience of those with real potential and find themselves eliminated in the coming purge. When the worth of currency is exchanged for the worth of human value, those lacking value by another’s standard will simply be eliminated. There is real danger in that mode of valuation but it is how one group will judge another and the rest is often repeated history. I just finished The Heretics of Dune and now starting on Chapterhouse Dune. Then time to reset and read all of the epic collection in the order the official Dune web site recommends. That might help with the global perspective of the Dune universe. I bought the entire collection in large format hardback books because they are easier to read and preserve. A lot of wisdom resided in Frank Herbert.

      11. Sha'Tara Post author

        When it comes to science “fiction” the Dune series is top of my list. From my very first reading I caught on that it is an allegory of Earthian power struggles over a limited substance that has the properties of “expanding awareness and life” which if we think about it is what the discovery of oil in the Arabic Middle East actually was. It allowed a massive surge in technological achievements, such as sending men to the moon (for those who buy that story, I don’t), fighting wars of resource conquest with weapons of mass destruction or threat of use of said weapons, medical breakthroughs that for a time helped prolong life, even if no one had thought much about what to actually “do” with such prolongation, and etc. As I said, an allegory told with skill and expressing much wisdom, as you correctly point out. It is important to read the books in their proper order.

      12. Hyperion

        I agree. it is an excellent and deep examination of many social, science, and human intricacies. Mystery upon mystery upon mystery. I actually try to do that in all of my writing. I let the characters be whatever weakness or strength and persue an end that is at first noble but along the way slides into ignoble execution. This happens far too often. Oil was a gift from the gods until our use of it contaminated our world and has brought our oceans, the axotl tank of Mother Gaia, to death and by extension, our own pending doom. I think the controversy over America landing on the moon or not is fun night time story material along with Bigfoot, and UFOs. We should make up whatever story we think is entertainment and then file it according to the Dewey Decimal System in our library. NASA don’t care what we believe. They are going to entertain themselves and dutifully spend their taxpayers money whether they colonize Mars or not. In the meantime we have all kinds of opportunities to create our own interpretations of what they are or are not achieving. To me, the general public belief system is far more entertaining than the bone dry and flavorless facts on any subject. That is probably why everything known about the human story is fictional entertainment from a viewer perspective 🧐 I’ve noticed that in the earth sciences and human evolution we have a theory come forward each year that says the previous theory was wrong. Hmmmmmmm. Entertainment.

      13. Sha'Tara Post author

        Indeed. It seems the entire species lives for comedy and drama, often unable to sort one from the other. We believe idiotic theories (religious or scientific) to achieve levels of entertainment: I know something you don’t! We fight wars because we love drama – we call them “theatres” of war, a telling terminology. We read novels about great romances and terrible tragedies and talk of such non-stop. Movies, sports, in fact our entire consumerist lifestyle is designed to bring us entertainment in what we “lose” and what we “win”; in what we can afford and what we cannot.
        It is truly all about being entertained. We entertain ourselves with our emotions.

      14. Hyperion

        I could listen for hours. I hadn’t quite conceptualized war as a love of drama. I have now. I can say unequivocally that men can develop a blood lust that satisfies far deeper than any love or sex they will ever experience. It is a drug, an addiction, that once obtained, like the spice of Rakis, cannot be walked away from except by the strongest psyche. Still, the effects can linger for the rest of one’s life. In every case I have ever known when a man is injured and can no longer join his comrades in the fight, he suffers a collapse of self esteem. He has little ability to reconcile his physical limitations with the need to rejoin the bloodbath. In the heat of battle, a well trained and experienced warrior enters a heightened awareness much like that described in Dune. It is a sort of super predator mode where the mind, body, and senses are expanded and emotions suspended. The collapse back down to “normalcy” is like an orgasm that encompasses every aspect of one’s existence. To exoerience it again and again means more and more exposure in the business of exquisite violence and lusted destruction. Yes indeed, the theater of war is the one show that must be attended or one’s value to the world and themselves is in serious question. I actually don’t recommended war or confluct. Self love is quite anticlimatic by comparison but you rarely lose your body parts and don’t need therapy afterwards, so I recommend self over all the other options.

