Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feasta Conference, Dublin


I will be giving a couple of talks at a conference in Dublin, Ireland, June 9th through 12th. The conference is sponsored by Feasta (The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability www.feasta.org.) This is its 10th anniversary conference, entitled:

Creative Solutions for the New Emergency

Managing Risk and Building Resilience in a Resource Constrained World

I will be giving a public lecture at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin on the evening of the 9th, starting at 19:30, as well as a keynote on the morning of the 11th:

Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation

15 comments:

patcork said...

Richard Douthwaite said it all years ago in The Growth Illusion and all the time since has just been watching and waiting for it to play itself out... Orlov and Douthwaite in the same time and space - I'll be there!

Anonymous said...

Is admission to the public lecture in the Davenport hotel free?

kollapsnik said...

The lecture is free for those attending the full 3 day conference, but will cost 10 euros for anyone else.

kollapsnik said...

Somebody suggested I post a link to an "excellent article" by Michael Hudson, a former Wall Street economist, talking about "Where Russia went wrong." It's rather far off-topic. Hudson is one of the crazies trying to "grow the global economy." Funny thing is, Russia is solvent with oil prices above about $50 a barrel, which they now are, again. The US is not solvent by any stretch of the imagination. Stay focused, people.

Anonymous said...

I lurked for quite a while at this site and all I can say is, "Brilliant work!" It doesn't mean I agree with _all_ the points made here but the level of the insight and critical thinking is amasing.

I am not a convert to these ideas (I've arrived at similar conclusions quite a while back), I am merely an observer who as Dmitry happened to watch both Empires do whatever they call what they are/where doing from both sides. Being partly brought up in the USSR, I am more or less sensitive to the stuff one is fed by the MSM, and one thing is for sure, we (in the West) are being fed considerable amount of cow pie since about mid to late 90s.

The excellent part of this blog is that Dmitry leaves it up to you to figure out the reasons for the collapse, all he does is ask you to think for yourself and trust _your_ feelings and observation rather than some TV 'pundits'.

One parameter in the scheme of the collapse that doesn't quite make sense to me is the 'security' bit. It seems to me that in the event of total collapse (worst case scenario) of the US, the private security forces and armies will be formed throughout the country (there are many sources of wealth that will try to maintain their positions) and eventually it will end up as a collection of extremely powerful fiefdoms (think of all the nukes!) Some of those may be dictatorships or democracies or whatever. This sort of layout may dictate a rather different approach to the survival methods in the 'post-collapse' period.

Another bit is the optimism in the way the US (or rather the West) will collapse. The main issue is sustainability, i.e. the population growth vs. dwindling resources. And that is a worldwide issue not just the US or even the Western civilisation one as the whole. China, India, Brazil and Russia where doing extremely well in the boom years. However only two of the above countries are energy/resource independent (Brazil and Russia.) It looks like the survival will apply not only to the individuals in the West but also to the countries in the world. If a given country cannot function fully independently in the isolation (and doesn't have a strong military deterrent), it will most likely be either absorbed by the neighbours outright or broken up into pieces and then absorbed by the neighbours.

The part that I find particularly scary is the population sustainability. The population growth is exponential, it seems to be over the curve and the most dreadful thing one can think of is the 'correction'. The thing about this correction is that, unlike the market one, it is measured in lives. With the world's largest consumer markets (the EU and the US) down there will be no demand for most of the goods produced in the emerging economies. Of course the countries will adapt and reorient or localise their production, but it will take some time, time the people who tend to live hand to mouth simply do not have.

One thing we can all agree on is that within a few decades the world will look nothing like the one we know now.

Anonymous said...

Dmitry, with all respect, I think you misread Hudson's main point, which _is_ that the US is insolvent and is using the surpluses of its supposed "partners in globality" as a piggy bank in order to borrow. Hudson has been pondering (and writing about) questions of empire for a very long time. He is also an expert on trade.I think you dismiss him too lightly.

subgenius said...

Does THIS qualify as a creative solution for the new emergency?Seriously. Hasn't this type of thing happened before, but with brown shirts?

Anonymous said...

subgenuuis ("...Hasn't this type of thing happened...")

