Earth Day and Univironmental Determinism

Blog 20150422 

Earth Day and univironmental determinism have much in common. Remember that the old scientific world view was systems philosophy, which sprung from the myopic outlook that our species was born with. Although we are still in our juvenile stage of development (see figure below from TSW), we are slowing gaining maturity. Part of this growth involves looking outside ourselves, thinking “outside the box,” as they say. Earth Day is such a celebration. True, as microcosms we are important, but the macrocosm (the environment) is equally important. Thinking only of ourselves will not do. Our continued existence requires a univironmental analysis. We need to give up systems philosophy, which considers portions of the universe to be isolated and unaffected by the rest of the universe. Perpetual growth is not an option.

The wonderful pronouncements made on Earth Day focus attention on the macrocosm: our limited resources, the aesthetics of our surroundings, and the treatment of other species as well as the members of our own. This reaching out process may be seen in the theorizing about the universe itself. Contradictions within the Big Bang Theory are now leading systems philosophers outside that box too, what with their oxymoronic speculations about “parallel universes” and “multiverses.” It is somewhat ironic that we are finally moving toward the realization that the universe is infinite at the same time that we are finally realizing that Earth’s resources are finite.

There is another side to Earth Day that is not celebratory: the Doomsday tendency. There is a bit of truth in the pessimistic view. After all, the Sixth Assumption of Science, complementarity (All things are subject to divergence and convergence from other things), implies that each microcosm (xyz portion of the universe) comes into existence as an assemblage of other things and eventually will go out of existence through dispersion. For each of us, “the end is near,” as the sidewalk prophets say. So from time to time indeterminists warn of the eminent extinction of Homo sapiens by its own hand. Thankfully, these chicken-little prognostications eventually fade away. We no longer have to worry about the “population bomb,” “nuclear winter,” “global cooling,” or “running out of food” as the cause of our eventual demise. That is scheduled to occur in about five billion years when the Sun reaches the end of its life.

Global demographic transition (from Borchardt, 2007, Fig. 12-3).


Borchardt, Glenn, 2007, The scientific worldview: Beyond Newton and Einstein: Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 411 p. 


henk korbee said...

No one can imagine what five billion years means. Maybe soon one will talk about five trillion years just like the financial is doing right now about debt. Ungraspable.

Glenn Borchardt said...


Actually, I can imagine it, but it is taking a long time. Trillions are bit harder, but they do keep adding up, don't they?

We need to think of debt (no matter how large) as necessary for the survival of capitalism. As the P-C Gap widens, it must be filled in with some kind of give-back of capital to pull out of the recession that always occurs when workers are not paid enough to buy what they (or the robots) produce. Remember that capitalists like this better than the other alternative: taxation, which does not involve a promise to pay the money back. Until the Ponzi scheme collapses, there is always a chance that some of the debt will be paid back.

I suspect that defaults will increase as the economy becomes ever-more roboticized and wages fail to keep up, both for individuals and for whole countries. I doubt that such a calamity can be postponed beyond the year 2050, as seen in Fig. 12-3.

Bligh said...

Henk and Glenn,
“complementarity (All things are subject to divergence and convergence from other things)”
As Glenn points out, nature is like he says above, but as I point out, the State (government) does not operate naturally. It interferes and creates things like debt without option of repayment. The State thinks it can survive indefinitely without going through bankruptcy, but we know this is false. On the other hand, freer markets do respond in a natural fashion as pointed out by Hume and Smith, Von Mises and Hayek etc. Preventing natural bankruptcies is another of the destructive policies of the State.
Socialist States always collapse. Now that we are approaching a State controlled society and economy (look up Crapitalism. Read the book) we will collapse as well.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Comment 20150615 The Myth of Exceptionalism and the “Collapse of the State”