  3. rawgod

    I am totally on board with limitarianism, but who would set the high line? Who has the strength, not just of character, to tell a rich man he can no longer have more than $100,000 of money in reserve. And who is honest enough to share that excess wealth to people around the globe? Who is going to tell housebuilders they cannot charge more than $10,000 for a home no matter how much luxury they build into it? Who is going to tell the 1% they can no longer lord it over everyone else, laugh in the faces of the poor and hungry while they throw hundreds of dollars worth of food into guarded trash cans every day so no one else can share their spoils. Who else besides me? I have wanted to do that for years, I just never pursued thinking about it the way Ingrid Robeyns has. My best attempt was to make everyone who has over $1 million give 10% of their fortunes to a disaster relief fund every year, instead of leaving it to the 99% to put up the money to help disaster victims–ending up with Trump refusing to help non-whites in Puerto Rico. That one I have only been pushing since about 2006 (+/-).
    But to give the rich a maximum amount to live on, and make them share the excess with every other person in the world, WHAT A BRILLIANT IDEA! I have to give it to Ms Robeyns, a practical way to make this world a better and safer place to live in. Just IMAGINE!
    Of course, there will be some violence in a sea change like that. The 1% will try to defend their great fortunes, squirrel it away in offshore accounts, only there will be no “offshore accounts for them to shovel their wealth into.” You don’t know, S’T, how much this idea excites me. Oh, poor Donnie Junk Truck, how he would suffer. My smile is growing by the second!

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for your comment, rawgod. Limitarianism is not only a good idea, it is now of absolute necessity. The 1% will not voluntarily give up their ill gotten spoils of course, they are first and foremost sociopaths and psychopaths. It’s in their genes to exploit, oppress and profit from such measures. Take Amazon, or as I call it, “Amass-On” and its CEO Jeff Bezos: by now no one with any kind of right mind should be dealing with Amass-On. It should immediately be seen as the societal opprobrium that it is. And yet, and yet, the monster of consumerism keeps expanding and bloating itself on the blood, sweat and tears of a growing percentage of working poor and destitute. How many care enough to boycott, to divest? It takes empathy to feel the pain of others and to act on it – people who patronize Amass-On have no empathy. They only know what they believe is good for them, whether it’s in publishing or buying books or grabbing some of the consumerist junk offered.
      It always comes back to the aware and awakened spirit-mind, and to this day, such people remain the minority. My work takes me among what we used to call “the rich” because they’re the ones who can afford landscapers, arborists, gardeners, and such handy types to take care of their extensive grounds. Some of these people are certainly nice enough but I know how fiercely they would fight (and do) to protect their special status. Their concept of “limitarianism” is based on their earnings and investments, not on any sense of responsibility to the polity; certainly not on equality or justice. They protect the status quo and there are less and less “crumbs” dropping from their tables for the destitute.
      For this to change there has to happen a revolutionary mind change world-wide, something that even the best programming and brainwashing, or the greatest fear-based propaganda is helpless against. I don’t expect to see such a thing happening in my life time.

      Reply
      1. rawgod

        If you don’t expect to see a change, no one else will either, and so it won’t happen. Even if you don’t, you gotta believe anyway. Each person who believes can help the acceptance by others. It is how a mob starts, and it just might take a mob to force limitarianism on the 1%.

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        I think the real change can only happen out of complete anarchy in which individuals find themselves having to think for themselves and act alone based on their own sense of morality and understanding. For a species that has always relied on leadership to tell them how to think and what to do being left out “in the cold” of personal responsibility with no supreme authority to run to will definitely cause mega chaos. I can see/sense many scenarios here where small groups will coalesce as the greater groups collapse but even these small units will themselves collapse from the sheer “boredom” of existing just to cling to remnants of the great religions and empires. They will be like characters in a museum and no one will visit anyway. The change makers will let these conservatives atrophy along with their old ways.

      3. rawgod

        Mob = Anarchy – Responsibility.
        If I have to I will settle for that, but only if I have to. I would prefer to do without a mob, if I had my d’ruthers.

      4. Sha'Tara Post author

        Homo Sapiens is a defective creature. Of course it can’t accept that assessment of itself as a society so it will continue to do what it has always done except that isn’t going to work much longer. It will continue to “elect” or fawn over leaders and as its leaders become increasingly corrupt it will try to find other types of leadership. Same shit, different pile, things can only get worse but that too, the creature cannot believe. Rather it will continue to believe that it can improve itself through its leaders and technology, never as self empowered, independent thinkers. Faith in your threesome: god, government, gold, will continue to be the demarcation line until the line no longer holds. Then mob rule, total chaos, end of civilization such as it is, or as we have been brainwashed to believe it is. I know what comes next so that demise doesn’t bother me unduly except for the horrors it will bring about during the transition out of the patriarchy.

