tag : bright yellow-green apples: a question of moderation

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Sunday, September 11, 2005

a question of moderation

figure 67.9. what natures?

I was listening to Question Time the other night, which was entertaining as ever. Someone asked about 'the rise of China', as a lot of recent analysis puts it, and whether we should be worried. So much of the concern, about how the rest of us might be threatened, is guff - the county's undemocratic regime, and its countless abuses, notwithstanding. But one of the panellists, the ever annoying Clare Fox (right-wing loony, and lacking a sense of humour - she wouldn't even enter into the spirit of the traditional flippant last question), said that we shouldn't be concerned about the economics of the country. And that there were aspirations to a western lifestyle is something to be celebrated, as part of their betterment. But George Monbiot puts it well, when he pointed out that there isn't enough of the world to be able to support every single person living a western material lifestyle. It's just not possible:

"Modern economics, whether informed by Marx or Keynes or Hayek, is premised on the notion that the planet has an infinite capacity to supply us with wealth and absorb our pollution. The cure to all ills is endless growth. Yet endless growth, in a finite world, is impossible."

And to see continuous economic growth as a central plank of humanity's 'salvation' could eventually create the opposite, as we fashion a dysfunctional world by our exponential demands for stuff. This is where I would get worried about the way China is developing - the logical conclusion might be disastrous, with so many people living in the country. There are, after all, enough problems as it is with a limited part of the world living this lifestyle. If the larger population blocks of Asia reach it, then we might have cause for concern.

Appropriately enough, some quite inspirational lessons from China's past feature in this latest article by Karen Armstrong, of a number of stories:

"The Chinese had assumed that their resources were inexhaustible, so they had plundered the countryside and slaughtered its animals with no care for the morrow. Now they realised that this brutal insouciance could not continue. Aristocrats were forced to curtail their hunting, which had been their chief pleasure - almost their raison d'ĂȘtre - and an extensive ritual reform regulated every detail of their behaviour. Gradually this religious discipline transformed their mentality, so that a spirit of moderation and self-control replaced the former wasteful excess."

She's trying to make the case for a spiritually-inspired renaissance in sustainable living, with greater connection to the world we live in. Religious environmentalism? It's a tentative start, but worth a quick muse for those with the imagination to make something of it.


Anonymous Donna said...

I think your concern is valid. Good post!

2:18 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Why thankyou, that's quite an honour coming from your journelistic-esc self. I doubt I ever manage to put across what I'd like to say without appearing a great twonk, but it's reassuring you found summit in there.

1:09 AM  

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