Thursday, October 06, 2011

Naomi Klein on Real Limits and Scarcity vs. False Limits and Scarcity

from democracy now! 10-06-2011

This is one of the contradictions of capitalism, is that it is so destructive that it destroys its own base, whether that’s its base of consumers able to buy its own products, which is why you have to feed them cheap credit, which then becomes a bubble that pops and destroys the economy, or whether it’s the destruction of the ecosphere, I mean, whether it’s the destruction of the natural systems on which we depend. And this is why I think we need the economic and ecological crisis as absolutely intertwined, if not the same crisis, that has their roots in unfettered greed and an inability to say, enough, and an inability to understand that there are limits; that there is such a thing as scarcity in the natural world. And this is one of the things—-there is such a thing as a limit in what our atmosphere can absorb in terms of the pollution that we put out.

Our understanding of limits is so twisted, because we don’t understand those limits. We don’t understand the real limits imposed on us by physics and chemistry, but we impose these absolutely false limits, when it comes to economics. This is one of the themes that really struck me talking to demonstrators yesterday at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, was the theme of false scarcity, that we are living in this age were everybody is told there’s not enough. There’s not enough money for people to have decent health care. There’s not enough money for people to have decent housing. There’s not enough space in the country for immigrants because there’s not enough. We’re told this all the time. We live with this, and that’s what is so powerful and so symbolic about the decision to go to Wall Street, to go to this space of abundance and expose the lie of scarcity. But, at the same time as we expose that lie of scarcity, and to show yet, no, actually this is an abundant society, we have a crisis of distribution in this society, we also have to recognize where there are real limits. The limits of our natural systems to absorb the tremendous stresses that we’re putting on them, and climate change is only one part of those stresses.

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