  4. Phil Huston

    What if we paid teachers what we pay “professional” athletes? Or professional athletes what we pay teachers? Would the fans stop screaming. If I lost a couple hundred million dollars a quarter would I still get paid what execs at American Airlines make? What if students were taught to think again, not just to pass a test? What if a large part of the world with 94% cell phone coverage had more than 20% clean water? What if women were no longer a second class. Yeah, Amazon and Google and Yahoo and Microsoft and Apple were good ideas. What if the profits got kicked back in to the cost and phones were $5 and wifi was free, everywhere? What if 30% of school kids weren’t hungry. Hell yeah, big money is a stupid concept. But without big money and people willing to risk it how the hell are we going to find the technology to dig our way of this quagmire? Catch 22. Except for the athletes. Will people really scream less loud if they were making the same money as schoolteacher?

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for that pointed comment, Phil. My point for posting such thoughts, apart from the obvious, that they are good ideas, is to show to people who use their brains (mind) that with Earthians, you just cannot, will not, not ever – win. The people, whom some refer to as “we the people,” as misdirecting a term as was ever invented, remain their own worse enemies with rare exceptions. There are so many things wrong with Earthians that even God, if there existed such an entity as people think it, would give up on trying to fix them – in fact, if there is a God, it’s obvious he’s given up trying. Now millions have their heads and hopes turned to little Greta Thornberg, which proves nothing has been learned over the centuries. Unless I change my mind about everything, nothing will ever change. Then comes the next question, so I’ve changed my mind about “everything” – now what do I do with this change? I’m working on that and in all honesty, it doesn’t look like I’m going very far ahead with it. It’s a lot like taking a spade to a mountain to move it. A snow drift or a sand dune might even be a better image. The more you shovel, the more piles up in the hole and beyond.

      Reply
  5. colettebytes

    George Monbiot makes a lot of sense…. But!

    Why, But? Well I agree with the limitarianism ideal. Our current economic developments have skewed ‘fairness’ out of all possible recognition. Spreading the wealth sounds wonderful, but those at the bottom of the pile still remain unmotivated if all they have to do, is to put their hand out.
    I met a man the other day who obviously had no job and was living on benefits. The conversation was something that I have heard a lot. He asked what it was like to live on a boat… How much running costs were, and how much you could get away with not paying. His parting words as he headed to the nearest pub were, I wonder if the council allow benefit recipients to live on a boat? I don’t think, despite his young years, he wanted to work, and neither did his rather drunk wife. Now I don’t know their personal circumstances, but a lot of communistic countries, where supposedly there is more balance between rich, and poor (I say that advisedly because the reality is that there is still a division between those with power over the system, and those who have none), this man and his wife would have to put in their best efforts to contribute to a ‘system’ and would not have the freedom to even suggest that he bilk the social conscience for his life of taking everlasting handouts.

    Yes, the mega rich are parasitic on those natural commodities they ‘exploit’, and have got to where they are, often through luck or birth rights. There are hard workers in there too, but to be mega rich, they have ridden on the backs of their Labour force.

    How do we redistribute their excess wealth and make it ‘fair?’ Taxation supposedly took care of that… But if you take too much from a person, they become unmotivated and want to put their hand out instead.

    Limitarianism is a punitive word, suggesting that a tree may not grow beyond a designated height or girth, whereupon it will be stripped off its life force in a culling of its growth. Does the tree die? Or does it suffer the constant low grade disease of parasites that still continue to suck the life out of it, despite it having no nutrients left to give without hardship?

