We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, November 23, 2015

Progress and its discontents [the anti-progress of neoliberalism]

Click here to access article by Susan George of the Transnational Institute.

George is the president of the Transnational Institute, which is based in Brussels, and, in my opinion, one of the leading progressive thinkers in today's world. This article is a transcript of a talk she delivered at the London School of Economics where she, among others, was invited to express her views on the theme of "Progress and its Discontents". She quickly narrowed the focus of her contribution to focus on the rather relatively recent anti-progressive phenomenon of neoliberalism. 

Thus, after she begins her talk with "Good evening to all.", you can skip down to the 14th paragraph of this rather lengthy article to where she writes "Right now I’m personally hoping...". She then launches into an examination of the anti-progressive ideology of neoliberalism which made its first appearance after the Vietnam War, and has since crippled the lives of the vast majority of humans while accelerating the destabilization of the climate. 
Since 2007, the European Commission has based its research priorities on the KBBE, which is a hybrid of the OECD’s bioeconomy project and the EU’s Knowledge-Based Economy and links knowledge with technological innovation. The KBBE can be understood as a new political-economic strategy, and plays a role in shaping policies, institutional practices and societal changes with the aim of creating ‘sustainable capital’ [also known as "sustainable capitalism", an oxymoron]. Simply put, the EU’s KBBE agenda presents technological advancement as the equivalent of societal progress and improved life quality. However, the KBBE does not address the long-term consequences of constantly striving towards new, ‘more efficient’ technologies and the development of projects that promote the commodification of nature.

The KBBE perspective equates ‘renewable’ with ‘sustainable.’ With this viewpoint, anything that can be regrown is considered to have an infinite supply, and technology that can manipulate organisms should therefore be used to create these renewable products. In short, this requires the commodification of nature. The goal becomes ‘sustainable capital’