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Right, so with constant technological/cultural innovation you cannot have a steady state. It's like steadily increasing the Reynolds number of a system - it may look steady for a while but then you have a shock and bifurcation. And the shocks happen with increasing frequency.

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 15th, 2010 at 12:34:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's more than one kind of steady state:

  1. Steady-state population head-count.
  2. Steady-state 'science' - in the widest sense of world modelling and practical technology/agriculture.
  3. Steady-state culture - art and politics.
  4. Steady-state sustainable resource use, where resources taken from within the environmental footprint are either insignificant, or they replace themselves, or they're managed so that they replace themselves.

There's also force majeure steady-state where climatic and other conditions outside of immediate control remain stable.

Tribal cultures tend to do all of the above. This makes them inherently sustainable, but very static. You can leave a tribal culture alone for a few thousand years, and when you come back the people will doing the same things, eating the same food, telling the same stories and singing the same songs.

This looks secure but it depends on environmental stability. If the climate changes or if there's a disaster, these cultures have mixed prospects of adaptability. Without a tradition of innovation they may not be able to adapt.

Force-based cultures don't believe in the steady state. Survivability is enhanced through innovation.

But in fact the West is a mixed culture. It believes in force and change in everything except politics and economics (which is just politics with numbers).

There's vanishingly little political innovation in Western history. You can compare the Roman Empire or Greece to the US Senate, and they're recognisably similar. Rome had its redistributive land reform economic populists like the Gracchi, and they weren't any more successful than ours have been.

So in fact rather than looking for tribal self-sufficient nostalgia, a technological fix or a big die-off, I'd suggest that the way to make Western culture sustainable is to eliminate steady-state politics and economics.

This doesn't mean revolution in the Marxist sense, but it does mean making politics and economics more open-ended, chaotic, innovative and participative, and not based on the old tribal assumptions.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 15th, 2010 at 01:18:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Diary.

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 15th, 2010 at 01:22:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
in the first place destructive (of others) and in the second place self-destructive.  When enough self-destruction has occurred, technological development will cease.  

Our real task is to persuade people to give up the technological addiction ahead of the descent into that level of self-destruction.  

But recovery from addiction is a spiritual process.  

If humans remain the center of human concern, recovery is not possible, since in that mindset arguments against the convenience of exploitation cannot be countered.  

If, contrariwise, humans can devote themselves to non-human-centered, life affirming goals and processes, the doorway to recovery will stand wide open.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Apr 15th, 2010 at 09:56:06 PM EST
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Technological development is in the first place destructive (of others) and in the second place self-destructive.  When enough self-destruction has occurred, technological development will cease.

I simply don't see that that's true.

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 16th, 2010 at 02:17:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]


The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Fri Apr 16th, 2010 at 03:47:10 PM EST
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Thanks for the elucidation.

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 17th, 2010 at 03:04:35 AM EST
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You're talking utter nonsense now. Step away from the Internet, get off the computer, stop wearing clothes, living in a house, eating non-wild food, talking (mostly). All technology. Meditation is a technology.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 16th, 2010 at 02:41:22 AM EST
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No, no, technology is just ominous-looking smoke-spewing factories overlooking a workers' slum, like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 16th, 2010 at 02:52:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I want the Chocolate Factory if no one else does.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Apr 16th, 2010 at 04:20:44 AM EST
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Colman:
Meditation is a technology.

I disagree with you, Meditation is a state of being, which you can also achieve without techniques. :-)

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 16th, 2010 at 03:11:09 AM EST
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No, Méditation is a symphonic intermezzo from the opera Thaïs written by French composer Jules Massenet in 1893. The piece is written for solo violin and orchestra. The opera was first premiered at the Opera Garnier in Paris on March 16, 1894.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 16th, 2010 at 03:17:00 AM EST
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