    I think Mr Monbiot is a good person, and he wants good things for all society, but he is forgetting that human nature is not as benevolent as a tree. Humans are rather parasitic creatures and likely, without a sudden evolution in our human thinking… We will not achieve the utopian ideal.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      “Limitarianism” as used by Monbiot, from work by Ingrid Robeyns is not punitive at all. What is punitive, as Greta Thunberg so clearly stated at the UN, is to allow the mega rich to plunder the planet and then allow them to keep their profits accrued from the destruction of the world. Billions of individuals are directly being punished, often with the loss of their lives, by capitalist extortion. To point to the working poor, or the non-working poor who can’t afford to get a job because the corporate sector won’t pay decent wages or benefits is to play into the hands of the extortioners. So the poor put their hand out, and why not? Who has made them what they are? Who has robbed them of dignity and hope? Who continues this pattern? Blaming the victims of extortion is not the way to go here. Time for a complete change of order, and if necessary I say bring back the guillotine. I’d learn how to knit just to sit by and watch the 1% heads roll. Enough is enough.

      Reply
      1. colettebytes

        I am on your side, you know, but I never throw caution to the wind… That puts me in line for premature death before having a chance to do anything. Does that make me a ‘fence sitter?’ No, I would never defend the top 1% unless they were philanthropic and gave away 98% of it. But without money, some innovative (good) stuff never gets done, so I am cautious about who I finger point at. Are they all evil?

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Philanthropy, as history amply demonstrates, is a complete crock. To get to philanthropy, you have to pass through massive exploitation of resources and the work force. To get to a Nobel prize you have to be willing to accept money that was accrued by making war materiel. The Nobel Peace prize is the biggest, bloodiest joke on the planet. When we learn that money is the main reason “good stuff” doesn’t get done, then we’ll have taken the first baby step out of the capitalistic morass we are drowning our world in. What’s money? It’s a religion. It’s based on nothing but faith in wizards of economic manipulation who only understand accumulation; psychopathic madmen who have pushed themselves up to rule a world with a simple Ponzi scheme they call banking. The evil we do is mostly due to economic manipulation. The little good we do is when we defy capitalism and act with a conscience. Some call it socialism but whatever. As long as it’s no based on political or religious motives it means something. What good is done through official agencies is never good, whatever is believed about “tax deductible” charitable donations. The politicians and “charitable” agencies or corporations take the very fat lion’s share and some crumbs may get to the needy, if only to justify their tax free status. Money is the root of all evil in today’s capitalistic society.

      3. colettebytes

        Greta Thunberg has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I wonder if she will turn it down if she wins?

        If we have pure ‘Socialism,’ in that everyone has equal status, what method do we use to motivate people to strive their hardest to succeed at any venture? Or do we doom ourself to complacency with whatever system we develop for ‘living.’ Is our mandate to rise to self-sacrifice for all others? Given the current divisions on the smallest of cultural practices, I cannot envision a benevolent society that does no harm, and gives up autonomy for the good of others. It is just so far off in a utopean vision. 😶

      4. Sha'Tara Post author

        Few know of the history behind the Nobel fortune and fewer yet understand the ramifications of accepting such money. Even fewer refuse it. Most believe that with the money they can do some good but there are some “gifts” that can only kill the will and enslave. Tolkien beautifully demonstrated that truth in his story of the One Ring to rule them all – Lord of the Ring. Undoubtedly Greta is not operating alone therefore she has guides and advisers. They may not be able to control her emotional outbursts but if it comes to a Nobel prize, they will most likely sway her to take the blood money so she can ‘do some good’ with it. It’s what Malala Youzafzai did. I cringed when she went to meet with the Obama’s to plead for an end to the war in Afghanistan. Even while Obama and his wife were lavishing praise upon her the US military was bombing school buses, schools and hospitals in her country. Did she ever catch on? Now she’s studying for a sociology degree in the very country that fronts for the US military through NATO, committing the same crimes as the US. I realize she can’t return to her country now as there is (I believe) a death sentence fatwa decree for her. Still, should one be accepting handouts from the same people killing your own? She’s caught in a lose-lose situation and that’s what these sort of political machinations, and Nobel prizes are nothing if not political, get you into. Will Greta see this? I she willing to have her say, and that was a pretty loud say, then let it go? Letting it go is the hardest part and I speak from personal experience and I was much older than Greta when I clued in to the shenanigans. I can state with certainty though that whatever she does it will make no difference. The wheel of karma is now much too big, even if the entire civilization came on full force in addressing anthropological climate change. The first thing of absolute necessity for the wheel to even begin to slow down would be a global state of repentance for all the evil committed by man against the planet, it’s denizens and against the victims of use of raw, illegitimate power.
        The second point in your comment, quoting in part, “what method do we use to motivate people to strive their hardest to succeed at any venture? Or do we doom ourself to complacency with whatever system we develop for ‘living.’ Is our mandate to rise to self-sacrifice for all others?”
        I don’t see it as either/or. If we did establish a “socialist” society it would fail in record time if that’s all we did. It would just be another elephant in the room, bureaucracy crowding out self motivation. The trick is to not repeat any of the old tried and failed methods of “running” society. In fact, “fuck” society. Let’s just be individuals dealing with individuals. Let’s grow up and realize that we are the adults, not the religious fat cats; not the CEO’s, not the “elected representatives” who only represent their own self-interest. No more centralized or collective anything. Anarchy? Why not? It doesn’t have to be a pejorative concept. Why should we continue to give away our power to individuals we know, for a fact, are less worthy of it than we? Why give them our children and love partners to kill and be killed so they can profit from our blood? How stupid can we be not to be able to reason this. If each one of us is an independent entity – no more empires, no more nations, no more power collectives then the motivation will be there. Of course this was guaranteed to bring me full circle to my final argument in such discussion: there is, within each and every one of us, a force, a power, unlike any we have played with ’til now to our detriment. We can, if we so choose, become empathetic beings through the practice of compassion. That covers all the negative arguments against self empowerment. It changes the game plan at a fundamental level. The alternative to growing up and claiming our “right” to live as compassionate beings (as human beings) is to continue to repeat our mistakes and accept that we must indeed, self-immolate as a quasi-intelligent species. It’s a choice we can still make.