You wrote, “the State (government) does not operate naturally.” [GB: Bligh, you need to reread my chapter on “The Myth of Exceptionalism” in "The Scientific Worldview." Absolutely everything and every process in the universe is natural, including free and unfree markets, government, you, me, and whatever we do. As explained previously (http://thescientificworldview.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-transition-from-capitalism-to.html), at this point in human history we are witnessing the transition from capitalism to socialism. Capitalist governments are forced to “interfere and create things like debt without option of repayment” to keep the current system going. You are probably correct that the “State thinks it can survive indefinitely without going through bankruptcy,” but the state really has no other choice no matter what it thinks about it. Free will cannot close the Production-Consumption Gap (P-C Gap) inherent to capitalism. Without credit or other capital give-backs, consumers could not buy the products that capitalism tends to overproduce. When production exceeds consumption, recession occurs. The only way out of recession is to get money into the hands of consumers. That is why government programs expand over the long haul. The left-right swings of the political pendulum produce quite a show with much bombastic sound and fury, but in the end, even the right wing finds the increase in give-backs more acceptable than perpetual recession. Each turn of the business cycle without a corresponding increase in the number of consumers squeezes the system. This forces it toward socialistic policies that are anathema to conservatives and reactionaries who would rather return to the good old days of free markets and exponential growth. Good luck with that!

You wrote, “Socialist States always collapse.” This statement is akin to the indeterministic view that a microcosm can collapse of its own accord. Read in "The Scientific Worldview" about the old shibboleth of the “Fall of Civilization” and about the extinction of species, and “species suicide.” All those changes were and are macrocosmic, as the environment that produced a particular microcosm suddenly changes. Roman, Greek, and socialist cultures were destroyed when population and economic pressures forced the feudalistic world to rush in.

From a global perspective, none of those collapses resulted in a “Fall of Civilization.” The coming global economic collapse will not result in a “Fall of Civilization” either. You are probably right that the collapse will be marked by numerous bankruptcies. On an isolated island, loans given to workers on a temporary basis ultimately cannot be repaid. Loans unpaid are unrealized profits. A system with unrealized profits is no longer capitalism. Does this mean that we then will all “die in the dark” as predicted by hysteretics for centuries. Not a chance. We will overcome, as always, although I predict that the rebuilt society will not include belief in the Big Bang Theory.]

Rick Doogie said...

I'm not completely ignorant about history, but maybe you can give me some clarification about your words, "conservatives and reactionaries who would rather return to the good old days of free markets and exponential growth."
My question is; when were those "good old days"? What, when, and where are you referring to? I can't think of any time or place in the history of "civilization" when there have been any substantial or wide-spread "free markets".
Any attempt at a free market has been very limited in time and space. It would make more sense to use the word "relative" when speaking of free markets. US markets in the 19th century were relatively free, compared to today's markets. But the US government was set up to hamper markets from the beginning.
The Interstate Commerce Clause guaranteed that no market within the US could ever be very free for very long. Can you tell me where and when the "good old days" of free markets existed?

Glenn Borchardt said...

Comment 20150714 Free markets


Thanks for the comment.

When I made the suggestion that “conservatives and reactionaries who would rather return to the good old days of free markets and exponential growth,” I was being a bit facetious. As you imply, for most people those “good old days” never really existed—except in the minds of reactionaries. Also as you imply, “free” markets quickly become unfree in many ways. During the early stages of capitalist development, the magic of the market tends to lead to overproduction of both goods and population. Once the market becomes saturated, prices fall and recession ensues, followed by bankruptcy, mergers, and governmental attempts to control overproduction. As I pointed out here, each recession is progressive, with increasing governmental control at every turn of the economic wheel. The P-C Gap must be closed at least partly in order for the economy to get going again. There will be no return to “free markets and exponential growth” for any country, once it passes from the “developing” phase that generates up to 9% growth to the “developed” phase that generates almost no growth. A glance at Fig. 12-3 shows that, if there were any “good old days” for global capitalism, the associated exponential growth ended in 1989.