Thursday, February 12, 2009

The biology of capitalism

Ok, here's why I will never be a Free Market fanatic, nor a guru of even run of the mill growth-based capitalism.

1) We live in a bounded world, called Planet Earth.
2) Cells in our bodies that have no mechanism for die-off -- that is, have nothing to forestall endless growth -- are called cancer cells. The growth, uninhibited, is called metastasis.
3) At another scale, let's look at human life span. We start out in utero, where hyperplasia -- or the proliferation and development of many new types of cells/growth occur (to wit: stem cells morph into specific cells). Then we begin to grow on this base, and most growth after our early life is in the form of hypertrophic growth -- or the increase in cell size.
4) Then we get our full size, reproduce, and by middle age figure whatever growth is going on is not in the direction of biology, but more inner: psychological, spiritual, etc. We actually use less resources if we're not acting out previous adolescent fantasies and buying Porsches, etc. That is, we (hopefully) acheive a steady-state and then senescence.
5) Our economy, on the other hand, has an entire philosophical industry justifying why it should stay at Stage 3 -- a barely post-adolescent stage with the concomittant belief that the GNP should just keep exhibiting hypertrophism.
6) No other organism on earth acts like this (save cancer cells). And countless civilizations before us -- the Maya, Chaco, Ur, etc and so forth -- have demonstrated the folly of expansionistic fantasy. (See Jarrod Diamond's Collapse or Guns, Germs and Steel; see also, more locally, David Stuart's Anasazi America). The difference this time is that the whole world is involved.
7) So to reach steady-state, or to grow up out of hypertrophic adolescent economic theory and practice, we've got to can our entire economic model.
8) Even Obama is unwilling to go there.
9) Dammit.
10). Glad to see y'all are willing to go there, though.
11). Such is my half-baked analogy, but my current theory is that somewhere in their unconscious pea-brains the hyper-conservative free-marketers have a vague sense their ability to be adolescent in body and soul and economic mind is about to end. So they cling to sexy fantasies (Sarah Palin, Drill Baby Drill) in the hopes they don't have to do the real work. Meow.
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