      5. colettebytes

        I don’t think anarchy has to mean chaos or violent self interest that most people see it as. To me, anarchists are people who would rather live life as they choose rather than as dictates to, and definitely preferable to Marxist principles. Anarchism leaves autonomy in tact. It allows everyone to exist on equal terms and allows for cooperation where needed to achieve common goals. It would be a rare and precious thing to have. I think it needs to be renamed so it is not seen in such a poor light. 🤗

      6. Sha'Tara Post author

        Back when, anarchism was demonized by the status quo because it presented a real danger that too many of the Muggles caught between predatory capitalism and equally predatory communism wouldn’t all cheeringly join up to fight WWI. So they trained and drugged up some assassins to drop the archduke, labelled them “anarchists” and the war was on.
        If a label is needed, I think “Independent” covers it nicely.

      7. Sha'Tara Post author

        True, Colette, but under the crush of patriarchal capitalism and its endless wars there have always been innocent victims – now totaling in the billions and as the environment is increasingly made unlivable due to heartless exploitation, billions more are going to be added to the score. Can we not focus on the entire picture? If we took the lion’s share of the 1%’s profits from them and if we unilaterally cancelled banksterism’s fake national debts as well as personal debt we can change everything overnight, without firing a shot. The alternative will be the most violent and destructive “revolution” you’ve ever heard of, beyond the imaginable even for “modern” man. The hopeless battle for survival under the current despotic rule of predatory capitalism has already begun and has already resulted in millions of deaths due to resource wars (Iraq, Lybia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Palestine, Syria, to name the obvious), fake meds, denial of health care, sanctions by the most ruthless autocratic regime: the American military empire that have already caused hundreds of thousands of deaths world wide. We’re already in the middle of it, up to our armpits. The only reason we of the WordPress world don’t get it is we are cooperating with the oppressors; we are those who still benefit from NATO savagery and Amazon exploitation. It takes courage, and it can even be somewhat depressing to look at the really big picture and locate ourselves in it and “Google maps” won’t be any help there. It’s a matter of conscience and in the still very rich West, that conscience is mostly dead. Do we awaken, or do we continue to blame the victims for being what we’ve made them into, Colette?

      8. Sha'Tara Post author

        What? You object to me practicing a very French tradition of knitting by the guillotine as the heads of the super rich roll into the utility trailer pulled by a Kubota self propelled lawn mower to the reduction grinder? Honestly, I don’t know that I would actually support such a move. In fact the more I think about it, the more I realize that not only could I not, but it runs counter to the life-choice I have made. I was using hyperbole, huh? 🙂 But if by some beyond remote chance a member of the 1% read my comment, it might make her think, at least to not say of the starving, let them eat cake. They do say that history repeats itself. How literally remains to be seen.

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