The Great Challenges of Sustainability

5 10 2014

I haven’t written much here for a while, a combination of being flat out preparing for the two ‘Sustainable House Days’ last month, (and possibly two parties interested in buying Mon Abri), plus dealing with Jezzie (our goat) giving birth to twins, ducklings joining the menagerie, harvesting the Winter crop and making space in the garden for the Summer one, and and and and being exhausted.  Just as I was starting to think my chronic fatigue was easing off, it seems to have come back with a vengeance lately.  And the temperature is rising as Spring was swallowed up by Summer in about two days; Tassie really beckons at this time of the year when I just know the heat will keep me inside for most of the day.  Thank goodness for a cool house…

So I’m posting someone else’s work today, again.  An excellent article on degrowth by Samuel Alexander at The Conversation I heartily recommend you all read, has raised fast and furious commenting now totalling more than 360 posts…….  One of those posts, near the bottom of the list, is by someone I have never heard of before called Brandon Young; nor do I have any means of contacting him to ask his permission to reproduce his writing.  But such is the quality of the small essay, and so resonating it is with me, that I have decided to repost it here as an essay worth saving for prosperity.  Enjoy.


The steady state economy is an important objective of one of the two fundamental forces locked in the battle to save or destroy the world: the forces of Sustainability versus the corrupt financial-corporate system.

The financial-corporate system is corrupted by two deliberate design flaws: money buys political power, and money is created as debt by private owners. These design flaws give the financial-corporate system the power to grow organically, feeding on the creation of debt and consuming political will at exponential rates. Its structure is the greatest hierarchy of unaccountable power the world has ever seen.

If the forces of Sustainability do not defeat the corrupt financial-corporate system, the world will be systematically consumed until it becomes unstable and collapses into chaos. This is neither a theoretical nor an avoidable outcome; it is the empirical reality of how systems behave when they deplete the resources on which they depend at a higher rate than those resources naturally accumulate.

Importantly, the systematic march towards collapse under business as usual is not the greatest threat facing the world, because the corrupt financial-corporate system actually has an agenda to reshape the world in a way which will dramatically accelerate the destruction of the resources on which our system depends.

The corrupt financial-corporate system is seeking to take absolute power across two thirds of global economic activity, and has already ticked off most of the preparatory tasks, aided by enthralled governments around the world, including Australia’s current regime. The international agreements are about to be finalised, and our government has declared that Australia will sign up to the installation of the financial-corporate system into power beyond our sovereign control.

Under the new framework, corporations will be free to ignore sovereign constraints on their activities, and will have the power to change public systems to serve their own interests. Everything that can be privatised and then corporatised will be restructured to maximise the expansion of the sources of debt. This is expected to generate a whole new wave of economic expansion, without the costs associated with protecting the social value of goods and services. This represents the systematic destruction of social capital in the production of the imaginary capital of debt based money.

Environmental capital will also be systematically converted into imaginary capital under the new framework. With sovereign laws either removed or disregarded, which is the inevitable and systematic result of the investor-state dispute mechanisms in the new international agreements, a whole new wave of corporate plunder of natural resources will accelerate both the growth of the corrupt financial-corporate system and the rate of collapse of the ecosystem.

So, the forces of Sustainability face an extremely powerful opponent and must overcome some very great challenges to have any chance at all of defeating the corrupt financial-corporate system. Some of these great challenges are obstacles that have been established by the corrupt financial-corporate system over long time periods as part of its grand strategy.

The first great challenge is the addiction to debt. Our economies are now structured around debt, and if we were to retain or regain sovereign power, we would be able to transition to new economic structures that eliminate the need for debt, but first we would need a plan to both settle existing debts and to allow those currently profiting from the creation of debt to draw just as much profit from some other function in the new economy, or to compensate them in some way that they are willing to gradually concede the power to create debt based money.

The second great challenge is the poor state of democracy. The indoctrination of the citizenry of consumer societies, which systematically drives populations to favour irrational short term self interest over rational long term collective interest, makes the task of amassing political will from the population extremely difficult when it comes to issues that don’t seem to have immediate impact on people’s daily lives. This difficulty is exacerbated by the fact that money can be converted into political influence via commercial media, and this allows sovereign governments to escape accountability for public policy that actually works against the collective interests of the people.

The third great challenge facing the forces of Sustainability is that the steady state economy can only be achieved with a goal-directed systems approach, and while fairly simple conceptually for those with a feel for how complex systems work, the value and practicality of the goal-directed systems approach is extremely difficult to convey to a broader section of any population. Briefly, the goal-directed systems approach involves identifying the relationships between the inputs and the outputs of each activity within the economy, and adjusting the prices of the inputs in order to make the outcomes track towards a set of system goals. The goals may be compiled via a political process that will have both objective and subjective components, but the adjustments made to system inputs are driven by the objective measurement of actual outcomes. The goal-directed systems approach is the only way to develop meaningful prices for the set of social and environmental resources that the steady state economy is designed to conserve. The free market can still determine the economic price of resources and services, and it is the perfect tool for the task, but now the social and environmental value can be systematically added to the economic value so that these resources are depleted or preserved in accordance with the desired tracks.

The fourth great challenge facing the forces of Sustainability is that time is running out. The signing of the great and secret agreements into international law is imminent, and the ratification by the fifty member countries will be fast-tracked in accordance with certain clauses, even through the US Congress. This checkmate move by the corrupt financial corporate system is coming very soon, perhaps in the case of the Trans Pacific Partnership to be announced at the G20 in Brisbane, and in the case of the Trade In Services Agreement, only to be revealed in 2020, five years after becoming the instrument that installs the corrupt financial-corporate system as the absolute power over two thirds of the planet.

However great these challenges are, those with the capability to confront them surely have a responsibility to contribute to publicly collaborative efforts like this conversation.

Brandon Young.






2 responses

5 10 2014

no they don’t know their true power, so they follow the mob like sheople

10 04 2015
Brandon young

Hi folks. It is pleasing to see one of my posts at The Conversation made its way here. I am not familiar with this particular site, but given that the subtitle suggests the mission is to describe why the world is going to hell, I guess that many here have comprehensive ideas on how to prevent that actually happening. To that end, a good discussion on a global approach to climate change has developed on a current thread, and some of you may be interested in adding some comments.

Unfortunately, the arguments are not as compact as the post here, but the couple of sub-threads to which I have contributed may be easy enough to absorb. Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s