Very disturbing… I wouldn’t draw the parallel so readily but it definitely indicates _some_ sort of a trend. I have mentioned private armies/security forces in my previous post. It seems like some people are taking the situation seriously and preparing themselves for the worst. It always starts with the best of intentions but, after a while, one ends up with a restless force, more or less trained to follow orders and not to think for themselves (this is probably the reason for such young age of the recruits – hard to imagine a mature person following so blindly.) I am sure we can expect these types of groups act as enforcement agencies in the regions where the more powerful organisations don’t bother to go to, local warlords of sorts. This puts some form of doubt on Dmitry’s hope that the Americans will necessarily display a good deal of goodwill and helpfulness
.
This can bring us back to the USSR/USA comparison. To put it bluntly, Russians are not very good followers; a typical Russian is, at heart, an anarchist and a cynic – partly comes from the national character and partly from having lived under the machinery of the Soviet regime. No doubt, some would definitely be swayed by the ‘leaders’ but most will mind their own business (and protect it at the same time). I have noticed different trends amongst the Americans – they _are_ good followers, i.e. you get believers, converts, zealots, and people of other stripes who try to impose their order upon the others. Seems like one of the prerequisites for totalitarianism. Taking the federal nature of the country, it is possible to build a scenario of some states going in some rather rogue directions. But then again, may be not, the nation managed to stand up to most challenging circumstances in the past.

Phillip Allen said...

Anonymous @ 3:14PM 15 May '09: "...the nation managed to stand up to most challenging circumstances in the past."

It is of course true that the US political and economic order withstood the challenges presented in the nearly 150 years following the Civil War. The key difference between earlier crises and the present is that in the time since that last major challenge -- the depression of 1929-1941 -- the US has reached and exceeded peak production of many key resources, oil especially, and has had its productive capacity gutted. Nearly four generations of US citizens have been educated to believe in a never-ending ascension of standards of living, largely represented by ever-increasing levels of consumption of disposable goods. These are only two aspects of the current situation which are so radically different from earlier circumstances that make predicting possible responses based on historical experience imprecise, at best.

I really wish I could find a rational basis for optimism when looking ahead to the next couple of decades, but I don't see any. My only personal consolation is that I stand a good chance of not being alive when the very worst of things hit, but I feel grave concern and sorrow for my friends who are much younger and will have to survive the coming disasters and bear the challenge of building whatever new life will be.

dermot said...

Dmitri,

As an ex-pat, I've kept in touch with home via the internet - papers & online radio.

There is more awareness of Peak Oil in the general population than in the US - it's been discussed several times on primetime TV & radio. Colin Campbell has been interviewed by Pat Kenny (a popular early morning radio show) at least once, for example.

The major opposition party has just selected former RTE economist George Lee as their candidate in an upcoming bye-election. He made a Peak Oil TV show called "Futureshock" a couple of years ago. He's almost certain to be elected.

Anyhow, point being: it would be great if you could get some airtime; the Pat Kenny show would be an ideal vehicle. Pat's PO aware, and would it would be fun to hear you two talk about collapse.

Anonymous said...

On this business of the collapse, one could look at history, farther back than the Soviet Union. One difference that appears to be important in the US is that the poor have had their condition hidden from them (as it were). They think they are part of a mythical "middle class" -- but they have been living on borrowed money. Credit is an engine for trade, but for individuals it's deadly. I believe this false situation may prompt social collapse, or a worse collapse than necessary.

This is one difference. Peak oil is another, of course. The virtual ownership of governments and countries by the financiers with long tentacles is not new. See Braudel's three volume history of capitalism, for example, or Werner Sombart's work.

Transportation of basic stuffs on the level that we have today (miles travelled per pound of product) has no precedent in history, even internally within large countries. If that collapses, trade will have to be redone completely. Nobody is taking on the task. I call that suicidal.

I believe Obama will preside over the collapse of many aspects of everyday life. Once the lies are peeled away, what remains? Hope and change? No, resentement, anger and possibly violence. Not very productive sentiments.

Anonymous said...

The Growth Illusion goes hand in hand with the "Scarcity Assumption". The latter is, if anything, even more harmful. Economic models based on scarcity are necessarily false when it comes to the everyday life of ordinary folks. This was pointed out a long time ago by historian and philosopher Ivan Illich. No matter, economists will never drop the scarcity assumption, which has profound philosophical implications (it assumes that humans are inherently competitive instead of cooperative, among other things). These economists are assuming, implicitly, that humans are born to be part of "trade"... why would you assume that?

Utilitopia said...

"No matter, economists will never drop the scarcity assumption, which has profound philosophical implications (it assumes that humans are inherently competitive instead of cooperative, among other things)."

Unfortunately it only takes a small number of venal, acquisitive humans with a knack for regimenting and coercing other humans to dominate the peace-loving, cooperative humans.

The arrogant gluttons must face the prospect of real, personal retribution to keep them in check. I don't know if peace-loving, cooperative human beings are cut out for that.

Thriftcriminal said...

Hmmm, now I'm sorry I won't manage to make it.

Anonymous said...

what time is the davenport hotel lecture on ?